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Did you just happen to have the craze for stick welding? And did you end up purchasing a new stick welder and are now lost at how to operate the thing and get your projects done? If you are in the quest to find answers for this, then you are in the right place!
Today, we bring to you the ultimate beginner’s guide for stick welding. We will take you around the basics of welding, guiding you through each step. If you ever find yourself lost at any point let us know and we will clarify it for you. Either way by the end of this read, you will up and about to start your first weld as a beginner!
Some tips to follow:
You might have a rough idea of the equipment and by reading the user manuals that come along with the welder you can have the gist of the process. However, we are going to tell you some pretty nifty tricks that will simplify the process for you, and that way you can start with welding in no time.
Hands-on experience is necessary, therefore start off by following this:
Master the movement
Playing with the puddle will get you a long way when it comes to welding. You can start by simply guiding the puddle before actually trying to weld with it. By puddle here I mean the area to melt filler material to be used in the weld. In doing so you need to take care of the speed of the movement and the distance between the stick and the metal. If you keep the stick too close the metal may burn through or if you use too slow of a speed, the joint may not be strong enough. So practicing with the puddle will help you work at the desired speed and distance when welding.
Keep your equipment safe
Look after your equipment and it will never let you down. Especially if you are working with filler rods, keep them in a moisture-controlled environment. In addition to that, specify a toolbox for your pliers, goggles, wire brush, and other essential materials you might need during the weld.
Your speed matters
The optimum speed needs to be taken care of when you are stick welding. If you happen to move over the puddle pretty fast, you will get some pretty uneven and weak joints between the metals. Similarly, using a speed that is too low will only result in more cleaning for you in the end. You will need to get rid of the spatter that will build up around the joint in the end. So save yourself time and practice on the speed of the stick. The optimum speed will give you the right even weld you need.
Setting up the amperes and the voltages
This is something of prime importance, for this will decide which type of metal you wish to weld. When welding you need to take into account the thickness of the metals you need to weld. The stick welder you end up buying will come with some output power specifications. You need to vary the output amperage, as that, in the end, determines the power output and the heat of the welder you are using.
The higher the amperage you set for the welder, the thicker metals you can weld using your machine. At low ampere, the thickness of the metals decreases proportionally. So test out changing the currents if your welder allows you to set it at varying levels.
Find the right posture
It may seem to drop out of nowhere, and you might not take it seriously, but there is a reason we added this to the tips. The right posture when you are welding is crucial to your future career in welding. Welding is a strenuous task and if you happen to have a bad posture, you might develop some physical shortcoming, or injure yourself. To find a comfortable posture when you start with your weld. Another point we will like to make here is that make sure to wear your safety equipment before you start to weld.
Getting started with Stick Welding
Once you get used to the tips and follow them rigorously, you are now ready to explore the world of Stick welding. This also known as shielded metal arc welding and you will be required to use both of your hands to accomplish the task. As the name suggests the method makes use of flux coated stick and you will need to deal with the slag in most cases when you are done with the process.
Your equipment is your sword! Once you have settled for the stick welding, you need to be equipped with the right tools to get started with your first weld. For beginners, choosing the right tools may seem like a boring task. But believe me, it’s one of the most crucial steps towards a successful weld.
So, start off by buying a stick welder. You can find a variety of those in the market, but for beginners, you should look for something that is easy to operate and fulfills the requirement for DIY light-duty projects. For this, you can check out our guide for best welders for beginners, and select the one that suits your needs.
Once you are done buying the welder, you should proceed with developing your personal toolkit for welding. For that, you need to have a welding helmet or goggles, a wire brush, some pliers, a welding jacket, and earplugs. While these may seem not really linked to welding but there are essential components of safety. Remember safety comes first. Welding is a strenuous task, and a noisy one at that, so you need the safety gear to keep yourself protected from any sparks or the noise emitted during the process.
