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Find a Welding Job with Overhead Stick Welding

When it comes to learning a practical welding skill that you can carry into the job market, stick welding is a great process where you can start learning with minimal investment. Stick welding machines, at least the basic ones, are relatively inexpensive and you don't need shielding gas. Just grab some electrodes, a chipping hammer, and some safety gear, and you’ll be ready to get started.

One of the welding skills you'll need to practice in order to make yourself employable will be welding overhead. Stick welding overhead with 7018 electrodes will be especially important for any structural projects. While some welders suggest making a first pass with a fast-freeze 6010 electrode, structural welds will almost always be done with a 7018, and therefore it will be especially important to practice with it if you want to hit the market for a welding job.

Which Power is Best for Overhead Stick Welding?

While basic stick welders offer AC power, a stick welding machine with a DC option will make overhead and vertical welding much easier. DC power makes it easier to strike an arc as well, and many welders who purchase a machine with the DC option never go back to an AC-only machine.

How to Move the Electrode for Overhead Stick Welding

You’ll want to use the drag or backhand technique for overhead stick welding, moving the electrode toward yourself. This enables you to make sure you keep your bead right on target in the joint while you weld. More importantly, this also ensures that sparks aren’t dropping on your arms and down your shirt!

Line Up Your Passes

When you have an overhead fillet weld, you need to line up each new bead along the edge of a previous pass. This is where you need to pay attention to the position of your electrode while welding or you’ll end up with a big bump or crown on your weld that’s just a pile of melted metal rather than a weld that has good penetration into the metal.

When it’s time for the final pass on your overhead weld, move a little slower along the weld bead.

Run the Welder with Enough Amps

Running a welder too hot may create too wide a puddle and distort your metal work piece, but running too low will cause all kinds of issues with your arc and leave you with a weak weld. Even adding 5 extra amps can make a huge difference in the ease of welding and the quality of your finished work. Experiment with the settings on your welder, keeping in mind that different brands of electrodes may require slight tweaks to your settings in order to burn them hot enough.

Stick Weld Overhead with a Tight Arc

If you have enough power running for your overhead stick weld, you’ll be in good shape to keep a tight arc while you weld. The key will be to focus on keeping it tight. As you grow tired, you may begin to wander. Many weld defects and welding struggles can be traced back to keeping your arc tight enough with the metal. 

Maintain a Minimal Rod Angle While Stick Welding

Keep a travel angle that is either straight in or about 5 degrees. Extreme rod angle will only create a wide weld bead and creates a messy crown on the top of the weld. A straight-in rod angle makes a flat weld that achieves plenty of penetration. In addition, if you weld with too much of an angle, you could obstruct your view of the weld.

Practice Propping While Stick Welding

When you’re welding overhead with a stick welder, your hand that's holding the torch may grow weary after making a bunch of passes. In addition, you need to focus on keeping a tight arc while the rod burns down. A good prop helps you manage your torch angle, travel speed, and arc length.

Ed Cyzewski


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