TIG welding is probably the most versatile method available for the fabrication and repair of any kind of metal. At the same time, most experienced welders would agree that it can be the most challenging technique to get comfortable with, and there will always be more to learn.
To help you pick projects that will help you build your skills and gradually increase the level of difficulty, we’ve put together a list of 14 TIG welding projects for beginners. No matter where your skills are at right now, this list will give you a good starting point. Soon enough, you’ll be turning out finished pieces to impress your friends or earn you a profit.
Today, we’ll be exploring some of the best projects for beginners, and how you can find success in doing them.
Before We Get Started
In this article, we will assume that you’ve taken the time to familiarize yourself with your machine. Getting to know how to hook up your gas bottles, set up your torch, select and sharpen tungsten, and other basics are crucial to starting a project on the right foot.
There is more to the setup of your machine than we can cover here, but it’s a process that you should be comfortable with before beginning any welding projects. It’s essential to prevent damage to the machine, injury to yourself or others, and last but not least—bad results!
As always, we remind you to use the appropriate PPE when welding:
- Proper eye protection
- Appropriate gloves
- Fire-resistant clothing
- Steel-toed boots.
In this list, we’ve tried to lay out a trajectory that will lead anyone from complete beginner status to the point where they are comfortable with TIG welding for strength, precision, and creativity. The key to getting good at TIG welding is to be able to produce strong welds on a variety of metals and in a variety of working conditions.
Project #1 – Practice Makes Perfect
This one probably seems pretty obvious, but sometimes “how” and “what” you practice are as important as “if” you practice. What you’re doing is laying the foundations upon which all of your more advanced skills will rest. Get these right, and you’ll be on solid bedrock. Don’t build your house on sand.
This is a pretty standard plan for practice projects that you’ll find in use in tech schools and training programs. Start wherever it makes the most sense for you, but don’t skip ahead unless you’re sure you’ve got skills in the area you’re skipping.
Start with 1/8″ mild steel. In the flat position, practice each of the following welds until you’re confident:
- Single bead with filler
- Multiple overlapping beads (padding)
- Lap Joint
- T Joint
- Outside Corner
- Butt Joint
Once you’ve got them all in the flat position, practice them while progressing through the following positions in order:
When you’ve gotten good at each weld, in each position, on steel—challenge yourself with 1/8” thicknesses of stainless steel and aluminum (in that order). Repeat the entire process.
The final challenge will be to work with progressively thinner pieces of material until you’re confident with anything that your projects are going to require of you.
Project #2 – Repairs: If it is Broken – Do Fix it!
TIG welders with some experience under their belts might argue that #2 is too early on the list for repair projects. There will be some repair projects that leave you shaking your head and wondering if it would have been easier to just start over from scratch. In some cases, repair welds will require re-certification.
If we set all of those high-stakes repair jobs aside, there are still plenty left for the beginning TIG welder. If you work around equipment in an auto shop, fab shop, or on a farm—you’ll never have to look too hard to find things that need to be repaired that are within your comfort zone.
There are benefits to focusing on repairs as soon as you’re comfortable with all of the joint types, materials, and thicknesses you need to get a handle on. You won’t need to worry about designing a complete project. You will need to get really good at another fundamental skill—cleaning your materials.
Focusing on repair projects will force you to work with different joints, materials, and thicknesses in a “live” setting. It will also allow you to think creatively about how to solve the best real problem with the range of options you have available.
Project #3 – Bronze Hammer
As you get a little bit more experience working with your TIG welder, you’ll quickly realize that certain items are “must-haves” for your tool kit. The good news is that – thanks to your welding skills – you’ll be able to make some of them instead of buying them.
One tool that you’ll definitely need in your kit is a hammer that will deliver a forceful blow without marring finished surfaces on the materials you’re working on. Sure, a rubber mallet or a dead-blow hammer will do that for you, but anybody can buy one of those. Why not build your skills while making one that will be a conversation piece?
You will probably have all or most of the materials you need for this project laying around in your scrap bin.
Now that you’ve crossed that item off of the to-buy list for your toolkit, why stop there? Think about friends and family who could use a new:
- Fireplace poker
- Trailer-strap bar
- Ice Chopper
The great thing about projects like this is that you’ll be making things that are useful to the people you make them for a while, adding personal touches that make them unique and give you a creative outlet.
Project #4 – Need A Hand?
A third-hand tool will be an essential part of your tool kit as a TIG welder. Unlike MIG, Stick, and other welding processes, TIG will require you to use both hands 99% of the time that you’re welding. A tool that will hold pieces in place for you while you get a tack on them can be pretty handy!
“Mr. TIG” at Weld.com has put together a really helpful video on how to make one of these “must haves” for your tool kit. Over time, you’ll no doubt have to put versions of this tool together “on the spot” to handle different-sized pieces and different work areas.
Spend some time on the first one. Put your own personal spin on it. Each time you pull it out of your tool kit, it will remind you of how far you’ve come.
