Welding Tips And Tricks is one of the largest welding channels on YouTube. Jody Collier is a semi retired welder who is extremely experienced. After a very impressive career (mostly in the airline welding industry), he decided to make welding videos and produce welding products.
Out of all of his products, the most popular is by far the “TIG Finger”. This product allows the welder to place their hand on the hot steel or aluminum they are welding – without getting burned. Since the TIG process heats up the steel extremely fast, welders often burn their gloves and fingers with their torch hand (your dominant hand which holds your torch).
In the past, you could only prop your hand on the steel for a short period of time before it became too hot. This means that TIG welders tended to burn through a lot more gloves than other welders, and this can get expensive.
The TIG finger allows welders to make long passes while propping their pinky and/or ring finger on their work piece. This allows for even novice welders to produce better quality TIG beads. The more steady your hands are, the more professional your TIG welds will look. TIG welding requires maximum dexterity compared to the other processes.
With processes like stick and MIG welding, you can get away with a bit of movement. Often “cursive e” or circular patterns are used to achieve different bead characteristics. Wider beads often require these patterns or even a “weave” type of motion. With TIG welding, steadiness is key. You don’t have to have the hands of a surgeon, but it really helps with achieving continuity in your beads.
With the rising popularity of the TIG finger, we jumped on board a couple years ago and bought a few of them.
After watching some videos and reviews, we thought that it would be worth a try. Considering the costs of other types of welding equipment, the TIG finger is a pretty good bargain. If you’ve already spent money on a welding machine, then protecting your fingers from burns is pretty logical in our opinion.
So, what’s the consensus of the TIG finger?
The TIG finger really does what it is intended to do. Not having to worry about burning your fingers makes for a much more enjoyable experience. We found that we could run longer beads without stopping, and it helps a lot with tight spaces (corner joints), etc.
Since you can prop your hand on any part of your work piece, you can achieve welds in tighter areas that would otherwise burn your hand.
We felt more relaxed using this product, we could weld long passes and stay much calmer. In the past, we would be worried about getting burned halfway through a bead.
The XL TIG Finger is better for folks with larger hands. It allows two fingers to be protected while TIG welding (pinky and ring finger). However, for welders with smaller hands, the regular TIG finger should suffice.
The material is very nice and flexible – and slides well over a TIG gloves leather construction. It stays comfortable and snug throughout the course of a work day. Very easy to remove as well.
When striking your first arc with the TIG finger, the feeling of safety is super nice. You know that your fingers are protected and that the chance of a surface burn is much less likely than before. We find that welders who try the TIG finger continue to use it throughout their careers.
Other items like an additional piece of steel can be used to prop your hand that holds the torch. Before the TIG finger was invented, this was often the only way that TIG welders could protect themselves from the heat.
The problem is that these metal props tend to heat up very quickly. It prolongs your weld time a bit, but it will still heat up to an uncomfortable temperature. This can cause burns and blisters even for experienced TIG welders.
You’ll only really feel the heat through the TIG finger if your amperage is extremely high. They absorb heat surprisingly well considering their slim construction. If you are welding at normal amperages (100-200), the TIG finger holds up pretty solid.
After welding with this product for awhile, we found that the corners begin to fray. This makes sense (since the product is exposed to so much heat). But we also found that the higher amperage ranges caused this product to fray prematurely.
For younger welders in welding school, the TIG classes are usually mellow in terms of amperages. Students may only be using 100-150 amps on their torches. The TIG Finger fairs really well with this, and will last a long time at these amperages.
Longer Term Usage
With this being said, high amperage TIG applications can cause problems for the TIG finger. We found that anything over 200 amps can harm this product over time.
While most welders won’t usually be running a TIG torch over 200 amps, some heavy duty projects will require it. If you are a welder in a facility that produces heavier products, you may find yourself TIG welding at high amperages quite often.
While doing some heavy aluminum welding on a previous job, we would TIG weld up to 300 amps on heavy walled material. This caused the TIG finger to wear down very fast. However, when we went back to lighter duty projects, the finger did just fine.
Keep in mind that even if your TIG finger frays a bit, it will take a long time before the product becomes unusable. It will still protect you for awhile before the fraying material becomes a real problem.
In terms of the safety this product offers, it is a worthy contender for any TIG welders toolbox. Even if you need replacements over time, it is much better than burning your fingers or ruining your TIG gloves. The TIG finger is generally cheaper than a good pair of TIG gloves, so we think that adding one to your arsenal is pretty economical.
Students tend to enjoy the TIG finger when they are first learning the process. Since beginners are more likely to get burns (due to carelessness), we think that the TIG finger is a great option for welding students.
All in all, we think this product is a no brainer for new TIG welders as well as veterans. There isn’t another product which we know of that provides the same protection.
Since most of our finger burns are a result of TIG welding, we find it very important to avoid these burns whenever possible.
Stick and MIG welding allow your hands to be further away from the arc and all of its heat, while TIG welding requires that your hands are closer to the arc. TIG gloves are also thinner (for dexterity) but that means that they provide less heat protection. This means that getting a burn on your hand is usually a result of TIG welding.
Jody Collier really found a niche with this item. The TIG Finger gets great reviews and is used by thousands of welders around the world. Though not everyone prefers to use it, it is definitely worth trying out during your next TIG session.
Thanks for reading.
Featured image credit : Amazon Images