Anyone who has TIG welded has experienced contaminating the tungsten. Whether you dipped the hot tungsten into the molten weld puddle, or touched the filler rod to the tungsten, you're guaranteed a trip to the grinder to clean up that electrode! Today, I will show you a fast and easy way to clean up and sharpen your electrode, so you can get back under the hood and lay those beads! I do all my TIG welding at TechShop in Menlo Park, CA. They have a great facility full of tools, and knowledgeable instructors to teach you how to use the machines and equipment!
Hand drill (preferably cordless)
Belt sander (optional)
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Step 1: Chucking Up the Tungsten in Your Hand Drill
Here are some examples of some pretty contaminated tungsten. What you wanna do now is chuck the tungsten up in the hand drill just as you would a drill bit.
Step 2: Grinding the Tungsten
Remember, only grind tungsten on a bench grinder that is dedicated to tungsten. If you grind your electrode on a wheel that is shared by steel, you run the risk of embedding contaminants in the tungsten. Now, just as you would normally grind your tungsten (always leaving the grains from grinding, lengthwise) and making the length of the pointed cone about 2x the diameter of the electrode. Remember to nip the tip off the pointed cone so it doesn't blow off into the weld pool and further contaminate your welds. On a side note, you can further polish up the tungsten on a belt sander (also dedicated to tungsten) to get some of the grains out. This isn't totally necessary, unless you're maybe building a spaceship...
Step 3: Look How Much Time You Saved!
Perfectly sharpened tungsten! Fantastic! And you didn't have to burn your fingertips on that small piece of tungsten like you've done in the past! This is a good point (pun intended!) if you're working in confined spaces and need to use the small back cap on the torch; you're going to need a small piece of tungsten to clear the shallow cap. And if you've ever tried grinding a 1 inch piece of tungsten, you know it gets hot, really hot! Also, you can save trips back to the grinder by grinding both ends of the tungsten, 2 for 1!
I hope you all find this instructable useful, and save some time in the process! Also if you've never been to a TechShop, find one. You can drop by anytime they are open (9am-Midnight, 7 days a week) and take a free tour of the facility.