Make a point of getting to know the businesses in your area. Every industry has specialty tool needs that are simple to make but hard to find from a supplier. If you can make them their tools, you’ll be making friends and customers.
Project #5 – Aluminum Tote Tray
Now that you’re starting to get a decent pile of personalized tools in your welder’s tool kit, you’ll be looking for a good way to keep them all together and an easy way to get them to the job. Why not make yourself an aluminum tote tray?
What’s great about this project? You can start with a basic design and customize it to suit your exact needs. What else is great about it? It’s an excellent opportunity to step up to the challenge of TIG welding aluminum.
In addition to the solid plan they provide for your aluminum tote tray, they give you some insider tips on how to make your cutting wheels and drill bits work better when you’re working on aluminum.
Now that you’ve got a solid foundation of skills, some valuable repair experience, and a cool-looking custom tool kit, you’re probably ready to start doing some projects that will make you some money. The rest of the list will give you plenty of options to do just that!
Project #6 – Metal Brackets
If you’re ready to start focusing on TIG welding projects that will make you a profit, you’ll probably want to ease your way into projects that are fast, easy, and have low overhead. For tons of great ideas, you need to look no further than your local hardware store.
Metal mounting brackets are a great place to start because you can start with a simple design, inexpensive materials, and a few common sizes. As people begin to hear about your products, you’ll be able to customize your basic designs to meet their exact needs. Thanks to the internet, you can sell your products nation- or worldwide.
You’ll have an advantage over the off-the-shelf options at the big-box store too! While most of those products are mass-produced using the cheapest materials available, you’ll be offering custom-designed, high-quality, hand-made items.
Even if you put all the emphasis on function rather than form, you’ll be able to give people great options that they won’t find in the stores. As you get more creative with your design ideas, your basic pieces will start to pull double-duty as mounting brackets and interior decoration—which we’ll get back to a bit further down the list.
Project #7 – Signs and Display Racks
You’ve got the skills and the experience. Now you’ve even got some basic products to sell. Why not make your next project another one that helps you grow your business at the same time that you continue to challenge yourself and develop new skills?
If you’re a welder, there’s no need to pay someone else for the items that you need to make your brick-and-mortar or online store look like the kind of place your customers will want to buy from. This will give you a great chance to start to flex your creative muscles and come up with useful items that also communicate precisely who you are as a business.
Not only will this give you a chance to tell customers who you are and what your style is, but it will also open up a whole range of similar projects that emphasize style and creativity:
- Custom fire pit rings An excellent opportunity to bring multiple techniques together on pieces that have a basic design and endless creative possibilities.
- Backlit signs: Talk to the business owners that you know and see what they would like. If you can make it for them, you’ll be helping them out and building your reputation.
- Business Logo Vanity Pieces: Get creative. Any size or shape or purpose that you can think of can help businesses build their brand.
- Custom Racks and Shelving: Some businesses can get away with the run-of-the-mill mass-produced racks and shelving in their retail space. Find the ones that can’t and make them what they need.
When your fundamentals are solid, you can handle function. Once you start to let your customers see your unique style, you’ll be able to offer the best of form and function working together.
Project #8 – Interior Decorations
This brings us all the way to the other end of the spectrum. These projects, it will be all about making things that express your unique style or listening to a customer’s idea and creating something that blows them away. Either way, getting the look “just right” will be the whole point of these projects.
There is no limit to where projects like this can go. They can be as simple as a hand-designed coat rack to match somebody’s interior décor better than what they can find in the store. They could be as complicated as furniture, entertainment centers, or other big pieces for somebody’s home.
One project that comes to mind is a wine rack that somebody made for a friend who was a horse fanatic. They made the wine rack entirely out of horseshoes!
Another good example is a gift that somebody we know made for a friend who worked in the oil & gas industry. They used old drill bits and other used items from the oilfield to make a shelf for all of their friend’s safety awards.
Whether you think of ideas for projects you want to do for people you know or wait for people and ideas to come to you, the only limits to this kind of project are the budget and your imagination.
Project #9 – Yard Art
Similar to the interior decoration projects that we just discussed, yard art will be all about finding people who want to buy the items you make because they think they’re cool – or finding people with cool ideas that you can make for them.
One way to approach projects like this is to think of people you know who have things they don’t use. For example, maybe you know a retired auto mechanic who still owns three wrenches of every size in SAE and Metric. Why not take some of them and turn them into a sculpture for his front yard?
Another way to get the ball rolling is to hit up flea markets and second-hand stores. If you find a great deal on some metal items but aren’t sure exactly what you’re going to do with them, buy them anyway. Give yourself time for the creative processes – let your ideas marinate for a while.
Once you’ve got finished products that you like, you’ll have a shopping list for repeating the process and a pretty good idea of how much you need to charge to make a profit. Projects like this will sell at flea markets or through your online store.
Project #10 – Tables and Stools
Up until now, you’ve been working on projects that are good for one-off custom jobs. They don’t require much upfront investment, and they offer you the flexibility to adapt to what your customers really want without significant disruption to your process. Along the way, you’ve developed some pretty impressive technical and creative skills!
