How To Set Up A TIG Welder For Stainless Steel? 

How To Set Up A TIG Welder For Stainless Steel

Do you want to weld stainless steel with a TIG welder? If yes, then you should first learn how to set it up. Setting up the TIG torch is the primary step to weld stainless steel successfully. TIG torches are set up differently for different welding materials. Just like it is different for aluminum welding, it is different for stainless steel welding.

If you are planning to weld stainless steel, you must be wondering how to set up the torch. So in this article, I will discuss setting up a TIG torch for stainless steel welding. For a long time, I have been in this business, and I have explored several welding mechanisms. So all you get in this article is a reflection of my experience and work. 

Without any further explanation, let’s just jump into learning the setup of a TIG welding torch for stainless steel. Watch the steps and make notes to learn the process. 

6 Steps To Setup A TIG Welder For Stainless Steel: Know The Process

Basically, you need to know how to attach the parts of the TIG torch and what elements are needed. You can break down the part of a TIG torch and get a new setup; yes it is that flexible. This is why using a TIG welding torch is fun. It is handy and portable, lightweight and slender, and super easy to work with. But hey, without the right setup, you can’t get the desired outcome. 

So here are the steps to set up a TIG welding torch for stainless steel:

Step 1: Choose A Gas or Air Cooling TIG Torch

So you get two types of TIG welders. One TIG torch is water-cooled, and the other is air-cooled. For stainless steel, it is better to use a gas or air cooling TIG torch. This keeps the cord and handles cool for a long time. Even the torch remains cool for 6 hours if you work at 60 to 90 amps. If you have a big project or you want to do some artwork on stainless steel, you should get an air or gas cooling TIG torch. 

Step 2: Install The Cup Adapter

Basically, the air or gas goes from the tip of the handle to the back cap while welding. But for now, you have nothing attached to the handle. 

First, you need to push in a small cup adapter to the open mouth of the torch handle. This is placed to ensure that gas can’t leak through the handle mouth during welding. So press the cap hard on the mouth ensuring that there is no gap. Done? Let’s take the next step. 

Step 3: Fix The Collet Body

First, fix the outer collet body. The outer collet body basically seals the cup adapter and has a hole that releases the threads for welding. But make sure that the outer collet body fits the adapter snugly and not too tightly. 

Just insert the collet body in the adapter and rotate it slowly. Then make it a bit more than finger tight and that is all. If you make it too tight, the constant heating pressurizes the threads inside against the interior of the collet. This can distort its shape. It not only damages it but also makes it difficult to remove the collet body from the torch. 

In the end, you need a wedge-like collet that has no slit. Now insert the collet straight into the opening of the torch head, which is the other side of the collet body. 

Step 4: Install The Back Cap and Front Cap

Now you are ready to install the back cap. On the open side where you inserted the wedge-like collet, place the back cap and keep rotating until it fixes well to the torch head. Make sure that it is not loose. 

Next, install a standard cup in the front of the torch head. Rotate it and firmly tighten it to the torch head. These cups are generally made of silica or ceramic that are pretty reasonable for stainless steel.

Step 5: Install Edge Caps

Using an edge cup is an excellent alternative to the general front caps. Edge cups are extremely versatile and can be used for a lot of projects. 

To set it up, you need to place a silver adapter to the outer body collet. The silver adapter fits perfectly to the outer collet body and seals the cup adapter tightly. Now the glass edge cup should be slid in the silver adapter. It fits smoothly on the silver adapter. 

Now the benefit of an edge cap is that it is available in several sizes and designs. So depending on your welding requirement, you can change the caps. Just slide one out and slide in another one. So it is very convenient and useful, to be honest. 

Step 6: Fix The Tungsten Bar

Take 332 tungsten bars that are suitable for your torch. Now simply insert the tungsten bar inside the torch through the hole of the cap. 

But note that the tungsten should stick out as per the width of the cap. Measure the width of the cap and that is exactly the length of tungsten sticking out of the cap. 

And that is it!

