Five Tips to Improve Stick Welding
Shellfish can make you a better welder. Simply think about CLAMS: Current setting, Length of arc, Angle of electrode, Manipulation of the electrode and Speed of travel. If you're just learning the Stick process, technically called Shielded Metal Arc Welding, remembering these five points will improve your welding technique.
Q: I see the word "duty cycle" on product spec sheets? What does that mean?
A: Duty cycle is the number of minutes out of a 10-minute cycle a welder can operate. For example, a 200 amp DC output at 20 percent duty cycle. It can weld continuously at 200 amps for two minutes, and then must cool for eight minutes to prevent overheating.
Duty cycle and amperage are inversely proportional. Operating at 90 amps, the welder has a 100 percent duty cycle, meaning you can weld without stopping. This inversely proportional rule is true of all Miller machines but does not apply to all machines made by other companies.
Q: What type of rod should I use for general work on steel?
A: Common electrodes used for general work include 6010, 6011, 6013, 7018 and 7024, each of which has specific properties: 6010 electrodes penetrate deeply, while 6013 electrodes penetrate less. For much better bead appearance and work on higher strength steels (say for a hitch), use a 7018 rod. For better penetration on thick material, grind the joint to a 30 degree bevel and make multiple passes. Alternatively, make the first pass with a 6010 rod, then make a "cap" with a 7018. , .
Q: Do I have to remove rust or oil before welding?
A: Stick welding is more forgiving on unclean conditions, but it never hurts to clean parts with a wire brush or grind off excess rust. If you prepare well and have average welding ability, you can make a sound weld. However, even great welding skill cannot overcome poor preparation, as it can lead to cracking, lack of fusion and slag inclusions.
Now that you're ready to weld, remember CLAMS. Bringing all these points together in one moment of welding may seem like a lot to think about, but it becomes second nature with practice. And don't get discouraged! Stick welding got its name not because the electrode looks like a stick, but because EVERYONE sticks the rod to the workpiece when learning how to weld.
Current setting: The correct current, or amperage, setting primarily depends on the diameter and type of electrode selected. For example, a 3.25mm. 6010 rod runs well from 75 to 125 amps, while a 5mm. 7018 rod welds at currents up to 220 amps. The side of the electrode box usually indicates operating ranges. Select an amperage based on the material's thickness, welding position (about 15 percent less heat for overhead work compared to a flat weld) and observation of the finished weld. Most new welding machines have a permanent label that recommends amperage settings for a variety of electrodes and material thicknesses
Length of arc: The correct arc length varies with each electrode and application. As a good starting point, arc length should not exceed the diameter of the metal portion (core) of the electrode. Holding the electrode too closely decreases welding voltage. This creates an erratic arc that may extinguish itself or cause the rod to freeze, as well as produces a weld bead with a high crown. Excessively long arcs (too much voltage) produce spatter, low deposition rates, undercuts and maybe porosity.
Many beginners weld with too long of an arc, so they produce rough beads with lots of spatter. A little practice will show you that a tight, controlled arc length improves bead appearance, creates a narrower bead and minimizes spatter
Angle of travel: Stick welding in the flat, horizontal and overhead position uses a "drag" or "backhand" welding technique. Hold the rod perpendicular to the joint and tilt the top of the electrode in the direction of travel approximately 5 to 15 degrees. For welding vertical up, use a "push" or "forehand" technique and tilt the top of the rod 15 degrees away from the direction of travel.
Manipulation: Each welder manipulates or weaves the electrode in a unique style. Develop your own style by observing others, practicing and creating a method that produces good results for you. Note that on material 1/4 in. and thinner, weaving the rod typically creates a bead that is wider than necessary. In many instances, plain, straight-ahead travel works fine.
To create a wider bead on thicker material, manipulate the electrode from side to side creating a continuous series of partially overlapping circles, or in a "Z," semi-circle or stutter-step pattern. Limit side-to-side motion to 2-1/2 times the diameter of the electrode core. To cover a wider area, make multiple passes or "stringer beads."
When welding vertical up, focus on welding the sides of the joint and the middle will take care of itself. Pause slightly at the side to allow the far side of the bead to cool, the weld puddle to catch up, and to ensure solid "tie-in" to the sidewall. If your weld looks like fish scales, you moved forward too quickly and didn't hold long enough on the sides.
