Welding supplies guides: how to become a more skilled welder and how to pick the top welding equipment. 2% thoriated tungsten electrodes are mildly radioactive: Word on the street is that 2% thoriated tungsten electrodes are mildly radioactive. They say deer meat is too. No one gets out alive. Good news though…and it’s not just that I saved a bundle on my car insurance by switching to GEICO.. I have learned through testing a bunch of arc starts and by welding on all different metals that 2% lanthanated electrodes are about as good as the 2% thoriated. I even like the lanthanated a little better for some applications. So if you are scared of thoriated tungsten but you are even more scared of crappy electrodes that don’t work as well, use 2% lanthanated…they are colored blue. One word to the wise here. The blue ones are not brittle like 2% thoriated electrodes. And they splinter if you try to break them or snip with dykes. You have to cut or score with a grinder in order to cut to size or cut off a bib blob of metal you don’t want to sand off.
Extend your Tungsten Electrode out Far enough but not too: Too short of a tungsten stickout from the cup will not let you hold a close enough arc length and will not let you see the tip of your electrode. You need to be able to see the tip of the electrode without getting a kink in your neck in order to keep your arc length right. Some textbooks are just plain wack when they only recommend extending your electrode one tungsten diameter past the end of the TIG cup. Holding too long an arc will not pinpoint the heat well enough and will let your rod ball up and blob into the weld.. but we already covered that didn’t we? I remember a consulting gig once where the welder at the aluminum body truck repair shop could not get the aluminum socket weld to puddle. The only thing wrong was that the electrode was recessed back in the cup. Once I extended it out about 3/8″, Everything was fine. ( I also talked them into getting some helium argon mix.)
All welding requires the application of heat, which melts the metal being welded. With the TIG process, the heat comes from an electric arc that streams between the electrode in a hand-held torch and the metal being welded. The arc and molten metal are shielded by an inert gas, which protects the electrode and base metal from oxidizing. Filler rod is usually added to the puddle of molten metal as the weld progresses. The essence of making a good weld is heat control, which is governed by how you modulate the arc as it streams from the torch. Let’s look at this in detail.
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Before you get started, conduct online research to see what the best practices are for the specific wire you have or contact a trusted filler metal manufacturer. Doing so not only tells you what the manufacturer’s recommended parameters are for your diameter wire, but also what the proper wire feed speed, amperage and voltage is, along with the most compatible shielding gas. The manufacturer will even tell you what electrode extension or contact-to-work distance (CTWD) is best suited for the particular wire. Keep in mind that if you get too long of a stickout, your weld will be cold, which will drop your amperage and with it the joint penetration. As a general rule of thumb, since less wire stickout typically results in a more stable arc and better low-voltage penetration, the best wire stickout length is generally the shortest one allowable for the application.