Some of the best tips for better tack welds can be found in this comprehensive list. Understanding the voltage, arc, wire and welder requirements can give you a highly professional and easy weld. These tips can be used for professionals and amateurs alike.
Tips for Better Tack Welds
If you are a professional welder, tips for better tack welds can help you save valuable time and set you up for a cleaner final weld. Or, if you are an amateur looking to learn how to tack weld, these tips will help start you off on the right foot. Either way, there are many ways to incorrectly tack weld that can waste time and create a dangerous situation. Create excellent tack welds with just a few simple adjustments and a lot of practice. Welding, particularly tack welding, is a very useful and technical skill. Using tack welding may require you to become a certified welder.
What Is Tack Welding?
Before you make a final weld on any project, you will need to hold it together first. Rather than cumbersome clamps that can get in the way, tack welds can keep two or more pieces fitted tight and secure until you complete the final weld. Tack welding uses small spots that are often one-half to three-fourths of an inch apart. By keeping the welds small and far apart, the material shouldn’t warp due to overheating. Tack welding is only meant to be a temporary measure in order to prepare for the final weld. Never rely on tack welds to provide all the stability of a full weld. While they should provide enough strength for you to move your project around and support itself, they should never be considered full welds. Tack welding is used for almost every welding project. It is used to make cars, connect pipes, create solid joints and perform a variety of other applications.
When Do I Need To Tack Weld?
Generally, anytime you are welding it is a good idea to use tack welds. They allow you to take your time with the final weld. You can also position yourself and the project you’re working on in a way that is comfortable for you, rather than worrying about clamps and holding a perfect position. If you are in a factory, these are often two different jobs. A fitter uses tack welding to secure two or more pieces together, and then a welder makes the final weld. These two types of welds ensure a safe, uniform and strong bond. There are, of course, many dangers to improper tack welding.
Why Is It Dangerous?
There is a reason why there is welding certification. These types of welds are best done by professionals. If you are not a certified welder, consider taking training and becoming certified before attempting tack welding. There are a number of ways to incorrectly tack weld, including:
- Slag: Leftover material could cause impurities in the final weld. At best, this affects the overall smoothness of the weld. At worst, it could dramatically decrease the strength of the weld, causing it to crack.
- Craters: Dips in the weld due to improper use. Again, this could either cause a rougher end product or dangerous hollow spots in the overall weld.
- Rapid cooling: If you attempt to cool your product too quickly in between welds, it could cause the entire area to crack or warp. Even if it is not immediately visible, very small weaknesses could later end in a damaged or defective product. Be sure to use proper cooling techniques, and understand the material you are working with and its limitations.
- Arc strikes: These are areas that have become overheated. It results in a blemish and weak spot. This is a risk for both tack welding and finish welding, but particularly tack welding due to the high heat.
- Distortion: If you do not properly align the two parts you are tack welding, you may realize too late that you are joining them crooked. Especially with thinner material, tack welders should always be alert to bending, or distorting, while they weld. There are a few tips to ensure this doesn’t happen.
- Inaccurately spaced: You shouldn’t place tack welds over 1 inch apart. Some projects need the welds to be far closer. Depending on the material and project, be sure you are confident in the spacing needed.
8 Tips for A Successful Tack Weld
There are a few important adjustments to be made to your wire when you tack weld. First, a smaller diameter wire is helpful. Try 0.023 for best results. This helps avoid balling at the wire’s end and allows for a faster burn. You’ll want a shorter section of wire, and a speed between 3 and 3 ½. Be sure to avoid forming a ball at the end of your wire, and clip it immediately if you see one.
Higher voltage gives you more heat, which provides a cleaner, smoother weld. A wet puddle is great for tack welding, so turn your voltage up. For example, you may want to use a voltage setting of 3 or 4 when tack welding with 24-gauge.
To get an ideal tack weld, be sure to use an arc of approximately ⅜ inch or less. If you are very experienced, you should use as low as ¼ inch. This short arc will give you the accuracy and fine adjustments you need to make uniform, smooth tack welds. This is an area it is especially easy to get sloppy, which could cause a large section of the material to overheat and become damaged. Take your time and learn to control a short arc.
If your contact tip is worn, you will experience a poor tack weld. It will also make the process more difficult. Having a new and high-quality contact tip is a key to excellent welding, especially tack welding. While you are looking at the contact tip, make sure the tip is the correct size. It should be roughly the same size as your wire. Check the recess of your contact tip to ensure optimal performance.
Because you are using such a high voltage, your tack welds will be more prone to distortion due to quick cooling. Be sure to use precise techniques and proper timing to allow your material to cool before beginning your final weld. Another way to prevent distortion is to use the correct order of the tack welds. Avoid starting at one end and moving down the line of your material. This is the greatest risk of distortion, particularly with metals such as stainless steel. Instead, either alternate between the two ends or set the middle tack first. Once you have the middle tack weld, move from side to side in order to create an even line.
Duration of Tack Weld
Although there is no definite measurement of time, most professionals and code books refer to tack welds as a temporary weld. Even a perfect tack weld should not be expected to join two pieces permanently. While you should take your time to make excellent tack welds, be sure to finish the final weld before you use the project. Otherwise, the pieces could bend, distort or break. The recommended duration of a tack weld can vary, but generally, make sure it isn’t the only weld holding it in place for an unreasonable amount of time.
Quality of Your Welder
While you are considering steps to make a better tack weld, take a look at your welder. Be sure it is not only the best welder for the job, but also one with which you are familiar. Understanding your welder and how it runs is a very important step to creating excellent quality tack welds.
Fixing a Mistake
As with most areas of highly skilled work, it’s much easier to take your time and create an excellent tack weld rather than try to correct an improper or sloppy weld. Welding at extreme heats causes an area of the metal to become weakened. This could reduce its strength. If you find the tack weld is unusable, the material will still be compromised even if you completely remove the weld. In this case, you will not only have to remove the incorrect tack weld, but also remove a section of the material you are using. This could ruin an entire project or cause a lot of extra work for yourself. Take the time to learn and practice these skills, and create professional tack welds every time.
Always Use Precautions
Learning to tack weld is a time-consuming skill. Professionals continue to work on their skills throughout their lives. Whether you are a seasoned tack welding veteran or a hobbyist just experimenting with the skill, be sure to always use precautions when tack welding. Use proper safety gear and ventilation and understand both your welder and your materials before you begin. Different types of materials need different voltage, heat and even types of current for your welder. If your welder cannot be used for effective tack welds due to low voltage, wire speed or any other reason mentioned in the tips, consider purchasing a welder that is designed for these highly skilled welds.
Keep These Tips For An Excellent Tack Weld
With these tips in mind, you can weld confidently knowing that you are producing expertly crafted projects using the best tips for tack welds. Although it is a difficult skill to perfect, with these tips and some practice you can create excellent tack welds.