Walking the Cup TIG: A Beginners Guide[2021]

Walking the Cup is a TIG welding technique commonly used by pipe welders.

If you are looking for a pipe welding job, this technique should be known to you by heart. In this post we are going to look at:

  • A detailed look at walking the cup
  • Different types of it
  • Why should you walk the cup?
  • And some bonus tips.

Let’s dive right in:

Walking the Cup TIG

Walking the Cup: Deeper Look

If you are new to welding, you must have seen those clean looking groves and made you think about how to make those beads yourself?

Well, that is achieved via this industry standard TIG pipe welding method known as walking the cup.

However, it’s easier said than being done. 

Walking the cup is such a kind of welding technique that may take years of practice to get a good grip on it.

Explaining it is pretty simple. 

To begin with, walking the cup, you have to place the cup of your torch against the base material that you will be welding on. You have to do it in a groove so that it helps your weld in the right direction.

You should be in total control of the torch handle, and rotate it back and forth with very little pressure on the cup and move forward at a uniform speed.

That is it!

Being such an easy welding technique, Walking the cup has been accepted by welders around the world and is considered the best technique to get started with pipe welding.

It is also popular due to the fact that there are minimal safety concerns for the welder and the chances of any form of welding accident are lower.

Also, it allows the welder to have an even rate of progression.

A pancake hood sporting pipe welder having good knowledge and experience with walking the cup can pump out high quality welds in no time.

Welding Walking the Cup
Walking The Cup Demonstrated

How to Get Started With Walking The Cup?

Everyone has to start somewhere. 

Now you know what walking the cup means. But how to go by it? 

You might be wondering:

Should I get my tig welder and jump straight into and weld a pipe with it?

I am going to layout the exact method that I used to get started with walking the cup. So get your TIG welder and get started.

  1. The first step should be practicing on a plate without the welder. You should first get the idea of the movement of the cup. Doing the motion several times would give you an edge when working the welder next time.
  2. The second step would be practicing it on a plate. In this step, you should check how the weld puddle moves. Knowing this would be beneficial for you and get you a feel for it.
  3. If you are comfortable with the second step, practice again using wire this time. Make sure that the cup touches the puddle. 

This is crazy:

Walking the cup sounds so easy in explanation, however, may sometimes take years to get it done right.

If you practice the steps given above repeatedly, I am sure you can master the technique and teach others like I am doing right now.

Types of Walking the Cup

Walking the cup can be done in three ways namely:

  • Ratcheting the Cup
  • Sliding the Cup
  • Wobbling the Cup

Each of the techniques listed above is just a unique way to get walking the cup done. We are going to look at how each of them works.

Walk the Cup Done Pipe Weld

Ratcheting the Cup

It is similar to the practice method above i.e you have to go like turning a ratchet on a bolt. Used with flat surfaces, it is done by placing the cup and moving the handle just like a ratchet on a bolt. 

With the motion, you go slightly forward with each twist, and hence this technique is the hardest to get right. Also, this results in extremely high quality welds due to the small arc length.

Sliding the Cup

Just as the name suggests, in this technique the cup is slid on a surface that is not suitable for walking the cup and the tungsten is guided to the point where the weld is required.

In pipe welding, sliding the cup is used on heavy wall pipes. Before starting with the process, make sure that the tungsten is set to the right height. Sliding is done from one side to the other and forwards to spread the filler wire. 

This technique is often not taught and welders usually learn this from other experienced welders in the field.

Wobbling the Cup

When the cup is larger than the typical size you can use this technique for walking the cup. In this method, you wobble the cup side to side like moving a heavy barrel that is standing upright.

This technique works best over another weld or on flat surfaces and is considered the easiest of the three. 

Wobbling the cup can be easily mastered by a newbie welder and have a solid base for the other two techniques.

Why Should You Walk The Cup?

Indeed there’s a cool factor related to walking the cup, but a question might pop in your head that “why should you walk the cup?” 

First of all, it’s a no brainer, since walking the cup doesn’t require your fingers or hands to come close to the molten metal which is very lethal if you are an inexperienced welder.

Another reason why you should walk the cup is it results in very high quality consistent weld without having any multiple passes.

Pipe Welder Walking the Cup

But, When should you not walk the cup?

It would be a huge waste of time and resources if you are walking the cup when you are not supposed to do so. 

If there is a groove to guide your weld, then go ahead and walk the cup. If there isn’t it would be better not to.

Also, another major factor would be the quality of the weld. If it requires a high quality weld, then you may go ahead with walking the cup otherwise you can resort to regular welding techniques. 

Conclusion

In this post, I tried to explain a common pipe welding industry practice i.e walking the cup. My best advice would be to practice it as much as you can until you have mastered it because it is no child’s play.

Whenever you try to apply for pipe welding jobs overseas or in your country they will definitely test your knowledge about it. Also some welders union require you to know about this technique.

Indeed this technique is inferior to freehand welding, however, once mastered can give you high quality welds. 

If you are stuck with a welding project of your own, try to do any of the three techniques mentioned above about walking the cup. 

Don’t forget to wear your safety equipment.

Happy Welding!