TIG welders handbook: how to become a better welder and how to select the best welding equipment. If a ball forms on the end of your rod when welding you are doing something wrong. It is usually one or more of these things: Too long an arc… • Too much torch angle • Not enough amperage for the rod size • Bad filler rod angle • Or some combination of all of these things. The 2 things I see most often with noobs are too long an arc AND too much torch angle. A long arc sets TIG welding back a few decades because it’s more like gas welding with an oxyfuel torch. The heat is not concentrated and you get this big heated arc plume like you get with a gas welding torch. Why would you want that? Your arc length should not be much more than the diameter of your tungsten electrode. I know that’s pretty close and if you get too close you will be grinding electrodes more than you are welding. But if you want really good welds, you need to use a tight arc.
Put a vent hole in anything you weld that will be sealed up completely: Put a vent hole in anything you weld that will be sealed up completely or air will heat up and expand and blow away your shielding gas or even blow out at the end of the weld bead. Some machined joints that are sealed on one end will not even allow you to start welding because the fit is so good that the part is air tight before you even weld. Other machined parts where a part is pressed in and bottomed out can give cracking problems because there is no where for the part to shrink. If you have to weld something that has been pressed in and bottomed out, make sure to add more filler metal than average to tacks and the final weld bead. That is to prevent the cracking that happens when you run a concave bead and the metal has nowhere to shrink.
Should the electrode accidentally touch the metal or the filler, the electrode often becomes contaminated — meaning some of the rod or base metal gets stuck to it. Once the electrode is contaminated, the arc cone becomes misshapen, making it difficult or impossible to aim the arc with precision, and the boiling contaminants on the electrode may spit out impurities, further compounding your problems. The angle between the torch and the base metal is important, too. You need to angle the torch slightly to see the puddle, and provide access for the filler rod. A 15-degree angle is a good starting place, although some welders prefer a bit more or less. If you hold the torch at 45 degrees (or more), you’re losing a lot of the coverage from shielding gas, and the flatter angle will make the puddle longer than it is wide. For the record, the torch is tipped with the electrode pointing forward, in the direction of motion.
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For the best control of your weld bead, keep the wire directed at the leading edge of the weld pool. When welding out of position (vertical, horizontal or overhead welding), keep the weld pool small for best weld bead control, and use the smallest wire diameter size you can. A bead that is too tall and skinny indicates a lack of heat into the weld joint or too fast of travel speed. Conversely, if the bead is flat and wide, the weld parameters are too hot or you are welding too slowly. Ideally, the weld should have a slight crown that just touches the metal around it. Keep in mind that a push technique preheats the metal, which means this is best used with thinner metals like aluminum. On the other hand, if you pull solid wire, it flattens the weld out and puts a lot of heat into the metal. Finally, always store and handle your filler metals properly. Keep product in a dry, clean place — moisture can damage wire and lead to costly weld defects, such as hydrogen-induced cracking. Also, always use gloves when handling wires to prevent moisture or dirt from your hands settling on the surface. When not in use, protect spools of wire by covering them on the wire feeder, or better yet, remove the spool and place it in a clean plastic bag, closing it securely.