We’d all like to have the fancy tools the high end shops and builders have, but it isn’t always possible with your budget. TIG welder Tungsten Grinders can be very costly and many DIY users can’t justify the cost. That doesn’t mean you can get by without grinding or with poorly ground electrodes. It’s inevitable you’ll contaminate your electrode at some point (some of us more often then we’d like to admit!). You can grind them by hand, but it’s difficult to get a perfectly ground tip because you always tend to stop and regrip the electrode part way through grinding. Unevenly ground electrodes can cause arc-wander and make it difficult to get the it to focus where you want. I decided to pass on a quick tip for perfectly grinding your electrodes without needing an expensive grinder.
Start by pulling the electrode out of your torch and putting it in a drill. I prefer cordless, but a corded drill is just fine. You can then use a bench grinder or a belt sander with 80-120 grit paper on it. I like the Eastwood Bench Top Belt Sander because I can easily toss it under the bench when not in use. You want to turn the sander on, let it spin up to speed, then turn your drill on so it’s spinning the electrode at the same time. Lightly put the spinning electrode down on the sander going WITH the direction the belt or wheel is spinning. Sanding across the wheel or belt will put scratches in the incorrect direction and cause an erratic arc.
I usually like to start at a shallow angle and slowly lift the drill to sharpen the angle and the electrode at the same time. Remember to truncate the end of the electrode to match what you’re job calls for. Then you can take the electrode out of the drill and install it in your torch to weld. If you’re a beginner it doesn’t hurt to sharpen both ends of the electrode and a few at a time to keep you “in the groove” while welding.
Hopefully that quick tip will get you grinding your tungsten electrodes more evenly and quicker than by hand. If you have any requests for future tech articles or even a submission feel free to drop us a comment!