TIG filler metal addition techniques???

atomicjoe23

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Hey guys. . .I started my TIG welding class 2 weeks ago and I've got a question regarding filler metal addition.

My instructor worked for Boeing for the last 20 years (and for McDonald-Douglas & Northrup-Grumman for the 10 years prior to that) and he showed us this crazy filler metal addition technique. . .he cradles the filler metal rod between his pinched together thumb and forefinger, runs it between his pinky and his ring finger and then feeds it in little squirts by moving his thumb/forefinger back and forth. . .kinda like he's using a syringe and making it little injections. . .

. . .it works really well for him and his welds are freaking awesome, but it's a very difficult technique to master and my welds look like a big pile of crap everytime I try it. . .so I get frustrated and fall back to the dip method of holding the rod like a pencil and dabbing a little in as needed. . .this technique is working for me now while I'm only welding together 6-8" long pieces of metal for school, but I have a feeling that it won't be as fast as the other metod when it comes to welding a long piece of metal. . .like say trailing arms.

I have also tried the method of kinda laying the rod along the joint and letting it melt into the base metal as I go, but the rod gets used up at a faster rate than I travel along the joint so that's not really ideal. . .I can make some glass smooth TIG welds with that method, but I have to pause (or stop) to re-position the filler metal at least once on a 6-8" long piece of metal (I make sure that I'm actually melting base metal though. . .I'm not just melting a puddle of filler metal on top of the joint. . .) but that's not really the look that I'm after.

Do any of you guys have any helpful tips for new guys regarding filler metal addition technique (besides practice, practice, practice. . .that's a given and right now I''m TIG welding 6 hrs. a day). . .I know that the more I practice the better I will get, but I'm just wondering if any of you guys have any tips that will make things a little easier. . .it doesn't help any that my hands are a little shaky. . .sometimes that works in my favor because I have some natural oscillation in my movements, but other times it can be really frustrating and it seems like it only really pops up when I least want it too. . .

Thanks!
 

motorhead

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Feeding the filler with your fingers comes with time. To this day I couldn't tell you how my fingers are positioned when I feed, but as soon as I have a rod of filler in my hand and flip my hood down it seems to just happen, but it wasn't always like that. It took about a year consistenly welding to comfortably feed the filler without "dabing...stop...dabing...stop".

Has your instructor had you practice simply controling the puddle without adding filler or fusing a joint? Alot of welders like to jump right to welding with filler and they never learn to control the puddle. Your instructor has a impressive resume, so I would expect he has coverd the basics and knows how to teach.

I do not like the technique of laying the rod down and running over it with the torch, although alot of reputable and skilled welders do. I don't feel the same penetration or mixing of alloying elements are achieved on plate .125 and thicker. I don't have any actual test to prove my theory but untill I come across information otherwise I use what makes sense and works for me. Good luck
 

mikeyfrombc

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do you have any gas welding experience ??? it,s similar in the sense you have the torch in one hand and feed filler rod with the other , 20yrs back i could gasweld like not tomorrow , wish i kept at it it would be a asset with tig welding , which i have to practice at LOL
 

Chase 2

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You need to learn to feed the rod in dabs as needed. Laying the rod on the joint and running over creates a cold weld with poor penetration and really doesn't give you good puddle control. Did you learn Oxy/Aceylene (aka gas welding) first?? Gas welding is the best place to learn puddle control as well as rod control, but I digress. I used two different techniques, with thin stainless steel, I like to use all of my fingers along the rod against my thumb and move the rod in an almost centipede like motion, my thumb moves in little bites if about 1.2 inch. I don't use a glove on my rod hand as I lose the feel I need to go this technique. On aluminum and thick materials, I lay the rod in the saddle between my thumb and index finger, I pinch the rod between my index finger an my middle finger (out between the tips and the first knuckles), with my fingers curled and feed the rod by uncurling my fingers, when my fingers are extended, I release the pinch and curl my fingers to grab another bite. I had an instructor (former Rocketdyne welder) challenge me to learn rod feed techniques by forcing me to use rod about 1/2 the size you normally would with aluminum.
 

atomicjoe23

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Has your instructor had you practice simply controling the puddle without adding filler or fusing a joint? Alot of welders like to jump right to welding with filler and they never learn to control the puddle. Your instructor has a impressive resume, so I would expect he has coverd the basics and knows how to teach.
Yes. . .we started with autogenous outside corner welds on 1/8" mild steel plate, moved to flat butt joints, then to flat laps/tees in mild steel; after flat we moved to the horizontal position. . .I passed those and today moved to autogenous outside corner welds on 1/8" T304SS plate and flat butt joints. . .

