How to Stick Weld – Just Do It!

You can read all you want about how to stick weld, and you should. However, the only way you’ll learn for sure is to actually do it.

The following example shows you how to weld a couple of metal pieces via a T-shaped joint. If this is your first time to use a weld, practice first.

How to stick weld

By Mgschuler via Wikimedia Commons

Step 1
Get clean materials for welding. Wipe the metal material with a clean rag and remove any rust or paint. Put the metal in place and secure it with clamps.
Step 2
Join the leads and ground to the steel you’re going to weld. Sand or grind the connection points if the metal is rusty or old. Setting an amperage may also be necessary depending on the electrodes you’re using. The electrode range is indicated on the box, i.e. 75 to 125 DC.
Step 3
Assume a position you’re comfortable in and place the electrode tip near your start point. After dropping the hood, press the tip against the metal and drag along backwards fast, striking an arc. As the arc fires, pull back to the appropriate arc distance.

The general rule of thumb is the arc distance should be equivalent to the electrode diameter. If you’re utilizing a 0.25-inch 6013, the tip distance from the welded metal is .25 inches.
Step 4
Continue to backhand or drag the arc along the metal, and you have to keep the arc distance. As you move, the electrode is consumed, but keep moving and maintain the distance, i.e. 0.25 inches. Your angle must also be consistent at 90 or 45 degrees.

In some cases you’re better off with a 60 degree angle. The angles can change depending on your position, and what’s important is you’re comfortable.
Step 5
Weld pool is determined by the travel speed and amperage. The quicker you move, the less penetration, the less electrode material is set and the base material doesn’t get as hot. But if you move too slowly it could burn the material and soften the weld.

There are no hard and fast rules here as you’ll find the right compromise.
Eventually, you’ll find a speed you are comfortable with. If the speed feels right but the result isn’t what you want, adjust the amp in increments.
Step 6
To thicken the weld, build a lead up using a zigzag or circular motion. Keep an eye on the puddle’s outside edges to ensure the base metal is filling up. If there’s insufficient heat or is too thick, you’re doing it wrong and this could lead to gaps.
Step 7
As you weld down, keep an eye on the thickness, speed, angle and distance. Majority of electrodes burn in under a minute, and if you have to stop or need additional electrode, chip the crust on the weld which the flux produced and continue.
Step 8
Once you’re done, clean the weld. If you’re going to paint it, use a wire brush to remove the slag. Keep practicing and soon enough you’ll be able to weld different types of metals.

Learn how to Stick Weld With the Right Metal

Welder using stick welderChoose steel that is in the average range such as AISI-SAE 1015 to 1025 steel with .035% sulfur content and 0.1% maximum silicon. Since you’re just starting out, it’s better to go with these steels as they’re easier to work with. You’ll also notice that welding will be faster with little cracking.
If you’re going to weld with carbon and low alloy steel, check their chemical makeup. If the composition is over the normal range, you’ll see some cracking especially when welding rigid pieces and heavy plates.
You shouldn’t use steel with high levels of phosphorus or sulphur.

If you have to use these, make sure the material has low hydrogen electrodes and a low diameter.

You should also weld with a slower travel speed, as it’s going to produce better-looking welds.

Tips and Suggestions for Successful Stick Welding Projects

Select an electrode and joint position that work well with the metal. If you’re welding 18 gauge metal sheets, go with a 45 to 75 degree downhill angle with a fast travel speed. You should also avoid over welding or create a weld that is bigger than what the joint requires, as it could cause burn. 3/16″ or greater mild steel should be welded in a flat position as it’s easier to work with.

For low alloy and high carbon steel, they’re best managed from a level position.

Do you need a stick welder? Here is my recommendation for stick/TIG welders.

Here are a few more tips:

• Make sure the joint is clean prior to starting any weld. By cleaning the joint you reduce the risk of porosity. This also makes it possible to achieve your desired travel speed. Earlier we pointed out how important it is to work with clean joints so remove grease, oil, and rust.
• If you’re unable to remove those elements, use AWS E6011 or AWS E6010 electrodes to pierce the contaminants. You’ll also want to slow the travel speed down so gas bubbles can get out.
• Go with the correct electrode size. For the best results, get the biggest electrode you can use, as the large ones produce high currents.

However, the electrode size may be constricted on root passes and sheet metal as that is where burn through can happen.

The general consensus is the biggest electrode size for overhead and vertical welding is 3/16”, while for low hydrogen is it 5/32”. The joint size can also restrict the diameter of the electrode that can be used.
• Spatter is a common problem and can affect the strength of the weld. The best way to prevent this is to reduce the current. You also have to make certain that it’s in the range for the electrode you’re using.


That’s all there is to stick welding. It may sound more complicated than it really is because your manual should have the instructions set.

What’s important when you learn how to stick weld is you follow the procedures and remain patient. This approach ensures you’ll learn the right techniques and processes.


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