Crackers Dork
5/4/20 8:40 p.m.

So I got a new TIG welder and just got it set up today. So far I've only spent about 30 minutes with it playing with settings on dirty aluminum and a few minutes on some steel sheet I kept burning through trying to use too big a filler rod. 

Which brings me to my question, what size rod is typically reccomended for 18/20ga steel? Is 1/16" appropriate? I don't see myself ever trying to weld anything thinner.

Are there any accessories I should really consider purchasing? Outside of TIG welding, I'm a pretty experienced welder and have lots of MIG SMAW and Oxy/Ace gear already. 

Here's a pic of today's results. 

I didn't clean it for E36 M3 beforehand. I meant to get some stainless brushes etc, but all I really did was use a rusty wire brush and degrease with acetone. Aside from forgetting to turn the tank on at first and immediately burning the end of the tungsten off it (and not really cleaning the mess it made) it all seemed to go well. 

The machine is an Eastwood 200 with torch button and foot pedal. I'm using the "green" tungsten that came with the machine, but I don't know what that means or how it differs from the other types. 

I'll need more tungsten, likely sooner than later, what tungsten should I get? I don't seem to have any issues with this should I just stick with it? 

Thank in advance. You guys are my most trusted resource!

Patrick (Forum Supporter)
Patrick (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
5/4/20 9:09 p.m.

I've got a tungsten sharpener on my "buy after i have work again" list.  Using the bench grinder sucks

TJL (Forum Supporter)
TJL (Forum Supporter) HalfDork
5/4/20 9:12 p.m.

In for TIG tips. 


i'll add a question, how important is it to have the right # aluminum rods? 
example is i have scrap aluminum, i dont know if its 6061 or anything else. Im having a heck of a time getting anything resembling a "weld". But im solid on a stick machine or mig, aluminum mig with spool gun. 

Crackers Dork
5/4/20 9:59 p.m.

In reply to Patrick (Forum Supporter) :

I'm perfectly content to continue using my angle grinder. LOL

Actually, I have a bench grinder I need to set up that will have a wheel dedicated to tungsten. I've not seen any good reviews on tungsten grinders. Most of the (non-sponsored) YouTube guys I follow have said they find them more frustrating than they're worth. I think even TOT reccomends using bench grinder.

On that note... Do I need different wheels for different grades of tungsten or can I grind them all with the same wheel? 

Patientzero Reader
5/4/20 10:00 p.m.

Typically the rule of thumb is to have filler rod the same diameter as the thickness of your material.  1/16" should fine on thin sheet metal.  I would recommend some silicon bronze filler rod for that.  


For the aluminum, cleaning EVERYTHING makes all the difference in the world.  Even wipe your filler rod off with acetone.  Also, for me, I learned to TIG on stainless so going to aluminum it took alot more heat than I thought it should but the window was much smaller.  It helps to just heat it with the torch for a few extra seconds before you start trying to lay beads.

It was also helpful for me to ball the tungsten when doing aluminum.  Not everyone does this but it is my preference.  Just google; "how to ball tungsten"


I use Weld Porn pink tungsten for everything.  I have a Fupa12 cup for steel and stainless and I use a normal #8 ceramic cup with a gas lens for doing aluminum.  For sharpening tungsten I like my belt sander with the tungsten in a drill better than anything else I've tried.

matthewmcl (Forum Supporter)
matthewmcl (Forum Supporter) Reader
5/4/20 10:14 p.m.

For aluminum, dedicated stainless brushes that never get used for anything else. The little bits if iron oxide will contaminate welds and make things more difficult.

Recon1342 HalfDork
5/4/20 10:22 p.m.

Use 1/16 or angel hair (even thinner) for sheet metal. If you are going to weld aluminum, clean it until you think it's spotless, then clean it a couple more times. Aluminum requires more heat than steel, especially with TIG. A good size 8 cup and gas lens are worth the world.

TIG is sensitive to everything- cleanliness of the metal and the tungsten, amount of electrode sticking out of the torch, angle, gas flow, speed, sharpness of the tungsten, and even how you sharpen it. (grind axially, not radially. The grooves in the tungsten affect the behavior of the arc.)