I like welding on SS. . .either it's a lot easier to work with or having the technique down is making it easier to do on SS since I'm not starting from ground zero. . .either way the SS is much less frustrating than the mild steel (as long as I keep my torch angle correct and don't mess up my gas coverage resulting in ugly gray weld bead instead of a nice gold one. . .did that once and now I make sure to pay attention to my torch angle!!!)

I do not like the technique of laying the rod down and running over it with the torch, although alot of reputable and skilled welders do. I don't feel the same penetration or mixing of alloying elements are achieved on plate .125 and thicker. I don't have any actual test to prove my theory but untill I come across information otherwise I use what makes sense and works for me. Good luck
I don't like the technique either and kinda thought of it as cheating. . .but I knew that some guys on here (in reputable fab shops) use it. . .so I gave it a try. . .seemed to me that after you got the initial puddle started the fact that the filler rod melted faster than the base metal meant that you had to melt the base metal to get the filler metal to kinda suck into the puddle you had established. . .that's why I made sure to state that I melted the base metal as well and wasn't just melting filler rod on top of the base metal like brazing. . .

MikeyfromBC and Chase 2. . .yeah I learned OFW first, took that last summer, it was my first welding class, but it's been a year since I've touched OFW as I have spent the time in between taking 3 stick welding classes (learned groove and fillet welds in all positions as well as test plates for destructive testing of my welds), MIG (solid and fluxcore, mild steel and aluminum) and this TIG class is my last welding lab, but I didn't really get as much practice with the OFW as was necessary to really get the feeding technique down. . .it got to be very frustrating to mess my welds up because of a filler rod addition technique. . .so you could say I was a little lazy in OFW since it was my first weld lab and I didn't want to keep on producing crappy welds. . .

Thanks for the suggestions guys and I figured it would come down to a matter of time behind the torch!
 

TUBETECK

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I have been welding for as long as your instructor, and use several different methods to add rod. Just beacause one way works for this welder does'nt mean it will work for you. Learn one way then learn another way then learn another way. Right now your instructor is teaching you the basics, its now up to you to teach yourself the best way of doing what needs to be done. Like I said before after 30+ years of making a living as a welder, at a race I had kid ask me how I welded and he proceeded to tell me his instructor taught him the " dig a hole, fill a hole, move, dig a hole, fill a hole, move" method. When he told me this it was one of those duh moments that pop up every once in awhile. Keep at it dont give up, pretty soon your friends will be asking you the same questions.
 

westhoffmotorsports

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The filling part comes with time just like someone else said. I believe that everyone has their own techniques and ways of doing everything, but with whatever you do make sure you are comfortable with the way you are doing things and the position you are in and it will make things a lot easier. I worked for The Fab School in Riverside and the easiest way we got students comfortable was to have them take home a piece of rod and when they were sitting there doing nothing watching TV or something just practice feeding the rod through your fingers. It works trust me. Good luck!
 

5racer

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as they all say what ever feels good for you .after awhile you will get a "Calais" {sp**BAN ME****BAN ME** built up on your fingers and your rod will lay right in there.
 

Scott_F

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as they all say what ever feels good for you .after awhile you will get a "Calais" {sp**BAN ME****BAN ME** built up on your fingers and your rod will lay right in there.
Only if you are welding on a Cadillac: http://www.gmphotostore.com/images/53218176_pr.jpg

My finger dexterity is very poor due to injuries, so feeding rod can be difficult. I use an "inch worm" technique, where I feed the rod between my thumb and index finger. and guide it with my ring finger. It's hard to describe without showing video. It's sort of like a slow snapping your fingers motion.
 

nikiwestcoast

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The best way I learned is keep a piece of rod in the car with you. practice feeding it while sitting in traffic. No one best way, however you want as long as you can feed it steady. Good luck.
 

garagebuilder

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One of the ways I was taught was with a pencil, get the technique/fundamentals of feeding a larger object through your fingers first while you can look at it. You do this so you can see what your doing wrong, your feed should be consistant and shouldn't wobble around (so you don't lose your shield). Get it down so that you don't need to watch yourself do it. I would practice this in my other classes with whatever I was writing with. Get behind the hood and weld. 2 weeks into learing how to tig you shouldn't be worried about walking rod, but when you do, weld slow so you can walk rod out slow and focus more on the weld. As others have said before there is no correct way to feed rod, the truth behind it is in some positions it may be impossible to feed a certain way, don't let the concept distract you it will come when your ready for it.
 

atomicjoe23

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Thanks guys. . .my TIG welds are looking really good, and my feed is getting better. . .I'm still doing the dip as that is the most comfortable right now, but I'm gonna start practicing with a rod in my free time (what free time). . .it would be nice if I had a TIG of my own, but I won't be able to afford one of those for a little while. . .the Millermatic 211 wiped my savings out!
 

Mike @ pit b

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Hey guys. . .I started my TIG welding class 2 weeks ago and I've got a question regarding filler metal addition.

