Stick Welding: A Beginner’s Guide

stick welding
  • What is Stick Welding
  • Is stick welding AC or DC?
  • Equipment in Stick welding
  • Difference between Stick, MIG, and TIG welding
  • What is Stick welding good for?

What is Stick Welding?

Stick Welding or Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW) is a type of welding process that uses electricity to melt a rod/stick (electrode) which melts both a metal joint and electrode at once to join two pieces of metal together. It also fills the joint with the filler metal or electrode at the same time. The reason why SMAW is called “Stick welding” is because the electrode that welds the metal is in the form of a “stick.” 

How does stick welding work? First, you will need to connect your welding rod holder and ground clamp to a welding power supply. Once you’ve done that, you can now hook up the ground clamp to the metal. Then, put a welding rod to the holder and strike the area you would like to weld. Once the rod starts burning it would deposit that burnt metal into the joint which then gives you a weld. 

Is Stick welding AC or DC?

The answer to this is Stick Welding can be both AC and DC power. This would now depend on the electrode type that is used. In case you didn’t know, AC means alternating current and DC means Direct current. If you’re into heavy industrial jobs or just a hobbyist, a DC supply can do. While AC can be used for SMAW, it’s rarely used. 

Stick Welding power supplies have constant voltage or CV. This means that the voltage remains the same while welding and the amperage differ depending on the length of your arc when welding. 

How much amperage or power needed for stick welding?

Working with 140 amp Stick Welder is all you need to power and weld anything. 

stick welding

Stick welding equipment 

One of the best things about Stick welding is that you only need minimal equipment. That’s also one of the reasons why it’s very popular among home-shop welders. Stick welders have four parts: 

  1. A stick welder with a constant voltage (CV) power supply
  2. Rod holder/Electrode holder
  3. Ground Clamp
  4. Stick welding rods/electrodes

What is the difference between Stick, MIG, and TIG welding

A stick welder can be adapted to TIG weld with just the addition of a torch setup. Both use the same CV. MIG welding, on the other hand, uses Constant Current or CC power supply and cannot work with TIG or Stick welding. MIG welding uses a wire feed system instead of a single electrode and like Stick welding, it uses a bottle of shielding gas for welding. To read more about the differences, read our blog on the 4 Different Types of Welding Processes.

What is stick welding good for?

Stick welding is best for thicker metals. It’s especially used for the fabrications of structural steel, tractor repairs, repairing farm equipment, power plant construction, shipbuilding, welding pipe, and any metal that is 1/16 or even thicker.

Stick weld is good for steel, stainless steel, stainless steel to regular steel, chrome, nickel-based alloys, and aluminum.

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