Noob TIG sheet metal questions
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  1. #1
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    Noob TIG sheet metal questions

    Hi All,

    I'm learning TIG, I'm starting to get better at thicker steel, but still having a hard time with thin sheet metal. I'm going to be welding a lot of auto body panels, so I want to make sure I'm doing it correctly before I start on my car.

    I've got an AHP Alpha TIG 200x, 1/16" lanthinated electrode, straight DC at 30A with foot pedal. I'm practicing with 22 guage mild steel, and my problem is mostly burn through. I'm working without any backing, as when I get to real work (body panels), there isn't any practical way to use backing. I seem to be a lot more proficient with the lanthinated vs. the thoriated electrodes.

    My questions are what are your thoughts on using using the pulser vs. setting the amperage lower. What's the advantage of the pulser, and what kinds of situation is the pulser best used in.

    How wide should the puddle be for 22 guage butt welds?

    Are there any tell-tale signs of when the puddle will burn through, i.e. when to back off amperage?

    I'm sharpening to electrode to a fairly sharp tip, about 2-3 electrode diameters because I'm trying to get the arc to diffuse out a bit, and not put so much heat focused in a tiny spot.

    For 18-20 guage auto body panels, what is the prefered TIG settings, in terms of amperage, electrode/rod size, pulser settings, etc..

    I'll also be doign some overhead welds, so I'd like to get really proficient before I start on those.

    Thanks

  2. #2
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    Re: Noob TIG sheet metal questions

    If you are doing tight (inside) fillet welds, turn off the pulse to concentrate the arc in the root. The outside type welds perform nicely with pulse.

    Personally you should try to master without pulse, then gradually add. My preferred pulse for thin sheet-outside corners or groove is 45% main amps time, 25% background amps value, and 150pps.

    Main amps is really turn down the amps until it won't melt the metal anymore, then edge it up until you can weld, then stop with postflow until it is cool enough to weld again. .030" diameter Esab/EasyGrind wire is your friend for panel work, but not framework. I use it for gunsmithing when the customer is filing or stoneing a detail.
    Weld like a "WELDOR", not a wel-"DERR"
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  3. #3
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    Noob TIG sheet metal questions

    These are 22 gauge mild steel, straight DC 30 amps, 1/16Ē lanthinated tungsten, 1/16Ē filler rod.

    The faces are starting to look a bit better, but look how horrible the back sides are.

    What can I do to put less heat in so I donít have so much melting on the back side, but still enough heat to form a puddle.

    Iíve tried the pulser, at 80 amp, 50 hz, 30% on, base of 30% of peak. Didnít have much luck there, didnít seem to have enough heat.

    Iím also having a real hard time seeing the puddle, and not really sure how to tell if itís too hot and how to tell when I should move.

    What can I do to improve these welds?




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    Last edited by Andy Somogyi; 07-11-2018 at 09:49 PM.

  4. #4
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    Re: Noob TIG sheet metal questions

    In my opinion, your welds are way too big.
    My name's not Jim....

  5. #5
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    Re: Noob TIG sheet metal questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Boostinjdm View Post
    In my opinion, your welds are way too big.
    This one here, well at least half of it is about the best, and itís 0.2Ē wide.

    To get the welds smaller, should I turn the amps down and try to hold a closer arc, or should I try to use the pulser?





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  6. #6
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    Re: Noob TIG sheet metal questions

    Tighter arc and smaller filler. I'd go for .035 mig wire cuz that's what I have handy.
    My name's not Jim....

  7. #7
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    Re: Noob TIG sheet metal questions

    Going to smaller filler will help tremendously. I would use 0.030" or 0.035" MIG wire for that. MIG wire works much better if you straighten it. My method is to secure one end of the piece of wire I'm going to use in a vise, then use safety wire pliers to twist from the other end. Putting a couple twists in it makes it straight enough you can feed easily by hand.

    With 1/16" rod, by the time you've gotten enough heat in the joint to melt the wire, you're right on the verge of blowing through. Smaller wire will also make for less distortion. I tend to run 0.045" rod for everything less than 1/8" or so thick, and drop down to straightened MIG wire for 18 gauge and lighter.

