Last updated on June 21st, 2023
Welding requires both precision and knowledge as it has various techniques and a variety of applications. It can be challenging to find the best welding approach to a specific task.
TIG welding and stick welding are two popular welding methods that come with their own pros and cons. But what if I were to tell you that it’s possible to TIG weld with a stick welder?
Sounds a bit weird right? Well, that’s what I will be covering in this post.
Whether you are a seasoned welder or a beginner in the world of welding, if you are wondering how to TIG weld with a stick welder then this article is for you.
I will be covering all the details including the process to convert a stick welder into a TIG welder in a cost-efficient manner.
The Basics of TIG and Stick Welding
Before we get into the details, let’s cover a bit of the basics. If you are new to the welding world, then you have to know the basics before you go on tweaking the equipment.
Understanding TIG Welding
Tungsten Inert Gas (TIG) welding, also known as Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW) is one of the most precise welding processes that uses a non-consumable tungsten electrode to create the weld.
The process also uses a shielding gas to protect the weld pool from atmospheric contamination and also to enhance the welding process.
TIG welding is used for the highest quality welds and has a wide range of applications. You can TIG weld a wide range of materials as well. However, TIG welding is a slow and expensive process and is not generally used for regular welding because of its high cost.
Understanding Stick Welding
Stick welding, also known as Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW), is also a popular welding method that uses a consumable electrode coated with a flux material.
The electrode creates an electric arc that generates heat and melts both metal and electrode to create the weld pool.
The coating on the electrode releases the gas that will shield against contaminants and allow the weld to cool and solidify.
Stick welding is a versatile process and can be used for various purposes. The process produces much spatter and requires much cleaning after the welding is complete.
Key Difference Between The Two
Here are some of the key differences between TIG and Stick welding.
- TIG welding uses a non-consumable tungsten electrode while stick welding uses a consumable electrode coated in flux.
- TIG welding requires a separate shielding gas while in stick welding the gas is generated by the flux coating on the electrode.
- TIG welding produces cleaner and more-precise weld joints with minimal spatter while stick welding has much more spatter and requires post-weld cleanup.
- Both types of welding processes have versatile applications but when it comes to thin metal plates and delicate materials, TIG welding is preferred.
Related: What Can You Weld With A TIG Welder?
Essential Equipment for TIG Welding with a Stick Welder
Now that you understand the basics, let’s discuss how you can convert a stick welder into a TIG welder.
Here is the equipment you will need before you can proceed to the next step.
1. Stick Welder with a High-Frequency Start
You cannot convert just any stick welder into a TIG welding tool. You will need a stick welder that comes with a high-frequency (HF) start feature.
This feature allows for easy arc initiation without touching the electrode to the base of the metal. As you know, in TIG welding, the electrode doesn’t touch the base to prevent contamination.
2. TIG Torch and Accessories
You will need to get a TIG torch and make sure that it is compatible with your stick welder. The torch must contain a gas valve, a power block, and appropriate connectors for the stick welder.
Also, you will need a foot pedal to control the welding amperage. If you are getting a modern torch, then you might get hand control to regulate the amperage.
For TIG welding, you will need a non-consumable tungsten electrode. These electrodes are available in various types and sizes. The exact specifications will depend on the type of material you are welding.
4. Gas and Flowmeter
You will also need a shielding gas and a flowmeter to do TIG welding. The shielding gas is responsible for protecting the weld pool from atmospheric contamination.
The flowmeter will help you regulate the gas flow to the TIG torch. You can control the gas flow as per the requirement of the weld.
5. Safety Gear
Last but not the least, you must also ensure the availability of protective equipment for yourself as well as anyone who is working with you.
Protective gear includes welding gloves, helmets, apparel, safety goggles, and leather shoes. The equipment may vary depending on your budget, but leave no part of your body unprotected.
Related: How to Use a TIG Welder?
Preparing for TIG Welding with Stick Welder
Now that you have gathered all the equipment, it is time to join them together and set up the welding machine.
Here’s what you have to do:
1. Setting Up Your Workstation
Before starting welding, you must ensure a few important things. Make sure that the workspace is well-ventilated and free from any flammable materials.
Next, set up your stick welder, TIG torch, gas cylinder, and flowmeter. Connect the equipment.
If you are going to work on a workbench, then make sure you put the clamp on your workpiece.
2. Selecting the Right Electrode and Gas
Next, comes the choice of gas and electrode. When TIG welding with a stick welder, argon seems to be the most reasonable choice. It is a versatile shielding gas that provides excellent arc stability.
The electrode size will depend on the particular specifications of the task and the type of metal you are going to weld.
Just make sure that the electrode is sharp and clean before you start the welding process.
3. Getting the Materials Ready
Now that the equipment and workplace are ready, there is only one thing left to do; prepare the base metal.
You should clean the base metal thoroughly to remove any dirt, debris, or oxides that might have formed on it
Clamp your workpiece securely to one place to prevent its movement during the welding process.
Step-by-Step Guide to TIG Welding with a Stick Welder
Everything is ready. Let’s get started with setting up the welder and starting the welding process.
1. Installing the Torch
First of all, you will have to connect the TIG torch to the stick welder. Make sure all the connections are completely secure.
Also, attach the gas line through the flow meter to the torch’s gas valve. Now, your TIG torch is ready for use.
2. Adjusting the Stick Welder Settings
The next step is to set the settings on the stick welder. Set the machine to Direct Current Electrode Negative (DCEN) as it is a common setting for most TIG applications.
