The welding industry is an exciting place to work right now as this industry is growing every day. For over a century, we've seen welding technology evolve as a result of new inventions, discoveries, and the demands of the industry. Consequently, various welding processes and welding techniques are being used and discover. But there is an old welding process that is being used even in today's world and loved by every professional welder. And, the method of welding is stick welding.
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What is Stick Welding:
Stick welding is one of the oldest and most popular welding processes in the world. This form of welding is also known as shielded metal arc welding (SMAW).
The term “stick welding” refers to a family of welding processes in which the base metal and filler rod are joined by the use of an externally supplied electric arc. This contrasts with other welding processes, such as gas metal arc welding, which are exothermic reactions between two consumable electrodes.
It is a manual type of welding that uses an electric arc and a consumable electrode to create a puddle of molten metal in the weld seam. Basically, it uses a consumable electrode covered in flux to join metal pieces together. As the name implies, the arc welder literally sticks the electrode to the metal.
Stick welding is one of the most popular methods of welding. You can use it to do metal joints be it thinner metals or thicker metals. Though it's easy for experienced welders, you need to develop your level of skill as a beginner. If you are willing to use this popular method, you need to learn the proper stick welding techniques and usage of stick welding equipment. If you are still confused about how to do stick welding, then don't worry. We are going to give you proper guidance about the process of stick welding and how you can do it perfectly. So, dive into the article and be a professional stick welder.
Preparation is the key:
- Protective equipment:
You must cover yourself fully while doing the welding. You should wear a leather apron, denim pants, and leather shoes to cover as much skin as possible. In addition, you must wear welding helmets and safety glasses while doing the weld.
- Stick welding equipment:
You must have a welding machine, a powerful stick welder as you can't execute a stick welding without a stick welder, ground clamp, tools to remove slag as this method creates a layer of slag and an electrode holder.
- Choosing the correct electrode:
You need to make an accurate choice of electrode depending on the electrode core, electrode melting rate, electrode diameter, and many more. The type of electrodes actually depends on your welding projects. The most common models are 6013, 6012, 6011, 6010, 7014,7018 and 7024. Among these, the most popular one is 7018. But all of them will work great for mild steel welding, and if you are looking for one as a beginner, you should grab the 6013 model. Also, you can choose which one is ideal for you by seeing the numbers of the model.
- The first two digits: This shows the filler metal strength.
- The third digit: Shows in which position the electrode should be used. For example, number 1 means you can use the electrode in any position you want, and number 2 shows you can use the electrode only in the flat position.
- The fourth digit: Tells you which type of current you can use for that electrode and the layer of flux coating on that electrode.
After all the preparation is done, you can start your stick welding and execute it by following the below steps.
- Do the setup:
Doing the correct setting for stick welding is easy. You just need to set the welding machine properly. The polarity settings will depend on the basic electrodes you are using. Check the part that indicates the electrode positive and electrode negative features. So, before making the polarity choices double-check if it's AC/DC+/DC-. Remember, a positive electrode deep penetration and a negative electrode operate excellently with thinner metals. In this way, you can get your optimal settings.
- Lay your first stick weld:
If you have finished doing the correct setting for your weld, then you are ready to lay your first stick weld. But you must ensure an accurate current setting, correct polarity, and other settings. As stick weld requires a good level of skill, you should try it on some scrap metal first. You can do some butt joints on them. And then finally start your welding on the things you want.
The length of the arc depends on the electrode and the types of projects we are doing. But the arch length must not exceed the electrode diameter. You will need larger electrodes when the deposit rate and electrical current flow are high. But the case is different for the metal sheet as there is a risk of burn. The most usable size we recommend is 3/16 inches, and for basic or low-hydrogen electrodes, it's 5/32 inches.
- Arc strikes:
Firstly, turn on the welding machine when the full electrode is in the electrode holder. Then, Put all the welding pieces in your front and then hold the stick with both hands. Now, position the electrode tip against the metal and quickly drag it across the area as if you are lightening a match. Then slightly lift the electrode up if the arc is formed and gently pull the electrode away. If it sticks to the metal, you can pull it off by giving a slight twist. If you find the arc cut off, it means you have lifted the electrode very high. When the arc will lit, it will make a sound similar to frying bacon. But, you must turn down the amperage if the sound is very loud or aggressive.
- Angle of travel:
While doing stick welding, it's important to drag the electrode at a correct angle. The angle of the electrode plays an important role as the smoothness of welding depends on the proper rod angle.The angle actually depends on the welding position. For example, suppose you are using a horizontal, flat, or overhead position. In that case, the angle should be 5-15 degrees from the perpendicular position, and for the vertical position, the electrode angle should be 0-15 degrees from the perpendicular position.
- Speed of travel:
If you want to maintain the travel speed while doing arc welding, you should keep the arc in the leading 1/3 of the weld pool. The direction of travel should be forward. Too slow speed will shallow penetration and prompt cold-lapping, and too fast speed will slow penetration and builds a small and crowned bead.
Some Common Mistakes:
- Travel speed:
You must use the perfect welding speed. Too fast or too slow speed can create various problems. Too slow speed makes the filler metal pile up and bumpy.
- Dirty metal:
You should use clean metals for your welding. So, clean up the metal before using them.
- Too long welding arc:
You should choose the perfect size welding arch as too long arch can cause too much spatter.
- Wrong welding method:
You must know the actual welding technique and how your welding position should be. Then, practice it on scrap metal first before starting on the real piece.
- Too high or too low amperage
So, by following all the steps correctly, you can execute a successful stick welding. We hope you will follow the method of welding and execute your weld joint perfectly and smoothly.
Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ):
- How much does stick welding equipment cost?
The cost actually depends on the brand, model, quality, warranties and features. You can get a cheap one, but you should see the availability of the parts, warranty and other features. The suggestion is to make a budget and get the best one available in that budget.
- Can you touch the electrode while stick welding?
Definitely not. You should never touch the electrode while you are doing stick welding as the electrode become very hot once the welding start.
- Can you hold the stick when stick welding?
Yes, you can. In fact, you have to do stick welding by holding the stick properly and using it in the correct direction, speed, and angle to get the perfect finishing.
- Do you push or pull with a stick welder?
No, you don't use the pull and push in stick welding. Mainly, you will put the stick over the metal piece and drag it across the place you want to joint. And, after finishing, you just need to pull it slowly. But, generally, the push or pull technique is connected to MIG welding.
- What is stick welding used for?
You can use stick welding for various purposes. It can be used in maintenance industries, construction, making ships, mining, manufacturing and many more.