How to Stick Weld? Complete Guide for Beginners

In this article, we will discuss How to Stick Weld and Complete Guide for Beginners.

Stick welding also known as Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW) is among popular welding processes which also include TIG and MIG. This simple procedure is most popular with outdoor welders as it is not affected by wind, unlike TIG and MIG welding which utilize gas cylinders.

How to Stick Weld and Complete Guide for Beginners:

If you’re looking for a stick welding guide, you’re in the right place because we will be sharing with you the pros and cons, set up guide, process steps in addition to troubleshooting tips for stick welding. So what are you waiting for? Let’s begin!

Stick Welding Overview:

This welding is done by striking an electric arc in between the workpiece and a metal electrode. When you do that current passes right through the electrode and makes it melt into the workpiece, forming a weld pool. The electrode is fully covered by a layer of flux. The flux melts in order to protect the weld from the atmosphere which could contaminate it.

This is similar to the shielding gas protecting TIG and MIG welding. The melted flux forms a slag layer above the weld bead which needs to be chipped off once you are done welding.

Safety Precautions:

Safety should always be your first priority while welding. It is extremely important that you read and follow safety instructions and information written on the user’s manual of all equipment that you use.

When you are stick welding, you will require body protection in order to protect yourself from the ultraviolet rays and heat produced by the ac. Fire-resistant clothing with long sleeves will help in protecting your body. A welding helmet will aid in providing protection to your head and eyes.

Make sure that the area you’re working in is ventilated enough because stick welding produces a lot of toxic fumes. If you’re working outdoors than its fine but for indoor stick welding, make sure there is good ventilation. The best way to do this is to install exhausts.

Equipment Required:

Following is a list of the essential equipment you need for stick welding:

1. Stick welder:

Obviously, this is the most important piece of equipment. You can either use a stick only welder or a multipurpose welder which allows you to do TIG and MIG welding too. Although, a stick welder will cost you much less.

2. Ground Clamp:

This usually comes with the stick welder. You have to plug it into a stick welder and they clamp it to the workpiece.

3. Slag Removing Tools:

Slag is produced over the weld when you do stick welding. Therefore, it is required that you clean up the weld once you’re done welding. You can use a slag chip in addition to a hammer in order to chip the slag away. After this, you will need to use a wire brush to properly clean the weld.

4. Electrode:

A stick electrode is used with the stick welder for stick welding.


Initially, you need to select a rod. After that, set the polarity as recommended by the manufacturer. Finally, you have to set the amperage range according to the recommendation of the manufacturer. Now, you will be fine-tuning your welder according to your metal. Get a piece of scrap metal that resembles the thickness of you’re using.

This is important because you will be using this scrap metal piece to set the amperage setting for the actual metal piece. These settings depend entirely on the thickness and type of metal.

You will do this by listening to the crackling sound of the rod burning to know if the setting I right. Strike an arc and adjust to the right amperage settings. This crackle should resemble the sound of eggs frying on a pan. The welder should be hot enough such that it does not stick but also doesn’t turn the rod bright rod. After this, you check the finish of the weld to check if it’s rough or too flat.

Stick Welding Procedure:

Put the electrode into the electrode holder and then switch on the stick welder. For striking the arc, but the electrode’s tip on the metal and then drag it across quickly just like lighting a match. If this forms the arc, lift the electrode slightly and pull it along the metal. In case the electrode sticks, break it off by slightly twisting it.

If the arc is cut off, this means that the electrode is too far from the metal surface. Lower it a little bit in this case. One the arc starts it should sound like frying bacon. If the sound is too loud, lower the amperage.

For moving the electrode along the metal, you should keep it at an angle of 15 to 30 degrees to the vertical. Once the electrode is at the right angle, pull it towards you slowly. Don’t push the electrode forward because this will cause the slag to get trapped inside the weld pool which will cause porosity. Keep your hand steady. You can do this by holding your hand with your other hand which should be resting on the table.

Welding Positions:

For doing a filet weld on an upside-down T weld, keep the angle about 35 degrees from the horizontal. This is important to prevent the weld from falling due to gravity. By doing this, you will be pushing the bead up against gravity.

Mistakes and Solutions:

If you’re a beginner, you’re bound to make a few mistakes. Here’s a list of problems that you may encounter and what actions you can take for troubleshooting.

1. A lot of spatter:

If you’re getting a lot of spatter during stick welding, there could be man reasons for it. One common reason is that your arc is too long. For troubleshooting, hold the electrode closer to the metal surface so that the arc can focus better on the weld.

If the arc is making a loud screeching sound in addition to a lot of spatter, it is probable that your amperage setting is too high. Solve this by turning it own a little bit.

2. Porosity:

If you encounter porosity this probably means that the angle of your electrode is too steep. Adjust the electrode’s angle for solving this issue.

3. Undercut:

This is basically a small crater near the weld’s toe, between the metal plate and the weld. This weakens the weld. You can prevent this by lowering the amperage.

4. Thin weld bead:

Ideally, the thickness of the weld bead should be about 2.5 times the electrode’s thickness. If it is too thin, it will not penetrate properly. You can improve this by slowing down the speed of pulling your hand by about half.

5. Lumps in weld bead:

You may experience lumps in the weld bead. This could either be due to pulling the electrode very slowly or due to having the amperage settings too low. Adjust any of the two or both to prevent lumps.

6. Arc not starting:

This could be because the electrode is too cold. This leads to a weak arc. Turn up the amperage by about 15A and check if it makes a difference.


Stick welding requires a lot of practice. Try perfecting your skill before beginning work on an actual project. Don’t get demotivated by mistakes. Practice makes perfect. We hope our guide proved to be helpful in your learning process. Best of luck!

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. How do you keep a welding rod from sticking?

Don’t keep the electrode to close to the metal.

2. Do you stick weld up or down?

You should move your hand up or basically pull it towards you.

3. What angle should you weld at?

About 15 to 30 degrees to the vertical.

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