How to Sharpen Tungsten

There are a variety of ways that a weld can go wrong, particularly when you are TIG welding. TIG welding is a very high-quality method of welding metal and one that requires much skill and practice. In this article, we will show you how to sharpen the tungsten in a TIG welder and explain why it is so important.

Why Sharpening Tungsten is Important

Tungsten is the hard, gray metal used in TIG welders to actually make the weld, which emits from the welding torch. After using a TIG welder for an extended amount of time on several different projects, both the tungsten metal tangent and the torch can become contaminated with dust, debris and anything else that can be left by using your TIG welder. This is why it is so important, in order to avoid this contamination, to sharpen your tungsten every so often. In order to do this, you will need a quality grinding wheel that is only used specifically for tungsten grinding. There are certain grinders that are specifically designed for tungsten grinding, but a fine grit, standard six inch synthetic stone grinding wheel will be sufficient. Once you have your grinding wheel and you put on your safety gloves and safety mask, you are ready to begin sharpening your tungsten.

Sharpening the Tungsten

The first step to sharpening the tungsten is to shut off the welder. Make sure there is no current is running through the welder and that the tungsten and the torch are sufficiently cooled for handling. Once that is done, loosen and remove the back cap and then the collet in order to take out the tungsten tangent from the front of the torch. If you take it out from the rear of the torch, it will damage the collet. If you notice that the end of the tungsten tangent is contaminated, simply use pliers or another sturdy tool to grip the tungsten above the contaminated end and snap the end off entirely. It is important that any contaminated end of the tungsten is removed before sharpening.

Now, it is time to put the tungsten tangent to the grinding wheel. Turn the grinding wheel on, and hold the tungsten to the surface of the wheel, rotating it and applying light pressure until a distinct point has been formed. The ideal tungsten point will have a sharpened cone with a length about 2-1/2 times the diameter of the tungsten rod. Once you achieve this, replace the newly sharpened tungsten in the collet with the tip extending 1/8 inch to 1/4 inch beyond the gas nozzle. Once that is done, simply retighten the back cap and your TIG welder tungsten is successfully sharpened.

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