These days, DIY has become even more of a trend, taking over the world like a storm. After all, it is indeed the pinnacle of creativity and skill. Among the skills that one would need to be a great DIY-er, welding is of the highest importance.
Welding itself is also quite a diversify topic as there are just so many techniques that one needs to know. For example, there are four main categories: TIG welding, gas welding, arc welding, and MIG welding.
Today, let us talk about the most used type of welding, arc welding. Specifically, we will be learning how to use a stick welder, the most common arc welding form.
Table of Contents
What Exactly Is Stick Welding?
We also call stick welding as SMAW, the shortened form of Shielded Metal Arc Welding.
This form of welding is actually the most popular out of all the processes of arc welding. It will be using electric current alongside electrode to join the metal.
We call this method stick welding due to the fact that the electrode is a solid metal stick or rod. This stick will be coated by metal powders and compounds bound through a special binding agent.
AC or DC electric current can be used to make the electric arc connecting the metals and the electrode.
This method of welding, despite being the earliest, still remains to be the most popular process of welding. One reason for its popularity can be attributed to its versatility and simplicity.
It is primarily seen in steel and iron welding. In addition, the repair/maintenance industry, as well as the heavy construction industry, extensively uses stick welding.
How Exactly Does Stick Welding Work?
In stick welding, electric current will pass through the welding stick, arcing at the point connecting with the metal.
While this electrode begins melting, the coated flux around will create a gas cloud shielding the molten metal. This will prevent the oxidizing process.
It is this process that earns stick welding the name shielded metal arc welding.
The cloud of gases will settle on molten metal while cooling, turning into some sort of slag. You will have to chip this slag off after completing the welding process.
How To Use A Stick Welder
The kind of electrode you picked will determine if you need to use AC, DC negative, or DC positive.
Remember that a correct setting is always necessary for specific tasks. For instance, positive electrode gives more penetration power. On the other hand, the negative electrode works much better with thinner metals.
You need to the amperage depending on your electrode, too. In addition, you must also pay attention to the welding position. The ideal setting for amperage is commonly seen in the recommendation of the manufacturer.
However, from my personal experience, stick welders with 140 amps can weld almost everything.
Most of us get dragged into the propaganda of “maximum metal thickness” that the manufacturer pulls. Even in heavy fabrication shops, power plants, and shipyards, there is hardly a need for 130 amps.
There is nothing more important to stick welding than getting the correct arc length.
Each application and electrode needs a unique arc length, which will never exceed the electrode’s diameter.
For instance, a 6010 electrode of 0.125 inch needs to be held at around 1/8 inch from the metal.
Basic Safety For Welding
Remember, welding is the one profession where accidents are guaranteed to happen if one does not follow safety requirements properly.
First of all, you need some proper clothes as well as protective gears. In addition, if you are going to weld in confined areas, get a ventilation fan.
One big mistake that lots of people make is wearing sneakers. The molten metal falling will soon burn through them.
In the rainy weather, remember to be extra careful as you can easily be shocked. Of course, this can also happen if you sweat too much during the welding process.
Practice Makes Perfect
There is nothing more practical than dishing out time to practice the welding process. After some time, you will feel like it’s your second nature. I hope that this article can help you with creating more beautiful DIY projects!