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Welding at Home : Aluminum Welding Training

Stack of aluminum beams

Where would this world be without YouTube? WeldingTipsandTricks.com posted an extremely helpful video about TIG welding on aluminum. From the comfort of your home, learn how to stack beads, dimes, and understand why welding on aluminum is perfect for practicing your welding skills. The transcript of the video is here below. Enjoy!

Aluminum Welding Training on your own at home

Hey. Thanks for watching another video from WeldingTipsandTricks.com.

Today's video is about getting some good practice TIG welding. The best practice you can get in TIG welding, by far, is TIG welding aluminum sheet metal and stacking beads. I know that's a pretty strong statement, but here's why it's true: Because you can get "seat time" with a little bit of money, one piece of 4X8 inch. or roughly that, 11-gage aluminum – it can be 3003, 6061, it doesn't matter – , it doesn't matter the kind but you can get lots of "seat time" just by stacking beads.

And the reason for aluminum is cause with steel is grays up and oxidizes and doesn't weld the same after two or three beads. Aluminum, as long as you let it cool for just a little while, you can weld bead, after bead, after bead.

So, get you a piece of 11-gage aluminum and run an edge weld around the edges first – that's good practice all by itself – , and then just start stacking beads. Start on the end and start stacking them 1/2 way over each other, and it gives you a line to follow. You can also practice building lugs like this. This is excellent practice for building up a lug – a broken lug off an aluminum transmission case or something like that. Just practice and practice stacking beads. Practice stacking dimes by moving the torch about 1/8 of an inch and adding rod about once a second. That will give you a ripple every 1/8 of an inch and give you the stack of dimes look that everybody is so crazy about.

Stack 'em. You don't have to let it cool very often, just a few seconds or a little shot with an air nozzle and you can get right back in there. You don't have to wire brush between passes. You don't have to waste your time grinding and wire brushing, you can get seat time, arc time, under-the-helmet time – that's what's important. Stack 'em left to right, stack 'em right to left.

Practice different ways of feeding the rod. Practice different ways of holding the torch. You're not going to put a blue ribbon on this thing when you're done and use it for a trophy. You're throwing it into scraps, so don't be afraid to try some new stuff. Don't be afraid to make some mistakes. Learn from your mistakes. This is the time to learn.

For just a few dollars you can probably get a piece scrap of metal, or for free actually, and just clean it off a little bit with some acetone or alcohol. Give it a quick wire-brushing with a stainless brush and you're ready to go.

You can run probably hundreds of beads on this thing. Aluminum lets you know when it gets too hot – the ripples start to go away. So all you've got to do is give it a shot with an air nozzle, wait a few minutes – not even a minute actually – , and then you're good to go again. And then you can wait just a minute and you'll get your distinctly stacked ripples again once the metal's cooled off again. 

You might want to get you a heat finger shield. You can email me about that through my site if you're interested in one. 

Stack 'em all kinds of different ways but stack 'em straight. Don't just go zig-zagging. Stack 'em on top of each other so you have a straight line so you can practice running straight, but if you get bored you can run diagonally and things like that too.

If you get done, you can turn it over. It just starts getting thicker and thicker. You have to pre-heat it a little bit by running a bead around the edges, but that's good practice like I said as well.

You can practice again making, building up little lug patterns. You can practice building up lug patterns 2 inches square by an inch high, and be creative. This is a good time to learn. This is good practice for welding on aluminum casting even though it's sheet metal 'cause you're actually making a casting out of it by adding all that weld metal on it.

Alright, a little repeat here:

This is the stack of dimes look. I don't know why, but Nascar and all kinds of racing industries

have gravitated towards the stacked dimes look. It doesn't mean anything. It doesn't mean it's a better weld, but that's what people have come to expect a good weld to be – so you might want to learn how to do it. People will think you're a good welder if you can stack dimes. But it's not the only right way, it's not necessarily a better way, it's what people think is better. If you want to stack your ripples tighter, add rod more often. Tap the rod in there two or three times a second and you'll get two or three ripples every 8th inch, and you'll have a whole different looking weld. Not better, not worse, just different. Figure out what you like. Figure out what kind of weld signature you want to have and go with that.

Once again, people tend to like the stack of dimes. Motorcycles, bicycles, mountain bikes, marine tuna towers, and all that all seem to gravitate towards fairly wide spaced ripples. That's what people have come to expect. You may want to learn how to do it. 

Again, the reason for using aluminum is it kind of exaggerates things that go wrong with steel, but it also doesn't require cleaning in-between tasses – so you get a lot of seat time, a lot of arc time, practice in different things, and it also kind of exaggerates heat conductivity. So you have to work the foot pedal more so and you have to learn to feed that rod. Your feed hand will have to learn to catch up and be as skilled as your torch hand. It's always that feed hand that lacks behind when you're learning how – trying to get better at TIG welding and welding aluminum because the wire feeds so easily into the puddle – will have to make you get better at it.

So again, a piece of 11-gage aluminum, 6061, 3003, 5052, even if you don't know what it is if you just get it at the scrap yard it doesn't really matter. It's practice, it'll weld, and it'll teach you how to be a better welder. These skills will translate right on over into stainless steel and carbon steel, even though you're welding on aluminum. It'll make a better TIG welder out of you.

Alright, that's today's video. Thanks for watching. Visit WeldingTipsandTricks.com.



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