Model Engineering In Thailand and South East Asia

Teach Yourself How To Do Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW) AKA “Stick Welding”

Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW), commonly called “Stick Welding” or just “Arc Welding” is probably the most common form of welding process in amateur workshops mainly because of it’s low cost for equipment and running.

Arc welding uses a consumable electrode covered in flux, and can weld many metals provided that the correct type of electrode is used.

Why I’m Preparing This Tutorial On Stick Welding

I have in the past (when I was a lad) done plenty of arc (stick) welding and produced some passable welds. I used to race a stock car and amongst the welding I did on that was to weld up the roll-cage made out of scaffold-tube type steel and also to widen the wheels by welding on steel hoops. All of these welds passed the scrutineer at the race-course so it must have been reasonable welding.

Here in Pakchong I bought myself an arc welder and happily thought I would soon be producing the same standard of welds ie passable. Not so. The results of my arc welding here in Pakchong are atrocious. I must admit I have only tried welding thin material but even so I am far from satisfied.

So, I decided I needed to go back to basics and re-learn from scratch.

I need to know all about the type of electrode to uses, the amperage for different sizes, feed rates and so on.

A quick search on the Internet came up with the following series of movies from ChuckE2009 on YouTube. Note that the Movies all say “movie x of 5” but I have only uploaded four movies. Movie 5 is about overhead welding which i don’t expect model engineers to be doing much of.

Below each movie I will be putting some of my own notes of the key things I have learned from the movie.

Basics of Stick Welding: Teach Yourself Stick Welding – Part 1 of 4

Notes from the video:-

  • Electrodes Type 6013 – Easy to use and good for thin material
  • Electrodes Diameter 1/8″ (3.2 mm)
  • Scrap metal 1/4″ (6.4 mm) thick, not less than 3/16″ (4.8 mm)
  • Electrode – (Negative)
  • 110 ~ 120 Amps
  • Brace yourself – holding holder with both hands
  • Pull electrode towards you

How To Stick Weld Fillet Welds & Lap Joints: Teach Yourself Stick Welding – Part 2 of 4

Notes from the video:-

  • Electrodes Type 7018 – most commonly used electrode – used for pipework and general fabrication, stronger than 6013.
  • 7018 has less spatter than 6013 and less slag entrapment
  • Electrodes Diameter 1/8″ (3.2 mm)
  • Electrode + (Positive)
  • 125 Amps

Stick Welding Thin & Thick Steel: Teach Yourself Stick Welding – Part 3 of 4

Notes from the video:-

Part 1 Thin Steel

  • Stick welding is not the ideal choice for welding below 1/8″ (3.2 mm) steel.
  • Thinnest recommended steel for stick welding is 14 SWG. (1/16″ or 2 mm)
  • Avoid welding any steel thinner than the diameter of the electrode being used.
  • For thin steel use 6013 3/32″ (2.4 mm) electrodes.
  • 1/16″ (1.6 mm) electrodes are not at all easy to use, 3/32″ (2.4 mm) electrodes should be used for 14 SWG. (1/16″ or 2 mm) steel.
  • In the first example the steel used is 1/8″ (3.2 mm) with 1/8″ (3.2 mm) 6013 electrodes.
  • Current is 100 Amps.
  • Electrode – (Negative)
  • 6013 electrodes give less penetration that (say) 7018 so they are better for thin materials but not so good for thick plate.
  • Use 7018 electrodes for 3/16 plate upwards and electrode size 3/32″ (2.4 mm) for 3/16″ (4.8 mm) plate.
  • Warpage form heat is a problem with thin plate.
  • To avoid slag intrusion at the beginning of a weld before the slag pool has formed and become controllable increase the electrode drag angle.

Part 2 Thick Steel

  • Plate thickness 1 1/2″ (38 mm)
  • Electrodes 5/32″ (4 mm) 7018
  • 170 Amps
  • Electrode + (Positive)
  • 6 Passes made – a bit undersize for 1 1/2″ plate.

