Aluminum TIG Welding Tips
There’s a good chance that you own something that has been welded with a TIG welder. From bikes to car parts, TIG welding is incredibly useful and precise. However, creating a solid TIG weld is another matter, especially on a tricky metal like aluminum.
You can weld aluminum with a MIG welder and a spool gun, but TIG welders make it easy to weld aluminum. They allow you to control the rate of the filler metal right in the moment rather than setting up a machine to do it for you, and your heat can be easily regulated with a foot pedal. Of course this greater amount of control means that you need to know a lot more in order to weld successfully. Here are some TIG welding tips to get you started for the next time you weld aluminum.
TIG Welding Safety
You’ll do best with an auto-darkening helmet for TIG welding since you can literally line up the torch with the weld joint and start working without moving your fingers an inch. Just strike your arc and the helmet will darken for you, protecting your eyes with the exact shade you need.
There are a variety of TIG gloves, including thicker grains for bigger projects that result in more heat. However, goatskin TIG gloves are among the most popular because they provide excellent grip and have a snug, comfortable fit.
Before You Weld
TIG welders provide some of the best control over the weld puddle thanks to the foot pedal that allows you to regulate your amperage while welding. Make sure you have a reliable pedal and that you have taken some time to test it out before getting to work.
TIG welding also involves a lot of dexterity as you feed the filler metal into the puddle. You need to practice a smooth feeding method through your fingers as you weld. It could get tricky if you’re working with a larger weld joint, so make sure you’re able to do two things at once!
Lastly, the most important prep you can do for TIG welding is to clean your metal with acetone and a cloth that won’t leave any residue behind.
Where to Weld
TIG welding works best on a clean, dry, flat surface, unless you’re working out of position. If you don’t have a dedicated welding table, you at least need a thick piece of metal to weld on that is big enough that you won’t make the mistake of attaching it to your work piece.
Weld where you can set up cables to ground your machine and you have access to clamps to hold your work piece together when necessary.
Make Strong Tack Welds
When you’re running a TIG welder on aluminum, prepare yourself to give your tacks an extra burst of power so that they’ll be strong enough. TIG tacks on aluminum can be quite weak if you don’t add enough filler. You may even need to add more filler than you would expect.
TIG Welding Butt Joints
Creating a clean, strong weld on aluminum with TIG welder sometimes takes a few tricks. For instance, when you’re making a butt joint, you can save yourself a lot of headaches by tweaking the tacks by a few degrees so that you have a clean and simple joint for your welding torch to track. Sometimes aluminum can buckle a bit as you’re TIG welding a flat butt joint. Adding this slight angle gives yourself a better margin of error.
Upward TIG Welding
Welding out of position can be tricky. From welding in a weaving pattern to getting your torch angle right as you weld uphill, there are a lot of things that can go wrong.
However, one challenge you may overlook while TIG welding aluminum is the amount of shielding gas you use. If you see sparks coming off your weld puddle, that may be a sign that you need to increase your flow of argon. It won’t be a lot necessarily. By simply angling your torch for an uphill TIG weld, you’ll lose a little bit of argon along the way, and that can make the difference between a clean weld and a weld with a lot of porosity.