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Hobbyist TIG welder recommendation

  1. #1
    Dictionary quoting knob stoinkythepig's Avatar
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    Hobbyist TIG welder recommendation

    Couple of things:

    1. Is TIG welding aluminum something I could teach myself? I want repair a skeg on an aluminum stern drive housing (I'm building a spare Bravo 3 from a pile of parts I have) and have a ton of stuff to practice on.

    Assuming, yes to first question,

    2. What should I look for in a TIG welder that will see very limited use? Any recommended brands/models?

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  2. #2
    Senior Member Tas's Avatar
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    Re: Hobbyist TIG welder recommendation


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    Lifer jasnmar's Avatar
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    Re: Hobbyist TIG welder recommendation

    Yes, but you'll need a machine that's capable of AC TIG.

    Aluminum requires some interesting technique. I'm not good at it yet, but am getting better. I'd certainly spend some time on steel first, and work my way into Aluminum (and, that's largely what I'm doing).

    I'd take a hard look at the Alpha units, like https://smile.amazon.com/AHP-AlphaTI...-no-redirect=1

    I have access to an Eastwood TIG 200, which is also a capable machine Eastwood TIG 200 AC/DC Welder - Eastwood TIG Welder.

    I know of a couple places you could access a TIG machine, not that far from you without having to shell out the coin (at least all at once). Feel free to PM me if you're interested in more information.

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    Lifer jasnmar's Avatar
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    Re: Hobbyist TIG welder recommendation

    If you wanted to go much more "up market" Miller and Lincoln both make incredible machines. For "hobbyist" applications, in my opinion, they aren't worth the extra monies.

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    Rookie Rada's Avatar
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    Re: Hobbyist TIG welder recommendation

    That Alpha Tig machine looks like a decent machine for the money.

    A few add ons
    Going to need an Argon cylinder lease.
    Lanthinated tungstun will make your life easier and can be used for both steel and aluminum. For light work 3/32" will work. For heavier stuff you will need to step up in size.
    Filler rod. 3/32 is popular

    Spend some time watching Welding tips and tricks.com on youtube. Also Weld.com channel is great.

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    Lifer Stromper's Avatar
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    Re: Hobbyist TIG welder recommendation

    I dont know how much your willing to spend

    I researched it a while back and there was a harryhomeowner did everything tig,mig,rod, and plasma cutter

    it was like 1300 so I didn't go ahead

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    Dictionary quoting knob stoinkythepig's Avatar
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    Re: Hobbyist TIG welder recommendation

    Quote Originally Posted by Rada View Post
    That Alpha Tig machine looks like a decent machine for the money.

    A few add ons
    Going to need an Argon cylinder lease.
    Lanthinated tungstun will make your life easier and can be used for both steel and aluminum. For light work 3/32" will work. For heavier stuff you will need to step up in size.
    Filler rod. 3/32 is popular

    Spend some time watching Welding tips and tricks.com on youtube. Also Weld.com channel is great.
    Will my MIG argon tank work with a TIG welder?

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    Lifer jasnmar's Avatar
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    Re: Hobbyist TIG welder recommendation

    Yes, if you're running 100% AR with your MIG it'll work.

    If you're running C25 then you'll need a 100% Argon for TIG.

    I've been using the 2% Lanthinated for everything. Mild, Stainless, Aluminum.

    Just to fix Rada's link... Welding Tips and Tricks - TIG, MIG, Stick and a pantload of other info Jodi is awesome. As you learn stuff a TIG Finger works out great, as does a gas lense kit, both of which can be purchased from Weldmonger.com (this is from the guy who runs <- Website)
    Bob Moffet, from Weld.com is also great, but in a much grumpier sort of way

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    Dictionary quoting knob stoinkythepig's Avatar
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    Re: Hobbyist TIG welder recommendation

    Quote Originally Posted by jasnmar View Post

    I know of a couple places you could access a TIG machine, not that far from you without having to shell out the coin (at least all at once). Feel free to PM me if you're interested in more information.
    Thanks, I have a friend that's a professional welder that would do the work for me, lives nearby, and has a portable gas powered welder, so machine access has never been an issue, I just always wanted one of my own (and since he's a pro, I don't want to ask him to teach me how to do work I'd normally pay him to do). I've probably been watching too many Roadkill, Hot Rod Garage, and Finnegan's Garage episodes on youtube, and while I don't really want to build crazy cars, I'd love to do a welding project that does not end up looking like "Ray Charles welded it with his feet".

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    Re: Hobbyist TIG welder recommendation

    Finnegan makes TIG look easy and he's got a $6500 machine. There's a reason why Tony and Lucky always use a MIG.

    If you want a cheap decent machine (from what I've heard) look into the Vulcan Protig 200.

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    Re: Hobbyist TIG welder recommendation

    I know people that have taught themselves to weld aluminum, it just takes practice. The more you practice, the better the weld. It's a bit like playing a musical instrument in that respect.

    I've heard good stuff about the AlphaTIG welders they sell on Amazon. They are crazy cheap but you can actually do useful work with them.

