The basic but valuable welding skills learned in stick welding. Part 2

In stick welding, there are multiple critical things that are going on at the same time that you eventually learn to pay attention to without thinking twice about it.  But at first it may be like patting your head and rubbing your stomach if you are not coordinated or not used to doing several different things involving manipulation and concentration at the same.  It’s not something to be concerned about though, as practice will eventually help bring all these things into focus at the same time and it will become second nature.   Another major component of stick welding (and any welding process) is arc length. Arc length is the distance between the tip of the electrode and the weld pool or metal being welded.

Arc length in Stick and TIG mode controls the voltage value.  Voltage value is a component of wattage which controls the welding heat generated.  While amperage is pretty well controlled by the circuitry, voltage is a variable that fluctuates while welding due to changes in arc length.  The goal is to keep the arc length stable as possible. In most cases with rutile or metal powder fluxes, it is best to keep the rod flux in contact with the metal dragging it along.

The metal will burn at a rate which allows the edge of the flux to provide the proper amount of standoff from the metal.   For cellulose based fluxes such as those found in E-6010 and E6011, arc length is constantly changing due to the way the rod is manipulated.   If the arc length becomes too long there will be a lot more spatter and porosity and inclusions in the weld.  If it is too short, the arc will snuff and the rod will likely stick to the metal.  Controlling the arc length is important to maintaining the proper amount of heat to keep the metal melting at a steady rate and maintaining the proper weld puddle size.