How to Build Your Own Tig Welder


Tungsten inert gas--or TIG--welding uses a constant electric current to create the heat necessary to melt metal. In this form of welding, an inert gas such as argon is used to shield the tungsten welding electrode from outside contaminants, hence the name. A TIG welder can easily be crafted at home using a small engine capable of producing 6000 to 7000 RPMs, such as an air compressor motor, and an old car alternator. (See reference 1.) The end result is a non-permanent system that will provide the power necessary to cut metal.

Things You'll Need

  • Air compressor or other small engine
  • Ford 130 amp 3G alternator
  • Headlamp dimmer switch rated for automotive use
  • Welding cables
  • Welding torch
  • Grounding clamp
  • Welding gas supply
  • 10 gauge automobile wire
  • Mount the air compressor engine and the alternator with heavy bolts on a sturdy surface so that the pulleys are aligned. If the compressor engine and alternator are to be permanently used as a welder, you may consider building a custom mount and housing for the components.

  • Connect the green wire from the alternator and the negative terminal of the battery to the alternator casing.

  • Connect the blue wire from the alternator to the headlight dimmer switch. Connect the free terminal of the dimmer to the positive output of the battery.

  • Connect a welding grounding clamp to the positive output stud on the alternator. This is the stud that would normally be connected to the car's battery.

  • Attach the welding torch to the alternator casing using welding cable. Connect the gas supply to the torch.

  • Install the alternator belt onto the pulleys.

  • Power on the motor and use the dimmer switch to adjust the output of your homemade TIG welder.

Tips & Warnings

  • A much simpler version of this set up can be made by using the alternator already in your car. Simply disconnect it from the car battery and connect this wire to a grounding clamp, and connect a welding torch to the chassis of the car or ground. The welding current is controlled by the car engine's RPMs.
  • Be careful working around the alternator when the system is powered on. There will be live current feeding through its casing.
  • When working with batteries and electrical wiring, be very careful to avoid electric shock and injury.
  • The heat produced by the welding gun is extremely high. Always wear proper safety gear when welding.

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