The Truth About TIG Welding

Yesterday I sat down with Cody, one of our product managers who’s also a talented engineer, so that he could teach me how to get rolling with TIG welding. I have MIG welded previously, admittedly with mixed results, but was hoping to expand my skills to include TIG welding. My hope was to make clean work of the numerous sheet metal repairs needed on my Range Rover restoration project.

Cody got me set up on our MP 200i welder, a multi-process machine that handles both MIG and TIG duties, as well as stick work. We gathered up some test panels in both 18- and 20-gauge to practice fusion welding some butt joints. If I succeeded at this, I could at least stitch together the panels I made to replace the rotten floor edges.

It did not go well. Despite Cody’s patience with me, I never quite got the rhythm down. Also, my torch spacing was inconsistent and I kept sticking the tungsten tip to the work. I either had not enough heat for the metal flow, or I burned through it entirely. In short, it was a disaster.

TIG welding test panels

Admittedly, this was only about an hour and a half of trial and error (mostly error), but I was hoping for better. The truth is, TIG welding is a major skill. It’s not the kind of thing you just pick up and run with. It takes patience. And practice.

So that’s what I’ll be doing. In the short term, I’ll be reverting back to MIG welding to get through the current phase of my project. But I’ll also continue to practice TIG on the side in the hopes of being ready for later, more visible repairs on the project.

TIG welding may be a complex skill set to learn, but in the end, I know I can conquer it. And I believe the results will be worth the effort. It is a skill worth mastering. Until then, it’s practice, practice, practice.

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