Stick/Arc Welding FAQs
Arc welding is the oldest welding type around and remains effective for many applications. When used by professional metal fabricators, the term arc welding is shorthand for shielded metal arc welding, also known as stick welding. Our frequently asked questions will introduce beginners to this cost-efficient technique and discuss how to incorporate arc welds into your projects.
How does arc welding work?
This fusion welding process uses a consumable flux-coated electrode (often called a welding rod) to transfer the electrical current and provide the weld metal. The electric arc creates heat that melts the filler metal, joining your parent metals. The melted flux forms gas and slag to protect the weld pool.
There are several advantages to stick welding. It can be done using AC or DC electrical currents and no shielding gas is required. The biggest benefit is that you can arc weld on dirty or rusty metals, making it the best choice for quick repairs.
What is a stick/arc welder used for?
Stick welders are primarily used for welding steel and iron in the automotive, shipbuilding and construction industries. It’s a leading choice for building large steel structures, repairing heavy equipment and maintaining pipelines. With vehicles, it’s a technique best suited for frame welds and on-the-fly repairs at the racetrack. One drawback of arc welding is that the results typically aren’t visually pleasing, so you’ll need to do a lot of finishing work on high-visibility areas.
Is stick/arc welding easy?
Stick welding is considered the second-easiest welding process after MIG welding. You can arc weld in bad weather and the equipment is lightweight for portability. For example, the Eastwood ARC 80 Inverter Stick Welder weighs just 11 pounds. Although the results may not be pretty, they will be strong. Arc welders lag behind MIG welders in ease because of the higher amount of electrode changes they require and the need for post-weld cleaning, which makes stick welding less efficient.
Can you stick/arc weld aluminum?
Although you can fuse aluminum with a stick welder, it takes a lot of skill and care. Since aluminum is a reactive metal, arc welding generates a lot of spatter, making it even messier than normal. Aluminum also expands more than steel when heated and has a lower melting temperature.
To successfully stick weld aluminum with an arc welder, use a powerful DC welder and aluminum-coated electrode. Weld quickly and don’t let the arc make too much contact with the metal so the aluminum doesn’t have a chance to melt.
Can you stick/arc weld thin metal?
For most hobbyists, you should reserve arc welding for workpieces that are at least one eighth of an inch thick. Trying to weld metals thinner than this runs a high risk of warping, burn-through and excessive metal deposits. If you want to try welding thin steel, here are a few tips:
- Use a DC inverter with a negative polarity setup
- Get an E6013 welding rod with the thinnest possible diameter
- Preheat the workpiece and clean it before starting
- Make tack welds early and often
Can you stick weld using a MIG or TIG welder?
Some TIG welders, including the Eastwood TIG 200 AC/DC, have a stick welding feature. However, the best solution is to purchase a multi-process welder, such as the Eastwood Elite MP140i. These machines are designed to be as effective as the best standalone MIG, TIG or ARC welders.