  8. #8
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    Re: Noob TIG sheet metal questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Graham08 View Post
    Going to smaller filler will help tremendously.

    With 1/16" rod, by the time you've gotten enough heat in the joint to melt the wire, you're right on the verge of blowing through.
    Thanks, that makes sense, just ordered some 0.035 wire.

    Once I get this figured out, Iím going to be working on mostly 18 and 20 gauge. My thinking is if I learn on thin 22 gauge and get good at it, the real stuff at 20 should be easy.

    Now I just need to figure out how to keep the arc short enough without dipping.




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  9. #9
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    Re: Noob TIG sheet metal questions

    Cram that rod in a chill the puddle, then haul azz. Basically you are not moving fast enough. Smaller wire just makes it harder to fill and move fast. If it were me I would not go smaller than .045 wire. In fact I don't even have smaller than that.

    Tight arc, cram and jam. Judging by the underside your welds are overheating. But overall your welds do not look too bad.
    Weld like a "WELDOR", not a wel-"DERR"
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  10. #10
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    Re: Noob TIG sheet metal questions

    Itís improved slightly.

    This is using 0.035 wire, 1/16 tungsten needle tip, pulse on, 3 pulse per second, 40A peak, 10% background, 30% on.

    The pulse seems to work rather well, I dab about every 3rd pulse.

    I tacked in the middle and welded in 4 sections to minimize warpage.

    For tacking, what I found was start the arc on the wire, let it ball up, direct the arc to the ball until it heats the surrounding metal and wets, about 2-3 seconds per tack.

    Also, I start the initial section off to the side slightly and steer the puddle onto the gap between the pieces. This way, I prevent burning the edges at the start of a section.

    Do you guys think I have too much penetrating looking at the backside. I think I can probably go faster, just need some more practice, but going faster I think should clean up the backside some.





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  11. #11
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    Re: Noob TIG sheet metal questions

    Getting better!

    I know that in theory learning on 22 gauge should make you better at 18 and 20, but you might have better success going the other way. Once you get the hang of it on 18 gauge, going thinner should just take some adjustments to your technique.

    I second the move faster comments. It's easier said than done, though.

    How dark is your welding lens? Dropping down to a 9 or an 8 would help you see what's going on better. TIG at 30 amps is a lot different than blasting away at 150...

  12. #12
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    Re: Noob TIG sheet metal questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Graham08 View Post
    Getting better!

    I know that in theory learning on 22 gauge should make you better at 18 and 20, but you might have better success going the other way. Once you get the hang of it on 18 gauge, going thinner should just take some adjustments to your technique.

    I second the move faster comments. It's easier said than done, though.

    How dark is your welding lens? Dropping down to a 9 or an 8 would help you see what's going on better. TIG at 30 amps is a lot different than blasting away at 150...
    I also have an ulterior motive for 22 gauge: Iím cheap, and have a bunch of it lying around

    I know I need A LOT more practice to get a feel to move faster. I tell you, learning to TIG is one of the hardest things Iíve ever done, definitely as challenging as my physics PhD qualifying exam.

    Iíve got a cheap auto darkening helmet set on the brightest setting. Finding a good position to watch the arc is not easy either, probably because my eyes arenít all that great. Iím using a #7 gas lens, and use 1 cup diameter stick out, which does help a lot to see the arc.


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  13. #13
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    Re: Noob TIG sheet metal questions

    I think you are right, probably go faster. You are dipping every 3rd pulse at 3pps, so that is 1 dip per second. That is a little too slow for me.

    Once again, bigger wire will chill the puddle better especially when you learn to plump up the bead with it. I am guessing you are dribbling the wire in instead of sliding/craming it into the leading edge?