Speed of travel: The proper travel speed produces a weld bead with the desired contour (or "crown"), width and appearance. Adjust travel speed so that the arc stays within the leading one-third of the weld pool. Slow travel speeds produce a wide, convex bead with shallow penetration. Excessively high travel speeds also decrease penetration, create a narrower and/or highly crowned bead, and possibly undercuts.
A few last words of advice. Always remember that you need a good view of the weld puddle. Otherwise, you can't ensure you're welding in the joint, keeping the arc on the leading edge of the puddle and using the right amount of heat (you can actually see a puddle with too much heat roll out of the joint). For the best view, keep your head off to the side and out of the smoke so you can easily see the puddle.
Also remember that you learn through mistakes. There's no shame in grinding out bad welds. In fact, professional welders create perfect welds by recognizing imperfections, grinding them out and rewelding.
excerps from miller welding
so remember clams it will be a start in the right direction
AND MORE FOR THE LAYMAN
Welding Terms Glossary
Alternating Current (AC): An electrical current that reverses its direction at regular intervals, such as 60
cycles alternating current (AC), or 60 hertz (Hz).
Amperage: The measurement of the amount of electricity flowing past a given point in a conductor per
second. Current is another name for amperage.
Annealing: The opposite of hardening. A heat treating process used to soften a metal and relieve internal
Arc: The physical gap between the end of the electrode and the base metal. The physical gap causes heat
due to resistance of current flow and arc rays.
Arc Length: Distance or air space between the tip of the electrode and the work
Arc Voltage: Measured across the welding arc between the electrode tip and the surface of the weld
Axis of Weld: Can be thought of as an imaginary line through the center of a weld, lengthwise.
Back Gouging: The removal of weld metal and base metal from the other side (root side) of a weld joint.
When this gouged area is welded, complete penetration of the weld
joint is assured
Bevel Angle: An angle formed between a plane, perpendicular to the surface of the base metal and the
prepared edge of the base metal. This angle refers to the metal that has been removed.
Butt Joint: A weldment where the material surfaces and joining edges are in or near the same plane.
Cold Lap: See preferred term Incomplete Fusion.
Conductor: An electrical path where current will flow with the least amount of resistance. Most metals are
good electrical conductors.
Corner Joint: Produced when the weld members meet at approximately 90o to each other in the shape
of an “L”.
Crater: A depression at the end of a weld bead.
Current: Another name for amperage. The amount of electricity flowing past a point in a conductor every
Defect: One or more discontinuities that exceed the acceptance criteria as specified for a weld.
Depth of Fusion: The depth or distance that deposited weld metal extends into the base metal or the
Direct Current: Flows in one direction and does not reverse its direction of flow as does alternating current.
Direct Current Electrode Negative (DCEN): The specific direction of current flow through a welding circuit
when the electrode lead is connected to the negative terminal and the work lead is connected to the positive
terminal of a DC welding machine.
Direct Current Electrode Positive (DCEP): The specific direction of current flow through a welding circuit
when the electrode lead is connected to a positive terminal and the work lead is connected to a negative
terminal to a DC welding machine.
Distortion: The warpage of a metal due to the internal residual stresses remaining after welding from metal
expansion (during heating), and contraction (during cooling).
Duty Cycle: The number of minutes out of a 10-minute time period an arc welding machine can be operated
at maximum rated output. An example would be 60% duty cycle at 300 amps. This would mean that
at 300 amps the welding machine can be used for 6 minutes and then must be allowed to cool with the fan
motor running for 4 minutes. (Some imported welding machines are based on a 5-minute cycle).
Edge Joint: A joint that occurs when the surfaces of the two pieces of metal to be joined are parallel or
nearly parallel, and the weld is made along their edges.
Electrode Extension: While welding, the length of electrode extending beyond the end of the gas cup.
Also referred to as electrical stickout.
Electron: A very small atomic particle which carries a negative electrical charge. Electrons can move from
one place to another in atomic structures. It is electrons that move when electrical current flows in an
Excessive Melt-Through: A weld defect occurring in a weld joint when weld metal no longer fuses the
base metals being joined. Rather, the weld metal falls through the weld joint or “burns through”. Also
referred to as excess penetration.
Face: The surface of the weld as seen from the side of the joint on which the weld was made.
Face Rotation: Can be thought of as an imaginary line from the axis of the weld through the center of the
welds face. This face rotation angle along with the axis angle determine the actual welding position. Face
rotation is measured in a clockwise direction starting from the 6 o’clock position. A weld with the face rotation
at 12 o’clock would have the face rotation at 180o.