Next, adjust the amperage according to the thickness of the material and the diameter of the electrode. As a general rule, you will have to use 1 amp per 0.001 inches of material thickness.
As for gas, you can use 10-20 cubic feet per hour which is the most common setting for TIG welding.
3. Initiating the High-Frequency Arc
Now it’s time to start the welding machine. Turn on the stick welder and initiate the arc using the high-frequency start feature.
Position the TIG torch about 1/8 inch from the workpiece and then initiate the arc by increasing the amperage. You can control the amperage by pressing the foot pedal or using the hand control.
Also, you must ensure that the arc remains focused on the joint.
4. Fine Tuning Your Technique
The rest is the same as TIG welding. You must maintain a consistent torch angle and keep the electrode close to the workpiece.
You must make sure that the tungsten electrode doesn’t touch the workpiece.
On the other hand, you have to feed the filler metal to the weld pool as and when needed.
TIG welding, even with a stick welder, is a slow process. So, it will take plenty of time. Move the torch along the joint slowly and smoothly. Ensure that there is proper penetration and fusion of the joint.
5. Troubleshooting Common Issues
When TIG welding with a stick welder, you might run into some common issues. Here are tips to troubleshoot these issues:
- Poor arc stability: You must check the gas flow rate. Ensure that the gas connection is secure and there are no leaks. Also, check that there are no obstructions in the gas line.
- Excessive Spatter: Despite the TIG welding process, it is still not a genuine TIG welding machine. If there is excessive spatter, then you must check the amperage and also that the electrode is not contaminated.
- Incomplete Penetration: If you are not getting the desired fusion or penetration then you must check the amperage and also your technique. You might not have the angle right. TIG welding does have a bit of a learning curve.
Expert Tips and Tricks
TIG welding is a complex and precise welding technique that requires a bit of learning. So, as a beginner, you should keep the following tips in mind while TIG welding with a stick welder.
1. Mastering the Right Technique
TIG welding will take a lot of practice to learn. Practice the torch position and filler rod control to achieve clean welds. Get stability in both hands and maintain a comfortable body positioning to reduce fatigue to a minimum.
2. Maintaining a Clean Environment
The TIG welds are susceptible to contamination despite the shielding gas. So, you must ensure that the workspace is free from any contaminants. Regularly clean and inspect all of your equipment.
3. Choosing the Best Equipment for Your Needs
Invest in a high-quality stick welder and compatible TIG equipment to ensure the best results. You must never combine an expensive tool with a cheap knockoff or alternative because that will just ruin the whole process and won’t give you desired results.
4. Safety Considerations
Always wear proper safety gear and work in a well-ventilated area. Remember that TIG welding generates a lot of heat, and is dangerous. So, always keep yourself covered and protected.
Be mindful of potential safety risks such as gas leaks, electrical issues, and fire risks.
Advantages of TIG Welding with a Stick Welder
Here are some of the advantages of this process:
- If you use a stick welder for TIG welding, it will save you money and remove the need of purchasing a separate TIG welder. You will only have to purchase some of the equipment. So, it is cost-effective.
- TIG welding is versatile. So it will significantly enhance the application of the tool and you will be able to deal with a wide range of welding projects.
- Using a stick welder for both stick welding and TIG welding will be space-saving as you won’t have to keep and maintain two separate welding machines.
Drawbacks of TIG Welding with a Stick Welder
Despite the amazing features, versatility, and numerous benefits of this process, there are also some potential drawbacks and limitations.
- Stick welding machines may not offer the precise amperage control offered by genuine TIG welding machines. This can affect the quality of the weld and might give you a few inferior results.
- Not all stick welders come with high-frequency start features. So, they won’t be compatible with the TIG torch and equipment. You need a specific type of stick welder for this process.
- TIG welding is complex and requires learning. So, you will have to do quite a bit of practice to get good at it.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I convert my arc welder to a TIG?
Yes, you can convert your arc (stick) welder into a TIG welder but you will have to have a specific type of stick welder that comes with a high-frequency start feature. If you have this one, then you can get the TIG equipment and get to work.
Can you stick welding with TIG rods?
Technically it is possible but it is not recommended. TIG filler rods do not have the flux coating on them which will result in poor-quality welds and increased contamination in the weld pool.
Is TIG welding as strong as stick welding?
TIG welding offers better precision and control than stick welding. If used right, you will get much cleaner welds without much spatter. However, the strength depends on various other factors as well.
How to practice TIG welding without a TIG welder?
You can use a stick welder if you don’t have a TIG welder. If the stick welder features a high-frequency start, then it can be used for TIG welding. You will need to get a TIG torch and other TIG equipment to make it work.
What happens if you TIG weld without gas?
You should not do it. TIG welding without gas will result in poor weld quality because shielding gas won’t be there to protect the weld pool from contamination. Hence, you must not attempt it.
Do you push or pull with TIG?
When TIG welding, you push the torch along the joint while maintaining a 15 to 20-degree angle in the direction of travel. Pushing will give you better visibility of the weld pool and also allow for better-shielding gas coverage.
To sum it all up, TIG welding with a stick welder can be quite advantageous. It is a cost-effective and versatile solution for those who are looking to expand their welding applications without investing in a separate TIG welder.
By understanding the basics, getting the right equipment, and mastering the technique, you will be able to achieve high-quality TIG welders with a stick welder.
The above guide helps you with everything you need to expand your welding expertise and use a stick welder for the TIG welding process.
The results of using a stick welder for TIG welding might not be the same, but they are very close when you get the technique right.
If you have any questions, you can drop them in the comments section below and I will get back to you as soon as I can. Happy Welding!
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