Finite element modelling has proved to be an effective tool for the investigation of trends effected by changing welding conditions. This is especially important in mechanical tensioning of friction stir welds because of the large number of parameters involved. In this paper, an FE model is used to examine the effectiveness of the mechanical tensioning technique for controlling residual stresses in FSWs by the investigation of trends caused by changes to the welding parameters. Comparisons between different geometries, traverse speeds, and welding off-axis angle all produced consistent results, and showed that the peak stresses are most strongly influenced by both the local tensioning and heat input, and not by the more global welding conditions. The results also showed a progressive decrease in the residual stresses for increasing tensioning levels and, although affected by the heat input, a relatively low sensitivity to the welding variables. At tensioning levels greater than ~50% of the room temperature yield stress, tensile stresses were replaced by compressive residual stresses within the weld.