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Hot Rods Tungsten sharpening

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by flatford39, Jun 29, 2020.

  1. alanp561
    Joined: Oct 1, 2017
    Posts: 1,049


    I'm with you, buddy. I'm right handed so spinning the tungsten counter clockwise might even make my left handed welds look better;)
  2. alchemy
    Joined: Sep 27, 2002
    Posts: 15,520


    If I blob one up a lot I take some pliers and snap the contaminated tip off. It seems to snap rather easily on the maroon variety I'm using. I rough-in a new taper on the side of the grinding stone, then perfect the point on the face of the wheel.
  3. I am a certified tig welder and I always do them on a disc sander finishing it on the belt sander in line with the belt going away direction while turning lightly. Over 40 years experience mostly on sanitary s/s pipe.
    catdad49 and alanp561 like this.
  4. I grind using the side of the benchtop grinder, with the point of the tungsten following the rotation of the wheel while slowly spinning the tungsten. I'm not keen on aiming a sharp point into the rotation of a grinding wheel that's spinning toward me at X thousand RPM. By using the side and pointing it away from me (at the floor), if the tungsten does catch or I lose my grip it won't come flying at me in an attempt to stab me in the gut.

    Not a problem if you only ever use one type of tungsten, or leave the not-in-use tungstens in those handy plastic sleeves that they're sold in.

    Why are you dipping your tungsten in the carbon steel weld puddle and then dipping it in the stainless puddle?

    The only way you'll get cross-contamination is if you're embedding steel into the tungsten during the sharpening process or doing the aforementioned double-dip. If you're breaking off the contaminated end that's gone swimming, which is what you should be doing, you shouldn't have any carbon steel or stainless left on the tungsten to embed in the grinding wheel and the re-embed in the same (or another) tungsten.
  5. 57JoeFoMoPar
    Joined: Sep 14, 2004
    Posts: 4,534


    I use a basic belt sander and just rotate it in my fingers until it gets to a point.

    I also avoid red tip tungstens for the low-level radiation hazard, especially since there are other good options that are non-carcinogenic. I've been using "blue tip" 2% lanthanated lately, which I like in my inverter machine, but 1 1/2% lanthanated and quad tungsten have been fine, too. Honestly, I'm not that good of a welder than I can easily tell the difference.
  6. ekimneirbo
    Joined: Apr 29, 2017
    Posts: 1,114

    from Brooks Ky

    Alchemy quote: If I blob one up a lot I take some pliers and snap the contaminated tip off.

    I bought a small grinder and put some diamond wheels on it. In my typical overthink fashion I bought fine/med/coarse wheels. Turns out that the coarse wheel was all thats needed. The diamond wheels don't break down and they are great at quickly removing the unwanted crap on the tungsten. I put one on each end of the grinder so I have one end dedicated for aluminum and one end for steel etc. Since the sharpening needs to be made longways instead of radially, I then move to a small belt sander and finish the end.
    The thing I find is that it takes a LOT of work with the belt sander alone, but the diamond wheel puts a good tip on it in just a few seconds. So in the long run, you save enough belts to pay for the other stuff.
    I also bought one of the small HF chop saws. Its perfect for cutting the tungsten off when needed. It might be possible to put a diamond wheel on the opposite end of the belt sander instead of buying a separate grinder. I also cut away the very top of the belt sander for clearance to let me hold the tungsten more vertical. I'm tellin ya, the diamond wheel works great for quickly pointing the tungstens and they don't seem to wear out.....and I grind a lot of tungstens when I weld.:D:D:D
    Tungsten Sharpener x1.JPG
    Tungsten Sharpener x4.JPG
    Tungsten Sharpener x5.JPG
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2020
  7. alanp561
    Joined: Oct 1, 2017
    Posts: 1,049


    Guess you missed the point here, no pun intended. Most of my TIG experience has been in the field, working on fossil fuel and nuclear powerhouses. A lot of that was working in some extremely uncomfortable positions where I didn't have the luxury of running to a tool crib which had the only bench grinders on the job just to sharpen tungsten. Shop rats, the people who work in fabrication shops, must have more time to accomplish their work than those persons who worked in the field. Making several trips a day to the tool crib is just part of the day for them. The tungsten we used was specified by the welding engineers and was usually the same type, 2% thoriated, for all welds, carbon steel or non-ferrous.

    As for your question about " dipping your tungsten in a carbon steel weld puddle and then dipping it in the stainless puddle ". I can guarantee that doing that, whether it be a carbon steel or stainless puddle, will result in picking up a ball of the parent metal which renders your tungsten unusable until you sharpen it again. We used a dedicated grinding wheel on a 4 1/2 " grinder for each type of material we were welding, thereby avoiding cross-contamination. We were so conscious of the problem of cross-contamination that we weren't allowed to use carbon steel hammers to fit stainless steel because where the stainless got hit with a carbon steel hammer, it would rust.
  8. ekimneirbo
    Joined: Apr 29, 2017
    Posts: 1,114

    from Brooks Ky

    Here is the small HF chop saw. May be on sale cheaper for July 4th or use a 20% coupon.
    chop saw.jpg
  9. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 46,122


    From all the answers here, it looks like there are a lot of ways to skin this cat. And all of them work.

    have fun!
    alanp561, Tman and ekimneirbo like this.
  10. billfunk29
    Joined: Jun 28, 2005
    Posts: 21

    from Minnesota

    One more way to skin the cat is "Chemsharp". You heat the tungsten with a torch and dip into the Chemsharp. There is an exothermic reaction and the end forms a point. Only convenient if you do a whole box. Don't breathe the fumes. Pretty cool process, but I still grind mostly.. The Chemsharp is Sodium Nitrite. and can be purchased in bulk from a chemical supply. If you want a really controlled point mix the Sodium Nitrite with water 10 to 1 by weight. Use a 24 VAC transformer with one wire on the tungsten and the other wire in the solution. Best to have a variable power supply, but 24 volts works OK. By pulling the tip out of the solution as it etches, you can control the taper.

    Another subtle point (that pun thing again) about tungsten tips. Just because the tip is the same shape on a 1/8" tungsten as a 1/16", they will not weld the same. The bigger tungsten will heat sink more heat from the plasma. Use the smallest tungsten that won't burn off. Hotter arc, better penetration. Unless you are brazing with silicon bronze, then you want the bigger tungsten and cooler arc.
    ekimneirbo and alanp561 like this.

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