Tungsten electrodes are available in Thoriated, lanthanated, ceriated, and a few other varieties. When you are welding steel, they all have one thing in common.
They need to be sharp. But is it really that important to sharpen them the way the welding textbooks describe?
I have been TIG welding for over 30 years and have sharpened tungsten electrodes all kinds of ways. Even with a cutting torch. That’s right I said cutting torch. I don’t recommend it, but it does work. I have also used Chem-Sharp, belt sanders, small 90 die grinders, bench grinders, big electric grinders, and even the new high dollar tungsten electrode grinders.
The bottom line is this. Unless you are welding razor blades, a lot of the anal retentive textbook methods for sharpening tungsten electrodes just don’t make much difference. I know I am going to get a lot of hate mail over this but it’s just plain true. Like most welders, I was taught in welding school that a bench grinder with a stone devoted exclusively for tungsten was the only way to sharpen tungsten. And that all the scratches from grinding had to run parallel with the electrode. ใบเจียร
Then I got a job.
The real world has a way of separating the BS from the down and dirty stuff that really works and Its kind of hard to sharpen a tungsten to textbook standards when you are up 60 feet in the air on a scaffold and need to tie in a weld before the next wave of steam leaks past the safety valve. And If you have a small grinder in your tool bucket you do the math pretty quick and give it a try. I learned quickly that as long as I used a smooth enough grinding disc, spiraling grinding marks be damned, everything turned out fine. A couple of hundred good x rays without a tungsten grinder also tend to make you think you are not doing everything wrong.
So is this whole tungsten electrode sharpening thing getting Big-Dealed?
Yes and No. It definitely sells tungsten sharpeners.
Seriously, I can think of a few applications where textbook tungsten sharpening is important . Razor blade type thicknesses would be one, Another example is for automated processes like orbital TIG welding. In orbital TIG welding it is pretty common to join stainless or titanium tubing that is only ¼ ” in diameter with wall thickness of less than .030″. Amperage for these type welds is very low and even small changes in tungsten electrode preparation can really make a difference. Since the geometry of an electrode tip definitely does have an effect on the arc, you will want to use a special tungsten grinder to get every taper and tip consistent so that when something goes wrong, you can eliminate tungsten preparation as a variable.