Stick Welding Tips & a Few Techniques in 2020

There are more than 30 different types of welding processes that exist in the industrial world. Stick welding is the most common ways of welding, which is used worldwide for joining the metal parts in a rampant way for its versatility and simplicity.

Being one of the most effective ways of welding, it provides a good performance in creating durable and strong metal joints. With fewer pieces of equipment and fewer limitations, it has gained rapid popularity in the construction and the world of industries.

Stick welding includes a lot of technicalities. So, for understanding the whole process, it is important to have an overview of the facts about stick welding.  And this article talks about all the stick welding-related facts that one needs to know for entering in the soldering world. Let’s have a glance. 

Best Stick Welding Tips

What is Stick Welding?

Stick welding, commonly known as Shielded metal arc welding (SMAW) or Manual Metal arc welding (MMAW), takes place as a manual way of arc welding, which is done through the flux covered consumable electrode for laying the weld.

This method is done by using the electric current supplied from a welding power supply, which forms an electric arc to join the electrode and the metals. In other words, it melts the metal and the electrode together, which sticks to the workplace, and forms a joint after cooling.

The next process includes the disintegration of the flux coating of the electrode, which emits vapor to make a shielding gas to offer a layer of slag that covers the weld area to protect it from contamination due to the atmosphere.

Why Stick Welding?

Being one of the most versatile ways of stick welding, it is preferred mostly for its use of fewer tools and simple procedures. Considered as one of the first welding processes in the world, it serves as another dominating welding process in the industry of metal maintenance and repairing.

The application of SMAW in heavy steel construction and industrial fabrication is made through the flux-cored arc welding, which creates a strong joint for metals like steel, iron, nickel, aluminum, etc.

Besides that, stick welding is capable of creating many durable and strong joints, compared to MIG and other welding processes, which is why it is preferred for rough and outdoor projects.

Stick Welding Basics:

This process follows the method of welding through making the electrode come in contact with the base material with a slight touch while it is held at a perpendicular angle. This results in the melting of the consumable electrode and the workpiece and creates a weld pool. This eventually gets cooler and sticks onto the place while offering a durable metal joint with proper adhesiveness. 

The most often usages of welding is seen on carbon steel, stainless steel, low and high alloy steel, ductile iron, and cast iron, for industrial and construction purposes most of the time. Also, it is applicable to some of the non-ferrous metals like copper, nickel, aluminum, and their alloys.

The specialty of stick welding lies in its versatile usages. Unlike other welding processes, stick welding can be applied on any rusty or dirt metal, without any cleaning up beforehand. Thus it is cost-effective. But it creates a lot of spatter, which damages the appearance of the welding finishing, which needs extra costs to get cleaned up.

Suitable for thick and heavy-duty metals, stick welding is basically done for rough works and outdoor purposes, as it is not so good for aesthetics. But the end result is undoubtedly strong, durable and most cost-effective.

What Is Stick Welding Used for?

Stick welding is the most effective and simple ways of welding the joints of alloy and metals for both outdoor and indoor purposes. It also offers a very good bond on even rusty and dirty metals, which is why it is considered as one of the most popular ways of welding.

For its very common and versatile purpose, it serves as a very effective way of welding, which is rapidly adopted by the industrial world. Most of the popular fields like – Field repair, petroleum industry, construction sites, shipbuilding industry, structure formation, mining sites use this method.

Also, industries like steel fabrication, marine, and nuclear industries, aerospace and other manufacturing companies rely upon this welding process for its efficiency.

Stick Welding Sheet Metal:

While welding a sheet metal through Stick welding, the thickness plays an important role. For thick metals, stick welding is the better option. Any metal sheet thinner than ⅛ inches will burn out the metal while welding with an AC stick. The thicker the sheet metal, the stronger the stick welding performance can be offered. 

Stick Welding Stainless Steel:

For the proper maintenance and repairing of stainless steel, stick welding can be a great and easy choice. Using all the simple and portable equipment, and without the use of any shielding gas, it works as a quick fix to any stainless steel. Though the drawback that leads to too much spattering may cause one to spend a lot of bucks for cleaning up.

With the A309 or 312 electrodes, stick welding offers great performance on stainless steel. Most importantly, through stick welding, good strength, high cracking resistance, and joining of the stainless steel without knowing the specific material grade is possible. That’s why it is considered as one of the most popular ways of welding stainless steel. 

Vertical Stick Welding:

For welding the metal structures in a vertical position, vertical stick welding comes handy. During the placing of two pieces together that directs either towards the ground or towards the up vertical or upright welding is needed.

