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TIG Welding: How to Sharpen the Tungsten on Your TIG Welder

The Voice: What are you doing, Kev?

Kevin Caron: I'm was TIG welding on a sculpture I'm working on here in the studio and discovered my tip is worn away enough that I'm not getting the right kind of flame off the end of it for a nice, clean weld.

I need to pull it out of the torch and go over to the grinder, where I can flatten the end of it just a little. Then I'll bevel the edge back this way about two-thirds of the diameter of the tungsten; clean it up, put it back in the gun and go back to work.

I like to keep a few extras tungstens around. These are some of my other ones that I keep sharp. I keep them all sitting right here, so normally when I'm welding and I've got to change tips, I can come over and grab a new tip, put it in the gun and go back to work. That way, the tip that needs to be reground can cool off, rather than having to do a grind on a hot tip.

You see, this is the way they show up. This is a package of tungstens, and that's how they look when they're brand new. The little red end indicates what type of tungsten they are; whether they're for steel or aluminum.

And you can see it's got a nice squared-off edge on it. When needed I would go to the grinder and regrind them.

The Voice: Where'd you get the cool little grinder?

Kevin Caron: This is actually from Harbor Freight Tools. I think it cost all of nine dollars, but it's great because now I've got a little grinder that I can dedicate just to sharpening the tungstens without contaminating them with metal off of the other grinder. This one just sits right here on my welder. I can plug it in right on the front, so any time the Miller is running, the grinder is ready to go.

You can see that after awhile they tend to wear away. This is the new one and this is the old one. You just grind them down like that and then you get a nice flame off the end of the welder; a nice, controlled flame.

You don't want to go any further down than about two-thirds of that diameter. You want that little flat end on it to get a nice torch shape; that nice tip on the end of it when you're welding.

If you take this down to a point, what happens now is the arc just sits there and kind of wobbles around. It makes it really hard to weld. It won't stay fixed right off the end of the tungsten; it goes wherever it wants.

That's the way the book says to do it. The book from Miller states "two-thirds the diameter and back about two-thirds of the way." That's all you need!

Back to work.

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