Types of tungsten electrode grinders and why you should get one

tungsten electrode grindersIf you have dabbled in TIG welding to any level or degree, then it’s pretty sure that you have contaminated the tungsten one time or another. Maybe you touched the filler rod to it or perhaps you accidentally dipped it in weld puddle. It happens to everyone, don’t worry, but that definitely means you need to make that trip (again?) to your trusty tungsten electrode grinder and get that electrode cleaned.

Tungsten electrode sharpeners have become one of the tools of the trade in TIG welding. Well, some folks argue otherwise, but it can’t be denied that a lot of folks who weld making use of the TIG process use them. The hobbyists and professionals who use them include shop fabricators, tube welders, boilermakers, pipe welders, and heat exchange fabricators among others.

Are these electrode sharpeners absolutely necessary? Not exactly – it basically depends on what you’re actually working on. To help you understand what you can get out of a grinder for tungsten electrodes here are the details, pros, and cons of the different types of tungsten sharpeners that are in regular use nowadays.

Handheld tungsten electrode grinder

At the top of the list of popular tungsten sharpeners are the handhelds. There are a lot of different brands you’ll find in stores today, which includes Arc Zone, CK, HTP, Stilo, and Weldcraft. The price varies from brand to brand but they are generally quite affordable. It won’t be that hard to find a handheld tungsten grinder for $200 or somewhere around that price point.

handheld tungsten electrode grinder

Pros of using a handheld tungsten electrode grinder

Drawbacks of handheld tungsten grinders

Bench Top tungsten sharpeners

Bench tops are pretty common in shops where welders tend to use them every so often. They’re also perfect if you work in a clean room where you have to make sanitary welds. If the job site requires minimal to zero dust then this is the tool you need—handhelds will never match it.

tungsten electrode grinders

Pros of using bench top tungsten sharpeners

Downsides of this type of tungsten sharpener

Stilo TIG

This is a type of handheld grinder for tungsten electrodes. Yes, it is a handheld tungsten grinder but it is in a league of all its own, which is why it is placed in a different category. Unlike the other tungsten sharpeners we have gone over so far, this one actually doesn’t need electricity. No batteries to replace or recharge.

stylo tig sharpener

Note that it the Stilo will work well for 1/16 or even a 1/32 tungsten (some welders who have also used it say it can also work well with 1-inch tungsten).

Advantages of the Stilo TIG

Now here are its disadvantages

Final thoughts

A tungsten electrode grinder is an absolute must if you are using a more automated welding process. For instance, if you primarily do orbital TIG welding, then a tungsten grinder will be very useful to you. You shouldn’t be without one.

In fact, they are pretty useful even if you just practice manual TIG welding. Well, some guys may say that they don’t really need it, but it definitely makes the work a lot easier.


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