Safety aside, now you need to set up your welding gear to be ready for your first weld. Start off by setting up your consumables. These include welding wires, flux-cored wire, welding tips, welding rods, and electrodes. You will find the rods and the tips in varying diameters and when deciding on the level of your project you can determine their dimension. To be on the safe side, it’s good to have a number of those in variable sizes, so that you don’t have to fiddle through at the time of welding.
You may also find clamps and magnets to be useful. Since you will be working with metals, you need them to be fixed at their place and not move. Clamps make your work easy by keeping the object in place when you weld.
Practice with your technique
Once you get into the art of welding, you might develop your own technique. There is this unique style followed by each welder. However, you might come across a commonly known technique namely stacking dimes. As the name implies your end result of the weld will end up looking like a stack of coins that are overlapped.
You can try several different techniques this way. One of them involves, liquefying the pool and pushing the electrode stick to make an ‘e’. Another way is to move the electrode to form an ‘8’ or a crescent. When performing these techniques you need to make sure to move the electrode in a way to get an even finish. Plus this also ensures that the weld is made tough.
While these techniques mentioned pushing the pool, some welders prefer to pull the melt pool. However, this push or pull decision depends majorly on the hardness of the material and the position of the workpiece.
However, we will recommend the pull motion. This prevents the development of holes on the finish which is something that you will definitely not like.
Metals types and thicknesses
Knowledge of the materials you will be using into weld is essential. The most common metals that you might end up using will either be steel or some graded iron metals.
When working with stainless steel, make sure you set the amperage at the right level. We say this because the steel doesn’t transfer heat as efficiently as iron, which may result in the buildup of heat at the single spot you start your welding at. This can be pretty handful resulting in the degradation of the corrosion resistance of steel.
So when handling steel, the speed of movement should be relatively fast and the amperage should be relatively low.
Unlike steel, aluminum has a lower melting point. And because of its reactivity with the air, it forms an oxidation layer as soon as it reacts with the air. So before you weld the aluminum, you need to remove the layer with the help of a wire brush. And then you can use the material without much hassle. Additionally, you will need to keep the speed of the welder and the amperage of the welder higher in comparison to stainless steel welding, when aluminum material is concerned.
Stick welding for beginners
Now that you have built your basic knowledge on welding, its materials, and the toolkit, it’s time to introduce you to the real deal; Stick welding. If you are up for some extreme welding of metals especially iron and steel, this welding process is made for you.
Plus this type of welding will do you great if you are an outdoor person. The stick welder has electrodes that are resistant to dirt and dust, thus making them optimum to work in an outdoor environment. You will not be able to perform tricks on aluminum and stainless steel, as the stick welders are not recommended for these materials, nevertheless as beginners, this choice is fair enough. This technique is easiest to learn plus pretty light on the pocket. So what’s the wait, let’s start working on your home project!
The first-ever Weld
Practice makes the man perfect. So yeah we will recommend you to practice first. Otherwise, you will only ruin your base metal. So follow the below-mentioned steps to practice your angle and form your first joint using a stick welder.
1) Preparation – This step requires you the prep up for the weld. We will start by cleaning our tools. Once you have them cleaned, it’s time to clean the material you are going to weld. While your tools can be at most cleaned using a chemical solvent, you have to spend some effort cleaning the material. Though you can weld through the rust, the end result isn’t satisfactory, so you will need to scrape off the rust using a wire brush. For oily surfaces, use a grease resolving solution to wipe them off clean.
2) The connection – After the preparation is done, you can proceed to the connections part. Here you will need to connect the leads to the ground and the metal. Another reason we wanted you to clean your materials was to ensure the connection was made right. Otherwise, the rust or the dust would have hampered your work.
After connecting the leads, set up the amperage of the stick welder you are using. The amperage can be determined by the electrodes you use and often time you can see the set value on the welder itself.
3) Strike an Arc – Now it’s time for real action. You need to strike the arc and in doing so your direction matters a lot. You need to keep the pool visible for you to weld easily. So if you happen to be left-handed, moving from left to right will ensure that the pool is visible at all times.
