Stick welding basics


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Old 09-02-13, 05:09 PM
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Stick welding basics

I finally set the arc welder that I bought over 2 months ago. 70A Arc Welder | Princess Auto


Nothing fancy but it's a good start. Now I have a few basic questions that I couldn't really find the answer on the net.

I can't strike an arc!!! I cannot see through the welding mask that came with the unit. I'm working in my garage and I have plenty of day light coming through the garage door but I can't see anything through the glass of the shield so I kind of put the rod over and then I bring it down put it's near impossible to hit it in the right place. I tried to weld 2 1/2" pipes together that's all the steel I have. The results are pretty bad all beady black and spotted. Do the stick actually have to touch the base metal or there should be a gap?

Thanks
 
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Old 09-02-13, 05:41 PM
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Welding is a skill that can only be achieved by practice. Using pipe is a poor start to learning how to weld, you need to get some flat plate. For striking the arc, which is one of the hardest things for a beginner to learn, you use a motion like striking a match. Get the electrode close to the work while holding the electrode holder such that a twist of the wrist will cause the tip of the electrode to scratch across the surface and THEN lower the hood. Twist your wrist and voila!

No, it isn't THAT simple, you need to gauge how much to continue the wrist twist so that you don't go too far and break the arc. This all comes with practice. Make sure that the metal is clean and not rusty.

I'm going to add something you probably won't like...learning how to weld with a cheap machine (yours is a cheap machine) is VERY difficult. Running good welds with a cheap machine is difficult. If you really want to learn to weld, not just be a dabbler, then I strongly suggest that you check out the vocational schools or community colleges in your area. Many have welding and metal fabrication programs and just taking a beginning welding class can go a long way to not learning bad habits that will eventually need to be un-learned.
 
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Old 09-02-13, 07:25 PM
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I bought that welder just to learn the basics and if to see if I would like it I would probably buy a TIG since I really like to work with aluminum. So what you're saying is at no time (except when you strike the arc) the electrode shouldn't be touching the metal? I tried 2 pieces of 1/8" sheet metal and it went right through it All is left is a big black hole. Also should I use a wood or metal workbench top or it doesn't matter?
 
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Old 09-02-13, 08:06 PM
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What size and type or rod are you using and how old is it?
Try new 1/16" rod on flat mild steel.

I agree that you bought a difficult machine to learn on.
I have almost the same unit but also have a 160 amp mig and a 250 amp buzzbox.
I bought it to be able to weld small stuff away frm the shop but it is difficult enough to do a nice job it is less hassle to haul whatever I need to weld home.

Try scratching the electrode to start the arc then pull up about 1/16" 1/8 from surface and vary distance slightly to maintain arc.
 
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Old 09-02-13, 08:47 PM
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No pro welder here but I can give you one tip. Get an auto darkening helmet, it makes life so much easier. You can pick one up at Harbor Freight for $35-$40.
 
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Old 09-03-13, 03:58 AM
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You can also use your gloved free hand to guide the rod if you have trouble seeing. It's easier to strike an arc on clean metal than dirty or rusty metal. If it's old metal, a pass with wire brush will help. Another thing if you wear glasses - photo grey or transitional lenses will work against you! Dummy me didn't figure that out until years later
 
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Old 09-04-13, 12:44 AM
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Your workbench should ideally be firebrick but a heavy steel plate, about 3/8 inch thick or more is good. Do not use wood as it will burn. When you strike an arc you scratch the tip of the electrode against the metal and then pull it off the surface about the same distance as the diameter of the electrode. The sound should be similar to frying an egg on a very hot skillet. With practice you will learn to judge the length of the arc as much by sound as anything. Also, with practice you will learn that a shorter arc will be cooler than a longer arc. The unfortunate thing is that machine has only two heat settings and they are very close together. This means that the machine has a very limited range of metal thickness that it can successfully weld as well as being very temperamental. As I stated before that is a very poor machine to use when you are trying to learn. Even an experienced welder would have trouble with that machine.

Also, as pointed out by Toolmon that hand-held shield is just slightly better than useless. I have never used an auto-darkening hood but you definitely need a hood that sets on your head without any use of your hands. The tilt function of the hood is tightened only enough to hold it in the upper position so that by a nod of the head it will lower in front of your face. This way you have both hands available to hold the work and the electrode holder.

I think you will find E-6013 electrodes the easiest to use but don't misunderstand me, it won't be easy, not at all. It is just that other electrodes will be all but impossible for you to use without first learning the basics.

Again I will urge you to seek out a community college or trade school and take a class, even if it is only one quarter. You will learn on a high quality DC machine and that will be MUCH easier than the crappy AC machine you have. Once you learn the basics on a DC machine it is much easier to transfer that knowledge to an AC machine.

I learned on an AC machine and it took months of practice before I told anyone that I could weld. When I had the opportunity to use an industrial DC machine I couldn't believe how easy it was to strike an arc, hold it the right length and run beautiful beads. I still have the machine I learned on but I haven't done any welding in at least ten years. Going back to the AC machine after using a DC machine was really torture.

Good luck!
 
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Old 09-04-13, 04:24 AM
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as pointed out by Toolmon that hand-held shield is just slightly better than useless
About the only thing those hand held shields are good for is for an observer, you have a lot harder time trying to learn if you have to hold the shield

As with most things, practice makes perfect. I weld infrequently and it often seems like I'm halfway thru the job before it all comes back and I can make a decent weld.
 
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Old 09-17-13, 05:15 PM
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Don't get an auto darking lens unless you want to get ark flash. They don't change fast enough especially cheap ones. Try going a shade less. To much back light coming in your garage will make it difficult to see your ark. Drag your rod across your plate like you striking a match and lift slightly but not enough to break the ark. Practice this on clean flat plate til you get the feel. Or better yet go buy a mig welder,much easier for the novice.
 
 

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