CBG Workshop: Learning to TIG weld – Patting your head while rubbing your stomach!

Many of us enjoy seeing something that’s been crafted from aluminium, but it’s rarely something we can do ourselves. So we went to see Ian Davies, owner of ETTO Motorcycles, who has started giving courses on welding aluminium and metal-shaping. How hard can it be?

Words and photography by Matt
Expertise, patience and enthusiasm by Ian Davies

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When you see a beautiful aluminium tank on a trials bike, an oil tank that’s been made for a special that fits perfectly, or a repair to an unobtainable crankcase, many fill with envy of the skilled person behind them.

I’ve been MIG welding cars, bikes and farm equipment together since I was a lad. But with no one telling me how to do it, it was never pretty and occasionally it wasn’t strong enough, either.

So when I heard about the ETTO TIG welding course I jumped at the chance to have a go. Could I make something someone would look at with envy?

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A course is only as good as its tutor, so I was in luck with Ian Davies. Ian runs speedshop, ETTO (Each To Their Own) Motorcycles, in Nottinghamshire, building special one-off bikes for customers, modifying others and he is a suspension specialist too.

His workshop had several beautiful racebikes visiting, as well as other projects, waiting for his expert hand.

But he also hand-makes fuel tanks, body parts and even fairings from aluminium.

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Getting the best position is essential

And after realising that others are interested in learning his craft, he’s started two courses – TIG welding and metal forming.

The TIG welding course is over two days and there will never be more than two pupils.

“It’s essential I watch my pupils when they’re welding, how their hands are holding the torch and filler rod and how they deal with the weld pool,” explains Ian.

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TIG welding has several advantages over other techniques like MIG or gas welding.

Mainly, it’s one of the best ways to fuse aluminium and the other is it has more control.

It’s a slower process, but especially on a bike, where welds are visible, it can be made to look a lot better than other methods.

Read more and view more images in the October 2019 issue of CBG – on sale now!

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