For as long as I can remember, I’ve been building exhausts for just about any vehicle I could get my hands on. I have always felt that there are few things in life more satisfying than hearing a motor roar to life through an exhaust system that you’ve spent countless hours planning and building. And that is why I do it!

In this first article (of many) I will break down techniques and skills that will hopefully make your next fabrication project a little more refined when you press down that pedal and put your torch to metal. For those of you who are beginners, we are going to start from the ground floor of precision TIG work. We’ll be looking at machine setup, torch options, and gas flow. The machine basics are some of the most important and often overlooked keys to laying some high-quality work. You don’t need a super-expensive rig or the latest and greatest accessories to do high-quality work. Just knowing the fundamentals will help up your welding game.

Start at the arc! A consistent, predictable, well-focused arc is a game changer. There are a slew of modern tungsten electrodes available in today’s market. One of the biggest favors you can do yourself to improve the quality of your welding is try a “hybrid” electrode. They work well for a variety of materials, sharpen nicely, last a long time, and aren’t radioactive so you won’t glow in the dark.

Now that you know what tungsten to grab from your local welding store, what do you do with it? Sharpen it to a point! Whatever shape you sharpen your electrode into, the arc leaving it will resemble that shape. So sharpen it to a point! You’ll get well-focused, reliable arcs. Around a 25- to 40-degree taper on your tungsten is suggested. Remember when sharpening your tungsten, grind it the same direction that current will travel out of the electrode. This will make that arc even more predictable. Read on, my friends, and I hope these words and photos will aid you in being the welder you always wanted to be!

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