Tuesday, October 4, 2011

How to TIG weld aluminum beverage cans together

I show how to weld aluminum cans together with a cheap import TIG welder. I am not a professional welder, so some of my advice may be unconventional or even wrong, but these methods work well for me. With a 3/32" electrode and large gas lens, I don't have to change the torch setup for nearly any kind of common welding. Let me know if you have any questions or would like me to make more welding videos.

Some things that I have learned:

Don't use pure tungsten electrodes. The new rare-earth blends work very well on nearly all metals.

Sharpen the electrode to a very fine point for low-current welding, and sharpen it like a pencil for higher (eg over 100A) welding.

Keep the electrode balance control electrode negative ("weld") and only shift toward electrode positive ("clean") when absolutely necessary.

The welder's pulse feature turned out to be not as useful as I originally thought. It just seems to complicate things. It's definitely possible to make great welds without it.

Use fat electrodes. Some people claim that using an electrode that is "too large" for the weld current will cause the arc to wander. Nope. Just grind it to a sharp point. Thin electrodes 1/16" and .040" overheat much too easily, and provide no apparent benefit. .040" electrodes are very frustrating.

Use thin filler rod. It's much easier to feed thin rod quickly than feed fat rod slowly. As I mentioned in the video, it's easier to sneak a thin filler rod into the puddle while keeping the torch close to the surface.


  1. Very impressive! However, the problems you are having with the welder cause concern. You are fortunate to be able to fix it yourself, but what about someone less knowledgeable? Would you still recommend this brand of welder to an amateur or does it break down too easily?

    Much enjoy your various videos!

  2. Anonymous, this is the first problem the machine has had. I really wanted a Miller Dynasty, but this import machine cost less than 1/3 the price of the Miller, and my budget was tighter back then.

    As with most cheap import tools, it is very helpful to know how to fix them, and their unreliability is part of the ridiculously low price.

  3. cool post, keep up the good work

  4. Nice work, and as always, great video with running commentary. I have always heard that you should not scrub both directions with the SS brush, but rather one direction repeatedly on aluminum.

  5. Excellent! I haven't ever welded cans together. To the garage! To the Anonymous above, Proud Miller Dynasty 200 DX, MIG 252, and Spectrum 375 owner. I've owned some of the imports, and ended up spending the $$$ over time. Having said that, I have made the $$$ back from doing projects with them. When I started I purchased imports to learn and I won't say the quality of the finished product was any worse given my skill level at the time, but as I got more experienced the expensive toys just seem to make things go easier. My general rule of thumb is buy a cheap tool that will do the job. Use it / break it / modify it, and find out what you do want in the tool. If you are doing more of that work then buy the tool you want.

  6. Great videos as always Ben!

    Did you perchance use your wireless lavs while recording the video? I can here quite a bit of EM interference in the audio. Which isn't surprising with the Inverter having a spark gap, and the fact that you're welding in front of a camera.

    Try using a wired lav if you have one, hopefully with some sort of shielded cable, it might reduce EM noise getting picked up. Also make sure none of the camera/audio cables are laying across any power cables.
    Best case would be a shotgun mic some distance away pointed at your head, but that would require $$$.

  7. Andrew, thanks. The lav mic was wired, and picked up noise even though the welding cable was a foot away from the mic wire. I was surprised how much interference there was. I'll have to move the wire farther away next time.

  8. I suspect that when you graduate to heavier aluminum, you'll find another way to hold the torch.

    There have been times, in awkward locations where my glove fingers begin to smoke and curl up even when holding the torch more conventionally.

  9. Your pulling your filler rod too far away from the gas shield of the tig torch. That means that your filler rod is being contaminated from the aluminum. the correct and best way to grind a tungsten is to hold it facing the upward instead of downward, plus your turning it the wrong way. Even though the cans are kinda thin the bottoms of them are pretty thick lol. Your bead should be alot like a stack of dimes if your as good as you say you are lmao

  10. Hi there I have the Thermamax 200p without plasma cutting.Looks almost identically to your welder. I recently add the water cooler and sr 18 torch (made for the 315p model)this made a major improvement when welding aluminum arc more stable,tungsten last longer,collets do not warp anymore and needs less current to weld.
    The manual that came with my machine was not very good when it came to the pulse adjustments,I found the correct explanations at

  11. PS Forgot to mention after fitting the water cooled setup. Laying a stack of dimes on aluminum was a piece of cake. I just wish I had had the water cooled setup when I first got the welder.

  12. Many years ago I used a miller dc inverter ( gold seal 140) to weld cans together. Electrode positive only and using scratch start. Back then welding cans together was a challenge for even an experienced welder but today's inverters with balance control ,freq settings and arc stability at low amps means its an easy task. I own a miller dynasty200dx and by my third attempt my machine was set to correct parameters and welding cans was achieved. I even ran beads along the side of the can but you'll find you need to clean the side of the can well then hold the filler wire so its touching the can wall then strike your arc on the filler itself. Once the filler melts into the can and pools keep the wire in the pool constantly focusing most heat on the wire and move fast.