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Why the Use of Leather Shoes in SMAW or Stick Welding is a Must

welding leather shoes smaw

Shielded Metal Arc Welding or SMAW welding procedures produce toxic fumes which is why welders should ensure that they have proper protective equipment. Using PPE reduces the risk of injury and significantly minimizes the effects of toxins. Aside from regular PPE clothing, using the proper protective footwear, leather shoes at that, will go a long way in protecting your foot during hazardous SMAW welding projects. 

What to Know about SMAW


SMAW stands for Shielded Metal Arc Welding and is one of the oldest and most common types of welding. Otherwise known as stick welding because a flux-coated electrode (a metal stick or rod held in an electrode holder that is connected to a power source) is used to form the weld. This welding technique is used on full ferrous materials and in all welding positions. SMAW is used in different applications involving maintenance, repair, construction, industrial fabrication, pipelines, shipbuilding, underwater welding, farm machinery manufacturing, and more. 


The SMAW Process uses the arc’s heat to melt the top of a consumable covered electrode and base metal. The basic tools used when stick welding include a welding machine (arc welding power source), electrode lead cable, electrode holder, leads, cables, cable connectors, ground clamp, and a chipping hammer. Because SMAW is a tedious process, it is critical that welders use safety equipment like a helmet, gloves, protective clothing, and leather shoes. 


leather shoes stick welding
Photo via unsplash


SMAW PPE: Leather Shoes 


For SMAW welding jobs, using the proper shoes will protect your feet from falling objects or hot sparks. The best type of protective footwear is surely a reliable pair of leather boots. It is most essential that close-toed shoes are used during SMAW processes, as well as leather high-top work boots or metal-toe safety shoes. 


The boots you ought to buy should comply with the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standard F2413-05 that categorizes safety footwear like Impact and Compression. Leather boots that comply with Impact and Compression Resistance standards are constructed with a toe-cap that protects your foot from falling objects that could break or crush your toes. The same standard also does not approve “strap-on” toe-caps. This means that toe-caps should be designed and constructed into the show during manufacturing and then tested. 


It is also important to know that your safety toe boots or shoes should meet one of two units of measurement for impact rating (75 or 50 foot-pounds). This foot-pound is determined through a test performed by dropping a steel weight from a predetermined height at a certain designated speed. So, for example, 1/75 rated leather boots will protect a welder from an impact of 75 pounds. 


According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the American Welding Society, the best way welders can stay safe on the job is to wear head-to-toe protection. When welding safety becomes ingrained into the professional culture, lost-time incidents and improved productivity are expected.

Leather Welding Spats

Another way you can protect your feet is to get yourself a pair of reliable leather welding spats. The best ones are made with cowhide leather. These give extra protection to your leather shoes and are highly effective against sparks and splatter.

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.