How difficult is it to learn to TIG?

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John_Heard
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How difficult is it to learn to TIG?

#1 Post by John_Heard » Fri Oct 02, 2009 12:15 pm

You guys that have taught yourself how to TIG, how long did it take you to start laying down some nice welds and sound joints? Something you would feel safe to use on the race car?

Did you take any formal training, or have somebody teach you?

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Re: How difficult is it to learn to TIG?

#2 Post by mytmouz » Fri Oct 02, 2009 1:46 pm

I picked mine up on the job. Easier to me than stick welding by far. I was comfortable with it in a very short time...
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Re: How difficult is it to learn to TIG?

#3 Post by CoMax Racing » Fri Oct 02, 2009 2:29 pm

I usually like to read more than post but seeing as I have been a journeyman welder for 20 yrs I would like to give my 2 cents. When I learned how to tig weld the machines were very basic without a lot of features (slope, wave adjustments,crater fill,pulse etc) this made getting a good bead something you had to put a lot of time into. Now the new machines have a lot of features that make learning a lot easier. A friend of mine just bought a Lincoln tig and he was laying down beads in a week that looked like beads that took me 20yrs to learn. :nutkick:

Basically, there is only one way to learn, get a machine and start melting metal. Tig used to be a something everybody said was "very hard to learn" The new machines make it a lot easier.

Maybe go rent one and play for a while,then you can decide if you want to keep at it.

Good Luck :thumb:

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Re: How difficult is it to learn to TIG?

#4 Post by DOTracer » Fri Oct 02, 2009 5:35 pm

Hey John,

I am a so called self taught welder. I purchased a Lincoln Squarewave 175 Pro probably 8 to 10 years ago. My first project was building a welding cart to hold the welder. There's some books out there to help understand the technique basics as well as videos on Youtube.

I got decent at welding that way, but always struggled in controlling the puddle and felt like I was chasing the puddle. Last year I went back to work full time (I was a Mr. Mom for 6 years). I got a job doing fabrication and welding at a chassis shop (started with doing sheetmetal work...mig). My boss showed me some tricks he uses and I would take chromoly tube scraps and cut/notch and take home and practice. He'd make suggestions on how to improve my technique and within a short period of time my skills got better. Good enough for him to let me start to tig on cars at work and it took off from there.

I don't feel Tig is difficult to learn, but it does take a great deal of coordination as your using your eyes, BOTH hands and one foot to work the welding process. Welding on races cars is MUCH more difficult than welding on the bench. Bench welding is quite easy as your comfortable which is the key to being able to make nice welds. When welding on a car, your almost always out of position and have to find positions to make you more stable with your hands, but still be able to see your welding area.

I started using an auto-darkening helmet (Speedglass), but quickly learned it's a pain when tig welding. Alot of time your hands will block the light and the sensors open up and you get flashed. I then taught myself to use a big window fixed shade standard helmet and that eliminated getting flashed.


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Re: How difficult is it to learn to TIG?

#5 Post by DOTracer » Fri Oct 02, 2009 5:38 pm

I will admit that while I am comfortable with my skill level on mild steel and chromoly, I have not yet had enough time practicing aluminum to even come close to getting the hang of it...quite difficult to do for me at least.

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Re: How difficult is it to learn to TIG?

#6 Post by John_Heard » Sat Oct 03, 2009 6:56 am

Thanks for the input Todd. I've followed your work for some time (starting with your trailer you built) and have always been impressed with what you have done.

My car needs to be updated to 25.5 or 25.3 and I've been debating on if I can do the cage myself or not. I know for a fact that I want to get a TIG so I can do odds and ends fab work on the car as I can't handle taking it somewhere everytime I want to modify something or add a bracket here or there. I'm just not sure how long it would take me to get good enough to do cage work/critical welds. Sounds like it will likely take a while.

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Re: How difficult is it to learn to TIG?

#7 Post by sc racing » Sat Oct 03, 2009 9:30 pm

I just started to learn on my own (with the help of some guys that already know) Im not very good with the hand/eye/foot coordination but I dont think it will take very long to be able to actually weld properly. I think you need to just start welding and keep practicing until you can do it. I stopped for a little while and now its back to square 1.

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Re: How difficult is it to learn to TIG?

