Category Archives: Ask Joe™

5 Holiday Gifts For Welders

At we’ve come up with a list of the best gifts for welders, from safety gear to tools for the pro welder in your life.

1. Gifts To Keep Your Welder Safe

Safety first!  Our Pro Gear Package for welders comes with the essentials to help prevent against any potential welding associated accidents. This can be the perfect gift for a welding student or a welding pro who needs an upgrade on their welding safety gear.

Arc-Zone Pro Gear Package


The Pro Gear Package includes:

  • Stylish flame-resistant BSX™
  • the Striker Jacket
  • the FireRag™ doo-rag
  • Two pairs of matching gloves: One specifically designed for TIG and the other for MIG
  • Top-of-the-line anti-fog safety glasses
  • TIG Welding tungsten stick-out gauge
  • Joe Welder’s popular TIG Welding tips and tricks
  • Complete set of slide-rule welding calculators

2. Oxy-Fuel Gifts For Welders

Next we have the Oxy-Fuel Torch Packages which are great gifts for welders. And guess what? These packages are already decked out with Holiday colors to help bring out the merry spirit.

Arc-Zone Oxy-Fuel Torch Package

We carry the most complete line of “Little” or  “Micro” Oxy-Acetylene and Propane welding products designed for heating, brazing and welding applications. If you’re a handy welder you can even create your own jewelry as a gift with this specialized package.

Shop Oxy-Fuel Torch Packages Now

3. Gift Books & DVDs For Welders

With Arc-Zone’s How-To Fabricating DVDs welders have access to some of the best welding tips from master craftsmen like Ron Covell and Steve Bleile and our  coffee table books like American Hot Rod and Dream Garages offer inspiration.

Arc-Zone Metal Fabrication Books and DVDs

We gathered this collection on Arc-Zone because we think they are the best in the industry. Our books and DVDs will be sure to inspire you and get you testing these new fabricating techniques in the shop.

Shop Metal Fabrication Books and DVDs Now

4. Tungsten Grinding Gifts For Welders

The Sharpie SD and the Sharpie DX tungsten electrode grinders are great gifts for TIG Welders–the perfect Pro-Hobby grinders that offer a lot of bang for the buck and are extremely easy to use—not to mention easy to hold.  Check out our video review of the two Sharpie models:

The standard model (SD) produces a fixed grind angle of 20 degrees; whereas the deluxe model (DX) can be easily adjusted for grind angles from 15 to 45 degrees.  While 20 degrees is a versatile angle to have on your electrodes, having the capability to change that angle is a valuable tool.  That’s why we’d recommend outfitting a welder who’s working out in the field with the Standard model, but for our own work shop we would use the Deluxe model.

The Sharpie SD and Sharpie DX Both:

  • Cut
  • Tip-Flat
  • Grind consistently
  • Grind up to eighth inch electrodes

5. The Easiest Gift For Welders

If all else fails and you have no idea what to get as a gift for the holidays, you can’t go wrong with a gift card -We just brought these back due to popular demand!

Arc-Zone Holiday Gift Cards For Welders

Our holiday gift cards give the metal fabricator in your life the opportunity to get the tools and equipment that not only will keep them safe, but take their skills to another level!

Shop Arc-Zone Holiday Gift Cards Now

Above all, happy holidays to all of our welders out there!

Good welding,

Joe Welder

Looking for more gift ideas? Check out The Best Gifts For Welders

Photo Credit of Covell DVD:

What you need to know about welding with a pacemaker

We recently received a call from a customer that wanted to know if there were any limitations to welding for individuals with a pacemaker or implanted defibrillator.  I had never thought about it before and I didn’t know the answer.  I decided to research it and share my findings with all of our readers and customers here on the blog.  Since this is an important issue that affects many men and women, we thought we’d post this blog both here and on the Carmen Electrode blog.

Conclusion and Disclaimer

Since this is a very serious medical issue and we are not very serious medical people, we will post the most important conclusion of this blog post right up front: consult your doctor!  Only your heart doctor can tell you what activities are dangerous, and how you should handle them.  Welding is an activity that is considered dangerous, so read up on the resources we provide below, do your own research, and most importantly, call your doc!  We provide resources and information that we’ve found in our research, but this is no replacement for your doctor’s expertise.  They didn’t spend years in medical school for nothing.