Ferrous: Refers to a metal that contains primarily iron, such as steel, stainless steel and cast iron.
Filler Metal: The metal added when making a welded, brazed, or soldered joint.
Fillet Weld: A weld that is used to join base metal surfaces that are approximately 90o to each other, as
used on T-joint, corner joint or lap joint. The cross sectional shape of a fillet weld is approximately triangular.
Fit-Up: Often used to refer to the manner in which two members are brought together to be welded, such
as the actual space or any clearance or alignment between two members to be welded. Proper fit-up is
important if a good weld is to be made. Tacking, clamping or fixturing is often done to ensure proper fit-up.
Where it applies, base metal must be beveled correctly and consistently. Also, any root openings or joint
angles must be consistent for the entire length of a joint. An example of poor fit-up can be too large of a
root opening in a V-groove butt weld.
Flat Position: When welding is done from the top side of a joint, it is in the flat position if the face of the
weld is approximately horizontal. Sometimes referred to as downhand welding. The axis angle can be from
0o–15o in either direction from a horizontal surface. Face rotation can be from 150o – 210o.
Freeze Lines: The lines formed across a weld bead.They are the result of the weld pool freezing. In appearance
they sometimes look as if one tiny weld was continuously laid upon another.
Groove Angle: When a groove is made between two materials to be joined together, the groove angle
represents the total size of the angle between the two beveled edges and denotes the amount of material
that is to be removed.
Ground Connection: A safety connection from a welding machine frame to the earth. Often used for
grounding an engine driven welding machine where a cable is connected from a ground stud on the welding
machine to a metal stake placed in the ground. See Work Connection for the difference between work
connection and ground connection.
Ground Lead: When referring to the connection from the welding machine to the work, see preferred
term Work Lead.
Heat Affected Zone (HAZ): The portion of a weldment that has not melted, but has changed due to the
heat of welding. The HAZ is between the weld deposit and the unaffected base metal. The physical makeup
or mechanical properties of this zone are different after welding.
Heat Sink: A good weld needs a certain amount of base metal to absorb the high heat input from the
welding arc area. The more base metal, or the thicker the base metal, the better heat sink effect. If this
heat sink is not present, too much heat will stay in the weld area, and defects can occur.
Horizontal Position: Occurs when the axis of the weld is from 0o–15o from the horizontal, and the face
rotation is from either 80o –150o or 210o – 280o for groove welds, or from either 125o –150o or 210o–
235o for fillet welds.
Included Groove Angle: See preferred term Groove Angle.
Incomplete Fusion: Molten filler metal rolling over a weld edge but failing to fuse to the base metal. Also
referred to as cold lap.
Inverter: Power source which increases the frequency of the incoming primary power, thus providing for a
smaller size machine and improved electrical characteristics for welding, such as faster response time and
more control for waveshaping and pulse welding.
Joint Design: A cross-sectional design and the given measurements for a particular weld. Generally
includes included angles, root opening, root face, etc.
Joint Root: That part of a joint that comes closes together where the weld is to be made. This maybe an
area of the joint or just a line or point of that joint.
Lap Joint: A joint that is produced when two or more members of a weldment overlap one another.
Load Voltage: Measured at the output terminals of a welding machine while a welder is welding. It
includes the arc voltage (measured while welding), and the voltage drop through connections and weld
Open Circuit Voltage (OCV): As the name implies, no current is flowing in the circuit because the circuit
is open. The voltage is impressed upon the circuit, however, so that when the circuit is completed, the current
will flow immediately. For example, a welding machine that is turned on but not being used for welding
at the moment will have an open circuit voltage applied to the cables attached to the output terminals
of the welding machine
Output Control: An electrical switch that is used to energize or de-energize output terminals of a welding
machine. In some types of welding machines they can be of solid state design, with no moving parts and
thus no arcing of contact points.
Overhead Position: When the axis angle is from 0o – 80o and the face rotation is from 0o – 80o or 280o–
360o for groove welds or from 0o – 125o or 235o – 360o for fillet welds, the weld position is considered to
be in the overhead position.
Parameters: The welding settings on a welding machine such as voltage and amperage, normally read
on a volt meter and an amp meter. It may also include things as travel speed, electrode size, torch angle,
electrode extension and weld joint position and preparation.
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