Along with the direction of movement, your posture should also be comfortable. The task might get prolonged and uneasy if you don’t set a comfortable posture. Once in the position, strike your arc by tipping the electrode on the starting point of your weld. This will complete the circuit and then you can drag back the stick at the required arc distance. This required distance is usually the diameter of the electrode you are using.
4) Setting the Angle – After striking the arc, the most important thing that you need to consider is the arc angle. While dragging the electrode tip, maintain the right distance between the material and the tip is essential. As you move along, the electrode gets used up, therefore you need to adjust your contact and the angle with the material frequently to get a smooth weld.
So if you happen to start with a 0.25 inches distance you will have to maintain it throughout, keeping in mind that the electrode is being used up as you proceed. Any angle between 45 to 90 degrees will do. However, we tried out, that 60 degrees give you a comfortable position to work in.
5) The Travel Speed – Speed is in your hands. Depending on the thickness and the penetration you want, you can vary the speed with which you move the tip over the metal surface. If you tend to move faster, you are likely to get a low penetration and a weaker joint. Similarly, moving too low will result in more slag to build upon the patch, which will only increase your cleaning duty at the end. So it all comes down to experimentation. Experiment with different speeds and ampere levels to find your optimum one.
6) Thicken up the weld – If you are not satisfied with a thin weld, you can always thicken it up. You can do so by depositing beads in a zigzag manner. However, as simple as it may sound, this can ruin your finish if not done right. You need to make sure that the pool fills up the gaps and there isn’t excess spilling out. If the joint becomes too thick, you may see undercuts in the base metal and the joint.
7) Cleaning the weld – Finally, the last step requires you to do something you might detest; cleaning. Start by removing the slag with a wire brush, and scrape it down to get an even finish. Once the slag id removed you can paint or polish the metal to your liking.
Things to weld for beginners
Having done your first practice drill, it’s time for you to actually start making some cool DIY projects at home. Being beginners, I will recommend some light-duty projects that will fulfill your welding wishes and at the same time will not be hard to accomplish. Continue reading to get some cool ideas to work with as a beginner stick welder.
Keep it warm and cozy this winter with this cool and easy DIY outdoor fireplace. The task is simple for beginners and does not require you to be fully into the welding skill. You will need to know the basics and that will do fine. In addition to a welder, you will also need a plasma cutter and steel rods and sheets. Once equipped and ready, it will take you almost two days to complete the amazing outdoor fireplace.
Let’s have a barbecue party!! Having a homemade barbecue pit is convenient and simply awesome. Not only will you be able to save money this way but also improve our welding skills with it, and of course the barbecue parties are an added plus. You can work in your courtyard on this project, as it is pretty simple and will require the welding of a couple of rods and sheets. The project takes like a day or two to be completed. You can always paint or coat the pit once you are done to adorn your patio or terrace.
Going short on storage space, just build your own using welding. A storage rack is another useful yet simple DIY welding project for beginners. You can accomplish this with any type of welding technique but MIG is preferred. You will require a bit of skill for this project. Nevertheless if done right it will result in a nifty rack that can be placed anywhere in your house. So get started with this storage rack if you are running short on places to assemble your things.
Wine Bottle Holder
Do you happen to be a wine lover and a welder at the same time? Then this DIY wine bottle holder is your dream project. Gear yourself up for this simple task; all you need is a welding machine and bonding chain. In the end, you can vary the design to your liking, but you might need more supplies for that. The project complexity depends on the complexity of the design. As beginners, we recommend going for simpler designs before lounging for the complex ones.
This brings us to the end of our beginner guide. Thank you for bearing with us, and I’m pretty sure by now you are ready to strike your first arc and start your exciting journey as a beginner welder. Stay tuned for more updates and info on the welder options and tips we have to offer.
Sean Coby is a welder par excellence and well respected among the welding community in Woodbridge, VA. He prides himself to be the fabricator and mechanic in the automotive/ diesel industry for the past more than eight years now. As the chief editor of his https://weldinginfocenter.com, he shares his experience to be safe during welding and to take proactive steps for becoming a successful welder like him.