Practicing Stainless welds with a stick welder - Part 1
It may come as a surprise to many people that are interested in a TIG welder for welding stainless, that stick welding is a common way that stainless is welded. In fact, in the field where stainless is subjected to the elements, and where welding conditions are not favorable, stick is the only real choice. It is also used to weld stainless where thick weldments are being employed, speeding up the process. However, stick welding stainless is not something for a beginner. It’s not that it requires any different skills as far as manipulation or basic technique, but it does have different melting and flow characteristics. When welding stainless in stick, keep in mind that heat management is key.
Stainless welding rods use a heavy flux, very similar to a 6013 in thickness, but exhibit a more “drippy” characteristic, and can flow off before the metal is covered and protected from oxygen if it is too hot. It can drip down when welding overhead and cause severe and unexpected burns. Therefore, this is one of the reasons stainless rods typically require a lower operating temperature than any steel counterpart.
Another reason is that heat builds more rapidly in stainless. If you are not careful, the stainless rod will overheat about halfway up and begin to flow out like water, and will be about as difficult to control as water, particularly out of position. The whole rod may be white hot by the midway point. Following the manufacturer’s directions for amp range with stainless rods is critical as it varies between brands. The sweet spot with stainless steel may only be only a variation of 1 or 2 amps as well between being too cold or too hot, even though the manufacturer’s statement may be as wide as 20 amps.