Stick Welding Techniques
As a hobbyist welder, depending on your project requirements, using a good old-fashioned stick welder might be the choice for you. For one thing, if you are selecting a Miller welder from Sidney Lee Welding Supply, Co in the Atlanta, Georgia region, these kinds of welding machines can be found at the least expensive price point. Or maybe you’ve even received a hand-me-down stick welding machine from a welder in the family, and you want to see how that machine works for your purposes for now.
Why Choose Stick?
While not as versatile as the newer technology found in TIG or MIG welders, if you are out to weld nothing but steel and iron, they can be simpler to operate while keeping costs down. They also tend to be dependable workhorse machines that are more portable than their next generation gas arc welding cousins. In fact, if you are welding outdoors, a stick welder could be your obvious choice of welding equipment. Since these machines don’t require a flow of gas to regulate, a gust of wind won’t disturb the quality of your weld.
If your welding hobby includes joining large pieces of old, artsy iron, then stick is the type of welder that matches your style. The stick method is able to melt through the dirty, rusty joints of old pieces of iron, unlike fancier machines that require a clean bond for the weld to hold. If you find that your art requires manipulating thinner metals, an upgrade to a newer TIG or MIG welder might also be needed.
Good Welds Require Good Technique
While technologically the simpler welding machine, stick does necessitate using good technique. As the experts at Miller welders remind us, the key to good stick technique is summarized by CLAMS. This acronym stands for the five points to keep in mind: Current, Length (of arc), Angle (of stick), Manipulation, and Speed (of travel). Learning how to handle the stick, or electrode, is the key to good stick welding. Stick also goes by the general name of arc welding, because an arc of electricity is formed between the electrode and work metal as you weld.
A metal electrode with a consumable coating is required for stick welding. First, see what recommendations the maker of your chosen electrode have included as to type of current, and how much to use. Depending on the kind of electrode selected, you will be better off using either AC or DC current. The strength of current required to weld will be determined by the size of electrode, using the 1 amp per .001 inch of diameter rule. Again, just check with the manufacturer of your welding equipment to be sure. Insufficient current will leave your electrode sticky; too high, and the weld can be messy.
You’ll want to start with an arc length equal to the size of the metal core of your chosen electrode. The arc length is the distance between your stick and the weld puddle. This is the part of the job requiring the most practice for new welders, as you learn to see what you are doing while maintaining the correct distance between you and the workpiece. As for angle, when welding flat, use the backhand technique by keeping to an angle between 5 and 15 degrees away from perpendicular. When welding on the vertical, use the forehand method by tilting between 0 and 15 degrees. As for manipulation of the stick, straight lines work on thinner material, while you can get creative and spin a ‘stack of dimes’ on thicker work areas. See what works for you. Lastly, the speed of your travel will determine the quality of your weld bead. Try to stay in the first third of the puddle as you move along the weld.
To be sure that you are selecting the welding supplies that are right for your applications as a hobbyist welder, just visit the Sidney Lee Welding Supply store closest to you in the Atlanta, GA area.