Just as there are many ways to skin a cat (as a cat lover, I hate that image!) there are many ways to grind your tungsten electrode for your TIG / GTAW welding or Plasma Arc Welding application–not to mention a number of tools to help you.
On the Weld.com website, Wyatt Swaim (a pretty well known TIG teacher) has a short video that offers an overview of a couple ways to prepare your tungsten electrode, and a demo:
A couple of things struck me when watching the video:
1. Wyatt has a couple of hand-held tungsten electrode grinders sitting right on his work bench and yet he selects a plain ole wheel grinder and demos grinding by hand. He does it well, however….
2. I can see how hand grinding can really affect the shape/ geometry and consistency of your tungsten electrode–and not in a good way.
Sure, when you’ve been working in the industry as long as Wyatt, you have a good eye for figuring out your tungsten angle, not to mention a steady hand, but a less experienced welder or one working in an automated environment or where repeatability of the process is required, there’s nothing like a tungsten electrode grinding machine to get the job done. Plus, you’ll stop wearing grooves in your wheel grinder, you’ll improve your weld quality, you’ll reduce tungsten waste, and improve operator safety.
Over on JoeWelder.com, our own master fabricator Jim Watson is putting together some pretty extensive reviews of the tungsten electrode grinders we have at Arc-Zone (we have the most complete lineup in the industry).
Jim has started with the most popular:
Jim gives a detailed rundown on the hand-held Sharpie SD and the Sharpie DX tungsten grinders, “the perfect Pro-Hobby grinder.”
Summary: “They cut, they do tip-flat, they grind consistently, they grind up to eighth inch electrodes, and, although it doesn’t offer dust collection, and the motor isn’t too robust… at these price points, the Sharpie tungsten grinders are the best value.”
You can read Jim’s complete review of the Sharpie Tungsten Grinders over on JoeWelder.com–>
Another popular handheld tungsten grinder is the Techsouth Powerpoint DCS which is like the Sharpie in that it is a reasonably priced, is truly handheld but this machine offers a Dust Collection System (DCS).
Jim’s recap: “The Techsouth’s Powerpoint DCS hand-held tungsten grinder cuts, it does tip-flat, it grinds consistently up to eighth inch electrodes, and while it’s not the best at capturing the grinding dust, it does it well enough to meet most safety requirements—which is the main reason why we would recommend it.”
Though a bit heavy to be truly “hand held” The CK Worldwide Turbo Sharp X tungsten electrode grinder is another great grinder with rugged motor and an enclosed grinding chamber that offers excellent dust collection. Jim tells us that CK includes a mounting bracket as a standard accessory which addresses the heft of the unit. It even has an optional “Red Head” accessory that will let this grinder handle electrodes from 5/32″ to 1/4″ and the robust motor makes that a completely viable option.
Jim summarizes that the Turbo Sharp X does not cut, does tip-flat, grinds consistently, handles large electrodes, is robust enough for demanding environments and is GREAT for safety! You can read Jim’s complete review of the Turbo X tungsten electrode grinder over on JoeWelder.com–>
Here you can watch Arc-Zone’s Tungsten Grinder Recap
We’ll keep you posted about future reviews of the tungsten electrode grinders as they come in!