MIG welding steel for me was pretty straight forward. I set my welder up, turned on the gas and pretty quickly I was pushing out fairly decent beads. It’s second nature now since I weld steel on a regular basis. MIG welding aluminum was a little more difficult and took me a little more time to master. Had to use the spool gun which took a little bit. Weld faster, more stickout and watch the heat. I managed to blow a number of tips and blow through some pieces before I got the hang of it. And forget about MIG welding thin aluminum stock. For me at least. Whenever I MIG weld aluminum I make it a point to practice for a while before try it for real. Aluminum be a fickle mistress 🙂
So now I have a TIG welder… I think it’s going to take longer to get used to and be a steeper learning curve because it’s a two handed, one footed operation. It’s like gas welding except you add in the bonus of a foot pedal and keeping the torch close to your work and trying not to dip your tugsten into the molten metal, thus contaminating it and screwing things up. I think I know now how you feel when you’re starting to learn the drums. And just for the record, drummers should get more respect.
I picked up my new Lincoln TIG 200 Square Wave machine yesterday along with some tungstens and ER70S-2 steel rod and some 4043 aluminum rod in 1/16 and 3/32 sizes. I already had a bottle of argon so I was set. Matt and I plugged everything in and we did a quick check to make sure everything was working and ran a couple of quick beads. It was all working fine so we shut it down for the night. Today I started some serious practice. I cut and cleaned up a bunch of scrap 10 ga. flat stock for practice coupons and started playing. I also did a little bit of aluminum to give it a try. My last try at lap joints turned out okay. I think the big thing is going to be getting in a comfortable position and keeping the tungsten from getting contaminated. I want to use the tig to put some feet on the table I made a while ago. When I get a little more practice and confidence with everything I’ll give it a go. Soon I hope.
Definitely need more practice but it’s not looking too bad. I’ll try some more tomorrow. My buddy Josh is going to come by in the next little while and give me some pointers. That should help as well.
First impressions of my new machine – I like it. It’s not complicated (perfect for me) and it was pretty easy to get started with. I think with more practice the process will become more natural and I like that it gives me a few more metals to work with and will let me do some TIG brazing with silicon bronze once I get more skill and confidence.