    Back side looks ok as well but I would prefer to see some push through instead of melty suckback. Again cramming the rod in with generous amps and speed would give you push through. I would need some anti depressants if I had to use .035" on 22 gauge.
    Weld like a "WELDOR", not a wel-"DERR"
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  14. #14
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    Re: Noob TIG sheet metal questions

    Quote Originally Posted by shovelon View Post
    I think you are right, probably go faster. You are dipping every 3rd pulse at 3pps, so that is 1 dip per second. That is a little too slow for me.

    Once again, bigger wire will chill the puddle better especially when you learn to plump up the bead with it. I am guessing you are dribbling the wire in instead of sliding/craming it into the leading edge?

    Back side looks ok as well but I would prefer to see some push through instead of melty suckback. Again cramming the rod in with generous amps and speed would give you push through. I would need some anti depressants if I had to use .035" on 22 gauge.
    Iím I guess youíd call it dribbling or dabbing into the puddle leading edge, Iím trying to stay far from the electrode, as I really hate jamming the electrode with the filler wire. Basically I touch the filler wire to or near the puddle leading edge until the wire balls up and wets into the puddle.

    The puddle itself is about .070Ē dia, and I donít think Iím good enough to aim for a puddle that small without touching the electrode.

    Iíll give a thicker wire a try, Iíll twist together a pair of .035


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  15. #15
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    Re: Noob TIG sheet metal questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Andy Somogyi View Post
    Iím I guess youíd call it dribbling or dabbing into the puddle leading edge, Iím trying to stay far from the electrode, as I really hate jamming the electrode with the filler wire. Basically I touch the filler wire to or near the puddle leading edge until the wire balls up and wets into the puddle.

    The puddle itself is about .070Ē dia, and I donít think Iím good enough to aim for a puddle that small without touching the electrode.

    Iíll give a thicker wire a try, Iíll twist together a pair of .035


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    Yes, that is the idea. Figure your routine is stomp the pedal to get your puddle, then cram the rod in from the leading edge to plump up the puddle while lifting your electrode a tad to get out of the way, Then with a plumped puddle retract your wire while grabbing a bit more to cram in later, slide your electrode with a tight arc to the front of the puddle into the root to achieve full wetting to the root, and finally cram that rod/wire that you grabbed with your fingers to plump the bead/puddle again. Repeat as necessary and the routing becomes natural. Cram and jam is what I call it.

    For your information that is how you do "Stack-O-Dimes". I just do it to aerospace standards. After a while you get tiresome of pissing around with tiny wire and learn how to delicately feed thicker wire. It actually chills the puddle more so you may have to input more amps, but that is ok with me because now I can go faster and make more money. Just today I had an aerospace engineer question my usage of 3/32" 4043 wire when they advise .062" wire. No problem I says, because per essential variables I am allowed to go +/- 1/16". I am also allowed to change the filler to 4943 alloy because it is also an F23 filler and the essential variables allow me to do choose any filler in the same filler group. Nope, mr. engineer did not like that as it made him do more work to verify my assertions.
    Weld like a "WELDOR", not a wel-"DERR"
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  16. #16
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    Re: Noob TIG sheet metal questions

    Iíve made a little bit of progress, just need to learn how to keep my hand steady.

    One thing Iíve stumbled across is that the metal surface not only needs to be clean, but also relatively smooth. Previously, I was stripping the paint off practice pieces with a 40 grit sander. This left the surface fairly scratched, and the arc would catch and burn through all over the place. I found a smoother finish really helps in controlling the arc.

    Iíve also found that using the pulser at 150 PPS results in a much more focused arc, also more stable.

    This is 22 gauge, butt welded, 25A, pulse at 150 PPS, 30% peak, 30% duty cycle, and 0.035 MIG wire, 0.040 electrode.

    I still think Iím getting too much penetration, looking at the backside. Should I try to turn the current down?

    I know I still need to move faster, practicing speeding up travel speed, but itís not easy.

    Each of these was welded in 1Ē sections using backstep technique to control warpage.






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  17. #17
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    Re: Noob TIG sheet metal questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Andy Somogyi View Post
    I’ve made a little bit of progress, just need to learn how to keep my hand steady.

