Vertical Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW) is a welding method that is increasing in popularity. Mostly owed to a recovering economy and a shortage of skilled welders due to an aging workforce. Increasing demand for skilled welders with the skills to deliver quality welds opens up opportunities for welding students just starting their careers.
The SMAW process is often favored over the GMAW (also known as MIG) welding method for these applications due to the extra thick structural base materials used. In addition, the simplicity of the SMAW machine is more effective. For example, a long lead from the machine to the welding location may be required by the operator. In such instances, MIG machines will clearly not be adequate.
Below are 7 helpful vertical stick welding suggestions that you should find useful. Follow some of these strategies and see if your welding efficiency is increased.
Pick the Best Electrode for the Job
The right electrode for your welding application is always crucial. But particularly important for vertical orientation welding. 7018, 7024 and 6010 electrodes can all seem like good candidates, but you should use the 7018 for common steel plate welding.
6010 rods involve and require more skill than 7018 when welding vertically. Yet 7024 rods will not have the same puddle forming characteristics as 7018’s. We suggest using 7018 electrodes for vertical SMAW welding.
Welding Lenses Save You Money Down the Road
Amongst the three major arc welding systems (Stick, MIG, and TIG), shielded arc welding (stick) will have the most splatter and slag projected in all directions. It’s especially bad when welding vertically. With, often, sparks in positions they may not have ever seen.
Because of the splatter stick welding created, having high-quality protective gear on is always advised. Write more about it here.
Like all welding methods, sight of the weld puddle is key. Be sure to have extra welding shades in your toolbag. About $3 a piece, this welding necessity is always good to have in your back pocket, ensuring your puddle is always in sight. Not getting them may simply undermine your weld efficiency and overall quality.
After a while, welding vertically will cause your lenses to become dirty. Better to swap out a $3 lens than a $75 welding helmet.
Auto-Darkening Welding Helmet are Great
Welders who routinely use SMAW can use either standard welding helmets or an auto-darkening device. Most welders prefer a simple conventional welding helmet It should be noted that more welders are switching to auto-darkening equipment for more convenient uses.
Auto-darkening welding helmets have front-facing, ultra-sensitive detectors. Once the welding arc begins, the auto-dark system darkens the window of the helmet in milliseconds. What’s more, several auto-darkening welding helmets have built-in adjustable welding shades built into the base builds. The welder may want to change the shade to the darkest position due to arc strength and brightness for SMAW welding.
It, of course, depends on how high the amperage is/ will need to be, to produce the proper weld for your desired metals thickness.
Though there is no better replacement for quality skills, in the case of welding, good gear often (more so than other trades) results in higher quality results. The versatility of the auto-darkening helmet helps you to concentrate more on your welds.
Quality Boots are Often Overlooked
Mainly your steel-toed boots are there to shield your feet from falling objects. Which could mean falling heavy steel while welding. Most occasions, SMAW welders are on their feet during the entire weld process. Clearly, investing as much as your budget would allow to get high-quality work boots with good insoles is well worth it.
High-performance boots come with functionalites such as linings to wick away sweat. Professional boots are made of quality leather materials and do a good job protecting your feet from run away sparks and metal shavings. But many boots overlook the support a good insole provides. A few extra dollars to give your feet a break will be worth every penny; trust us.
Protect Yourself from Sparks
You may ask yourself, “What’s that burning smell?”Yes, you should immediately stop welding and evaluate your surroundings. Every once in awhile, it might turn out to be your own hair that was burning. Not only is this bad for your hair, but it may also have damaged your skin!
It may sound obvious but you might be surprised how many people are burned as a result of unsafe welding practices. You really should consider wearing headwear when welding. Particularly when welding vertically. Protective headwear will vary from $10 for a plain cotton head covering to $80 for an extremely durable hood to protect your noggin.
For vertical or overhead welding it’s dangerous not to use quality head and body coverings. Welding spatter from a high-up vertical or overhead welding position must be shielded away or you’re at risk of serious injuries. The stronger the headcover, the fewer burns you’ll suffer.
Relax and Drink Plenty of Water
SMAW welders all recognize how hot their working conditions can get. Standing around liquid metal and hot steel for a short period of time whilst wearing protective equipment will test the body’s ability to stay cool.
When applying these temperature variables to other conditions, such as a hot day or welding indoors, heat can become a major health threat.
If your body gets overheated (besides the obvious health risks), the weld quality will suffer significantly. If dehydrated and overheated, it is possible your hands will start shaking. And you could lose the ability to concentrate on the weld puddle.
Consult OSHA guidelines about up-to-date information on extreme temperatures when operating welding equipment.
Worldwide, a growing number of welders resort to video tutorials posted on YouTube to help them practice or learn new techniques. Independent research seems to validate the argument. Pew Research Center for example found that “how-to” tutorials attract 51% of all U.S.- YouTube users to the platform.
A number of non-profit organizations like the Khan Academy provide access to a vast catalog of content on almost every subject you can think of
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