Stick Welding is a versatile process, but may not be the best choice for certain applications. Here are some stick welding pros and cons based on our teams opinion.
Stick Welding Pros And Cons
Messier– Stick Welding tends to be messier than TIG or MIG, and the arc of a stick weld produces a lot of sparks. Welding with stick indoors or in tight tight spaces can cause more of a fire hazard than other processes would.
Slag– Another issue is that all stick welds produce slag, which is a byproduct of the gas that the electrode produces to shield the arc from the elements. After you complete a weld, you must remove the hot slag from the weld. This is often done with a chipping hammer, wire brush or a wire wheel. The fallen slag can also be a fire hazard, and requires cleanup.
Burn Through– Stick welding can also be tough on thinner metals like sheet metals. The electrode is prone to burning through these thin metals pretty easily. Smaller diameter stick electrodes like a 1/16” can be productive on thin steel, but these rods are harder to manipulate, especially for beginners.
Electrode Replacement– When stick welding on larger projects, the welder has to replace the electrodes quite often. A standard 14” long electrode can only weld so far before another is needed. This causes a need to cleanup your used electrodes – whereas a contained spool of MIG wire can last for multiple weeks or multiple projects.
Moisture- Cellulose rods ie. 6010 rods are quite resistant to moisture, but low hydrogen rods ie. 7018 can be ruined if they get damp. Most welding inspectors on job sites will require these rods to stay in a controlled rod oven until they are used. If you are a hobbyist buying your first stick electrodes, it is best to start with a small box since they don’t last a long time.
Built In Gas– One of the convenient things about stick welding is that you don’t need a cylinder of gas. The electrodes flux produces its own gas to shield the arc. This makes stick welding ideal for mobile welders and ironworkers, because they don’t have to lug a cylinder around when they want to perform a weld.
Versatility In Options– There are many types of electrodes for different metals and different jobs. A welder can carry different rods on hand- stainless, nickel etc.. and they will be prepared for a wide variety of tasks. The same stinger/electrode holder can provide current for dozens of rod types.
Less Fluff– One benefit of stick welding is that there isn’t as much equipment needed to start as opposed to TIG or MIG. A machine, ground lead, and stinger lead are the main equipment components. Grab a box of your favorite rods and you’re ready to weld.
Quick Setup– Another benefit of of stick welding is less setup time. If a mobile welder needs to show up and make a quick weld, they don’t have to do much to get started. There is no need to mess with any gas flow, gas hoses, MIG wire speed, or TIG tungsten prep.
Minimal Metal Prep– You can also weld over heavy mill scale with some stick rods – rust, grease, even light paint. Rods like the 6010 can dig through rust and nasty coatings with no issues. This makes it ideal for performing welds on older metal, with minimal prep time involved.
Welding Outside– This Process is also very resistant to the elements. Stick welders can work in the snow, light rain, and heavy wind without having to worry about compromising the quality of their welds. Stick welding is the ultimate process for welders that always have to be outside, sometimes in adverse conditions.
For a general overview of Stick welding, you can read more here.