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Learning TIG Welding in the Bay Area

evanthayer

Aluminum
Joined
Jun 13, 2018
I am interested in learning TIG welding in the Bay Area. The options for learning welding for a non-career welder are limited to 1 artsy, over-priced school in Oakland (The Crucible) and a number of community colleges with certificate courses that are for career seeking students.

I am very motivated to learn and am interested in getting 1-on-1 training during the work-week at my shop or someone else's shop at whatever the right hourly rate is. How would one go about finding a situation like this? Are their welders out there who would (a) be interested in something like this and (b) have the interest and character to want to teach someone?

Thoughts welcome!
 

rklopp

Diamond
Joined
Feb 27, 2001
Location
Redwood City, CA USA
My son took a couple Crucible welding classes as a young teenager, and got quite good at TIG and stick. I think it was mostly a matter of guiding him to the right setup to start practicing, minimizing some of the early trial and error, and then letting him practice. I don't recall the tuition fees. He's now had more practice TIG welding his university's SAE Mini-Baja car frame for a couple years. They have to pass a weld strength test before build season and at competitions. He's got superb hand-eye coordination and mechanical intuition anyway, so I think the welding comes naturally. I've never learned to weld and don't have a welder, so he did not get welding skills from me.
 

Halcohead

Stainless
Joined
Apr 10, 2005
Location
Bay Area, Ca
weldingtipsandtricks - YouTube

Buy a tig and start welding. There is nothing to teach really. You can't teach hand eye coordination.

I agree with this. I wanted to learn TIG welding for ages, and eventually bought an inverter unit and just started practicing. An everlast unit with full AC/DC output and a pulser is pretty affordable. The crucible is likely good enough to help you avoid some of the early pitfalls, although youtube can easily do this too. After a summer of welding 3-4 times/week (using youtube for reference), I asked a professional welder at my office to watch and critique my welding. He didn't have any complaints; you can progress a lot stacking beads on a .060-.090" aluminum plate.

The pros I work with occasionally give lessons, but only for fellow employees and they rarely give more feedback than little tips and adjustments. Most of the people who I work with who weld just taught themselves.

It also doesn't hurt to practice feeding filler when watching TV or sitting around. It's a critical motor skill you can train without actually lighting an arc.

I would offer to do some coaching but don't have enough time to reliably commit, and I'm no expert compared to a full time professional.
 
Joined
May 26, 2004
Location
Paradise, Ca
I taught a couple one-day classes when I was still welding. The guys who had never TIG welded before made ok progress in one day, but the guys who were very poor with a TIG but who had time behind a torch trying to learn made amazing progress. So yes, buy a welder, frustrate yourself trying to learn for a bit, then have a pro critique and you'll have a lightbulb moment within a couple hours probably.

Start without any filler. Using stainless plate is best. Layout a racetrack with a sharpie with varying widths of 'track', then follow that track and modulate the pedal to get used to how the pedal effects the width (and depth, but you can't see that) of the puddle.

Keep the tungsten as close as possible to the puddle. This gives you the best control.

And college professors are the absolute worst to learn from.... in my personal experience.
 

trevj

Titanium
Joined
May 17, 2005
Location
Interior British Columbia
weldingtipsandtricks - YouTube

Buy a tig and start welding. There is nothing to teach really. You can't teach hand eye coordination.

These videos are well produced, and short enough that many can be watched during a coffee break.

The basics are pretty easy to learn, and to be able to be at a top level in the field, you are going to spend a lot of your lifetime running beads.

"Clean", is the word in TIG. Clean your Tungsten, clean your work, clean you hands and gloves, clean you filler rod. And Practice! Lots of practice!

When they started us out on TIG in school, it was just running beads at first, then checking penetration, then beads with filler, then checking that we had penetration, AND a decent looking bead, and so on. It ain't really rocket science, just a lot of repetitive hand motions and muscle memory.

Buy a decent helmet if you can afford to. Being able to see what is going on, understanding that, and being able to react, pretty much is what you learn to do, so if you can't see, you are really starting hard. Get a set of cheater lenses for your helmet if you need them.
 

trevj

Titanium
Joined
May 17, 2005
Location
Interior British Columbia
Get some stainless not too heavy, you will think you are a genius

LOL! Until you look on the inside and see it all crusty and black!

Copper or brass back up blocks are really handy, so are ways and means of back-shielding the weld.

Another thing worth shopping hard for, is a good fitting set of gloves!
 

rons

Diamond
Joined
Mar 5, 2009
Location
California, USA
Are their welders out there who would (a) be interested in something like this and (b) have the interest and character to want to teach someone?
Thoughts welcome!

Welding stores usually have a demo room. Business cards and stuff on the walls and classes. A 1 hour instruction period is all you need to get started.

Sometimes I think that if you don't have good handwriting than you are no good at TIG.
(Wonder how the itchy nervous types do when under the torch... :drink:)

The suggestion about starting with stainless is good. Also a auto darkening hood is better than a straight dark lens. And when the arc starts blink your eyes
just for a measure of safety. Lot's of stuff can happen is a brief amount of time. Einstein said this....
 

Richard King

Diamond
Joined
Jul 12, 2005
Location
Cottage Grove, MN 55016
I am interested in learning TIG welding in the Bay Area. The options for learning welding for a non-career welder are limited to 1 artsy, over-priced school in Oakland (The Crucible) and a number of community colleges with certificate courses that are for career seeking students.

I am very motivated to learn and am interested in getting 1-on-1 training during the work-week at my shop or someone else's shop at whatever the right hourly rate is. How would one go about finding a situation like this? Are their welders out there who would (a) be interested in something like this and (b) have the interest and character to want to teach someone?

Thoughts welcome!
I have a friend in Berkeley who might help. Or know someone as he is a long-time member of the Northern California Blacksmith club. Email me and I'll forward it to him. [email protected]
 








 
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