Electromagnetic Energy

The primary concern when welding with a pacemaker or defibrillator is the high electromagnetic (EM) energy created by the welding machine.  This electromagnetic energy can cause your pacemaker to continuously pace the heart, which can cause an irregular heart rate if your heart is already beating fine on its own.  On the other hand, the spike in EM energy when spot welding or starting a bead can cause a pacemaker to pause temporarily if it were pacing your heart.  Both of these situations are not good.  Implanted defibrillators could detect the EM energy from the welder as a fast heart rhythm, causing it to deliver shock (yikes!).

Interestingly, according to medtronic, the electromagnetic field created by a welding machine won’t cause any permanent damage or re-programming to your pacemaker or implanted defibrillator.  The primary concern is how these devices behave in the presence of the intense electromagnetic energy.  Any potential effects will end when the welding is stopped or turned off.

Another point to note is that Oxy-Fuel welding does not create an electromagnetic field, so it is safe to use with an implanted pacemaker or defibrillator.

How Can I Reduce The Risk?

Here’s a good list of precautions that we found from Medtronic:

  • Limit welding current to less than 120 amps
  • Work in a dry area with dry gloves and shoes
  • Maintain a 2 foot distance between the welding arc and the heart device
  • Keep the welding cables close together (twist them together if possible) and as far away as possible from your heart device
  • Place the welding machine as far away as possible, and at least 5 feet away from your work area
  • Wait several seconds between attempts when having difficulty starting a weld (don’t rapidly pulse the welder)
  • Work in an area that offers firm footing and plenty of room for movement
  • Work with an informed person that understands what you’re dealing with
  • Immediately stop welding and step away from the area if you start to feel lightheaded, dizzy, or you believe your implantable defibrillator has delivered a shock




American Heart Association

Pacemaker Club discussion on the topic



Best Tungsten For AC TIG Welding And Free Pizza

One of the most common questions we get at is

Which tungsten electrode should I use ?

or even more specifically

What is the best Tungsten for precision TIG welding with AC (alternating current) on Aluminum using an inverter based machine?

A lot of folks in the industry have some very strong opinions on this subject, some based on fact, some based on ego and greed and some– just not having the experience. . .

For sure the answer is NOT Pure tungsten (color code: Green)!  Even though many say you should use pure, and back in the day specifications called out Pure tungsten for AC TIG welding.   But that’s old skool; I never use pure, and I would not recommend even trying it!

We have several industrial customers who purchase tungsten electrodes from us in quantity–  and they have spent a lot of time and money testing different materials.  From precision orbital TIG welding of high-purity stainless steel tubing, to manual TIG welding of yacht towers or special interest auto intake/turbo manifolds and other aluminum fabricated parts where the finished product is the “money.”  In other words, these master fabricators know what they’re talking about when it comes to TIG Welding and tungsten electrodes and hands down, they prefer our ArcTime(TM) Hybrid tungsten electrodes.

Based on my 20+ years in the welding industry, I would say it comes down to two things – the tungsten brand name (who makes it), and the material blend or formula (how it’s manufactured).

Tungsten Brand Name: sells all the leading brands of high-quality tungsten electrodes: ArcTime, Amplify, CK Worldwide, Multi-Strike, Sylvania, and Weldcraft.  With these trusted brands, you are assured that the material is top-quality and manufactured to the highest specifications and with adherence to International ISO 6848 and AWS A5.12 standards.

Tungsten Blend or Formula:
If you look at our sales from users around the world, ArcTime™ Hybrid (color code: Sky Blue) is the most popular and the 2% Ceriated (color code: Orange) and Lanthanated (color code: Dark Blue) are the second most popular, especially for precision fabricators. Again that is based on our sales and conversations with fabricators and leading power supply manufactures – (Weldcraft will be adding 2% Lanthanated to their product line shortly, and they currently offer a Rare Earth material, which is a generic material designed to compete with ArcTime™, Trimix, and Multistrike).

For the record, we sell Multi-Strike, and we sold Trimix for many years, but those materials are very expensive, and our customers told us the performance did not justify the extra cost.

Also important and often overlooked is the quality of the tungsten material. Like it or not the vast majority of the tungsten electrodes are made in China. The raw material for the most part has always come from there, as they have some of the largest tungsten mines. That said there are many high-quality manufacturers, just as there are poor quality manufacturers. Your best option is to buy a material that has a trusted brand name, from a supplier that offers only carefully selected and tested products from known manufacturers.

Free Tungsten Samples  / Free Pizza:
A local “New York style” pizza joint comes by the shop and offers us free pizza, since we often have pizza on Fridays–to celebrate exceeding our customer experience goals–we ordered one of those free pizzas.  It was terrible.  We threw it out!

Recently they stopped by again, and when our receptionist said “No thank you,” the stooge they hired to pass out the free pizza flyers was floored.

