The Ultimate Guide to GTAW Welding Positions for DIY Enthusiasts

Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW), also known as Tungsten Inert Gas (TIG) welding, is a versatile and precise welding process that can be used on a wide range of ferrous and non-ferrous metals. This comprehensive guide will provide advanced DIY users with a detailed, hands-on approach to understanding and mastering GTAW welding positions.

Selecting the Appropriate GTAW Power Source

The choice of a GTAW power source is primarily driven by the type and thickness of the material to be welded. For all weldable metals, except Aluminum and Magnesium, a machine with a DC power source is required. However, for welding Aluminum and Magnesium, a machine with an AC/DC power source is necessary.

When selecting a GTAW power source, consider the following factors:

  1. Welding Current Capacity: The power source should have sufficient current capacity to handle the thickness of the base metal being welded. Thicker materials require higher welding currents.
  2. Duty Cycle: The duty cycle of the power source should be appropriate for the intended welding application. A higher duty cycle allows for longer welding periods without overheating.
  3. Polarity Control: The power source should provide the ability to control the polarity of the welding current, as this can significantly impact the weld penetration and bead profile.
  4. Pulse Capability: Some GTAW power sources offer pulse welding capabilities, which can be beneficial for certain applications, such as welding thin materials or controlling heat input.

Preparing the Tungsten Electrode

gtaw welding positionsImage source: flickr

The tungsten electrode material used in GTAW is made from a tungsten alloy, with pure tungsten providing good cleaning action and moderate penetration. The tip of the electrode should be properly prepared to ensure optimal performance and weld quality.

  1. Electrode Tip Preparation: For a pointed electrode, the grind marks should run parallel to the electrode. For welding with AC, a ball-end electrode is preferred.
  2. Electrode Diameter Selection: The diameter of the tungsten electrode should be selected based on the thickness of the base metal and the desired welding current. Thicker materials require larger electrode diameters.
  3. Electrode Sharpening: Tungsten electrodes should be sharpened using a dedicated tungsten grinder or a bench grinder with a diamond wheel. The angle of the grind should be consistent and appropriate for the welding application.
  4. Electrode Contamination: Tungsten electrodes must be kept clean and free of any contaminants, as even small amounts of impurities can lead to weld defects.

Setting Up the GTAW Welding System

The typical GTAW welding system consists of several components, each of which plays a crucial role in the welding process.

  1. Welding Power Source: The power source provides the necessary electrical current for the welding arc.
  2. Foot Control: The foot control allows the welder to adjust the welding current during the welding process.
  3. Workpiece: The base metal being welded.
  4. Work Clamp: Secures the workpiece to the welding table or fixture.
  5. Welding Torch: Holds the tungsten electrode and delivers the shielding gas to the weld area.
  6. Coolant In/Out Hoses: Circulate coolant through the welding torch to prevent overheating.
  7. Cooling System: Maintains the temperature of the welding torch and the tungsten electrode.

When setting up the GTAW welding system, ensure that the inside diameter of the gas cup is at least three times the diameter of the tungsten electrode to provide adequate shielding gas coverage. Additionally, the tungsten extension should be no greater than the inside diameter of the gas cup.

Welding Procedure Variables and Joint Configurations

Welding procedure variables and joint configurations play a crucial role in determining the quality and strength of the weld.

  1. Welding Procedure Variables:
  2. Welding Current: Adjusts the heat input and penetration of the weld.
  3. Arc Length: Controls the distance between the tungsten electrode and the workpiece.
  4. Travel Speed: Determines the rate at which the weld is deposited.

  5. Joint Configurations:

  6. Butt Joint: Two pieces of metal joined end-to-end.
  7. Lap Joint: Two pieces of metal overlapped and joined.
  8. T-Joint: Two pieces of metal joined at a right angle.
  9. Corner Joint: Two pieces of metal joined at an outside corner.
  10. Edge Joint: Two pieces of metal joined at their edges.

The joint configuration is determined by the design of the weldment, the metallurgical analysis, and the process and procedure required by the weldment. The strength of the weld joint is another factor that contributes to the weld joint design, with weld joints being either partial or full penetration, depending on the strength required of the joint.

Filler Metal Selection and Welding Techniques

The type of filler metal wire used in GTAW is based on the chemical analysis of the base metal. The size of the filler metal wire depends on the thickness of the base metal, which usually dictates the welding current.

  1. Filler Metal Selection:
  2. Choose a filler metal that is compatible with the base metal composition.
  3. Consider the desired weld properties, such as strength, ductility, and corrosion resistance.
  4. Refer to welding procedure specifications (WPS) or industry standards for guidance on filler metal selection.

  5. Welding Techniques:

  6. Manual GTAW: The welder manually controls the welding torch and filler metal addition.
  7. Automatic GTAW: The welding process is automated, with the torch and filler metal addition controlled by a machine.
  8. Pulsed GTAW: The welding current is pulsed, allowing for better control of heat input and weld bead profile.

Mastering GTAW welding techniques requires extensive practice and a deep understanding of the process variables and their impact on weld quality.


Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW) is a versatile and precise welding process that can be used on a wide range of materials and in various welding positions. By understanding the critical details of GTAW, such as power source selection, tungsten electrode preparation, welding system setup, and welding procedure variables, DIY enthusiasts can develop the skills necessary to produce high-quality welds.

Remember to always prioritize safety, follow manufacturer guidelines, and continuously practice to hone your GTAW welding skills. With the right knowledge and hands-on experience, you can become a proficient GTAW welder and tackle a wide range of welding projects.


  1. Guidelines For Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW)
  2. Gas Tungsten Arc Welding Fundamentals: Understanding GTAW
  3. Gas Tungsten Arc Welding – Wikipedia