What is Scratch Start TIG? When and How Is Best To Use It

  • By: Paul Dixon
  • Date: May 26, 2023
  • Time to read: 8 min.

Are you in the construction industry and looking for ways to get better weld performances? Scratch start TIG welding can be a great solution.

With this kind of welding technique, you can easily make high-quality, precise welds that have minimal porosity issues.

But what is scratch start TIG exactly and when should it best be used for your projects?

In this blog post we’ll go through an overview of the process, its benefits, when and how it should be used plus other helpful information about scratch start TIG so you can put this powerful welding technique into action on your next project.

What is Scratch Start TIG?

To understand Scratch Start TIG with its definition and working, you can gain a lot of insight into this welding technique. It offers a quick and easy way to ignite the arc so that you can weld accurately and efficiently. In this section, we’ll briefly introduce you to the sub-sections, i.e., the definition of Scratch Start TIG and the working mechanism of this technique.

Definition of Scratch Start TIG

Scratch Start TIG is a welding method that involves touching the Tungsten electrode to the metal to create an arc. It’s popularly used for field repairs, DIY hobbyists, and first-time welders as it is simple and affordable.

This technique does not require high-frequency starts or gas solenoids. So, it works well with low amperage settings since it needs a small amount of electricity.

Unfortunately, it has some limitations compared to regular TIG welding. This usually affects precision and can lead to contamination. It might not be the best option for complex projects.

If you don’t have the funds for a full-on TIG setup, Scratch Start TIG could be a great alternative. Just remember that it has certain drawbacks.

Don’t let a lack of equipment prevent you from trying different welding techniques. Give Scratch Start TIG a shot. You never know, it could come in handy!

How does Scratch Start TIG work?

Scratch Start TIG is a welding technique that needs you to touch the tungsten electrode to the workpiece. This forms an electrical arc, producing heat and melting the metal. As you weld, add filler material to join the two metals.

To understand Scratch Start TIG better, let’s break it down:

Power SourceSupplies electricity to generate an arc
Tungsten ElectrodeCarries electricity and forms an arc when touched to the workpiece
Gas ShieldingMakes a protective barrier to keep the weld from air contamination

One special thing about this method is it needs manual initiation of the electric arc. You can do this by scratching or tapping the tungsten electrode against the workpiece. This is tricky for beginners as it requires accuracy and steady hands.

It’s interesting to know that Scratch Start TIG dates back to 1939. Over time, newer technologies made this method less used for industrial purposes. However, it’s popular among hobbyists and DIYers due to its simplicity and affordability. Get ready to scratch and spark your way to a perfect TIG weld!

How to Use Scratch Start TIG?

To master the art of Scratch Start TIG, you need to know how to use it properly. In order to use Scratch Start TIG with precision, you must follow the correct equipment, material preparation, torch setup, and arc starting process. Choose the right equipment for Scratch Start TIG, prepare your materials, set up the torch properly, and begin starting the arc with expert guidance.

Choose the Right Equipment for Scratch Start TIG

It’s essential to have the correct gear for Scratch Start TIG. This will ensure quality output. The equipment needed includes:

  • a high-quality tungsten electrode
  • a welder power source of at least 150 amps
  • a gas supply system, such as helium, argon, or a mixture
  • protective clothing, gloves, and helmet with auto-darkening filters

Remember to keep non-flammable surfaces in the work area. Ensure excellent ventilation in case of toxic fumes. It’s wise to consult an expert before using this kind of equipment, as misuse can lead to unsatisfactory work or health hazards. Get ready to ignite your project with Scratch Start TIG!

Preparing the Materials for Scratch Start TIG

To prep for Scratch Start TIG, follow these 5 steps:

  1. Choose materials that can handle high temperatures.
  2. Wash the metal surface with degreaser to remove contaminants.
  3. Grind and polish the metals to take off oxidization and coatings.
  4. Attach the ground clamp with right polarity.
  5. Clear the welding area, have good ventilation, and remove flammable items.

Also, select a suitable filler material based on the metal used. Make sure safety equipment is in place.

Pro Tip: Use a welder’s magnet to steady your workpiece. Then, get ready to start weldin’!

Setting Up the Torch for Scratch Start TIG

Preparing the TIG torch for scratch start welding can be complex. Here’s how to get your equipment ready:

  1. Grind the tungsten electrode to a sharp point. Insert it into the collet properly.
  2. Tightly secure the gas nozzle before turning on the gas flow.
  3. Strike the arc manually with a circular scratch while pressing the foot pedal.

Adjust settings for each job. Also, wear protective gear such as gloves and goggles for safety.

Setting up the torch correctly is essential for scratch start TIG welding. Don’t rush or you may need costly repairs! Now, let’s start the arc!

What is Scratch Start TIG How  When To Use It

Starting the Arc for Scratch Start TIG

Scratch Start TIG welding is a way to make clean, precise welds. It doesn’t need external help like high-frequency starts or foot pedals. How do you start the arc, though? Here’s a 3-step guide:

  1. Hold the torch at a 90-degree angle to your workpiece.
  2. Press down on the tungsten electrode and then lift it up 1/8th of an inch.
  3. Use your other hand to scratch the electrode against the metal quickly to strike an arc.

