Mig Welding Lesson - Watch your Stickout and get the best ground possible or suffer

A mig welding lesson on the importance of having a good ground and a short stickout.


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Stick-out is the distance between the contact tip and the arc. For short circuit mig welding, the stickout needs to be about 1/2" or less.

Thats tough to maintain if your contact tip is already recessed 1/4" or so back in the nozzle.

If that's the way your mig gun looks, I would recommend buying a shorter nozzle, longer contact tip, or as a last resort, trim the nozzle so that the contact tip is pretty close to flush...not below flush. I say last resort, but its no big deal really. If the mig welder is not running right, I wont hesitate to hacksaw a mig nozzle to make the stick-out right.

Aside from getting the voltage and wire speed balanced, Stick-out is the biggest bang for the buck when it comes to making a mig welder run better.

A really good ground is second.

A good ground lets you adjust the machine with confidence instead of chasing your tail thinking your wire speed is jacked up when all along it was a poor ground.

A good ground means a ground that is not interrupted.

Sometimes that means clamping the ground directly to the part being welded.

At the very least, the ground clamp should be clamped on an area of the welding table that has been ground shiny......free from any paint, rust, or hot rolled mill scale oxidation.

Todays video shows an intermittent ground. A mig welding arc that is running pretty well but sputters here and there. Sound familiar?

It also shows how a long stick out can exaggerate the effects of a poor ground.

A short stick-out covers a multitude of sins.

Summary of this short mig welding lesson:

* Set the voltage and wire speed to achieve a smooth almost spatter free bead that sounds kind of like bacon frying

* make sure the contact tip is flush or slightly protruding past the tip of the mig welding nozzle...if you have to , trim the nozzle .

* get a good ground either by grinding an area for the ground clamp, using braided copper wire, or a rigid ground clamp.

* maintain a stickout of 1/2" or less


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