TIG Welding

Scratch Start, Lift Arc, & High Frequency TIG Differences Explained

TIG welding Banner

What is the difference between lift arc and scratch start TIG welding? That is a question we frequently get from our customers, so keep reading below to learn more!

Scratch Start TIG

Scratch Start TIG

Scratch start is a process usually found on less expensive machines or stick machines converted to do TIG (DC inverter). When doing the scratch start method, the tungsten electrode is scratched along the surface to initiate the arc. It's important to strike a balance when doing this method since you don't want to scratch the workpiece too hard - then you risk the tungsten sticking to the metal. Along with that, you need to find the right distance between the tungsten and the workpiece. If the tungsten is pulled too far away, the arc will be extinguished.

Lift Arc TIG

Lift Arc TIG

Lift Arc TIG is a much more user friendly method of TIG welding. The process of striking an arc is much easier and cleaner with lift arc TIG instead of scratch start. In order to strike the arc, you place the tip of your tungsten directly onto the workpiece where you want to start welding. Then, depress the foot control to start the circuit and lift off the piece to strike the arc. Lift arc TIG is commonly used when high frequency start is not an option - typically due to the welding environment having sensitive equipment nearby such as CNC machines, computers, towers, etc.

High Frequency Start

High Frequency Start

High-frequency start TIG is generally regarded as the best method of TIG welding. When doing lift arc TIG, you place your tungsten close to the workpiece and then depress the foot control to release the gas and start the circuit. The shielding gas will flow and your arc will strike when placed the proper distance from the workpiece. This method is the most common for TIG due to its ease of use. High frequency is necessary for TIG aluminum and it is a nice feature to have for other materials. The machines that have high-frequency start are generally more premium machines, but that does not mean they have to be ridiculously expensive! Take a look below at three of our favorite high frequency machines that don't break the bank!

Best Budget Friendly TIG Welders

Lincoln Square Wave TIG 200

TIG 200 Listing

The Square Wave 200 from Lincoln is our best-selling TIG machine. This machine welds aluminum and features high-frequency start and pulsed settings. It's packed with features and frequently has promotions, so visit the Square Wave TIG 200 product page for more details.

ESAB MiniArc Rogue ET 200IP Pro

 ET 200IP Pro Listing

The ESAB MiniArc Rogue ET 200IP Pro is another great option for TIG . Unlike the TIG 200 Square Wave from Lincoln Electric, this machine can't not weld aluminum. It still has high frequency start and comes in a very portable package. If you're doing mobile TIG welding that doesn't involve aluminum, this could be the welder for you.

Miller Multimatic 220

Miller Multimatic 220

The Miller Multimatic 220 is more expensive than the other machines listed here but is by far the most capable. This machine has been our best seller since it came out. With AC/DC TIG with high frequency, MIG, and Stick processes ready to go, this machine can handle most jobs you throw at it. Check out the Multimatic 220 page to learn more.


For any questions regarding TIG welding, welders, or other general questions, contact us or give us a call at 877-930-5690.

Evan H.

Regular price $2,499.00 USD
Sale price $2,499.00 USD
Regular price
Lincoln Square Wave 200 TIG/Stick Welder - K5126-1
Regular price $1,399.00 USD
Sale price $1,399.00 USD
Regular price $1,999.00 USD
ESAB MiniArc Rogue ET 200iP PRO Stick / TIG Welder - 0700500073
Regular price $4,449.00 USD
Sale price $4,449.00 USD
Regular price $5,622.00 USD
Miller Multimatic 255 Multiprocess Welder - 907728

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.