Whether you’re just getting into welding, or you want to expand your skill set, learning what is stick welding can be a great way to understand this popular technique. Stick welding may not be the easiest technique to learn, but it has versatile applications across numerous industries.
What is Stick Welding?
If you’re wondering what is stick welding called, the technical term is SMAW or Shielded Metal Arc Welding. This is a common form of welding that uses an anode at the weld pool and an electric current. It is both simple and versatile, dating back to 1899 when the procedure was patented by Charles L Coffin.
Today stick welding is one of the most widely used techniques that can be used in both production and repair welding. Stick welding takes its name from the anode consisting of a stick of solid metal surrounded by a covering of metal composites and powders. These are bound with an agent, so they adhere to the surface. The electric current produces an electric arc between the metal you’re attaching and the rod or electrode. This spot is called the weld pool.
What can I Weld with a Stick Welder?
If you’re wondering, what can you weld with a stick welder, the answer is almost anything. Stick welding is primarily used to weld steel and iron, so it is widely used in maintenance and repair industries, but it is also used to construct heavy steel structures.
It can also be used in all welding positions on all ferrous metals. When the electric current flows via the electrode to touch the parent metal, the flux creates a gas to protect the electric arc between the anode and the metal you’re welding. This helps to stop any contamination from atmospheric gasses. As the anode begins to thaw, the flux covering forms a gas cloud to protect the melted metal, inhibiting corrosion, making it fit for outdoor work. When the pool of melted metal cools it changes into slag that can be chipped away after you finish welding.
The procedure for stick welding is relatively easy and doesn’t require a lot of specialized gear. However, to achieve premium qualify, clean welds, you do need training, experience and expertise.
Of course, no technique is perfect and there are both advantages and disadvantages associated with stick welding.
- Universally simple to learn, regardless of location
- Low noise
- Easy handling
- Low procurement costs
- Not sensitive to contamination including scaling, rust, grease or oils
- You can weld almost all metallic materials with this method
- High weld seam quality.
- Stick welding does produce a lot of smoke
- There is the potential for arc blow
- Low weld speeds
- The electrode diameter will depend on the welding position and sheet thickness
- Cannot be mechanized
- Potential for increased errors due to contact positions and end craters
- Greater set up and down times due to mounting the electrodes, removing the stump, slag, and spatter, and rebaking of standard packed electrodes.
Do You Need Gas to Stick Weld?
No, since stick welding is an electrical arc form of welding, you don’t need gas. Stick welding is the simplest form of electrical arc welding in terms of gear and procedures. There are just four parts to a stick welder:
- The electrode or rod holder
- The electrodes or stick welding rods to weld with
- Power output or SMAW welder
- Earth clamp
This means that you don’t need to worry about lugging gas bottles to a job site or keeping track of your gas levels before you start on a project.
Where Can Stick Welding Be Used?
If you’re wondering where and what you can weld with a stick welder, you’re likely to be pleasantly surprised. Stick welding can be used on a variety of types of metal with different thicknesses. It is often used for heavier duty work including industrial steel and iron such as carbon steel or cast iron. It can also be used when working with high and low alloy nickel or steel alloys.
Stick welding is used in a wide variety of industries including
- Ship construction
- Underwater welding
- Fabricating steel
- Farm machinery manufacturing
- Structural welding.
Since the gear is easy to transport compared to many other types of welding, stick welding can be used in various surroundings from outside to indoors or even out at sea on a vessel.
While SMAW may be one of the oldest forms of welding, it continues to evolve with new technology that constantly improves the procedures and processes for stick welding to make them more effective.
If you know how to choose the right electrode, set the correct length of arc and work using clean materials at a steady speed, you can rely on stick welding to deliver dependable results across a variety of industries and a wealth of welding projects.
Is Stick Welding Easy to Learn?
So, now you understand what is stick welding, you may be wondering if it is easy to learn. Unfortunately, while stick welding is one of the most widespread forms of arc welding it is a hard technique to learn. If you want to be an efficient stick welder, you will need a high level of expertise and learn several techniques.
There are some things that you can concentrate on if you’re new to stick welding.
The Anode Selection: The anode will dictate whether you need to use AC or DC power. You’ll not only need to use the right setting, but understand the electrode, positive will provide deeper penetration, while anode negative can offer better results for thinner materials. You’ll need to choose the amperage according to the electrode, welding position and a visual inspection of the perfected weld.
The Arc Length: It is crucial to have the right length of arc in stick welding. Each application and electrode need to have a distinct arc length that is not more than the diameter of the electrode. For example, with a 0.125 inch 6010 anode, you’ll need to hold it approximately 1/8 inch from your parent material.
Travel Angel: Finally, you need to pay attention to ensuring the electrode is at a right angle with your weld joint. You can use the backhand or drag technique when welding level, overhead or in a lying position. Try to incline the electrode tip 5 to 15 degrees towards the travel direction. When vertical welding, use a push or forehand technique to travel upwards. Aim to slant the electrode 15 degrees away from the direction of travel.