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Are all TIG electrodes created equal?

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  • Are all TIG electrodes created equal?

    I've been spending a lot of time in class sharpening TIG electrodes. I know that's normal for newbies, so it's no big thing.

    However, I noticed that all the school-supplied electrodes are made in China. I know everything from China isn't crap, but a lot of it is.

    Would it be worth the money to buy some (perhaps) higher quality electrodes? I'm not looking for a magic bullet to make me a TIG welder, but if having top quality electrodes would speed the learning process, I'd be happy buy my own.

    Please feel free to suggest a brand or source. The ones I'm using now on mild steel are 2% Thoriated Tungsten (red).

    Any products mentioned in my posts have been endorsed by their manufacturer.

  • #2
    Roger...If you are still dippin your tungsten then just use the cheap ones. The pricey ones will foul just as fast. I haven't tried the Chinese ones but unless the arc is spraying all over, I don't think it's going to be a big deal.
    Unless you are to the point where you can notice a difference with different grinding profiles etc then it make a difference in your welding either.
    I have tools I don't even know I own...


    • #3
      Torker is right, when you first start out you feel like you're learning more about grinding electrodes than Tig welding. LOL.

      I have always coveted one of these Sharpie Tungsten Grinders attached right to the weld cart:


      Try G-Wizard Machinist's Calculator for free:


      • #4
        Be sure to be wearing a resperator when you are grinding 2% thoriated, seems the dust is radioactive.....something they forgot to tell you when learning to weld. Our UAW shop only uses pure and ceriated now... something about the epa.... shawn


        • #5
          zirconated is a non toxic alloy electrode... I switched to that because I weld and grind in the basement.

          honestly I cant really tell any difference between the different types and pure. the alloyed are supposed to handle higher current and AC much better.


          • #6
            Sharpen it with a cutting torch.. get it red, blow and roll... Needle point.. and maybe you can show the teacher a old electricians trick?

            Or if you can use the creme.. I never have.
            Excuse me, I farted.


            • #7
              By the way Roger, your old truck is still gettin it. For someone else.. but..
              Excuse me, I farted.


              • #8
                Msot of the world's tungsten come from China. As I understand it they have the biggest ore bodies and having the lowest contaminants.

                If we'd ever severed relations with China in the Cold War we'd have been up the creek for light bulbs, carbide, and TIG electrodes.