You can control penetration depth by the shape of your tungsten. Sharper tungsten (narrow point) throws a wider arc and penetrates less. Wider point on the tungsten gives you more penetration, but makes the arc more likely to wander. Lots of practice with varying shapes of tip will help out.

For aluminum, switch the polarity on the welder and strike an arc on a steel surface. Hold it for a second or two and you'll have a ball on the tungsten. Switch your polarity back to DC- and weld away. 

The payoff is some of the highest quality and cleanest welds you'll ever see. 

jamscal Dork
5/4/20 10:26 p.m.

1/16 filler is fine for 18ga steel, but you can also trim off some .035 mig wire and use sections of that for finer work/smaller pieces.

Cleaning is overrated on aluminum * :) just my opinion.

The main thing is that aluminum forms aluminum oxide on the surface pretty quickly.

Aluminum oxide melts at  3700 degrees...aluminum melts at 12-1400 degrees. 

Sure it's a super thin layer, but it gives problems, and if you weld enough you will see the aluminum drop out from behind a 'skin' you couldn't seem to get hot enough.

That's also why we weld Aluminum with has it's own 'cleaning' action.

*I have welded miles of aluminum with tig, in job shops. I have my own shop now and we don't do a lot of tig anymore, but some. I have never used acetone and also didn't prep the edges in my production days. I was given parts and I welded them. 

Granted, there is a time and place for being extra clean with things, and I was welding new metal, so I won't dissuade anyone from being extra clean.

Grinding the surface of and hitting the rod with a red scotchbright is my normal go-to.

Also, grinding the mill scale off hot rolled steel is necessary (IMO).



Recon1342 HalfDork
5/4/20 10:30 p.m.

In reply to jamscal :

+1 on mill scale. I deal with stainless most of the time, but TIG will absolutely not weld through mill scale. Clean that trash off, then weld. 

Crackers Dork
5/4/20 11:00 p.m.

My machine won't switch polarity, is there another way to ball tungsten? That's one of the things I wanted to experiment with. 

RacetruckRon HalfDork
5/5/20 12:15 a.m.

Balling tungsten is only needed on the old transformer machines from my experience. I grind the tips of my tungsten sharp for aluminum.

Also don't shell out big money for a tungsten grinder. Get one of these and slap it on the cheapest rotary tool you can because the dust will get in there eventually and sieze up the bearings.  Tungsten grinder

Clean the metal like you are about to do open heart surgery on it. I even go so far to acetone wipe my filler rod and work piece.

jimbbski SuperDork
5/5/20 11:42 a.m.

Nothings been said about shielding gas.  For steel argon/CO2 is fine but it you want to weld SS, Steel, and Aluminum then just get pure Argon and you'll be fine.  There are some special gases that are used in commercial applications.


 I've been using pure Argon since I got my Lincoln EconoTig 140 back in 2001.

There are better machines out now but it's done everything I've asked of it so why upgrade?

Stampie (FS)
Stampie (FS) UltimaDork
5/5/20 12:07 p.m.

In reply to jimbbski :

Would the pure argon apply to MIG also?

jamscal Dork
5/5/20 12:23 p.m.

No co2 with tig. It's a reactive gas and will contaminate the tungsten.

Only argon (or helium...or a mix of the two.)

For mig, you need the co2. (for steel. Aluminum mig is argon)



Crackers Dork
5/5/20 4:47 p.m.

I was very disappointed to find out they use different gas. Now I'm going to need a cart that can carry 2 bottles, or have a separate cart for MIG/FCAW and TIG. 

Recon1342 HalfDork
5/6/20 8:42 p.m.

TIG welding stainless at work today...


wheelsmithy (Joe-with-an-L)
wheelsmithy (Joe-with-an-L) UltraDork
5/7/20 6:39 a.m.

In reply to Crackers :

Do a separate cart for Tig. Great first project to get a practical feel for how Tig stuff works. Yours better be off-road.

Our Preferred Partners