How to stick-weld: the complete guide for DIY and more

We know that you too, like all hobby enthusiasts, would like to go straight to work on a new DIY project. And that’s why we have created this quick and accurate guide. You only need 5 minutes of your time to get started immediately. So, here’s how to stick-weld – and do it right!

Why stick-weld?

Let’s start from the very beginning because, as we told you, this is really a comprehensive guide. Stick welding is not difficult (welding in itself isn’t), but if you are just starting out, consider wire welding, which is more ‘intuitive’. Basically, it’s easier if you lack manual dexterity.
But there is a catch! Stick welding is more convenient because it’s easier to find the filler material (what you add to join two pieces), in this case the electrode.
Plus, stick welding is the right choice if you have to weld rather thick pieces or if you have to make projects that need to have a robust structure.
Yes, the choice of the pieces you want to join also counts!

What materials can I weld?

You can weld iron and stainless steel. Don’t know the difference? Don’t worry. Read the article on iron (carbon steel) and stainless steel. In stick welding, these two materials have the same mechanical behaviour, so you can choose one or the other depending on your project or other requirements. The important thing is that you then use the right electrode, which also changes depending on the material of the parts to be joined.

Which electrode to use?

Coated electrodes have two functions: to generate the electric arc and to add material to the weld bead. Basically, they are essential for stick welding!
Also consider that the electrode generates gas and fumes that drive air away, thus stabilising the electric arc and making welding easier. That’s right. It’s the gas and smoke produced in large quantities that protect the still fluid metal: the slag prevents surface oxides from forming and keeps the weld pool together. That’s why you have to choose the type of electrode coating based on both the material to weld and the performance you want from the electrode.
Electrodes for welding iron and stainless steel have two types of coating: rutile or basic.
Rutile coating (rutile is the common name of titanium dioxide) tends to keep the material deposit hot for a long time and, being a good conductor, it facilitates its use: that’s why it is called a “hot bath electrode” and why we advise against using these electrodes against the force of gravity (vertical and overhead position). In these cases, use the basic coated electrode, which in addition to generating a protective atmosphere, has a faster cooling slag that allows you to stick-weld even in difficult positions and against gravity.
Finally, remember that electrodes don’t like moisture at all – if you want to use a difficult word you could say that their coating is hygroscopic. And you shouldn’t want humidity on the electrodes either because if they are damp you may encounter two different welding defects: cracks and porosity. So, remember to keep electrodes in a dry place.
Good! You’ve chosen stick welding and you have the material you need and the right electrodes. What else do you need? Let’s see!

What you need for stick welding

Well, we don’t have to tell you that you need a welding machine, do we? But we remind you without a shadow of a doubt to have with you everything you need to weld safely: the self-darkening mask (ab-so-lu-te-ly necessary if you want to save your eyesight), gloves, suitable clothing and even a gas mask as we mentioned earlier (unless you have a fume extractor).
You will also need material to clean the pieces to weld and all the tools you can use to cut, grind, measure, etc. … Here is a list of welding tools to get you started.

Stick welding: tricks

Now it’s finally time to get started. So, here’s how to stick-weld – and do it right! If you’re doing it for the first time, know that it’s all a matter of manual skill and that the first few times could be tougher. But you’re not throwing in the towel, are you? Nor the electrode!
Remember first of all to go from left to right, always with a good view of the workpiece to weld. After you have struck the electric arc, try to keep your position and proceed at a constant speed.
If this seems difficult to you, also consider that you have to choose the right amperage. But you don’t have to worry about that if you have a helviLITE stick welding machine. Indeed, the best trick to learn to do a good weld is to choose the right welding machine.

Make your life easy: use a DIY stick welding machine

Our stick welding machines are very easy to use because setting the right amperage is really easy. You can do everything with a single knob that you just need to rotate according to the diameter of the electrode you have chosen and that’s it. Of course, you have to find the right balance in the small range that we suggest, but to help you we have also written another guide that explains everything: how to set up a stick welding machine.

Now that you know how to stick-weld, let Martina’s DIY projects inspire you: you can find them all on our YouTube channel in this playlist that we have created for you!