What You Need to Know About Stick Welding

Portable stick welding services from M&M Certified Welding
February 10, 2020

There are various different categories of welding. One category is arc welding, and stick welding is a type of welding that falls into this category. It is actually the simplest and most widely used form of arc welding. Stick welding uses an electrode, which is the stick, and an electric current to bind certain metals. The electrode consists of a solid metal rod coated with compounds and metal powders. These are held to the rod's surface with a binding agent. The rod is also referred to as the stick, which is why it is called stick welding.

Either alternating or direct current is used to create an electric arc that runs between the electrode (stick) and the metals you are joining. The stick is the conductor for the electric current and provides the metal used to fill the joint. Stick welding, for the most part, is used to weld iron and steel.

how does Stick Welding work?

The stick process is actually termed Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW). If you are new to stick welding, you should remember the word: CLAMS. CLAMS is actually an anagram to help you remember the elements of the technique:

  • Current setting
  • Length of arc
  • Angle of electrode
  • Manipulation of the electrode, and
  • Speed of travel.

These points are important and will improve your welding technique.

Choose Your Machine

After understanding the proper stick welding technique, you should then determine which machine best fits your needs. This depends on what you intend to use it for. If you anticipate a variety of projects, you'll want a stick welder that is good for all-around use.

You want a machine with an AC/DC output, because each type of current has its advantage. You would use an AC output if, for example, you are welding on some material that has been exposed to friction and has become magnetized because of it.

DC welding offers many advantages over AC welding. Some of these are fewer arc outages, easier starts, easier to learn, and its straight polarity is better for welding thinner metals. Some machines with AC/DC output are electric arc machines like Miller's Dialarc, XMT, or Thunderbolt. A gas engine Bobcat is also good.

Unless your project has specific needs, if you are stick welding, you generally need 200 amps or less. If that is the case for you, then you should be fine with a 225-300 ampere machine. This should handle just about anything that may come your way.

Review Your Spec Sheets

It is very important to review the spec sheets before using your machine. Your spec sheets will reveal the duty cycle number. This is an important number because it tells you how many minutes you can operate out of a 10-minute cycle. Once the duty cycle is expired, you must cool the machine for the prescribed time before you can begin again.

Keep Everything Clean

Though stick welding will work on surfaces that aren't clean, you will get a better bond if the surface is clean. Take the time to make sure the parts are clean and as much rust as possible is removed. Remember that your settings will change depending on the type of electrode and the diameter of the electrode and its type. The arc length is also dependent on the electrode and should not exceed the diameter of the core.

The Bottom Line

All things considered, using stick welding for your project can be quite a process. M&M Welding are experts in stick welding, as well as various other welding services, and can help your welding projects come to life!

M&M Welding is your one-stop shop for custom fabrication with multiple materials, mobile welding fabrication, truck body fabrication. We are also a supplier of wholesale steel and aluminum products if you want to tackle your own project. Get in touch with us today for a free estimate of our services!



M&M is my former employer. To this day, I still send people to this shop. As well as keep in contact with the owner, Matt, and stop up from time to time. I learned the most from this shop, lots of good memories. They are by far, the best and most skilled group of welders I've ever worked with.

Mike Meros


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Five stars for M&M Welding! I needed a patch up on my truck body and they got the job done well and on-time.

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