Tig Toddler

by Scott Quick
(Hannibal, Mo, USA)

I am brand spanking new to welding. I am currently enrolled in a welding class at the local community college. When the class was divided I was thrown into TIG group to start. (I think that is like pouring oil into a car using the funnel backwards.) There must have been some former sin, in a past life, that I am paying for now. As you say, welding is not for sissies.

I am happy to report that I have FINALLY layed down a nice pretty, and strong weld. (Insert Ta Da music here.) Also happy to report that it was your video that made sense on thechniqe.

I have eaten through numerous tungsten electrodes. I am currently using 1/8" mild carbon steel coupons to learn the techniques. I am using a 3/32 Red tip electrode. I am having an enormous problem with fouling the electrode. I have spent a great deal of class time at the (for tungsten only) dedicated grinder. (If they would only install a water cooler and a snack machine.)

I think I would use a hand held sharpener if it were handy,easy to throw in a bag or tool box. I am not sure that I want to pay the high price for one, for convenience sake.

Oddly enough I was thinking of this very subject on my morning drive. There has to be simple method that could be at the weld station. Your newsletter arrival to my blackberry interrupted my daydreaming session. I was at the part of the dream where I am receiving accolades for inventing a handheld sharpener, being carried out on the shoulders of welders from all over the world, sitting on a beach looking at a pallet full of cash that I earned from such invention. (This is where the needle scratches across the old vinyl record.) What, someone already invented a handheld sharpener? What? They did not get approval from me, for such a thing.

So back to "practical build a better mouse trap thinking." I thought of the old drafting pencil sharpeners that were used to insert a lead and rotate to sharpen the leads. The problem with this method is that the striations would be horizontal to the the tip not vertical. Could this work to take the bulk of the contamination off, and the final "dressing" could be done with a pocket sharpening stone?

Then the old drill doctor came to mind. I have seen this but have never used one. Would this have any practical application? I think this too would put the striations in a horzontal plane not vertical to the tip. For now I will continue to ponder a Dremel tool adapter.

So, even more questions came to mind. Does the tungsten have to be sharpened to a round point to work? I have seen where some tungstens have been sharpened with three to four vertical planes. Much like a chisel to a punch point. Is this bad sharpening technique? or is there a use for such a sharpened electrode?

I have never tried the cooper block technique. how does this work? Can you direct me to a short video on how is works. Is it for use after the tungsten is sharpened? Can this be used when the tip is still good, but slightly contaminated, ie... I tripped and fell into the welding pool?

Thank you for your hard work and dedication to make this site available. I find it an awesome supplemental resource to those of us who are new to the world of welding.


Good post...

dont overthink it. A good sharp tungsten is the goal. How it gets sharp is not as important.

for welding really precision jobs...razor blades, orbital welding on small tubing, automated tig welding on thin tubing, tig inverters that start at 1 amp or less...etc, a perfectly sharpened electrode makes some difference.

for everything else, it does not make that much difference.

A bench grinder with the tungsten chucked up in a cordless drill motor works pretty good too.

Return to tungsten sharpeners.