#8 Post by Moparious Maximus » Tue Oct 06, 2009 11:59 am

DOTracer wrote:I will admit that while I am comfortable with my skill level on mild steel and chromoly, I have not yet had enough time practicing aluminum to even come close to getting the hang of it...quite difficult to do for me at least.

Aluminum is ALOT different that CM or mild steel but spend some time with it and it gets easier. The trick with Aluminum is getting it CLEAN I cant stress that enough, clean everything, including your filler rod, I use a SS wire brush and sandpaper when I have to (carefull with sandpaper if you get grit imbedded in the Auminum it will mess with you) then wipe it with Acetone, brake clean works too.
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Re: How difficult is it to learn to TIG?

#9 Post by Mike Peters » Tue Oct 06, 2009 1:31 pm

I've never TIG welded but, I could sure see Todd's point in being in awkward positions trying to lay down a bead. I wasn't there to see them lay these welds down on my car at Dial's Race Shop in Seminole, OK but, I give them major props since I can barely crawl under the dash to see them. I have seem some of the latest rigs have finger controls but, Dusty Dial was using a foot pedal on these.

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Re: How difficult is it to learn to TIG?

#10 Post by John_Heard » Tue Oct 06, 2009 1:35 pm

Hmm... Maybe I need to have Chris learn to TIG instead of me!

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Re: How difficult is it to learn to TIG?

#11 Post by Mike Peters » Tue Oct 06, 2009 2:07 pm

John_Heard wrote:Hmm... Maybe I need to have Chris learn to TIG instead of me!
She could fit in a LOT of places you couldn't....that's for sure!!!!
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Re: How difficult is it to learn to TIG?

#12 Post by Dave Koehler » Thu Oct 15, 2009 8:42 pm

John,
If you are going to do this, do it now, not in February. Here is why. Friend of mine decided he was tired of dragging the car back and forth to me. I helped him pick out a Miller econo 180 with an flex head torch. A week later he calls. "I have it tacked. Can you finish it?". A few days, for him, was not enough practice or experience. Each person is different and this guy was not what you would call handy so it took him longer. 2 years later he did one from start to finish and did a nice job.

Go for it. Every racer needs a tig, a cheap band saw, a grinder and the willingness to do it twice if need be. It's amazing what you can do with just those items.

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Re: How difficult is it to learn to TIG?

#13 Post by BracketNova » Thu Oct 15, 2009 9:03 pm

DOTracer wrote:
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Re: How difficult is it to learn to TIG?

#14 Post by John_Heard » Thu Oct 15, 2009 9:13 pm

Dave Koehler wrote:John,
If you are going to do this, do it now, not in February. Here is why. Friend of mine decided he was tired of dragging the car back and forth to me. I helped him pick out a Miller econo 180 with an flex head torch. A week later he calls. "I have it tacked. Can you finish it?". A few days, for him, was not enough practice or experience. Each person is different and this guy was not what you would call handy so it took him longer. 2 years later he did one from start to finish and did a nice job.

Go for it. Every racer needs a tig, a cheap band saw, a grinder and the willingness to do it twice if need be. It's amazing what you can do with just those items.

Dave Koehler
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Good points Dave - Most likely what I'm going to do is have a chassis shop do the main cage for safety's sake AND I'll also buy one for misc work so I don't have to haul it around every time I want to add a tab or change something. I've been watching some videos of guys welding AL, sure looks easy LOL. I've gas welded in the past, so maybe it won't take too long to get up to speed.

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Re: How difficult is it to learn to TIG?

#15 Post by Dave Koehler » Thu Oct 15, 2009 9:45 pm

You will have to be real honest with yourself about what you want to weld down the road.

IF you plan on aluminum bigger than say .090 then you will need a "real" welder with water cooling.
By that I mean something capable of more than 250 amps. The air cooled ones are fine for chassis work and misc thin aluminum stuff found on race cars. Things like cylinder heads, welding on a hitch ain't gonna happen with the small tigs. Not enough ooomph.
IF it's in the budget, just like anything else, get the biggest, baddest one you can justify.

Now someone is going to say, preheat, use helium, yada, yada to weld thick stuff. Sorry, too old school, (even older than me) and a crutch for what should really be done with the right size machine.

Oh, and stick with Miller or Lincoln,,,, based on what your favorite LWS stocks and services.
Check the local junior college to see if a welding course exists or bribe your favorite welder for a couple of 15 minute starter lessons. That will speed things up.

Dave Koehler
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