How to Tig Weld Better by doing the Steel Drill

Can you Learn how to tig weld better using the Steel drill?

let me put it this way...Heck Yes.

no matter how good you are, focussed practice like this will make you a better tig welder.

What is the steel drill? 


its a skill exercise that involves welding 2 inch long beads on a piece of 2 inch wide metal (i used 2" x 8" x 1/4" thick cold rolled steel for this video). And it is one of the best ways to learn how to tig weld better.



The reason for welding 2 inch long beads:
I recommend swapping hands every bead.  But Why? you ask.

Because 2 inches is not long enough to allow you to build bad habits that will have to be broken.  Swapping to your non dominate hand will cause you to go slower and think about what you are doing. It will require you to weld the bead with intention and think about ripple spacing, arc length, electrode angle, filler rod dabbing and travel speed..and You will not be able to daydream and think about fantasy football.


Running a bead is the backbone of being a good tig welder. Is the backbone that everything else hangs on. If you cant even run a decent looking bead, why waste time and material on lap joints, tee joints and butt joints?

Do the steel drill first until you have mastered running great looking beads.
Then position the same type piece of metal for running beads in horizontal position....then vertical...then overhead, yes I said overhead.  If you master the steel drill on flat , horizontal and vertical, By the time you do overhead beads the only issue will be finding a way to prop and to be comfortable. ( I recommend a Tig Finger so you can prop where you want).

Here is how to get started doing the tig welding steel drill:

  • get a piece of 2 inch wide bar stock at least .125" (3mm) thick and about 8 inches long.
  • using 3/32" (2.4mm) tungsten  and 1/16" (1.6mm) filler rod (er70 series), weld a bead.
  • Then....swap hands and stack the next weld bead half way over the previous bead.
    the swap hands again and do the same thing.
  • Give it a dunk in a water bucket every 2 or 3 beads.
  • Here is the most important thing...Think!

    Think about what you are doing, how it affects the appearance of the beads ...and then make necessary changes to make the bead look better.

    ripples too wide? add rod more often
    bead too high? use more amperage or add less rod
    inconsistant ripples? add the same ammount of rod each time and dab rod at even intervals.

    a few more tips to remember:

    Keep your electrode sharp.  if you dip in the puddle or flick the wire into the electrode, stop, resharpen and proceed
    try extending the electrode 3/8"--1/2" (9-12mm) so that you can see the tip without bending your neck unnaturally.  a gas lens will help on this.


Also, pay attention to arc length and electrode angle...arc length should be close to the diameter of the electrode ( a bit more at first until you get comfortable with a closer arc) and torch angle should me only about 10-15 degrees.  If the tip of the filler rod melts and blobs into the puddle instead if feeding smoothly into the puddle, either you arc length, torch angle, or both are excessive.


and...keep the hot tip of the rod shielded by the torch gas coming out of the nozzle aka cup. that means keeping it pretty close but not so close that it melts and balls in between dabs of filler rod.  if you crap it up, you will see oxide islands floating in the puddle and the puddle will be less fluid.  The cure is to stop and snip with dykes.


good luck welder....click here to see more videos on how to tig weld