Believe it or not, at Arc-Zone we do get calls every year from folks who are not welders, but have welders in their life that they want to get a gift for. So over the years we’ve come up with lists of items that make great gifts, our favorite welding things.
Now that I’ve written that title, I can’t get the Sound of Music song out of my head…
But really, this is a post about welding accessories–there is still time to get the welder in your life something special, or share this post with someone who wants to know what to get YOU.
Of course the easiest, and quickest gift is the Arc-Zone.com gift card, good for any welding accessory in our store. And, we’ll deliver it via email!
If you don’t delay and have time for shipping, one of my favorite items in our store is the BSX HelmetCatch(TM) backpack… it’s rugged enough for welding in the field, and it’s stylish. The special compartment protects your welding helmet, and the rest of the bag, and the fact that it is a backpack allows you to easily carry all your welding tools to your shop or jobsite.
Just the other day I ran across a video from the 2012 Fabtech show, introducing the New! Innovative! E3 Tungsten! Which, of course, got me to wondering what’s new about this tungsten… so I watched the video, which you can too at the E3 website, and I came to the conclusion: not much.
One of the reasons we recommend ArcTime as the best replacement for Thoriated tungsten electrodes is that our technical experts at Arc-Zone have tested, used and sold all the top tungsten brands and blends. Arc-Zone.com CEO and founder Jim Watson (and master fabricator in his own right) says “I feel confident that no better performing general purpose tungsten electrode exists.”
So that’s the latest buzz on tungsten electrodes… if you ever have any questions about your welding application and the best tungsten to use, give our customer care folks a call: 800-944-2243 (toll free US) or 760-931-1500 (worldwide). As Jim would say, they’ll “dial you in,” and get you the best solution for your welding needs.
It didn’t start with welding, or TIG welding; it started in 1965 with The Sound of Music and Julie Andrews:
The song soon became a holiday classic and has been recorded by many well known artists: The Supremes, Sarah Vaughn, Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, Tony Bennett, Johnny Mathis, Anita Baker, Dave Brubeck, Barry Manilow, Bjork, and even more recently featured on the show GLEE…
And now Carmen Electrode wants to share her favorite (welding) things with you. These would be great gifts for that special welder in your life… or good to put on your list of favorite things in case anyone wants to buy you a gift that supports you in your welding life.
One of my favorite things these days is my Digital Elite Fury Auto Darkening Welding Helmet. It’s not the cheapest welding helmet you can find, but then again my eye protection is worth it! This welding helmet has precision digital control driven by four independent arc sensors and lithium batteries that will last for 3,000 hours! (You can check out all the technical specs over on the Arc-Zone.com website.) The other reason I like this helmet is its look. Yes, it’s pink, but it’s a strong, rich, dark pink that means business…. and the graphics are pretty hot too. Of course, if this is not for you, Arc-Zone has lots of top-of-the-line welding helmets to choose from, and this handy guide on Choosing Welding Helmets and Goggles (pdf).
Another accessory I really like is the remote amperage controls for welding far from your machine. I especially like the Hot Foot™, it’s rugged and has a low profile design that is comfortable and allows for precision adjustments. So while my foot takes control of the amperage, I can better concentrate on my handwork to lay down nice beads.
You can hook up these pedals to your Miller, Lincoln, or ESAB machine, no problem.
Now if you’re really working where there is restricted access to your weld, you’ll want to take a look at my favorite, the tiniest of TIG torches, the Micro TIG. Air-cooled or water-cooled it is a great TIG welding torch to add to your tool box.
When it comes to TIG welding, the question isn’t red or blue—thanks to the invention of the inverter power supply and companies like Miller Electric and Lincoln Electric there are some great options out there for high quality, affordable welding machines. The next question, however, is air-cooled or water-cooled TIG torch?
The two most popular TIG / GTAW welding torches are the 9 Series air-cooled TIG torch and the 20 Series water-cooled TIG torch.
Air-Cooled TIG Torch
One of the benefits of welding with an air-cooled TIG torch is that you don’t have to have a water supply nearby—in other words, out in the field. You also may not want to spend the money on a water cooler for your welder; even an economical welding water cooler like Arc-Zone’s TIG-er will run you over $500. Bottom line: if you don’t have a cooler, don’t have access to water, and/or you don’t need to run a lot long beads and worry about your torch getting too hot, then you’ll probably be fine with an air-cooled TIG welding torch. The 9 series is a good choice. It is small yet powerful and easy to handle—perfect for a variety of TIG welding applications.
If you need more power, there are other options among the available air-cooled series of TIG torches. With innovations in torch design and technology you can find a torch that goes up to 300 amps like the CS-300 Crafter Series super heavy-duty TIG torch from Weldcraft.
Water-Cooled TIG Torch
When patience and control are important, you don’t want to be in a rush to finish your bead before your torch gets hot! So if you find yourself putting down your torch because it gets too hot, or you need more power you’ll want a water-cooled TIG torch.
Another low-cost option, not to mention a good way to practice your TIG welding skills, is to build your own water cooler. For more information and some great tips, check out “A Tale of Two Welders” at The Fabricator magazine. If you choose that route, Arc-Zone can help you with all the fittings you’ll need to put it all together.
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.
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.”
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.