Mastering Stick Welding: 5 Expert Tips for Perfect SMAW Technique

Published on 11 January 2024

5 min


5 Ways to Improve your Stick Welding Technique

Stick Welding or Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW) is a commonly used variant of Arc Welding. It was patented by Charles L. Coffin in 1889 and since then it has become a popular welding method.
It uses an electric current to create an arc between a consumable electrode, typically coated in flux, and the metal pieces being welded. The electrode melts and forms the weld, while the flux creates a protective shield that helps prevent oxidation.
This is a cost-effective, versatile welding method, but it require skill and practice to produce a good quality weld.
Because stick welding is simple and versatile, it can be applied from fabrication to repair welding. Talking of simplicity, the name stick welding has stuck around because the electrode used in the welding process looks like a stick.

Stick Welding Process

Let us look at the stick welding process in a little more depth. This type of welding uses electricity to heat and ultimately melt the electrode or the stick onto the parent metal and fuses the two pieces of metal while filling the gap with the filler metal.

Stick Welding vs MIG

Each form of welding has its pros and cons, but the pressing question that stands - Is stick welding stronger than MIG?
There is no definitive answer as each welding type has its specific applications, unique advantages and range of usage. Let’s see:
Stick welding, also known as Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW), uses a consumable electrode and requires skill and practice to produce a good quality weld.
MIG welding, also known as Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW), uses a wire electrode fed through a gun and can be easier to learn and produce more consistent welds.
Stick welding is more versatile and can be used on a wider range of metals and in different positions and conditions (windy conditions or in the rain), while MIG is typically limited to welding metals with thin gauge.
MIG welding typically faster, but stick welding can be done in places (even underwater) where the MIG's shielding gas can't reach.

Stick Welding Technique

Practice might not make one perfect, but it definitely makes one an expert at the skill. The same goes for welding.
Here are 5 tips and tricks to improve your stick welding technique:

Stick welding patterns: During the welding process, the welder can use a slight motion. This helps spread the weld more evenly than in a fixed position. Some welders use a back-and-forth motion, while others prefer side-to-side or a circular motion.

Current Setting: It is a must to have both the polarity and the amperage right. The right current settings aid in getting the perfect weld. The good news is that these details are usually mentioned on the electrode’s packaging.

Arc distance or arc length: One other important stick welding technique is maintaining the distance between the electric arc and the welding electrode. Once the arc has been started, you need to maintain it. Having it too short can stick the electrode to the base metal, and having it too long can extinguish the arc or cause more spatter. For all details on welding consumables, contact D&H Sécheron.

Stick welding positions: Generally, stick welding can be used in all positions. But the choice of the filler metal also plays a deciding role in this. Flat, Horizontal, Vertical up, and Overhead are some of the most common welding positions used. We recommend speaking to your welding consumables supplier about all these details for a well-informed decision.

The Basics: These tips need to be highlighted to get the basics right. Clean the base metal even though stick metal can work on rusted metals. It makes the job easier and cleaner. Additionally, make sure that your electrode is dry. And most importantly, ensure that you have a good view of the weld.

Pick up your stick and get started with your next welding project with stick welding! This process requires welding consumables, i.e., electrodes. These can be conventional welding consumables and reclamation welding consumables.
To find these comfortably, you can reach out to D&H Sécheron, where we provide complete welding support. Get in touch to know more.

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