How to Strike an Arc with a Stitch Welder

Stitch welders are intended to primarily weld automobile sheet metal body panels. Thin stitch welder rods, 16 inches in length, help you lay quality bead welds on sheet metal while avoiding any burn through. One of the biggest challenges of using a stitch welder, however, is striking the arc. Since there is a limited amount of power available to jump the arc, you need to find good techniques to strike it. Below, we explore five different ways to strike an arc using a stitch welder.

Striking the Arc: Methods 1-3

One good basic rule to remember as you attempt to strike your arc is if you move the rod too slowly, it will stick to your workpiece, and if you move the rod too quickly, the arc will not form. That said, the first method for striking an arc with a stitch welder is to tilt the rod 20 to 25 degrees from your work and scratch the rod tip to the surface like you were striking a match. As soon as the spark is made, swiftly lift the rod to a distance equal to that of the rod’s diameter (16 inches). Continue the arc by maintaining this distance, and as you run the weld bead, keep steadily feeding more of the rod into the work.

A second method is to tap the workpiece with the tip of the welding rod like you were tapping the head of a nail. Then once the rod sparks, lift it to establish a clean arc. Method three describes holding the welding rod directly up and down, perpendicular to the workpiece and lowering the rod about an inch of the work surface. Once this position is held steady, gently touch the rod onto the workpiece surface and immediately raise it once again to create an arc. Now, let’s take a look at the last two methods.

Striking the Arc: Methods 4 & 5

Depending on how the work to be welded is set up and arranged, a fourth way to strike an arc is to lay the side of the welding rod against the edge of the metal workpiece. So, the rod should be completely off of the workpiece, and only the insulated side coating should be touching the piece. Now, carefully drag the rod onto the work causing the arc to strike immediately on the edge, which allows you to continue in a line to lay the weld bead. The fifth and final way to strike an arc is to lay the rod at a very shallow angle and simply drag the rod several inches. This should cause the rod to make sparks and transition into an arc. This is perhaps the best method for beginners to practice making weld beads with.

It can be a good idea to have a piece of scrap metal, or “scratch pad,” next to your workpiece to practice striking welding arcs on; just make sure that the scrap metal is grounded before you use it. If your scrap is directly next to your workpiece, you can actually drag the arc over from the scrap to the workpiece with minimal burn marks or re-strikes. Always make sure you practice as much as you need to before you feel comfortable enough with the stitch welder to work on major projects.

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