    One thing I’ve stumbled across is that the metal surface not only needs to be clean, but also relatively smooth. Previously, I was stripping the paint off practice pieces with a 40 grit sander. This left the surface fairly scratched, and the arc would catch and burn through all over the place. I found a smoother finish really helps in controlling the arc.

    I’ve also found that using the pulser at 150 PPS results in a much more focused arc, also more stable.

    This is 22 gauge, butt welded, 25A, pulse at 150 PPS, 30% peak, 30% duty cycle, and 0.035 MIG wire, 0.040 electrode.

    I still think I’m getting too much penetration, looking at the backside. Should I try to turn the current down?

    I know I still need to move faster, practicing speeding up travel speed, but it’s not easy.

    Each of these was welded in 1” sections using backstep technique to control warpage.






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    I think really you are dwelling in the puddle too long. You really have your arc hobbled. Twas me I would still use the pulse but only for arc stability. Say 95% peak time, 25% background amps, and 150pps, at some 50 amps for adjustablility. I personally don't mess with .040" tungsten and continue to use my 3/32" long taper. And probably 1/16" filler or perhaps. 3/64". I just can't cram that .035" wure fast enough to chill the puddle.

    That and get off the steel and move into alum for some eye opening observations.
    Weld like a "WELDOR", not a wel-"DERR"
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  18. #18
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    Re: Noob TIG sheet metal questions

    I concur with Shovelon, I never bother with smaller then a 3/32 tungsten, I just put a nice long taper on it for small, low amperage work, I also don't like using smaller then 1/16th filler as I find I spend to much time juggling the rod in my feed hand, i find it much easier to get a consistent feed rate with slightly larger wire, and the extra rigidity of the thicker wire really helps with accuracy when jamming it into the weld pool as well, hell a useable technique on 22 gauge with 1/16th wire is to just lay the wire on the joint and run over it with the touch, doesn't work so well with a poor fit up as you need to jam extra wire to fill the gap, and it doesn't look as pretty, but it gets the job done and with a good fit up is alot easier to get consistent then dipping.

    all of that said, you're doing awesome and you're progressing really fast, good work!
    Last edited by ttoks; 07-27-2018 at 12:43 PM.

  19. #19
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    Re: Noob TIG sheet metal questions

    What kind of arc length are you guys using?

    For 22 gauge, about how big should the puddle be?

    Iím dipping the tungsten A LOT, Iím rapidly becoming an expert on grinding tungsten, so maybe I need to try to pull the arc back some?

    I need to work a lot more on directing the arc to both sides of the joint evenly so both sheets absorb heat, and I know I need to learn to move faster, but thatís easier said than done.


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  20. #20
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    Re: Noob TIG sheet metal questions

    As president, I can offer you admission the the professional tungsten grinder's union local 333. If you don't have a super steady hand, holding a tight arc is going to mean a lot of grinding. Try and find a way to steady your hand. Use a long bar or pipe clamp as a rest to run your hand along, also get a TIG finger will help. Watch some of the welding tips and tricks videos for ideas.
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  21. #21
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    Re: Noob TIG sheet metal questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Andy Somogyi View Post
    What kind of arc length are you guys using?

    For 22 gauge, about how big should the puddle be?

    Iím dipping the tungsten A LOT, Iím rapidly becoming an expert on grinding tungsten, so maybe I need to try to pull the arc back some?

    I need to work a lot more on directing the arc to both sides of the joint evenly so both sheets absorb heat, and I know I need to learn to move faster, but thatís easier said than done.


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    My arc length is about the diameter of the filler I feed. And when feeding the rod I lift the tungsten to make room for the filler. When I pull the filler out I slide the tungsten back down and into the root to maintain the melt. It is kind of an automatic action with me like a sewing machine.
    Weld like a "WELDOR", not a wel-"DERR"
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  22. #22
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    Re: Noob TIG sheet metal questions

    Quote Originally Posted by soutthpaw View Post
    As president, I can offer you admission the the professional tungsten grinder's union local 333.
    LOL, where do I sign up?

    I should at least get some sort of expert level tungsten dipping and grinding certificate by now.


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