But the process takes quite a tough skill to get accomplished. It is very difficult to maneuver the welding equipment in a certain position and, at the same time, assuring strong and durable results. Here are the types of vertical stick welding that takes place in the welding industry:

Vertical up

Moving upwards while working on a joint is known as vertical up welding. Usually, while working on any brick walls of a building, the welding needs to be started from the bottom, and it goes up slowly while creating strong support for the joints.

This slow movement to the upwards creates a slow base for every next step, which is popularly known as a shelf. For a shelf, it is better to create 1.5 to 2 times larger than the electrode diameter for an easy accomplishment of the job.

For better penetration, it is recommended to hold the electrode in a slightly uphill manner along with a shorter arc. 

Vertical down

This is the vice-versa of the previous process. Moving downwards in a vertical way is the base of this process. But the molten puddle that gets created during the work makes the welder stay ahead of the slag every time.

If the amp is not set carefully, there are risks of burn. Using a quick-freezing rod helps much in this process to avoid the too much of slag and overlapped welding metals. 

Stick Welding Temperature:

The arc is capable of producing 6500°c temperature at the tip area. This much higher temperature, known as Stick Welding temperature, melts both the base material and the electrode material to create a weld pool.

Stick Welding Electrode:

An electrode in Stick Welding refers to a metal wire which is coated. In welding, electrodes are used made of metals with similar composition as the welding metal. Being consumable, these electrodes easily become part of the welding, which offers a strong joint formation after cooling.

Based on the requirements of the properties like corrosion resistance, base metal type, welding position, polarity, and current type, and high tensile strength, electrodes are chosen.

Electrodes come in the series of numbers, which is used for suggesting the classification of the particular type. The E in the number series refers to the electrode, the next two numbers suggest the tensile strength in 1000pounds/ square inch of the metal.

Then comes the third digit, which is provided for identifying the position. The fourth digit goes for the electrode coating and power supply, current type, and polarity type suggestion.

How to Hook Up Stick Welding Leads?

Welding leads in the Stick welding refers to the electrical conductors that stay wrapped inside a rubber jacket, which is insulated. Hooking up stick welding leads help in wide output current, proper resistance, easy starting of arc, etc., which is essential for proper welding technique.

Before hooking up the stick welding leads, attaching the ground clamp at the right position is important. Either on a metallic table on which the work is going to take place or to the workpiece, the ground clamp needs to be attached as it connects the workpiece with the ground. 

After that, the attachment of the working leads is done at the negative terminal of the welding machine. And the electrode cable gets attached to the positive terminal. 

During the hooking up, certain incorrect usages like the tangling of the leads or the cables, bending of the coils, bad quality cables, and improper size leads to troubleshooting during welding. It’s better to avoid such problems. 

What Causes Porosity in Stick Welding?

Porosity in stick welding can be caused by the absorbing of outside gases like nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen into the molten weld pool, which is left for cooling, post welding. Usually, the poor gas shielding leads to this atmospheric contamination.

Porosity can be detected through the presence of surface-breaking pores, crater pipes, wormholes on the laying weld. Blocking the air through feeding the shielding gases can prevent this problem.

Stick Welding Polarity:

After the turning on of the welder, an electrical circuit gets created. This electrical circuit has both the negative pole and positive pole, which is known as a polarity in welding. The type of polarity required for the work depends on the material type, joint design, and welding material.

In stick welding, DC polarity is the most used one, while the AC is used sometimes as the second preference. The DC polarity is mostly preferred for its stability in an arc, smooth and easy start, less splatter, easy upright welding, fewer arc outages, etc.

DC positive polarity creates high-level penetration, which is great for working on thick materials, whereas DC negative produces a high deposition rate, which can be apt for working on thinner materials.

Stick Welding Dc Positive or Negative: 

If the goal is to achieve deepest and high penetration, then the DC Positive or the reverse polarity should be used for stick welding. In this process, the electrodes attached with the positive pole and workpiece attached to the negative pole produce much heat with the high velocity to weld into the metal for deeper penetration level. 

On the other hand, DC negative or straight polarity is less effective for creating penetration but offers a faster deposition rate, which is good for welding thinner materials.

Stick Welding Tips & Tricks: 

Without the application of certain tricks and tips, welding can be very difficult. So here are some of the stick welding tips and sticks to follow: 

Things to follow during stick welding –

  • It is important to choose the right current setting as it determines the type of electrode you will be working with. For the thin materials, the negative electrode goes compatible, whereas the positive electrodes are best for creating more penetration. 
  • Considering the right electrode size is important for the particular types of welding. 
  • Though stick welding doesn’t require any pre clean up session, removing the rust, oil, moisture, and paint on the working surface gives effective results while welding.
  • Determining the length of src is of prime importance. 
  • To avoid porosity, it’s better not to reuse a used electrode.
  • Avoiding the wet electrodes is better to avoid the rough arc actions. 
  • It is always crucial to employ trained and skilled professionals to avoid any unwanted problems regarding stick welding.

