TIG Electrodes

Please see warning and disclaimer at the bottom of the page!!

There is an art to correctly grinding electrodes for TIG welding, and the better you grind them, the more control you have over the arc. before we start there are a few things I need to point out…

  • ONLY grind tungsten carbide electrodes using a GREEN grinding wheel that has been correctly mounted and dressed by a competent person.
  • Always wear safety glasses while grinding TIG electrodes.
  • Some TIG electrodes are Zirconiated, which means they contain a small amount of radioactive material. While grinding tungstens for personal use is not considered to be dangerous, grinding large quantities for teams of welders may cause exposure limits for Zirconium to be exceeded.
  • The hints and tips on this page are only valid for welding Stainless Steel or Mild Steel, Other materials require a different electrode geometry.
Ok, now we have the science and safety part out of the way, I will tell you how to grind your electrodes to a perfect point that will give you full control of the arc. I you are reading this you probably already know how to grind an electrode badly, but I will tell you what the problem is before I tell you the solution.
The Problem.
Quite simply most problems with arc stability are caused by either or all of the following…
  • Incorrect point angle.
  • Incorrect point geometry.
  • Incorrect direction of grinding.
The Solution.
Follow these simple step and your arc will be stable and your electrode will last longer.
  • Grind the electrode to a point with a similar angle to a pencil, approximately 30° inclusive.
  • Do not grind the electrode to a sharp point, I would recommend a small blunt end to a diameter that is approximately equal to 10% of the material thickness. For example if you are welding 5mm plate the electrode should have a blunt end of about 0.5Ø.
  • NEVER grind the electrode by holding it horizontally, although this is the easiest way to grind, it produces grooves in the electrode that gauge the arc to leave the tip of the electrode at differing angles, making it difficult to control. ALWAYS grind the electrode vertically, offering it to the wheel at a downwards angle to give the required electrode geometry. This causes the grooves caused by grinding to be going in the same direction, not only that, but in a direction towards the weld pool, effectively concentrating the arc and making it more stable and easier to control.

Disclaimer – All workshop tips and advice offered on this site is done so in good faith, I can take no responsibility for personal injury arising from anyone using the advice given.