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Welding is simply taking two or more base metals and joining them together. They can be joined by various methods, but various forms of ARC welding are the most common. Sometimes a filler metal is used and sometimes welding is done without a filler metal.

What Are The Main Types of ARC Welding?

Stick (SMAW – Shielded Metal ARC Welding)

This is a flux coated metal rod where the rod and flux are melted into a puddle by the heat of the ARC. The flux provides shielding from the atmosphere and also helps deal with contaminants.

MIG (GMAW – Gas Metal ARC Welding)

This is a solid wire fed by a motor where a continuous ARC is made and the heat from the ARC melts the wire and forms a puddle. A shielding gas provides protection from the atmosphere.

Flux core (FCAW – Flux Core ARC Welding)

This is similar to MIG welding but the wire is a continuous wire tube with flux in the middle. The wire and flux melt and the flux provide the shielding from the atmosphere.

TIG (GTAW – Gas Tungsten ARC Welding)

This is significantly different where the ARC occurs between the base metal and tungsten electrode and filler metal is fed into the puddle by hand. A shielding gas provides protection from the atmosphere.

If you need to weld outdoors.

Usually Stick welding is used since its more portable and the wind won’t blow the shielding gas away.

Sometimes Flux core welding is also used as shielding gas does not have to be moved around and wind does not affect it as much as MIG welding.

If you have long welds to make indoors.

The preferred method is usually MIG welding but requires the base metals to be fairly clean.

If you need to weld on a lot of different base metals.

Stick welding is usually preferred as its quick and easy to change out the stick electrode and go from welding stainless steel, to mild steel or whatever the need may be.

If you want to weld on aluminum.

Most will prefer MIG welding with a spool gun and some will prefer TIG welding. MIG welding is faster but TIG welding can be more precise and provide higher quality welds.

How do I choose a stick electrode?

Each stick electrode has certain characteristics that make it better for certain situations.

For mild steel and carbon steel:

  • E6011 is a fairly common, deep penetrating rod that works well for most steel applications but may not provide the best looking weld.
  • E6013 is a rod designed for welding in almost any position and is easy to strike and maintain an arc.
  • E7014 is an easy to strike rod and provides a nice looking weld. A good rod for beginners. This rod is best for welding in a flat position.
  • E7018 is a more difficult rod to strike an arc but can produce very high quality welds for more critical or structural welds.