    Supposedly the really good deal is the HTP Invertig, which is a rebranded professional Italian welder available from one internet dealer. It comes with very high quality accessories and is supposedly about 95% as good as the Miller equivalent, but costs about half the price. Build quality is also very high, there's a youtube video of someone taking one apart.

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    Re: Hobbyist TIG welder recommendation

    Quote Originally Posted by joeswamp View Post
    I know people that have taught themselves to weld aluminum, it just takes practice. The more you practice, the better the weld. It's a bit like playing a musical instrument in that respect.

    I've heard good stuff about the AlphaTIG welders they sell on Amazon. They are crazy cheap but you can actually do useful work with them.

    Supposedly the really good deal is the HTP Invertig, which is a rebranded professional Italian welder available from one internet dealer. It comes with very high quality accessories and is supposedly about 95% as good as the Miller equivalent, but costs about half the price. Build quality is also very high, there's a youtube video of someone taking one apart.
    I've heard very good things about these as well. A friend had one and loved it.

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    Rookie Rada's Avatar
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    Re: Hobbyist TIG welder recommendation

    You can also get lucky and score a Lincoln Precision Tig 225 like I did for $1200. Our local welding supply has used machines from time to time. I've gotten some great deals on used machines from them. You might check with some of the local outfits.

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    Dictionary quoting knob stoinkythepig's Avatar
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    Re: Hobbyist TIG welder recommendation

    Quote Originally Posted by jasnmar View Post

    I'd take a hard look at the Alpha units, like https://smile.amazon.com/AHP-AlphaTI...-no-redirect=1
    Pulled the trigger, one of those is on the way. Thanks!

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    Expert Agitator GearHd6's Avatar
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    Re: Hobbyist TIG welder recommendation

    Quote Originally Posted by stoinkythepig View Post
    Pulled the trigger, one of those is on the way. Thanks!
    Wow, that thing does not look noob friendly whatsoever!

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  17. #17
    Dictionary quoting knob stoinkythepig's Avatar
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    Re: Hobbyist TIG welder recommendation

    Quote Originally Posted by GearHd6 View Post
    Wow, that thing does not look noob friendly whatsoever!
    I was going to get the one that goes "PING!" but decided on the simpler one. YouTube

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    Resident Turkey Tricky Mike's Avatar
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    Re: Hobbyist TIG welder recommendation

    Fun stuff. Get yourself a new, clean wire brush and mark it for Aluminum only.

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    Lifer jasnmar's Avatar
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    Re: Hobbyist TIG welder recommendation

    Definitely not TIG, but I was reasonably happy with this (for an amateur). I had the Millermatic 180 turned up to 11 for this.
    Hobbyist TIG welder recommendation-img_20180407_155516-jpg

    I keep thinking that things like reading interwebs and watching videos can help my welding, and they can, but nothing helps as much as time on task.

    You have to know the theory. You have to understand what's going on. You also have to have the muscle memory, and the muscle memory has to be adaptable to increase / decrease speeds in multiple directions based on what's going on with the weld. Prep, also plays an incredible role. I should have done more cleaning (brushing / grinding) at the edges of the weld above.

    Fascinating stuff.

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  20. #20
    Lifer jasnmar's Avatar
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    Re: Hobbyist TIG welder recommendation

    I just said you can't learn to weld watching vidjayohs. Then I linked to a learning how to TIG weld vidjayoh.


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    Rookie Rada's Avatar
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    Re: Hobbyist TIG welder recommendation

    If you want to train your muscles.(and you do) grab a 6 or 8 inch square plate of material of your choice and start stacking beads. Work on technique and breathing. If you find yourself shaking and unsteady chances are you are holding your breath.

    This practice is great for stick or Tig.

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  22. #22
    Dictionary quoting knob stoinkythepig's Avatar
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    Re: Hobbyist TIG welder recommendation

    Quote Originally Posted by Rada View Post
    If you want to train your muscles.(and you do) grab a 6 or 8 inch square plate of material of your choice and start stacking beads. Work on technique and breathing. If you find yourself shaking and unsteady chances are you are holding your breath.

    This practice is great for stick or Tig.
    All I could find was 6.5" squares. Outta luck I guess. Damn.

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    Rookie Rada's Avatar
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    Re: Hobbyist TIG welder recommendation

    Quote Originally Posted by stoinkythepig View Post
    All I could find was 6.5" squares. Outta luck I guess. Damn.
    Sucks man

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  24. #24
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    Re: Hobbyist TIG welder recommendation

    Another trick for practicing: draw a straight line on a piece of paper and lay a thick-ish washer with a 1/4 or so ID on the start of the line. Use a pencil to continually trace the ID while moving the washer forward along the line (slowly) without actually drawing on the paper. Not as fun as laying beads, but does help with keeping a consistent gap (not grounding out, but also not too high). And it's cheap.

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  25. #25
    Lifer jasnmar's Avatar
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    Re: Hobbyist TIG welder recommendation

    More stuff you can't learn from...

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