5 TIPS FOR STICK WELDING
1. ELECTRODES: The number one thing in stick welding is your choice of electrode. I know most of us have used the same rods for years, but the chemistry just keeps getting better. I spend a lot of time welding with these newer rods as part of my job, and I just can’t help but wish we had these when I started. The improvements made in these electrodes will make you a star. SureWeld 6013LV is my at-home electrode. It starts smooth every time on my ESAB MiniArc LTS.
A great resource for finding your own perfect electrode is ESAB’s Filler Metal Data Book.
Everything you could possibly want to know about any ESAB filler metal can easily be found in this downloadable guide.
Just last month I got a letter in the mail from a man who just wanted this Filler Metal Data Book. Recently, my coworkers and I had the pleasure of having 32 American Welding Society certified welding inspectors in the ESAB equipment and automation labs for a visit, and they weren’t leaving without the Filler Metal Data Book. Really, this book is popular for a reason. Download it here.
2. STORAGE: Keeping your low hydrogen rods dry is a must. So, what really happens if your rods are left out of their storage container? Three words: hydrogen induced cracking. That’s the risk you run, so take only the amount of rod you need and replace the can cover.
If you use the kind of container that is not resealable be sure to find a place (like an old ice chest that is air tight) to store your electrode rods. After your welding job is finished place any extra rods back in storage immediately. Of course it’s always a best practice to keep any electrode rods in their proper container even while you’re working. Laying your rods around on a work bench can cause the flux to pick up dirt and grease, or worse yet, get banged around where you run the risk of breaking the flux off the rod.
3. ELECTRODE HOLDERS: Make sure your electrode holders are in good shape. Using old holders can mean having a bad grip on your rod and can lead to safety hazards.
To keep your holder in good shape burn the rod just to the AWS designation at the top. This way you are keeping the heat away from the electrode holder and your hand. Safety first always.
4. ARC CONFIDENCE: If you’re just starting out or haven’t welded in a while it’s important to reestablish confidence in your ability to strike an arc. Nothing is more frustrating than sticking your rod to the plate over and over when you’re first learning. So practice! Get a piece of scrap and strike an arc, hold it a couple of seconds, then extinguish it. Do this again and again until you can successfully strike an arc ten times in a row. Once you’re confident at striking an arc you can concentrate on your bead work.
5. KNOW YOUR CRAFT: Read up and get interested in how and why it all works. Understand terms, and get to know the language of welding. Look up the filler metal match to the base material you’re working on so it becomes second hand knowledge. The Filler Metal Data Book has the recommendations you need and our apprentice level training is available for free online.