5 Tips To Use A TIG Welder For Stainless Steel: For A Better Result

Even if you set up the TIG welding torch correctly, you need some more to do it right. If you want to weld perfectly, you have to know more. So without much introduction, let’s have a look at some tips that I have learned over years: 

Tip 1: Choose The Right Tungsten Bar: 

The size of tungsten matters a lot in welding. If you use a thick tungsten bar for a small project, the torch will shake and won’t even start in most cases. Hence, the basic rule is- the thicker the material, the greater the diameter of the tungsten bar. 

I have made a chart to give you an idea about how to choose the right tungsten bar: 

Thickness of steelDiameter of TungstenAMP range
1/16 1/1680- 20
3/321/16100- 30
1/83/32120- 150
3/163/32150-  250
1/21/8235- 375

Tip 2: Clean The Stainless Steel To Be Welded

You should never use a TIG torch welder on a dirty steel surface. This will simply damage the tungsten bar and deteriorate its efficiency. Besides, you will need more effort to weld a dirty stainless steel surface. Therefore, cleaning the steel is what you should do. 

If it is moderately clean, use a wet rag and wipe away the dirt. For heavy specs of dirt, use acetone to clean the surface. Otherwise, the dirt will create bubbles and the tungsten bar will struggle to reach the steel and instead weld the dirt. This is extremely dangerous. 

Tip 3: Clean And Sharpen The Tungsten Tip

If you see that the tip of the tungsten bar is not sharp, you need to replace it or sharpen the tip. Remember that precision is important in welding. Consequently, a dull tip of tungsten won’t give you the desired outcome. So you have to make it sharp before welding. 

Even if it is sharp, it has to be clean too. After the bar cools down, you should wipe the tungsten tip and clean it thoroughly before using it again. Otherwise, you will severely struggle to weld with a dirty tungsten welding tip. 

Tip 4: Use A Wide Cap

Using a big cap in the front allows more gas coverage. The more gas enters the weld, the more it interrupts the intervention of air. When air doesn’t enter, the welding is tidier and cleaner than ever. And to do so, the trick is to maximize the gas coverage in the welding tip. 

A 12 cap can be the best for stainless steel welding. This ensures maximum penetration of gas making the task convenient and effective. 

Tip 5: More Speed, Less Heat

If your torch weld gets extremely heated, it decreases the efficiency of the welder. More heat melts the metal fast and you may get a distorted metal within a second. So the heat has to be minimal for a successful project. And to do so, speeding the welding is a good idea. 

As the amperage is enough, you can work conveniently on stainless steel. We have already mentioned the bar diameter and amperage range. As per that, you can decide the amperage. When the amperage is suitable, the heat generation is enough and not too much. This makes welding easier for you.

Keep these tips in mind to get an amazing welding outcome.  

Frequently Asked Questions: 

What Settings Do You Use To TIG Weld Stainless Steel?

Usually, you use 304 stainless steel for TIG welding. For that, 308L filler material is used. As per the thickness of the steel, you need to choose the diameter of the tungsten bar. Apart from that, choose an edge cap that suits the size of your project. Those are the things that you need for a successful setup.

Do You TIG Weld Stainless Steel In AC Or DC?

You always use DC to weld stainless steel with a TIG torch welder. In this process, the torch is attached to a negative polarity while the earth acts as a positive polarity. This is the most effective way of welding stainless steel. However, aluminum needs AC for TIG welding. So it varies according to the material. 

What Tungsten To Use For Stainless Steel?

Thoriated red electrode tungsten rods are the best for welding stainless steel. They are very sharp and fine to work on stainless steel. They get heated gradually, release minimal heat and penetrate the steel slowly. So the level of accuracy and precision is high with this electrode. 

Final Thoughts: 

Not only have you learned the setup of a TIG welder for stainless steel but also got to know the tips of welding. So with that package of information, I believe you can do this by yourself. 

Just gather all the materials and set up your TIG welding torch and start your project. 

You may also want to read:

Tig Welding Aluminum Without High Frequency

Kaosar Ahmed

This is Kaosar Ahmed. I’m the main publisher of this blog. Welding Leader is a blog where I share welding tips and tricks, reviews, and guides. Stay tuned to get more helpful articles!

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