Welding Aluminum With a Stick Welder? Part 2
Yes, of course aluminum stick welding is possible, but the speed at which you move is something that you will have to practice over and over to get the best result. Although similarities may exist between steel and aluminum stick welding, there are also differences that are best experienced rather than described.
To me, it’s more like trying to shake water out of the end of a water hose. The aluminum wets in quite quick and it doesn’t change color. You only notice that the puddle is shiny and not dull. Practice is the key but, it can be painfully expensive to master.
The bead left behind can be truly beautiful or truly pitiful, depending upon the skill level of the person doing the level…more so that other welding rods. If you have never welded before, it would definitely be out of the question to try to make your first weld with an aluminum welding rod. As with any weld, cleanliness is key. But with aluminum welding, particularly with the stick welding process, it is top priority.
You simply can’t weld aluminum unless the inherent oxide layer has been thoroughly removed. The slag left from the weld process is difficult to remove but can be cleaned up with a brush and an acid recommended by the manufacturer of the welding rod. It doesn’t have the highest quality, most porosity free weld either. So, ordinarily, you wouldn’t choose stick welding for a daily manufacturing process.
It’s a great rod to have to repair a broken casting on housing or to repair something until another process can be brought in to complete the job. But for every generality, there is the exception. I have known of times when a long term repair was made satisfactorily and completely with this process. Don’t rule out using it, certainly when buying a whole TIG welder or MIG welder is the alternative that you are faced with to complete the job.