Easy arc start

Old 12-08-05, 06:36 AM
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Easy arc start

Sometimes I want to weld small things and it is important that the arc from my stick welder starts in a very precise location. Before I had my auto-darkening helmet, I depended entirely on starting the arc with a carbon rod for precise starts.

A welding supply store will have carbon rod. Touch the copper foil covering to a grinding wheel to reveal the carbon core. Peel the copper foil from the rod.

Make a wooden handle for the carbon rod, although this is not necessary. Hold the tip of the carbon rod where you want the arc to begin on the steel. Cross the electrode over the carbon rod. Flip your helmet down. Slowly draw the electrode back toward yourself. When the tip of the electrode comes into contact with the carbon rod the arc will begin. Feed it down the carbon rod and onto the steel. From time to time, remove the slag from the carbon rod. Twisting the jaws of a slip joint plier lightly on the carbon rod works well.

When welding thin materials, like square tubing, it is helpful to keep the current as low as possible to prevent burning through; but this makes starting the arc more difficult. Starting the arc on a carbon rod is a big help with this problem.
Old 12-08-05, 06:55 AM
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I understand your reasoning but I have always just used a piece of scrap metal placed next to where I needed to start my weld. Strike the arc on the scrap and you should be able to see your starting point. If needed, I have also put an arrow drawn with soapstone on the piece I am welding so I have instant reference to my start point. Good luck.
Old 12-08-05, 08:15 AM
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Thanks fellas, those are excellent tips. Got anymore?. How about posting a list of those "juicey helpful hints" for us welding neophyts. I do both stick & mig and am always open to anything that makes the task at hand easier. My new Lincoln SP-175 is a real honey of a machine. I'll post a review soon.

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