Stick Welding Rod Chart

Here’s a rod/ electrode chart which is followed in stick welding for best results:

 

The thickness of the electrode/ rod diameterMetal sheet thickness
5/16 inches1/2  inches and over
3/32 inchesUp to 1/4 inches
5/32 inchesOver 1/4 inches
1/8 inches1/8 inches and over
3/16 inches3/8 inches and over
1/4 inches3/8 inches and over
1/16 inchesUp to 3/16 inches

 

Stick Welding Amperage Chart

Based on the electrode diameters and the type of coating on the electrode influences the amperage range of welding. Here is a chart on the basic ranges of amperage based on the electrode diameter:

 

Electrode diameterAmperage range
1/4 inches210-430
1/8 inches75-185
1/16 inches20-40
3/16 inches140-305
3/32 inches40-125
5/16 inches275-450
5/32 inches105-250

 

Stick Welding Vs MIG :

Working process –

Stick welding

This process is done by using the electrode, which is a consumable flux coated rod, for laying the weld. The electrode and the working metal melt together to form a weld pool, which forms a strong joint after getting cooled

MIG

With the help of a spool gun or also popularly known as the welding hot glue gun and electric current, the workpiece is fed through a solid wire that creates a weld pool to join the base materials together. Shielding gas is fed to the workpiece to protect it from the atmospheric contaminants, to offer better adhesion. 

Penetration level: 

Both the stick welding and MIG serve high penetration while welding. For MIG, the requirements for amperage go higher for penetrating the thicker materials. And the surface needs to be cleaned properly before penetrating the surface through MIG, whereas the Stick welding can be operated on any rusted or dirty surface.

Purpose: 

For fabrication purposes, MIG is an ideal option as it offers a clean welding process. If the workpiece leads toward the indoor purpose, MIG gives a clean and beautiful backup. On the other hand, stick welding is a comparatively rough welding process. For outdoor and farm work purposes, stick welding is the best option.

Metal thickness: 

MIG welding is popular for its fabrication works and may cause some trouble while welding the thick materials. Thin materials can be welded properly with a durable finishing through MIG. Besides, the stick welding offers great performance on thick material.

Wire Feed Vs Stick Welding:

The wire feed technique refers to the Mig and arc welding process, where the external metal wire is fed to the base metal to create a steady and durable joint, which is secured later with shielding gas. On the other hand, stick welding takes place through melting the electrodes and base metal to create a strong joint.

The most important factor of this Wire Feed vs Stick welding debate includes the work performance. The stick welding is used for the rough and outdoor purpose, as it is capable of producing more strength and goes compatible with the thicker materials. Whereas the wire feed technique is great for creating a beautiful look and clean finishing through fabrication.  

Arc Welding Vs Stick Welding:

Unlike the use of a consumable flux coated electrode for stick welding, the arc welding process uses the technique of feeding the consumable electrode constantly with the help of wires, which creates a welding arc. 

The most significant difference lies between stick welding and arc welding, which is in the use of shielding gas. The stick welding doesn’t use any shielding gas to protect the weld pool, whereas the arc welding uses a flux core for producing the shielding gas.

Sometimes the arc welding also uses the external source of shield gas to create dual-shielded welding for better results. The stick welding creates a lot of spatter, which includes extra costs for cleaning up, whereas arc welding doesn’t spatter much, which is why it’s easy to clean.

Advantages & Disadvantages of Stick Welding –

Just like any other thing, there are certain distinct advantages and disadvantages of stick welding also.

Advantages of stick welding :

  • It is one of the most effective ways of welding. 
  • Stick welding is popular for its affordability. The equipment and tools that the welding industry uses come in at a very affordable rate and include fewer tools to get done.
  • No matter if it’s the windy weather or rainy season. Welding will get accomplished smoothly without getting affected by the weather. 
  • Even if the ground clamping is attached far away from the welding point, that won’t affect the welding performance. 
  • No need for external shielding gas in stick welding, which is both cost-effective and adds simplicity to the method.
  • No need to opt for pre-welding cleanup, as it can be done on painted and dirty surfaces. 
  • Welding supplies are easy to carry anywhere. 

Disadvantages of stick welding :

  • Welding on thinner material is comparatively difficult. 
  • Generates more wastes rather than other types of welding. 
  • It’s difficult to accomplish arc welding without any proper skills and training. 
  • Stick welding is slower than any other welding process, which takes more time to finish a single project.
  • Rough surfacing, excessive spattering, and porosity are very common problems during stick welding.