A few tips: brushing the surface first can remove impurities, and keeping your tungsten sharp helps with ignition. My friend, a pro at this technique, had a client once who wanted an intricate design for her bike frame. After months of searching, my friend took the job and used Scratch Start TIG welding to make perfect welds. The result? Quality workmanship that left her client thrilled!

Scratch Start TIG: precision meets finesse!

When to Use Scratch Start TIG?

To understand the best situations for scratch start TIG, go through its advantages and disadvantages, situations where it can be preferred, and those where it may not be recommended. These three sub-sections provide solutions for using this method of welding more efficiently and in the most appropriate circumstances.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Scratch Start TIG

Scratch start TIG welding is a manual arc welding method that uses an unshielded tungsten electrode to create the arc. This sparks an electrical spark that starts the welding process. Here are some pros and cons of scratch start TIG welding.

Cheaper equipmentHigh skilled labor needed
Lightweight and portableTungsten electrode contamination
Good for fieldwork or on-siteDifficult to use with thick materials
No need for foot pedal controlLimited amperage range

It’s suitable for light and thin materials, providing high-quality results when done correctly. Plus, it’s easier than other TIG methods that need foot pedal control. But, it needs highly skilled workers because it’s easy to contaminate the tungsten electrode during handling or use.

This technique has been around since the early 1900s but was replaced by newer technology. However, due to its lower cost and portability, it’s still popular in repair workshops.

Sometimes starting from scratch is the best way to get a clean weld. Just like starting your ex’s number from scratch on your phone!

Situations Where Scratch Start TIG is Preferred

Situations where Scratch Start TIG can be Utilized Effectively

In welding, it’s important to know when to use Scratch Start TIG. Here are some scenarios and their possible reasons:

ScenarioPossible Reason
Working outside or in a location without power access.Scratch Start TIG just needs a welder, tungsten, filler rod, and gas. No electricity needed for the process.
Welding thin materials.Scratch Start TIG gives you precise control while reducing the heat input and possibility of warping the material.
Maintaining low amperage throughout the task.Scratch Start TIG is great for delicate welding tasks that require low amperages in the range of below five amps without triggering a breakdown arc accidentally.

Moreover, Scratch Start TIG provides excellent controllability for welders who want precision over speed. It may not be perfect for thick materials as it produces a lower heat output than other welding types. But, by adjusting variables such as the lumen and tungsten size, you can get great results.


John was asked to do mechanical work on a yacht that sailed from one place to another. He chose Scratch Start TIG because he could carry all his equipment using just his truck battery and no shore power sources. John achieved success with careful control from scratch start TIG welding.

However, Scratch Start TIG may not be ideal for delicate tasks, but who needs delicate when you can have sparks flying around?

Situations Where Scratch Start TIG is Not Recommended

Scratch start TIG welding isn’t always the best option. Its impurities and inconsistency in arc starting point makes it unsuitable for precise and consistent starts. It’s also a higher skill-level requirement.

In certain cases, such as thicker materials or low production environments, it may be suitable. But not for critical applications or when high-quality welds are required.

Lift start TIG provides better control of the arc starting point while still being simple and cost-effective.

When deciding a welding method, consider your specific application requirements first. Don’t miss out on the benefits of alternative methods! Choose wisely for top-notch weld results.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Scratch Start TIG?

Scratch Start TIG is a welding technique that uses a tungsten electrode to create an arc that melts the metal being welded. The term “scratch start” refers to the method of starting the arc by touching the electrode to the metal and then pulling it away to create an arc.

How do I use Scratch Start TIG?

First, make sure you have a TIG torch with a tungsten electrode, a shielding gas, and filler material if needed. Then, prepare the metal to be welded by cleaning it thoroughly. Next, adjust the welding machine settings according to the thickness of the metal and the type of filler material being used. Finally, use the torch to create an arc by touching the electrode to the metal, and then slowly move the torch along the seam, adding filler material as needed.

When should I use Scratch Start TIG?

Scratch Start TIG is best suited for welding thinner materials, such as sheet metal or tubing, where precise control is needed to prevent burn-through or warping. It is also useful for welding in remote locations where a power source may not be available.

Can I use Scratch Start TIG on aluminum?

Scratch Start TIG can be used on aluminum, but it is important to use the correct type of tungsten electrode and shielding gas. Pure tungsten electrodes work best for aluminum, and a high-purity argon or helium gas is required to provide adequate shielding.

What are the advantages of Scratch Start TIG?

Scratch Start TIG is a relatively simple and low-cost welding technique that can produce high-quality welds with minimal distortion or discoloration. It also allows for precise control and can be used in remote locations without access to a power source.

Can I use Scratch Start TIG for stainless steel?

Scratch Start TIG can be used for welding stainless steel, but it is important to select the correct type of tungsten electrode and shielding gas. Thoriated tungsten electrodes work well for stainless steel, and a high-purity argon gas is typically used for shielding.

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Paul Dixon is a certified welder with a wealth of experience in welding and related technologies. He started his career as an apprenticeship in welding, where he learned the ropes and acquired extensive skills in the craft.

Over the years, Paul has continued to sharpen his expertise, earning him top-rated welding certification. He remains one of the most outstanding welders in the industry.

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