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Grinding tungsten tip from a newbie

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Grinding tungsten tip from a newbie

Postby Futterama » Sun Aug 13, 2017 6:32 am

Hi,

I have had my TIG welder for a good month now and I wanted something simple and inexpensive to grind my tungsten electrodes. So I came up with this.

disc.jpg
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Its a piece of polycarbonate plate with a center hole for a carriage bolt, a turned aluminium piece with threads for the bolt and normal 180 grit sandpaper for a sanding disc for handheld drilling machines.

The idea came from the local hardware store where I got the sandpaper and the black sanding disc attachment. I mounted this is my drill press but I could not see what I was grinding because the sanding face was down. So I made this for facing the sanding side up.
I know the sandpaper does not hold up fantastically, but it's cheap and I don't have access to diamond wheels here.

drillpress.jpg
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I use my cordless drill to chuck up the tungsten while sanding it, just as they do in all those videos I have seen.

I had some trouble with my arc, so I took a closer look at the sanded tip of the tungsten using an USB microscope, and it appears that I was running the cordless drill way too fast (actually I just gave it full speed in high gear = 1600rpm). The 125mm/5" sanding disc was running about 1200rpm. And this caused twisted sanding marks. I was not able to see this with the naked eye, those tungstens are 1.6mm 1/16".

twisted.jpg
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In those videos showing the chucked tungsten in the cordless drill, they never tell you how fast they are going, and it's not possible to see it either.

So I tried to the lowest speed in high gear on the cordless drill and upped the sanding disc speed to 1500rpm, and look at that, much better!

straight.jpg
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So basically my tip today is run the cordless drill slow on your finishing tungsten grinding pass.

As I'm a newbie, I still wonder about a few things.

Those sanding discs are dedicated to only grind tungsten. And I have labeled them on the back for which color band tungsten they go with. But can the normal type sandpaper contaminate the tungsten? Do I need to wipe down the tungsten after grinding as the sandpaper generates some dust? They never clean the tungsten in the videos, but does that mean it's not needed?
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Re: Grinding tungsten tip from a newbie

Postby Mike » Sun Aug 13, 2017 7:30 am

Thanks for sharing.
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Re: Grinding tungsten tip from a newbie

Postby clavius » Sun Aug 13, 2017 8:18 am

Not at all a bad idea. I like how you tracked down the wandering arc issue using a microscope to examine your tungsten and sorted out the issue. Those little USB microscopes are super handy for lots of things for the short money they cost.

I'm no expert, but I would not think the disks you are using would contaminate the tungsten any more than any other grinding wheel, though wiping it off sure could not harm anything.

As for being able to get diamond wheels, some like these are inexpensive and available in grits down to 120. You could mount them in the same manner as the disks you show here. They are designed for lapidary work but I've used them for everything but that and they work just fine. I presume they could be shipped to where you live:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/4-Grit-120-3000 ... 0005.m1851

Thanks for posting!
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Re: Grinding tungsten tip from a newbie

Postby Futterama » Sun Aug 13, 2017 8:30 am

clavius, thanks for the link, those discs could probably replace my current sanding paper solution as those are around $1.30 each and rather quickly wear out.

I see those diamond coated discs are also available in 5" so they would fit my current setup with minor changes (they are 16mm arbor hole where I have 8mm now, but that is quickly fixed on the lathe).

Now, what grit would be best, 180 is actually a bit high for the final finish to my liking but that was the only option besides grit 60 in the hardware store.
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Re: Grinding tungsten tip from a newbie

Postby Futterama » Sun Aug 13, 2017 8:51 am

While looking at ebay for these diamond coated discs, I see more 4" and 6" sizes than 5". Perhaps I could layer a 4" on top of a 6" with a 6" backing plate and then have a course grit on the 6" for crude grinding like a new tungsten or one I got dipped in the puddle, and then a finer grit on the 4" for a finishing pass :)
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Re: Grinding tungsten tip from a newbie

Postby AndersK » Sun Aug 13, 2017 9:28 am

Good idea.

I bought small diamond wheels at Harald Nyborg.
Also bought a cordless Dremel type grinder and an attachment to grind saw chains. Turned it into a tungsten grinder.
Clas Ohlson and Jula sell the discs too but I'm not sure if they have any stores in Denmark.
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Re: Grinding tungsten tip from a newbie

Postby Futterama » Fri Sep 01, 2017 2:36 pm

Quick question!

All the tungsten grinding videos tell you to dedicate a grinding wheel for tungstens to avoid contamination.

But will different kind of tungstens be able to contaminate each other? Can I use the same grinding wheel for both lanthanated, ceriated, thoriated ect. without worrying about them contaminating each other?
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Re: Grinding tungsten tip from a newbie

Postby noddybrian » Fri Sep 01, 2017 3:02 pm

Should be fine between tungsten types - maybe if your really " Sheldon " doing code work on titanium you'd keep one separate - biggest culprit is when you get a big dob of metal jump onto the tungsten or you dip it - that metal will stick to a grinding disc - I keep one normal stone wheel on my grinder to take off the rough stuff & a fine diamond on the other side for finishing - this is on a mini 3" bench grinder - I keep it on a moveable arm on the side of my weld cart - it was designed to hold a large monitor screen in a hospital - I scored it from their skip !
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Re: Grinding tungsten tip from a newbie

Postby Futterama » Sat Sep 02, 2017 5:03 am

Thanks!
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Re: Grinding tungsten tip from a newbie

Postby Oscar » Mon Sep 04, 2017 4:15 pm

Futterama wrote:Quick question!

All the generalized tungsten grinding videos tell you to dedicate a grinding wheel for tungstens to avoid contamination.

But will different kind of tungstens be able to contaminate each other? Can I use the same grinding wheel for both lanthanated, ceriated, thoriated ect. without worrying about them contaminating each other?


Fixed it for you. :lol:

I've seen my fair share of videos that recommend that very thing. And then they go right to TIG welding on a crusty old car-frame covered in dirt, rust, and grease, LOL. Truth is, it won't matter if you're doing home projects and you're at least being careful to not grind things like aluminum and copper, or anything greasy/oily on your grinding wheel. Now if you're doing code work where parts get X-ray'd and what not, then you might not want to risk it.
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