How to stick weld like a pro in 2020 | ultimate expert’s guide

There are different types of welding processes available, among which MIG, TIG, and Stick are most popular. Stick welding is popular as it is capable of welding outdoor. MIG and TIG are not suitable for outdoor welding because unlike MIG and TIG; it does not use a gas cylinder; therefore, wind can’t affect it. In this article, we will discuss how to stick weld like a pro.

Stick welding basics

Another term used for stick welding is “shielded metal arc welding.” The reason behind it a layer of flux covers the electrode, which prevents the contamination of the weld pool by the environment.

Stick welding can be defined as a form of welding procedure that consumes electricity and lets the electricity pass through the electrode to melt both the electrode and metal joint and fuse the metal joint together.

The flux will form a stony waste material separated from metals on the top of your weld bead. You will have to chip it off and brush it down after finishing your weld.

How does the stick welding process work?

Stick Welding is a method used to shape the weld using a flow-coated electrode.

At the point of contact with the base metal or welding pool, the electric current passes through a coated electrode, or rod and it arcs.

The flux around it produces a layer of gasses that protects the molten metal from oxidation as soon as the electrode starts melting.

The gas cloud remains on the top of the weld pool as it cools and becomes a slag that needs to be chipped off after finishing the weld.

Advantages

  • lightweight
  • the best choice for welding outdoor
  • affordable equipment
  • saves money by not requiring shielding gas

Disadvantages

  • slower process than other types
  • electrodes need to be replaced frequently
  • leaves slag on the top of the weld pool
  • needs to be expert to operate
  • difficult to weld thin materials
  • titanium, zirconium columbium like reactive metals are not suitable for this process.

What you will need to get started

  • A constant voltage power supply/stick welder
  • Electrode holder
  • ground clamp
  • slag removing tools
  • electrode/rods
  • safety equipments

Stick welding tips/ how to stick weld like a pro

you may find stick welding a difficult process as a beginner. You will need higher skills to do so.

The four basic steps to make a successful weld are

  • creating an electric arc
  • moving the arc to make a weld bead
  • giving shape to the bead
  • removing the slag

now, let’s get into the depth discussion how to stick weld like a pro.

First, you will need to gather the tools mentioned earlier, such as stick welder, Electrode holder, ground clamp, slag-removing tools, electrode/rods, safety equipment, and the metal to be welded.

Related post: best stick welder for home use and beginners

Weld prep

Though it is not essential to clean the metal, you will be welding; our recommendation is to clean your metal first as it may contain paint, grease, rust, and other substances that may be toxic. Besides cleaning the metal allows you to get sufficient penetration if your metal is thick.

how to stick weld; weld prep, grinding
Clean the metal by grinding

You would not want a weak joint to be formed. So, always clean the surface before getting started.

Use C clamps to hold your workpiece together.

While welding, it is crucial to make your workpiece sticky. What is the benefit if the metal pieces move while welding? It will just make a joint that has no use to you or your client.

how to stick weld; using c clamp to hold your workpiece
using c clamp to hold your workpiece

You will be able to break these types of joints with a punch only. In that case, you may think yourself a superman.

So, make sure your metal pieces are secured and sticky until the weld is completed.

Place the ground clamp to the bigger piece of stock.

For the best result, place your ground clamp on the clean surface of your metal that is being welded. Placing the ground clamp on an unclean surface will cause resistance at the ground location; therefore, it will be challenging to produce an arc while you start welding.

Place the electrode/rod to the electrode holder and select the proper amperage range.

Before placing the electrode, make sure you have selected the perfect one that can melt your metal thickness. For example, E6011, 1/8 inch electrode can weld effectively ¼ inch plate steel, at between 80-100 amps. Go through the user manual provided with your welding machine to know which electrode and amperage range is perfect for the thickness of your metal.

Switch on your stick welder and place the tip of the rod to the selected point you want to begin your weld.

After switching on the machine, you may hear the cooling fan’s noise, but there is nothing to worry about if you can’t hear any noise. Some cooling fans only operate when the machine gets hot.

Hold the electrode holder/stinger with your dominant hand so you can move it against the plate naturally. And now, you are all ready to begin your weld.

But before getting started, make sure you have put on all the necessary safety equipment like welding helmet, gloves, jacket, boots etc.

Strike an arc

Scratching and tapping are the two-general methods of striking an arc.

To beginners and using an AC unit, the scratching approach is simpler. The electrode is pushed in a corner around the plate as you strike a match. The plate is struck when the electrode scratches. When the arc has formed, remove the electrode for an excessive arc for a moment, then go back to regular arc length.