Maybe you’re ready to consider a signature item – one that you can develop a process for and aim to sell at volume. If you’ve been paying attention to your customers up to this point, you should be pretty confident about what kind of style will have customers lining up. Tables and stools are a great project to take this next step with.
When you’re coming up with your design, you’ll need to balance form and function. You’ll also need to balance your creative ideas with the budget you have for upfront costs. Finally, you’ll need to decide whether to shoot for the biggest audience or focus on creating a piece that will really wow folks with a specific style in mind.
People will definitely pay for a custom table and stool set from an independent designer. It’s just so much cooler than getting the same one everybody else got at the big-box store.
Project #11 – Car Ramps
Maybe the artistic stuff just isn’t for you. Perhaps you don’t have much interest in doing sculpture or making pieces that are all form and have no function. Even if that’s the case, you probably still take a lot of pride in making sure your projects look cool, work well, and last a long time.
If you’ve been welding for any length of time in your local area and you do quality work, you won’t need an online store either if you don’t want to be bothered by that.
The chances are good that by now you know every repair shop, dealership, and car enthusiast in a wide radius around your shop. Why not offer those folks a custom-designed piece that will look good even if the function is the primary concern?
If you design ramps for people to use when they need to access the undercarriages of their vehicles and equipment, you’ll have your signature piece, and your target market will be taken care of. If you build different sizes for different-sized vehicles and equipment, you’ll be able to charge according to the size.
Project #12 – Model Vehicles
This project will emphasize your skills in an area that we haven’t talked about specifically until now—precision. You’ve probably had to do some pretty precise work on the projects that came earlier on this list, but this project puts all of those skills front and center.
There’s a surprisingly large market for model vehicles. The more precise that you can be in your recreations of specific cars, the more you will be able to charge for your models. There might be more demand for a generic “car” model than for a specific year of any particular model. But, if you can recreate that particular year of that specific model, the enthusiast out there will pay a lot more than you can charge for your generic “car.”
For that reason, this project will allow you to go as far as you want in this area. You’ll have to decide how much time and effort to invest in scaling your model and staying true to the original. You’ll have to determine how much you want to challenge your precision skills by working smaller.
One thing is for certain, in the hands of a skilled operator, a TIG machine is excellent for this kind of work. If you’ve been developing your skills as you’ve moved through this list, then you are a skilled operator.
Project #13 – BBQs
This is another great option to consider if you’re looking for a signature piece and tables, car ramps, or model vehicles just don’t do it for you. Depending on what area of the country you live in, outdoor grilling is either a fun summertime activity or a serious business. Either way, there are definitely folks who are willing to spend more to get a quality grill or smoker.
If you’re somebody who is into grilling and smoking, then you probably already have a pretty good idea of what sets a quality grill apart from the bargain options at the big-box store, if you’re not, then a little online research, coupled with a bit of market research (ask your friends) will get you up to speed.
The great thing about BBQ projects is there is plenty of room to offer a range of sizes and styles. There are also endless possibilities for those personalized touches and stylistic flourishes that will let people know that a grill or smoker is one of yours.
Project #14 – Gates and Fences
Take all of the precision of a model vehicle project and apply it to something where you’re working with much larger pieces, and you’ve got a pretty good idea of what you’re getting into with fence gates that roll or swing smoothly no matter how much they weigh.
We saved this project for last because the sheer size means that you’ll have to invest in a lot more material upfront in most cases. That means mistakes are that much more costly. When you’re just starting out, that can be disastrous for your business. These projects usually take a lot longer too.
If you’ve gotten to the point where you’re confident with all of the projects on this list, you definitely have the skills to design and fabricate custom fencing. If you enjoyed being creative yourself or working with clients to bring your ideas to life, then gates and fencing are a way to make great profits with those skills and interests.
Both homes and businesses are looking for ways to keep their properties secure and looking great. If you have the welding skills and creativity to design a custom solution that works for them, you’ll have customers lining up with cash in their hands.
A Quick Tip from the Pros
If you’re just starting with TIG welding, whether you’re a complete newbie or you have experience with other methods, you should take advantage of discussion forums. There are a lot of good ones out there.
Following the conversation as experienced welders offer advice on a specific question is a great way to get your head out of the how-to manuals and into a professional welder’s mindset.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions – pros won’t make you feel bad about what you don’t know. Don’t be afraid to respond to questions if you have something to add – you’ll learn more that way.
If you’ve taken the time to read this whole list, then you’ve probably got enough interest in becoming a great TIG welder to make that happen eventually. If you take the time to work through each of these projects and develop the skills that each one is meant to challenge—you definitely will become a great TIG welder.
Try to picture it – several months or years from now – as you throw the brass hammer and third-hand that you made yourself back into your custom aluminum tote tray and get ready to write up the bill for a custom fence, car ramp, model vehicle, or BBQ. The only thing standing between where you are now and where you will be then is the time and dedication to develop the skills.