So let's talk about the SMAW process of welding. SMAW, also commonly known as "stick" welding, is one of the most portable and wide spread ways of welding. It is a manual arc welding process that uses a consumable electrode coated in flux to lay the weld. You can use either direct current or alternating current for this welding process. To get the arc started between the electrode and the base metal you put your electrode into your electrode holder, which is connected to your power supply, and slightly scratch the electrode on the base metal. As you are laying the weld the flux will turn into vapors that protect the weld pool from atmospheric contamination. A layer of slag will also form on top of the weld to protect it while it is in the molten stage.
In my experience with welding SMAW is the easiest to get started with, but one of the hardest to prefect. There are a lot of starts and stops with this process because you are using a consumable electrode. Tying into the starts and stops is a little difficult at first, but it is very important in this process. I've found that if you start a little in front of where you stopped and work back into the weld you get a better tie in. This helps prevent a cold start and possible defects in your weld.
The process is used primarily to weld iron and steels (including stainless steel) but aluminum, nickel and copper alloys can also be welded with this method.
That pretty much covers the basics of SMAW. If anyone has anything to add please leave a comment and we can talk about it. The next blog will be on the Mig process. I will include both FCAW and solid wire in the blog.