My instructor worked for Boeing for the last 20 years (and for McDonald-Douglas & Northrup-Grumman for the 10 years prior to that) and he showed us this crazy filler metal addition technique. . .he cradles the filler metal rod between his pinched together thumb and forefinger, runs it between his pinky and his ring finger and then feeds it in little squirts by moving his thumb/forefinger back and forth. . .kinda like he's using a syringe and making it little injections. . .
This is the same technique I was taught and the only way I do it. I was taught it because it can be used in pretty much any position and doesn't cramp yours hands. Although I haven't done any TIG welding in years, I still try and practice the technique when I watching tv. Just get some welding rod and practice when you're watching tv or reading a book. Practice makes perfect.
 

Armistice

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I hole my filler like a pencil... sort of. Take your filler and hold it like a pencil. Rotate the filler so it sits in the nook between your index and thumb.

How I do it, my thumb doesn't move; it only has pressure on the filler. I use my index and middle finger to feed the filler in

Maybe I'll try to get some pics. I usually see the method I use and seems way easier than what your instructor is doing
 

atomicjoe23

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I hole my filler like a pencil... sort of. Take your filler and hold it like a pencil. Rotate the filler so it sits in the nook between your index and thumb.

How I do it, my thumb doesn't move; it only has pressure on the filler. I use my index and middle finger to feed the filler in

Maybe I'll try to get some pics. I usually see the method I use and seems way easier than what your instructor is doing
This way seems like it might be more natural for me. . .I already hold the filler rod like a pencil. I've been getting better and I can make it across 6-8 inches of aluminum now without having to stop to reposition the rod. . .with carbon steel and stainless I can make it through a whole rod, but only becuase I can get the rod slightly stuck to the plate ahead of my puddle and slide my hand back up the rod quickly enough to not interupt what I'm doing.

I am getting better though. . .I can add the filler metal much more consistently and on target now, that's for sure. I'm slightly shaky so sometimes it's a battle, seems like if you get in the correct rhythm though that it just kinda flows!
 

Chase 2

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only becuase I can get the rod slightly stuck to the plate ahead of my puddle and slide my hand back up the rod quickly enough to not interupt what I'm doing.
Yeah hard to get away with that on aluminum LOL

At one time I welded restaurant equipment, Stainless counter tops, refrigerated based, grease hoods. A lot of grease hoods have 32 gauge SS faces. For a 32 gauge butt weld you clamp your work onto a aluminum backing plate (to hold it and allow a purge on the back side), then carefully tack every 3/16 to 1/4 inch. The weld itself is a simple fusion with no rod, (sometimes only a dab to close the gap as the puddle develops). For joints over a foot or two long, it took a special amount of shake with the torch hand to get it right. For me, it took 3 cups of coffee in the morning, 2 wasn't enough, and 4 was too much.
 

atomicjoe23

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My instructor has said that my shakiness is a blessing in disguise. . .and I agree. . .it's a slight amount of natural oscillation which works in my favor for the torch hand (or if it's just not being ridiculously out of control that day) but sometimes it's a real PITA for my filler metal hand, if I shake at the wrong time, my filler metal doesn't hit the actual pool and will stick above, to the side, or in front of the puddle. . .in front isn't such a big deal, but I hate it when it's above or to the side!
 

Armistice

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Yeah hard to get away with that on aluminum LOL

At one time I welded restaurant equipment, Stainless counter tops, refrigerated based, grease hoods. A lot of grease hoods have 32 gauge SS faces. For a 32 gauge butt weld you clamp your work onto a aluminum backing plate (to hold it and allow a purge on the back side), then carefully tack every 3/16 to 1/4 inch. The weld itself is a simple fusion with no rod, (sometimes only a dab to close the gap as the puddle develops). For joints over a foot or two long, it took a special amount of shake with the torch hand to get it right. For me, it took 3 cups of coffee in the morning, 2 wasn't enough, and 4 was too much.
I love welding SS. I worked for Hasco and we made SS food conveyors. Welds like a dream :cool:
 

mikeyfrombc

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i,ve been playing with my tig as of late , tried using a short length of filler and also a full length filler rod , the one thing i noticed with the full length is that the tail wagging on the filler rod can aid it the filling procedure , the osilating action seemed to make the filling process easier for me . the next ?? how long do you extend the filler rod from you hand to puddle on average ?? i was running too close and was burning my tips on the pinky finger , granted this was when i was using short lengths of filler . i,m gonna play later i,ll post some of my amiture self taught welds LOL only had a couple quick lessons from buddies gonna take some classes over the fall and winter
 

atomicjoe23

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Yes SS is pretty cool. . .personally I was a little afraid of starting aluminum because I wasn't super stoked on my feeding ability being able to keep up, but aluminum so far has been the easiest to weld for me!
 
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