Every welder should know the basics of How to Stick Weld. While stick welding isn’t as fun or easy to learn as MIG welding, it’s still a relatively simple process to learn. In fact, you’ll discover that stick welding is highly versatile, and you can avoid the hassle and expense of using shielding gas. A beginner’s guide to learning how to use a stick welder. You will find out about the equipment you need to get started. Additionally, you will get tips from welding experts on how to weld with a stick welder.
Welding with a stick welder remains one of the most popular forms of welding. And there are many benefits to learning how to weld with a stick welder. You can get started with basic equipment, weld various metals, and work indoors and outdoors.
What Is Stick Welding?
The proper term for stick welding is shielded metal arc welding. The common term comes from the fact that the electrode looks like a stick. Welding with a rod or stick electrode is the simplest form of electrical arc welding process, and it’s the easiest to set up as you only need basic equipment.
How Does Stick Welding Work?
Stick welding works by using an electrical arc and a flux-coated consumable electrode. The electrical arc creates intense heat, melting the metal filler rod (electrode) and the base metal. This creates a weld pool in the joint that fuses the metal pieces when it cools.
Stick welding can only work using a flux-coated stick or filler rod. As the electrode heats up, the flux creates a shielding gas, protecting the weld joint from contamination. However, this leaves a residue called slag that requires removing to achieve a clean, aesthetically pleasing weld.
What Welding Equipment Will I Need to Get To Get Started With Stick Welding?
Stick welding equipment typically consists of four parts. First, you need a basic welding machine — most welders are capable of MIG, TIG, and stick welding. Then you should have an electrode holder, a ground clamp, and the appropriate stick welding electrodes.
What Safety Equipment Will I Need?
If you are starting with stick welding, you must also ensure you have the proper safety gear. Remember, welding with a stick welder uses powerful electrical currents and intense heat. Therefore, you should have welding equipment to protect yourself from molten metal, electrocution, and intense UV radiation.
Here is a list of additional welding equipment you’ll need to get started stick welding:
- A welding mask to protect your eyes from sparks and UV light
- Welding gloves and a welding jacket
- Fire-proof shoes
- Clothing made from non-flammable material
- A fire extinguisher
- Equipment to ensure adequate ventilation to remove welding fumes
What Type of Stick Welder Should I Start With?
Buying your first welder can be an exciting but daunting experience. However, most arc welders for sale are suitable for TIG, MIG, and stick welding. Typically, the necessary equipment includes the welding machine, rod holder, ground clamp, and a few electrodes to get started.
Amperage and power source are other factors to consider when buying a stick welder. If you are learning to weld with a stick welder, you won’t need a welding machine with more than 140 amps. A DC power source is more popular and works best on thinner metals. If you buy a 120-volt welder, you will be able to plug it into a power outlet in your garage or workshop.
How to Know What Welding Rod to Use
Stick welding rods come in a wide range of sizes and classifications for every kind of weld. Each set of electrodes has a four-digit code to help you decide which one to use. The numbers refer to tensile strength, stick position, and type of flux coating.
Here is information on how to read a stick electrode code. As an example, we’ll use a common stick electrode for beginners that has a classification E6013:
- “E” refers to the electrode. This is constant on all types of welding sticks. However, some manufacturers omit the “E” letter from their codes.
- The next two numbers are the tensile strength. These are typically 60 (60,000ksi) or 70 (70,000ksi).
- The following number is the welding angle position. “1” is all positions, “2” is flat and horizontal, and “3” is flat only.
- The last number refers to the electrode’s flux coating. There are nine variations of these.
For beginners to stick welding, E6013 electrodes are the best ones to use. They have deep penetration, are easy to weld with, and create a relatively smooth, clean weld.
Step by Step How to Stick Weld
Step 1/ Preparation of Equipment and Work Piece
First, you must set up the welding equipment. To do this, plug the welder into the power outlet, but don’t turn it on. Next, attach the electrode holder and the ground clamp plug to the DINSE socket on the front of the welder. Lastly, you should connect the ground clamp to the work-piece or welding table.
Before switching on the welder, it’s vital to prepare all your safety equipment — welding helmet, gloves, and protective clothing. Also, lay out the metal pieces you plan on welding. This makes it easier and faster to make a clean weld.
It’s typically necessary to prepare the metal before welding. Although not essential with stick welding, adequate joint preparation will help achieve a better weld. To clean metal, use a wire brush or steel wool to remove any rust, paint, or contaminants from where you plan to join the metal. However, if that is not possible, you can use an E6011 electrode to weld dirty metal.
Step 2/ How to lay that first bead
To lay your first weld bead, switch on the power and select the correct amperage settings. Next, you should refer to the welder’s guide to determine the right number of amps for the electrode and metal thickness. Lastly, put the desired stick in the electrode holder.
Tip #1 Remember — sparks will fly when the electrode touches the work piece.
