SMAW welding tips: How to avoid common defects

Published on 21 March 2024

5 min


SMAW welding tips: How to avoid common defects

SMAW (Shielded Metal Arc Welding) welding, also known as stick welding, is one of the most popular welding techniques used in the industry. It involves using a stick electrode to create an electric arc between the electrode and the metal being welded, creating a molten pool that cools and solidifies to create a strong, lasting bond.
Despite its popularity, SMAW welding comes with its own set of challenges. Weld defects can occur if the process is not carried out correctly. Here are some tips to avoid common defects in SMAW welding.

Metal preparation:

The first step in SMAW welding is preparing the metal you are going to weld. This involves cleaning the surface of the metal to remove any dirt, oil, rust, or other contaminants that can cause weld defects. You can use a wire brush, grinder, or other abrasive tools to clean the metal, but be careful not to remove too much material.
The next step is choosing the right thickness for the welding sheet/metal leaves for welding. A thin metal sheet can warp or buckle under the heat of the welding process, causing distortion or cracking in the weld whereas a thick metal sheet can prove difficult to achieve a strong, consistent weld.

Choosing the welding rod:

Different stick welding rods are designed for different types of metal and welding applications. Using the wrong rod can result in poor weld quality or weld defects.
For welding a high-strength steel use a stick welding rod that is specifically designed for that type of metal. For welding in a tight space or at an awkward angle use a smaller diameter rod that can reach into tight spaces and provide greater control.
Points to keep in mind while welding:
Now that the basics are taken care of, it's time to start welding. Here are some stick welding tips that will help you avoid common weld defects:

  1. Use the right amperage setting for the stick welding rod you are using. If the amperage is too low, the electrode will not melt properly, resulting in poor penetration and weak welds. If the amperage is too high, the electrode will melt too quickly, causing splatter and porosity in the weld.

  2. Maintain a consistent arc length between the electrode and the metal being welded. This will help you achieve a stable arc and consistent weld quality.

  3. Move the electrode in a straight line along the joint being welded. Avoid making circular or back-and-forth motions, as this can create undercutting.

  4. Keep the electrode at a 15-30 degree angle to the direction of the weld to get good penetration and to avoid creating a cold lap, where the metal is not properly fused together.

  5. Use the right technique for the type of joint you are welding. For example, if you are welding a butt joint, you will need to weave the electrode back and forth to ensure full penetration. If you are welding a lap joint, you will need to use a push technique to avoid trapping slag in the weld.

At D&H Secheron, we offer a wide range of welding services, including SMAW welding. We're committed to providing our customers with the best possible products and services.

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