Stick Welding Stainless Steel


Stick welding


Stick welding which is the simplist form of electric arc welding. The most common metal joined is mild steel but it is possible to stick weld stainless. The electrodes are put into a holder and this holder is connected to a high amp low voltage power source. A ground clamp is connect to the workpiece and an electric circuit is completed when the stick electrode comes near the workpiece and strikes an arc. The arc melts the end of the rod instantly flowing into the joint to be welded. Stick welding is for welding metal 1/8″ and thicker.

Whats needed

supplies for stick welding stainlessAside from the obvious a welding power supply, you are going to need a few items to stick weld stainless steel. You will need a welding helpmet with shade 10 or darker welding lens, leather welding gloves, some stainless steel, an angle grinder or other powered cutting tool to cut the metal and of coarse some stainless steel electrodes. The stainless steel alloy I am welding here is 304 and I am using 308L which means it is low carbon alloy. The 308 rod is the most common for welding stainless steel to stainless steel.


The power source I use

Longevity StickweldThe power source I chose to stickweld stainless steel was a Longevity Stickweld 140 amp welding machine. It is powered by the latest state of the art inverter technology making for a powerful welder that has a low weight. The output is DC only but that is perfect when welding stainless steel. To add to its verstality, the welder can be powered from either standard house current of 120 volts or it can be used on a 220 volt circuit. Keep in mind that if you decide to use 120 volt input, you willl only be able to draw 100 amp max.


Getting ready to weld

Workpieces held in placeAs you can see, I have the 4 pieces I will be welding into a square frame and I set a heavy steel bar to hold them in place until I can get them tack welded together. A clamp would have been better, I just grabbed something close by.


Laying down a bead

welded piece of 304Well, after I have all the connection made to the welding power sources, and I have the work to be welded secured, It was time to strike an arc and lay down a bead. Since my stainless steel was only 1/8″ thick and I was using 3/32″ welding rods, I started at a modest DC current of 75 amps Electrode positve. I must say the stainless rod was quite and had very little spaetter. Perhaps the most astonishing aspect of the whole experience was the flux. Some of the flux literally JUMPED off the weld when it cooled! There really must have been a major difference in the coefficient of expansion between the welding alloy and the flux coating. The rest came off with great ease. These rods where of great design.


Stick welding stainless steel to other steel alloys

I was making some art from some left over 304 stainless 1/4″ square bar. At first, I did not know what to make, then a vision came as I recalled something I seen a year ago. I saw graffiti with a line drawing of an eye. The caption usually wouls say “eye of truth”. i reflected both on the novel simple drawing and the powerfull message. Once I was bending the stainless rod by hand I decide to make my own version of the eye of truth.

The welding rods featured here are stainless steel easy all steel rods made by Forney. These are 1/8″ rods rated for 60-110 amps of current and functional on both AC/ and DC welders. These are great for joining stainless to mild steel. This will be especially handy when welding mounting hardware to stainless wall art.


Results of specialty stainless rods

I was welding the square 304 stainless bars with a DC current of 75 amps and that was sufficient for the 308L rods. When I switched to the 312 rods that was not the case. I went to 85 amps and the rods worked a little better but still getting stuck. Finally, I moved to 95 amps and had a little better luck. Not exactly easy to strike the arc. In fact, they are somewhat like using 7018 steel rods. Nonethe less I got the welds featured in the picture here. Not bad for a second attempt. I suspect it is a alloy high in nickel as it came out shiny. The flux was even more unstable on cooling. The second weld on the bottom, when cooled a little, had the flux leap off and strike me between the eyes. I sustained no injury but was startled a little bit. I am happy I have a way to join stainless steel to other steel alloys.

The Completed Project
The steel to stainless welded project shown above resulted in the completed work titled “Eye of Horus“.  The mild steel “eye” is mounted and welded within the 304 stainless steel frame.  This in turn is mounted on a predrilled poplar board painted with a deep and lush faux distressed gilded finish.

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