The electrode in the taping method is moved vertically down to the base metal. When struck by the metal, an overly long arc is removed briefly and re-entered in standard arc-length.

The biggest challenge in reaching the arc is to “freeze” or to attach or fuse the electrode. This is because the electrode tip melts and connects the electrode to the cold base metal until it is withdrawn from the contact.

When you lose the arc, you shouldn’t continue your process as there will be slag on the surface. Make sure to clean the slag before laying a new layer. Otherwise, you will get weak and dirty weld.

An electrode will soon be overheated by the additionally high current resulting from the “short circuit” and melt or flux until the circuit breaks down. The electrode holder will usually free the electrode by giving a quick snap backward from the direction of travel. If not, the circuit must be opened when the electrode is released from the holder.

Be steady and hold the gap.

It involves a lot of practice because various electrode diameters and welding amplification have to vary from the tip of the electrode into the workpiece. Still, if you can continuously keep the breakage, the electrode to the workpiece will continue throughout the electrical arc. The arc distance will usually not exceed the diameter of the electrode.

Use the arc by keeping the electrode from the workpiece at around 1/8 inch to 3/16 inch and then continue on the direction you wish to melt. The metal will fill the molten metal pool and create the weld as you push the electrode.

Controlling the arc is the most challenging part of stick welding. If you want to make a deep penetration, move the electrode slowly. On the other hand, a wider bead will require the electrode tip’s zig-zag or weave moving.

Chip off the slag

After finishing your weld, you will find slag on the top of your weld bead. Chip off the slag and use a wire brush to remove any remaining slag and foreign particles. You can use an angle grinder to flatten the weld bead you have made. It will help you to examine the weld bead if there is any defect has occurred.

You may want to apply water to cool it down, but it is not necessary to apply water as it is supposed to cool down if you weld the piece correctly.

Painting can be done to protect your weld from being corroded.

Warnings

Make sure the connections are correctly established and inspect it often to minimize the possibility of electric shock. Never start your welding in wet conditions.

Put on full sleeve shirts, and long pants as the arc’s bright light can cause a sunburn-like burn.

Put on all the safety equipment.

See the warnings and precautions in the citations.               

Do not hold the electrode too closely as it creates an unstable arc that may douse itself because of the decreasing welding voltage.

FAQs

What is the type of stick welder should I use for the best all-around use? AC or DC

In the case of stick welding, DC output has more advantages than AC output including;

  • Easier to learn
  • Gives a smoother arc
  • Clean and good-looking weld bead
  • Fewer arc outages
  • Less sticking

Approximately 10 percent more penetration at a given amperage than AC is achieved with DC reverse polarity (electrode positive) while DC direct polarity (electrode negative) better welds thinner metals.

Are there any advantages of AC output?

Some metal can be magnetized by friction. AC option is the best choice for welding these types of metal. The reason behind the AC option has the alternating power between polarities, thus enables you to weld magnetized metals.

A DC output does not work due to arc blast, in which the magnetic field blasts out the weld puddle with the molten filler metal.

What type of electrode can be used to stick weld steel?

6010, 6011, 6013, 7018, and 7024 are the most common types of electrodes for using general work. But you have to use a specific one for specific work; for example

  • 6010 is used for deep penetration
  • 6013 is used for less penetration
  • 7018 is used for higher strength steel and better bead appearance
  • 7024 is easy to use. It is called the drag rod. The thick flux of the electrode allows it to automatically maintain the arc length.

Is it essential to clean the metal before welding?

Though cleaning the metal surface is not vital for stick welding, it will not cost you anything. Welding in the rusty metal is not good for the weld and your health as well.

There may be paintings on the surface that may contain a toxic substance that may be harmful to your health. On the contrary, rust causes resistance, making it hard to strike the arc and resulting in a weak weld bead.

What should be the current settings?

Current settings depend on the diameter of the electrode and the type of electrode you have selected. If you have chosen a 1/8 inch 6010 electrode, the current settings should be between 75- 125 amps. On the contrary, a 5/32 inch 7018 electrode will require at current up to 220amps.

You can find the operating ranges to the side of the electrode box. Besides, most of the new welding machines label the recommended amperage settings for a variety of electrodes and metal thickness.

What should be the length of the arc?

If the arc is too long, it will cause you to produce a weld with lots of spatter and rough beads. Different electrode demands a different arc length. The arc length must not be greater than the electrode’s core diameter.

Final verdict

Stick welding takes quite a practice and patience to be mastering. Never lose your hope on this. Keep practicing and find out the right way to stick weld that suits you. We hope our how to stick weld guide will help you to master on stick welding.

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