“You guys don’t want a free pizza?  I don’t get it, you don’t eat?” he said.

She told him their pizza was not worth the phone call.

I know that may sound harsh, but it’s true and you know what I am talking about…. you get what you pay for.  We have some “competitors” that offer free tungsten samples.

When we get calls from people asking us for samples we refer them to those free sample guys.  And if they are serious fabricators they try those free samples then call us back and place an order. . .

So, no, we don’t offer free tungsten samples, but what we do offer is the best Brand Name tungsten welding electrodes on the planet, backed by our unsurpassed technical support, and every order ships with material safety data sheets, user guides, how to’s, material specifications with mill runs and lot numbers, a bag of our signature M&M’s, plus the industry’s only unconditional MONEY BACK GUARANTEE and a NO-HASSLE return policy.

The Manufacturer’s Manual is NOT always right

One of the joys of working on the internet is that corrections can be made quickly.  You know what I’m talkin’ about:  typos, wrong part numbers, confusing images….

Print, however, is different.  An operations manual, for example, printed hundreds of thousands of times over– with an error–  could potentially cause confusion, and none of us are immune– not even the most respected manufacturers.

We recently ran across just such a case, when a manufacturing engineer contacted us via this very blog, in response to an article we’d posted about the installation of the ceramic electrode insulator/gas distributor on the Thermal Dynamics 3A Plasma Arc Welding Torch.

Allen wrote:

The article about Plasma Arc Welding Tips from June 2007 shows a particular way to install the insulator sleeves part # 9-2240 for a Thermal PAW 3A torch. This is opposite to what my Thermal factory manual says. The manual says the collar goes towards the tip and your article says the collar goes to the torch cap. I’m confused now.

I emailed a response that included a direct link to the manufacturer’s data sheet on the 3A PAW torch which correctly shows the direction of the installation of the part.

Imagine my surprise when Allen wrote back to tell me he had called the manufacturer himself and a service tech confirmed that the manual was incorrect!

Now I’m not saying we’re always right, but I am saying it is always a good idea to double check, and ask questions.  When you’re talking about Plasma Arc Welding, there are so many variables, and the last thing you want is for you an incorrectly installed part to cause a $500 torch failure.

At we carry a complete line of performance proven no-OEM plasma arc welding torches and replacement parts for the Thermal Dynamics(R) torches, manufactured to exacting specifications to meet your production needs.

So give us call if you’re in need of plasma arc welding torch replacement parts, accessory kits, and be sure to ask about our blanket purchase order program.  We’ll make sure you not only have your parts installed correctly, we’ll make sure you have the parts you need when you need them.

Modular v. Micro

The other day when I was asking Joe Welder which TIG torches I should recommend when writing about the Nascar welders, and he could not stop talking about these two specific ones: the Modular and Micro TIG torches.  I was confused.  “So what’s so special about them?” I asked, naïve as I was.  In response I received what was, quite possibly, the longest answer in the history of welding and now feel like I know just about as much as anyone could ever know about these two torches.

The Micro TIG torch
? It’s just like what its name implies; it’s tiny.  And that makes it perfect for any job where you need to get into a tight space.  It’s even capable of welding inside of a 5/8” diameter pipe.  It also has three interchangeable heads to choose from (45º, 90º and 180º angles) which make it almost impossible to find a job that this torch cannot do.

The Modular TIG torch?  Joe Welder’s FAVORITE.

He calls it “the most versatile torch on the market”.  Why?  Because you can choose from so many different torch heads at different angles and different amperages that it’s just about mind-boggling.  And you can also choose between air-cooled (WP-150) and water-cooled (WP-225) set-ups.

Weldcraft vs. Miller TIG Torch Question

Kenneth from Pennsylvania asks Joe:

Do you have Weldcraft TIG Torch parts to fit a Miller DB20 water cooled TIG torch? Specifically a gas lens, collet and nozzle for .040? through .125″ diameter tungsten electrodes?

This question brings up a couple of points. First off, did you know that Miller and Weldcraft are related? Both are owned by the Illinois Tool Works (ITW). Currently all Miller TIG torches are sold as Weldcraft, taking advantage of the brand recognition of Weldcraft, a leader in the industry. Some earlier Miller torches were made by another company, but to quality standards.

Which leads me to point number two.

Most TIG torches parts are interchangeable. There are some exceptions, and certainly with some of the cheaper non-name brands you’ll find that the materials are not as good and the tolerances are, well, not tolerable…. But with quality brand names like CK, Diamondback, Lincoln, etc the parts should interchange.