Angle of the Dangle: Resolving welding issues with torch angle adjustment

A new welder can often be plagued with curious and aggravating weld issues that often lead to a great deal of frustration. Even occasionally it will occur with seasoned veterans of the welding field as well. Often times occurring after a long day of welding or when fatigue is likely to set in. These symptoms are not necessarily exclusive to only one type of weld process. They can occur while stick, mig, or tig welding when conditions are right. Symptoms can include inconsistent porosity issues, slag or silicone trapped in the toes of the weld, inconsistent weld bead formation, without fusing on both sides or piling of the weld on one side or the other, dirty looking welds or even large amounts of spatter.

All these issues can usually be traced to improper torch angle. A welder has to monitor two angles of the torch position relative to the work surface and the weld.

1.  The torch angle relative to the direction of the weld. If TIG welding, particularly noticeable in aluminum, a steep angle greater than 15 degrees from vertical can result in a siphoning effect with the gas flow, pulling in air from behind the weld in to the molten puddle. Usually the angle should be with the torch reclining toward the weld area already welded, with the tungsten pointed toward the front edge of the puddle. Also, the arc can be projected too far forward creating instability issues. The welder can suffer similar issues while welding MIG as well. However, the torch can be pointed either in the pushing or pulling direction. Whether a forward or rear leaning approach is taken, the penetration and weld width will change. While stick welding too great of an angle causes multiple symptoms, including porosity, and weld rolling into the toes of the weld. In general the torch angle should “lead” the weld, and the torch should seem to be dragging the weld along. Again the 15 degree rule should apply.

2.  The angle relative to the sides of the weld should be monitored as well. This second plane is responsible for even distribution of the heat. Improper fusion of the weld will result or overheating of one side of the metal can be seen by following the heat lines. This angle can be manipulated however, to join dissimilar thicknesses by focusing more heat on the thicker material. However, when joining the same thickness of material the torch should be held vertical as possible to the weld with the torch/electrode even distanced from either side of the weld. This applies to TIG, MIG and Stick processes of welding.

As a new welder, if you suspect you are seeing transient problems, inspect your torch angle. Many problems can be solved by concentrating on the torch angle. If they don’t resolve, then you should proceed to suspecting other causes of the problem such as contaminated gas, or dirty metal, or insufficient gas flow.