dextarity and welding

mikeyfrombc

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a buddy and i where chatting about tig welding and i mentioned some of the work i,ve seen on here . he told me about a local racer who had his car built by one of the top prostock chassis builders . while at the shop finishing details on the chassis he watched the welder finishing some welds , he was amazed at the skills of the welder as he was standing and was welding the funny car cage , he welded the whole dia of the tube from one position and effortlessly switched hands with the torch and filler rod to weld the opposite side of the tube . to me that is crazy skills hell i can barely print my name with my left hand let alone control a torch well enough to match the welds of my right hand .
 

Scott_F

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To be a good TIG welder, you have to be at least 80-90% as good with your off hand. I am a right handed welder, and I avoid welding with my left hand whenever I can, but sometimes it is necessary. I have some serious injuries to my hands and wrists, with very limited dexterity and range of motion, which makes it all the more challenging. Even so, I can still do a very nice weld with my left hand. Fortunately I have always been an ambidextrous person. For me, position, comfort and line of sight are everything.
 

atomicjoe23

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No way do I think I could lay a decent bead with my left hand. . .I've never even tried though.

I'm with you Mikey. . .I can barely print on the level of a 5 yr. old with my left hand!
 

DBMETALWORX

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no way do i think i could lay a decent bead with my left hand. . .i've never even tried though.

I'm with you mikey. . .i can barely print on the level of a 5 yr. Old with my left hand!
i can't write left handed either, but welding is much easier. Especially when it's needed. Just start slowly, and it'll come to you before you know it...
 

mikeyfrombc

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i,ve practiced a bit and i can do it halfass nothing i,d post a image of LOL


the other thing is they welded unsupported , to me that even harder i need to rest against something even if just my finger tip is touching something it helps
 

Scott_F

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At the very least, I need to support my forearm, and preferably my wrist or heel of hand area. Trying to TIG with your arm waving in the air is ridiculously difficult to hold steady. The more body parts that I have comfortably supported, the better I can weld.
 

atomicjoe23

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I like a little support too, but I have found that if I have too many different points touching then I get kinda anchored in a spot and I find it difficult to move smoothly. . .

. . .what works best for me is to have my filler metal hand supported and then to just have some surface to be able to smoothly run my torch hand against as I move along the length of the weld, any more than that and my movements start to get jerky and my weld won't look smooth.
 

Chase 2

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"Freehanding" the torch and is next to impossible for me, I've got to have a least a pinky touching. Bench work is easy, its that "out of position" hard to reach stuff that's tricky. I like using a torch with the thumb wheel "throttle" on the handle so you can keep both feet planted firmly while you are twisted around trying to reach the weirdo stuff. I'm bummed that as I'm getting older my eyes are going fast and if you can't focus precisely on the puddle you're screwed. The new auto darkening hoods make the out of position stuff easier too.
 

atomicjoe23

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Have you tried a magnifier lens in your helmet as well?

My instructor at weld school had the same problem. . .his vision was going, but he put a magnifier lens in his helmet and he was good to go.

I wanna give those torches with the thumbwheel a try. . .sounds very handy!
 

mikeyfrombc

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i tried the magnifier lens a 2x i think it works well but if you move quickly your focus gets all screwed i got dizzy at time , maybe bench welding it may work but when crawling around i found it awkward. the welder who was doing LH and RH welds on the guys chassis i mentioned used a dial on the torch . i,d rather have a nice flexhead torch and a really good footpedal then a dial on the torch but that me LOL
 

Scott_F

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I also like to slide my hand along a guide of some kind. It has to be a smooth movement without stiction, which causes a jerky progression. "Pre-running" your weld is very helpful. Bench welding is the easiest by far. I try to bench weld subassemblies as much as possible before welding them onto the chassis. Welding on the chassis in awkward positions is a real challenge. It can take quite an effort to prop up and position the foot pedal where you can use it, then support your body whatever way you can, then support your welding arm somehow. I often use bar clamps to support my arm, and give me something to slide along as the weld progresses. Welding upside down is easy compared to the trouble to get into a good position to do it.
 

Chase 2

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The thumb wheel takes a bit of getting used to at first, but if you think about, it most of the time you remain fairly constant with the peddle. But yeah laying on your back or reaching over stuff it is a huge advantage.

I used to use a big lens Tig hood with a 2X mag lens inside, I could shift my focus from normal to inside the 2x kinda like bi-focal glasses. Now with my auto darkening hood, the 2x mag takes up the entire lens area so you have to have the hood at the exact focal distance or the puddle can be out of focus and that is a pain in the arse when you are trying to get into tight spots.
 

Tom_Willis

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No way do I think I could lay a decent bead with my left hand. . .I've never even tried though.

I'm with you Mikey. . .I can barely print on the level of a 5 yr. old with my left hand!

I'm naturally left handed, but in kindergarden a monster of a teacher tried to get me to use my right "correct" hand. She gave up when I started spelling my name "silliW ymmoT"
 

Shannon

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Some people just GOT IT!!!!!!!!!!!.......................some people don't..................That would be me!!!!!
 

mikeyfrombc

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so i just went and melted 12ft of filler rod in the flat position doing some lap welds and T welds i tried seated RH , standing RH , seated LH and standing LH my best welds and most comfortable was standing torch in my lefthand and filler in the right ,pedal also right side , i see the puddle better and adding filler is like peeing in the dark , 2nd nature pretty much LOL i was amazed i think this is how i gas welded 22yrs back LOL been a long time , i did remember draping the cable for the torch over your shoulder to steady the torch and support the cable better .
 

atomicjoe23

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Yeah. . .draping the cable is key. . .whether it's over your should (I did that for OFW welding as well) or across your lap (that's what I do for bench TIG welding). . .anything to keep you from having to fight the weight of the cable while trying to hold the torch steady.

I'm done with school now and I don't have a TIG welder so I won't be able to try out LH'd welding really soon, but I've got a friend with a Miller EconoTig that wants me to come show him how to do aluminum so it might be sooner rather than later. . .I never really thought of it like peeing before, but I guess that's a pretty apt descriptiong and thinking about it like that it might not be as hard as I thought!

I like the pedal on the right side also. . .I played the piano as a kid and that was my pedal foot so it's just kinda natural that way. . .who would've thought that learning to play the piano would make me a better welder, by already having foot control down I never had to learn to use the pedal or to learn to lock it in place once I had the right voltage. . .it just happened, I never had to think about it once! Which was a big plus. . .other guys in the class were a little jealous!
 
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