What do I need to get started in TIG Welding?
This is a question we get asked often at Arc-Zone.com, and it’s really hard to answer unless we know exactly what you’re hoping to accomplish.
I can offer a few tips here, covering the basics.
First, you’ll need a welding machine. There are several welding machine manufacturers, the most popular being Miller Electric (a member of the ITW family), Hobart Welders (also a member of the ITW family), Lincoln Electric and ESAB.
Each of these manufacturers offer a quality product, but Miller has a terrific online tool they just launched called the Smart Selector which you can use to determine which machine is right for you.
Next, you’ll need a TIG torch. TIG torches are either water-cooled, and require some sort of connection to a water source, or air-cooled, and require no additional air or gas hookup other than the shield gas you’ll already be using.
Several manufacturers offer some sort of start up kit to go along with their machine. Not a bad place to start, but not necessarily the TIG package that is the best for what you’re going to be doing. Miller, for example, offers a “Contractors Kit” which includes a 17 series TIG torch, a basic accessory kit,
a regulator, a remote amperage control, a DINSE plug, work clamp, gas hose and gas hose coupler. And it comes in nice carrying case, for out in the field.
Don’t get me wrong. The 17 series is a fine torch, just not necessarily the best torch for you. If you’re working in a shop, and have access to a water source, you may want to consider a water cooled torch, for example. Maybe a WP-20 TIG torch– it’s lighter weight, smaller and easier to handle and allows you keep welding without having to stop to let your torch cool off.
One of our customers, David Anthony of Empty Tomb Choppers got tired of burning his hands on his air-cooled TIG torch, “Especially when you’re doing a long run on a seam. I’d be in a hurry to finish before my torch got too hot,” he said.
We upgraded his set up to a WP-20 and he hasn’t looked back since. We offer a complete Cool Kit for a water cooled TIG torch set up.
When buying a TIG torch, make sure you get the front end parts (nozzles, collets and collet bodies) for welding, and the connectors you’ll need to hook up to your machine. Often welding suppliers offer what is called a Torch Package, which only includes the torch body and the cable set. Be sure to ask if you need an accessory kit for your torch. At Arc-Zone we sell a TIG Torch PRO kit which has 3/32″ front end parts already installed, and comes with a DINSE connector and a cable cover. Our PRO TIG Torches are fully loaded and ready to weld. You may also want to consider adding a gas lens to your TIG torch set up. This will provide a more coherent shield of gas over your weld zone, which means less turbulence and less contamination. Arc-Zone’s PRO Accessory Kits all include gas lens collet bodies.
You should also have a TIG Welding Flowmeter / Regulator to improve overall welding performance and regulate the flow of gases.
Which tungsten you choose to use, and how you prepare it is an important step, and often overlooked. There is a huge difference in quality of tungsten electrodes out there in the market. At Arc-Zone we not only sell our own premium brand of tungsten electrodes, Amplify. We also offer Weldcraft Tungsten Electrodes. Ceriated or Lanthanated tungsten is recommended for use with the newer welding machines, or for even better performance check out the our own ArcTime All Purpose Hyperformance tungsten or Weldcraft’s Rare Earth blend. Whichever you choose, go ahead and spring for the 10 pack– as a new welder you’ll need it.
Other accessories you may want to consider: a fingertip remote amperage control or a foot pedal, a water cooler (if you’re going with a water-cooled TIG torch). And last, but not least, you may want to prepare your tungsten electrodes with a dedicated tungsten grinder.
If you want to take welding lessons, check with your local adult education program, community college, or here in California we have the Regional Occupation Program. The American Welding Society has a Welding School Locator on their website.
And finally, you’ll need a gas tank as well as a good relationship with your local welding supplier for gas (that’s one thing we don’t sell online yet– argon!).