Whether you’re planning to weld aluminum for your DIY project or a professional tool, welding aluminum can be a daunting job. Aluminum comes covered with aluminum oxide; it forms when you expose the bare metal to oxygen. Aluminum oxide melts at 2000° C, whereas the aluminum itself will melt at only 660° C! This unmatched temperature point makes it hard to weld aluminum even for the experts in the welding world.
If you have a stick welder, it won’t be too hard to learn to weld aluminum if you can use it properly. Welding aluminum with a DC stick welder will surprise you in a good way and give you some nice looking joints. If you want to know how to weld aluminum with a stick welder and land a nice bead, stick to the article and learn the process.
What kind of welder do I need to weld aluminum?
Welding aluminum comes a bit difficult than other metals as it’s more sensitive to heat and requires a more sophisticated process. You can weld aluminum with different welding methods that can produce the right heat, voltage, and controlled penetration on aluminum. If you’re a complete beginner to the welding, aluminum can be a tough start for you.
But you can try and pull it off if you use a welder with a feeding wire that can take it gas for shielding the molten puddle. Aluminum works best if you use 100% Argon gas to protect it from oxidation. Ensure the machine you’re using has the current setup for DCEP, which is necessary for welding aluminum.
Advantages Of Stick Welding
SMAW (Shielded Metal Arc Welding), also called the Stick Welding, has some pretty good advantages that can impress you. It uses a stick with a flux coat on its body to protect the joint’s molten metal puddle. Here are the main advantages of using stick welding as the most popular welding method:
- Stick welding comes in handy to weld even when it’s windy while working outdoors or even raining.
- The equipment you need for stick welding isn’t that expensive as some other welding methods.
- Stick welding doesn’t need any shielding gas to protect the puddle, saving you both on money and hassle.
- You don’t have to worry much about paint, rust, corrosion, dust, or dirt on the metal with the stick welding method.
- You can change electrodes quickly for different metals and attach the ground clamp far away from the joint.
How to weld aluminum with a stick welder?
Stick welding aluminum could be the hardest thing to do if you have spent time on welding different types of metals. However, it’s impossible, and here is an easy guide on how to weld aluminum with a stick welder, the easiest way possible:
Get on the safety gear
Before you can do any type of welding job, you must make sure you have the right safety gear. Put on a pair of welding gloves, a pair of still-toed shoes, a welding helmet, and a good earplug to protect your ears. For the apparel, you have to put on a jacket with full sleeves on, full-length pants. Ensure that all the protective equipment are flame-resistant and don’t catch on fire if sparklers come forward.
Get things ready
It’s not enough to only get your safety equipment on; you also have to prepare the metal and the welding place properly. First, you need to clean the aluminum you’re planning to weld if they have any dust, dirt, or anything that can harm the weld. For the welding place, choose a table with a metal top, it will help you big as you’re doing stick welding. Stick welding needs a ground clamp to attach to the welding piece; you can attach the clamp on the metal top.
Set the right current setting
Stick welding requires DCEP reverse polarity current setting to do the welding on aluminum. For the ampere, you can go with 120 amps to get a decent quality of welding on the joint. With this current setting, you will get a well-controlled penetration on the metal. Welding aluminum with the stick welder is already a tough job, so you have to be very sure about the current setting. Only the right current setting can help you land the best possible weld on the aluminum.
Preheat the base metal
Another thing to keep in mind is to preheat the base metal before you start to weld the aluminum. You can preheat the meal with an oxy-acetylene torch with soot on the piece of aluminum. A good point of getting the temperature is about 400° to make it prepared for the job. You want to use a carburizing type fume; it will look more black with soot to it.
Prepare the electrode stick
With the stick welding method, you will use a stick that comes covered with flux all around, including the tip of the stick. You have to chip off the flux from the tip of the stick a little, exposing the bare metal sick. It will make contact with the pieces and make the penetration you need, and the flux will protect the weld from oxidation. After making a stroke, you may find the flux covering the bare metal again. If that happens, you have to chip off the tip whenever you make a stroke on the metal.
Weld correctly and chip off
Once you have all the settings, you can start welding the pieces together, it will make spatters, and that’s fine. You want to be super precise about the weld here because aluminum is sensitive to heat and requires short arches. The weld will consume the electrode quickly and build a pretty thick layer of slag for you. You will find it hard to keep steady on the joint as you go forward with the electrode. After landing the weld, wait for the joint to cool down to get rid of the slag built up. You can easily chip the slag off once it cools down; use a chipping hammer and a brass brush for the job.
Frequently asked questions
Here are the most frequently asked questions about stick welding and welding aluminum that you should know about:
Is stick welding easy?
Stick welding is the oldest and easiest welding method ever as it has the least requirement for knowing how welding works. You can also use it outdoors in a windy or rainy situation.
Can you weld aluminum to steel?
Yes, you can weld aluminum to steel, the aluminum will get galvanic corrosion in that case. Don’t forget to isolate the joint with a coating or paint to protect the joint from getting weaker.
Is it possible to stick weld aluminum?
Although it’s not the best way to do the job, you can still weld aluminum with a stick welder. You will have to use the DCEP current setting for welding aluminum with a Stick welder.
Aluminum is one of the most sophisticated metals to the welders as it requires a controlled heat penetration on the joint. Welding aluminum with the stick welding method is not the ideal way of doing it. However, it’s not impossible to pull it; in fact, it has some fairly easy steps to understand the process.
You can rely on stick welding just fine if you have a small weld to do or need to make a temporary weld. Welding aluminum isn’t too hard to master if you’re using the right tools to weld the pieces. As you now know how to weld aluminum with a stick welder, you can easily pull a welding job with your existing stick welder.