Teach Yourself Stick Welding – Part 4 of 4

The next set of movies are not from ChuckE2009 but have been selected to show how to weld thin steel which ChuckE2009 does not cover – he says anything below 1/8″ (3.2 mm) shouldn’t be attempted by stick welding.

Welding Thin Gauge Steel With Stick Welder

Notes from the video:-

  • 1/16″ (1.6 mm) electrode
  • Amps below 35
  • Steel 0.8 mm thick – about 1/32″ or 21 SWG
  • Electrod + or – not given
  • This plate thickness is the thinnest that can be welded by stick welding
  • Initial arc strike on a piece of scrap near the work to get the electrode hot before stiking an arc on the work
  • Note the difficulty in stricking the arc on the work. The rod sticks to the work. That’s why it’s called @Stick’ Welding!
  • Note he is holding the electrode near the tip with hise second hand.
  • Note that welds are laid in short sections not all in one pass.

Stick Welding Thin Sheet Steel. Lap Joint

Notes from the video:-

  • Steel 0.8 mm thick – about 1/32″ or 21 SWG
  • 1/16″ (1.6 mm) electrode
  • Amps maximum 25 Amp
  • Electrod + or – not given
  • Note the good penetration

Welding Amps With E6011 Rods On Thin Metal

Notes from the video:-

  • 3/32″ (2.4 mm) electrode E6011
  • 3/32″ (2.4 mm) steel plate
  • 62~65 Amps

Note that the plates are back-to-back making the total plae thickness 2 X 3/32″ = 3/16″. Hence higher Amps and larger electrode can be used than in the previous two videos where only a single plate thickness was being welded.

Summary Of What I Have Learned About Stick Welding From These Videos

The first thing that I have learned is that in Thailand where I was producing lousy weld with my DC arc welder is that I was trying to weld very thin steel using electrodes and Amps suitable for thick steel.

I haven’t tried welding thick steel in Thailand so maybe I was being a bit unfair on myself.

The second thing I have learned is that you can weld thin steel with a DC arc welder using stick welding but you need very small diameter electrodes (which I couldn’t find in Thailand) and low welding Amps.

Thirdly, when welding very thin steel, hold the electrode itself near the tip with your free hand and weld in short bursts only allowing the steel to cool a little before continuing.

I have learnt the difference between electrode positive and electrode negative and when to use each one. (More on this in a future tutorial)

I have learnt about the different types of electrodes, (6013, 7018, 6011 etc), and some of the differences between them. (More on this in a future tutorial)

And finally, I have learnt that it’s called “Stick Welding” not because the electrodes look like a stick but because the electrode has a tenancy to stick to the work when striking the arc for the first time!

Post Script – Grades Of Welding Lens (Filter) Shades

When I was metal arc welding in Thailand (as reported above) I complained that I couldn’t see the weld or the work properly. The protective lens in the welding mask I was using was too dark. Non of the videos above mention the welding lens shade filter grafe they are using and I have discovered that the grade recommended varies with the size of electrode and hence the welding amps and intensity of light emitted from the electrode arc.

During the course of preparing this tutorial on stick welding I have discovered that the grades of welding filters rages from about 7 up to 14 with the range 7 to 11 being commonly used for stick (SMAW) welding.

There are welding helmets available that have an electronic control over the filter grade so that you can change the filter grade by turning a knob or pressing a button – you don’t have to manually change the glass filter for a different one when you want to change filter grades.

When I return to Thailand I will be purchasing one of these welding helmets.

In a future tutorial I will be explaining more about grades of welding filter lenses and which are the recommended grades for each type of arc (stick) welding situation.

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2 Responses to SMAW – Shielded Metal Arc Welding – 1

  • Welding for dummies – buy a MIG. Problems solved. I learnt this 31 years ago, and still own the same said MIG (they don’t make ’em like they used to).

    • Hi Mike and thanks for the advice.

      MIG is a great answer to welding but it’s expensive to buy and to run. That’s the reason I didn’t buy one.

      My welding needs are infrequent and relatively undemanding so I couldn’t justify a MIG welder. Of course if you are making seriously stressed parts like boilers then you ought (must?) use MIG.

      Best Regards

      Alan Brown

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