It’s best to hold the electrode at a 5 to 15-degree angle towards the direction of travel.
But which is best — dragging the stick electrode or pushing it? Most experienced welders use the drag technique when welding metal plate or pieces that are level or overhead. However, using a forehand or push technique is best when welding vertically.
Here are some tips on creating a clean weld using stick welding techniques:
- Always remember to flip the welding helmet down before starting.
- Ignite the electrode by striking like a match and then pull up slightly.
- Don’t pull away too fast or too far; a long arc will affect the weld quality.
- Once ignited, drag the stick along the base material, holding a steady pace.
It will take some practice to achieve a clean, nice-looking bead. However, in time, you will create strong welds that look great.
Step #3 What Do I Need to Do After Finishing the Welding Bead?
Stick welding leaves a layer of slag that must be removed to finish the weld. To remove the slag, use a chipping hammer and wire brush. To do this, use the pointed end of the hammer to drag along the top of the bead. Then gently chip away at the side with the flat end.
Then, to finish the weld, use a wire brush to remove any remaining slag.
What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Stick Welding?
Stick welding is one of the most common forms of manual welding. Its advantages are that it requires basic equipment, can be used on various materials, and is relatively inexpensive. However, welds require clean-up after to make them look nice and presentable.
Stick Welding — Advantages
- You can use stick welding on corroded, painted, or dirty metal.
- Stick welding is suitable for outdoor welding because it doesn’t use a shielding gas.
- It’s the most inexpensive type of electric arc welding.
- Stick welding is versatile, and you only need to change electrodes when switching between various types of metals.
- It’s easier than MIG or TIG welding to weld in hard-to-reach places.
- The electrode flux coating adds alloys to the weld, resulting in stronger welds.
Stick Welding — Disadvantages
- It’s necessary to remove the slag deposit after making the joint.
- You will need to replace the stick frequently when welding larger pieces.
- Stick welding isn’t suitable for welds less than 1/8 inch in thickness.
How to Stick Weld — FAQs
What is stick welding best for?
Stick welding is the best process for creating robust welds on contaminated metals. It’s effective for welding most alloys and can be used in drafty indoor areas or outdoors.
Is stick welding AC or DC?
A Stick welder can work on AC or DC depending on the electrode type. However, most DIY enthusiasts and industries use a DC power supply as this provides the most reliable constant voltage.
Why are my stick welds not holding?
Stick welds that break or crack easily result from a lack of amperage. Usually, increasing the amps resolves issues with welds that don’t hold and prevents electrodes from sticking to the base metal.
Does stick welding require gas?
No. Stick welding uses flux-coated electrodes that eliminate the need for shielding gas. The flux creates a protective environment around the weld pool to protect it from contamination.
What angle do you stick weld?
The angle of travel to hold the stick electrode depends on the type of weld you intend to create. For example, keep the electrode at a 90° angle for a horizontal, single-pass bead weld and lean into the weld travel direction at 15°. On the other hand, a 30° is ideal for a horizontal beveled weld.
How do stick welders stay steady?
To create beautiful welds with stick welding, it’s vital to maintain a consistent arc and move at a steady pace. It would be best if you moved slowly enough for the weld puddle to catch up, but not too slow that a lot of slag develops. Ideally, keeping the electrode 3 mm from the metal plate is necessary.
How do you stop an electrode from sticking?
If you find that the electrode keeps sticking, try increasing the amperage. Usually, low amperage is the primary cause of electrodes that stick to the metal plate.
What are the essentials of welding?
The five essentials of stick welding are using the correct electrode size, proper current, maintaining the arc length, using a steady travel speed, and keeping the electrode at the right angle.
Why does my stick weld spatter?
Stick welding tends to cause more spatter than MIG or TIG welding. However, getting too much spatter could be a sign the arc is too long. Therefore, try to keep the arc 3 mm from the base metal to reduce spatter to a minimum.
What is the easiest position to weld?
If you are a beginner learning to weld with stick welding, try practicing in the flat position. Also referred to as the “downhand” position, keep the metal pieces flat and work in a horizontal direction.
How long does it take to get good at stick welding?
Stick welding takes many hours of practice to achieve the best results. This is because the welding process is manual, and beginner welders must learn to keep the electrode steady. Also, it’s crucial to keep the right angle, travel speed, and arch length.
What amps for stick welding?
The level of amperage required for stick welding depends on several factors. These factors include the type of metal and its thickness, size of electrode, and type of joint. For mild steel, expect to use amperage between 40 and 220 amps for metal thickness between 2 and 5 mm.
Is stick welding messy?
Stick welding creates more slag and spatter than MIG or TIG welding. This is because the flux coating makes smoke and a thick slag layer.
Stick welding is one of the oldest forms of welding and remains popular. Compared to other welding processes, it’s more straightforward and doesn’t require expensive equipment. It’s also the best welding process for welding dirty metals. However, stick welding can be more challenging for beginners to learn.