TIG welding—also known as gas-tungsten-arc welding (GTAW)—is the craftsman welding method of choice, and elevates simple fusion of metals to an art. Mastery earns a certain level of respect in the fabrication world. To some it’s akin to a black art, others think you have to have the rhythm and precision of John Bonham on the drums to choreograph all the movements. That’s all a little bit true. It’s also true that with enough practice and some basic knowledge, you can learn to TIG like a pro.

So what’s so cool about TIG? Firstly, it’s the most versatile method of welding and can be used to weld just about any metal: steel, stainless steel, chromoly, aluminum, nickel alloys, magnesium, titanium, copper, brass, bronze, and even gold. It’s also the cleanest form of welding with no sparks, spatter, flux, or slag produced. And assuming you properly cleaned the metals, you won’t have any real smoke or fumes to speak of.

But we know why most people are interested: It’s the look. You just can’t beat the beauty of a well-laid TIG weld. That beauty happens because TIG welding offers the highest level of arc and weld puddle control since the heat input is controlled by the human welder, allowing the puddle to be heated up or cooled down as necessary. That’s how that beautiful bead comes to be.

While working through our fabrication adventure, otherwise known as project Max Effort, we were always impressed with Ryan Kertz of Kertz Fabrication, and his ability to lay down perfect TIG beads every time, while ours are usually ... well, less perfect.

The biggest problem, Kertz explained, is that while it’s true that the only way to learn is to just pick up a torch and do it, there are a handful of very basic tips and techniques he has observed often that keep the uninitiated from advancing quicker. If you’ve not had the benefit of a welding class, instruction from an experienced welder, or at least a good instruction book, these tips here may be some of the reasons you’ve been fighting to improve.

Lincoln Electric Ready-Pak
Precision TIG 275 welder
Under-Cooler cart water cooler
Foot amptrol
Gas regulator/flowmeter and 10-foot hose kit
PTW-20 Pro-Torch TIG torch (250 amp, 25 feet)
Zippered torch cover
Parts kit
Water hose (two included)
15-foot work cable and clamp
Adapter for optional PTA-9 or 17 Torch (3/8 inch)

A Mode switch
B Minimum output preset control and display switch (also displays output voltage)
C Setup menu for D/C TIG start modes, pre-flow time, and start pulse for soft or forceful starts
D Digital amperage meter
E Local/remote current control switch
F Maximum output preset control
G Post-flow time
H Thermal shutdown light
I A/C balance control

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