What am I talking about? because mig, tig, flux core, and stick welding are all technically forms of arc welding.
But when the term "arc welding" is used by welders it usually refers to stick welding. Also known by its proper name shielded metal arc welding (SMAW) or... and outside the USA also known as Manual Metal Arc welding (MMA)
Since most of my work is done inside a nice shop, I tend to forget about stick/arc welding.
Its pretty rare when I need to stick weld something. But there are times when it just works better.
One good example of when stick welding works better than mig, or tig, is when the weld joint is not accessible using a mig gun or tig torch.
In this video, I set up a pretty common situation where 2 plates are positions only about an inch apart but need to be welded on both sides.
A mig gun just wont fit. and a tig nozzle wont either unless I used one of those really long tig cups. That would work but I would need to clean the metal better and it would take a very long time.
A stick rod is long and skinny and is able to reach the weld joint with no problem.
For this video, I wanted to show a few other tips too so I used an A/C buzz box known as a tombstone welder made by lincoln electric. These can be had easily for less than 200 bones on craigslist.com here in the USA and I have also seen the AC DC version for around 200-250 dollars used.
Because I am using an AC stick welder, I bought some rods that are designed to be used on AC alternating current. (not all rods run on AC)
I bought some Hobart 6011 1/8" rods that are made for buzz box welders but run good on AC or DC, and I also bought some 7018 AC rods. You may not have known it, but regular 7018 rods are not made for AC. Some machines like the miller syncrowave 250 will burn a regular 7018 on AC current with no problems because of the squarewave feature, but this little Lincoln tombstone will stutter using a regular 7018 so I bought 7018 AC 3/32" rods specifically made for Alternating current.
I would have rather had 1/8" rods but the store was sold out of 7018 ac 1/8"
I figured for this video, the 3/32" rods would do fine.
I intentionally left the steel plate rusty because rusty or dirty metal is another situation where stick welding is better. For welding over light rust or scale or oil or grease, stick welding rules over mig or tig or even flux core.
Now I am not saying you dont ever need to clean your metal when you are stick welding. Clean bright metal welds better and for tig, it makes a huge difference, But lets face it, there are times when it is just not practical or even possible to have bright shiny metal to weld on.
I welded a stand for a bender a few months ago and someone had tack welded a mounting plate to the square tubing stand leaving all kinds of pits, porosity, and even holes in the metal.
It wasnt worth it to me to cut it back off, grind all the bad weld out and start over. Plus, I wanted to show how forgiving stick welding is. So.. I stick welded it using 1/8" 7018 rods at round 140 amps and it turned out just fine for what it was.
Sometimes "good enough" really is good enough.... and sometimes "good enough" is actually better.
Alright, back to some talking points on today's video
For tight areas where you cant reach with a mig torch, dont forget old school stick welding
for dirty or rusty metal, stick welding works better
if you are using a AC welder, make sure to use rods made for AC, ( like 6011, 6013, 7024, 7018AC)
A 1/8" 6011 will run pretty good at roughly the same amperage as a 3/32" 7018.
7018 makes a smoother weld, but 6011 digs and penetrates more.
For a job like this in the flat or horizontal position using an AC machine, a 7024 would have been a great choice