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TIG Welding Techniques – Which is Better? Walking the Cup Or Freehand

Walking the cup vs free hand Tig Welding Techniques explored.

Ever since I learned how to Tig weld pipe, I have heard welders argue back and forth about which welding technique is better, walking the cup? Or free hand?

So which welding technique is better?

To me the answer is simple. Both have their place of course. It’s Ford vs Chevy.

You need to know how to tig weld using both of these techniques.

Why?

Because there are times when walking the cup is better, and there are times when free handing is better

For fab shop pipe welding, cup walking works great and can be very fast and easy. But what about all the tig welding done on the job site where there are all kinds of things in your way? That’s when the freehand technique rules.

If you are welding pipe and can walk the cup, then just do it because there is nothing prettier than a tig weld on pipe done by an ace cup walker. But when the time comes where you need to freehand, you need to be good at that tig welding technique too.

Walking the cup works great on pipe that is about 2 inch and larger and also on most every socket welds even as small as 1 inch in diameter.

But for smaller diameter pipe and tubing, free hand is the best welding technique.

Free hand tig welding is also necessary for welding all kinds of things other than pipe. In fact, it is used for practically everything other than pipe welding whereas walking the cup is not very useful for much other than pipe welding.

But lets be clear about the term “free handing”. It does not mean holding the torch without propping on anything. It simply means that the ceramic cup is not resting on the metal.

The hand is steadied by resting some part of the hand against the metal being welded. That’s the only way to be steady enough to make good precise tig welds.

Making a good looking tig weld means being able to maintain a tight arc. You can’t do that unless your hand is steady.

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