Step 19: Make Your Own Stick Welder?

A wire feed welder would be too complicated to make at home, but, over the years people have published articles on how you can build your own stick arc welder. A very popular Instructable tells how to make a 120 volt AC arc welder from two microwave transformers. See also my previous Instructable for links to three sets of plans for building an electric arc welder. Here are some instructions on how to use an automobile's alternator to weld for emergency repairs. Another link there has an additional scheme for using your vehicle's alternator for welding. And, if you scroll down, that link also includes some brief instructions for linking multiple car batteries together to weld. This 1980 article from Mother Earth News tells how to make a very portable DC arc welder from an alternator, a deep cycle battery, resistors, and an old lawnmower. This unit produces about 50 amps, and will be limited in what it can weld. There was a time when I was so eager to build one of these, but I never did. Here is a video of a more refined welder built on a lawnmower frame. Despite the 50 amp. output of the Mother Earth News welder, a welder similar to the one in the last link handled 3/32 inch rod fairly well. 

A used welder can be a good buy. Watch estate sales and other auctions, as well as Craigslist for your area. I bought my 230 volt Miller Thunderbolt stick welder on eBay. The photo was muddy-looking and no one else bid on it. The very good auction price became a quite reasonable price after shipping costs were added. It has been a great welder. I bought my Hobart flux core wire feed welder as a factory refurbished unit. No one has much good to say about cheap import welders. Owners are usually soon disappointed.

(The photo is from Google Images.)

Thank you for the link to your channel. I will try to look at those in the near future. Someone said you never really learn welding, but you are always learning.
very good instructable steps for welding. http://www.qd-evergreen.com<br>
<p>i invite to group</p><p><a href="https://www.facebook.com/groups/363638020639384/?fref=ts" rel="nofollow">https://www.facebook.com/groups/363638020639384/?f...</a></p>
<p>Well written, and researched. Simple enough for the uninitiated (your audience) and brilliantly laid out. Darned glad you included plenty of eye protection, UV , and burn protection advice. Welding can be fraught with danger when done wrong.<br><br>Thanks for sharing your experience so myself and others will probably have a much better experience beginning welding than we might have had!</p>
<p>Hi, great post - thank you. I've just bought a stick welder and am trying to learn a bit about what to do before I switch it on! One silly question I've got is about inserting the stick and taking it out again. I assume you have to switch the machine off while doing this, right? It seems obvious, but it's hard to tell from some of the videos I've watched. If you touch the stick (with gloves of course) while the machine is on, is there a risk of electric shock?<br><br>Another unrelated question: my machine has a hotstart button, which lasts for about 1 second before switching back to regular &quot;current&quot; mode. I haven't figured out what this is for and how to use it. As it's only 1 second, do you press the button and then immediately start the arc? It means having the welder immediately within reach while using it, which doesn't seem feasible... ?</p><p>Thanks</p>
HOT START is a feature developed primarily for achieving good wetting at the toe and penetration when first starting a weld. This is almost exclusively intended to eliminate cold roll on highly conductive metals like aluminum. Due to the high conductivity of aluminum, roughly twice the amount of voltage is required to initiate a weld as steel - because aluminum rapidly conducts heat away from the arc, starving the puddle for heat. Hot Start is a short boost in voltage for 0.5-2.0 seconds (average range, often adjustable), which overcomes the conductivity of the metal, resulting in a wet-in and flatter start to your weld bead, rather than a taller, cold-rolled one.<br>It should be noted, that there are techniques which experienced welders employ to ensure a good weld start, without the benefit of hot start. <br>
Welcome to Instructables and thank you for your comment. I have a friend who held the coated electrode flat in the palm of his hand while he placed it into the &quot;stinger&quot; with the machine on. He said it is perfectly safe. I replace electrodes with the machine on, but hold the electrode in my gloved hand. <br><br>I am not familiar with the hot start button. I know a little extra current is sometimes needed to strike the arc without sticking the rod without sticking it. My welder does not have that feature. Once I was welding thin square tubing with 1/16 inch rod. I kept the current low to avoid burning through, but then had a difficult time starting the arc. If I increased the current for an easier arc start, there was a tendency to burn through the metal from too much current. I suspect your hot start button is designed to give you more current for starting the arc, but then quickly reducing the current to lessen the chance of burn through.<br>It is a good feeling the first time you turn on your welder and can join two pieces of metal without screws or rivets.
GMAW and GTAW processes were both originally developed for joining aluminum. Only after the production value of GMAW was realized did it become a popular alternative to SMAW.
<p>Awesome article!</p><p>Here's a question for Phil or anyone in the know. I am hoping to get into hobby welding, just small fix it jobs, perhaps give a couple of creative garden pieces a go... have a small wirefed flux welder, but have been leary to pull the &quot;trigger&quot; as it were. I have an intense fear of things that can put out that kind of electricity and yet, have read many things about safety (my wife sometimes criticizes me for over researching things to death, although here, she is on board). I am fairly confident I can practice and give this a go. Question, for small items, if I have them on a metal welding table, with the ground clamp on the table, like the picture in step 8, and I touch the table, am I susceptible to a shock myself? How does the piece become grounded and not me? Not sure if I am asking this correctly, as I have tried googling the question, but again, with the way I word the request, am not finding the information I seek!</p>
<p>Electricity follows the path of least resistance, and it wants to go to the ground connection. The grounded metal table provides a much easier path than your fairly high resistance flesh and bone. Add to that, the soles on your shoes and a concrete floor are not very good conductors. It is a little like a bird sitting on a power line, as long as the bird does not become part of the circuit, it's body can be charged with thousands of volts without injury. Wear enough clothing to protect you from spatter and from touching very hot metal, and you will be fine, </p><p>Still, a poor ground connection makes it difficult to weld well, if at all. A metal table makes getting a ground easy, but I always like a direct clamped connection to make certain there is frosting on the cake. If there is the least doubt about the quality of the ground connection, have a single conductor from something light and flexible, like even lamp cord, and have an alligator clip on each end. Use that cord to give a little added connection insurance, in case the metal is dirty or not resting firmly connected to the metal table. Yes, lamp cord is too small for a solo grounding cable, but it is enough to give a little supplemental insurance. </p><p>I weld with flux core rather than gas shielded MIG. The welds are not as pretty and there is more mess to clean up. But, flux core works in windy conditions where the shielding gas might be blown away before the weld can cool a little, and flux core wire can dig through dirt and paint better than solid wire with gas shielding. There is one caution. Flux core welders like you get at Harbor Freight usually give you alternating current at the weld. Flux core wire really needs direct current set to the proper polarity to work well. Those inexpensive welders are cheaper because they do not include the cost of rectifying diodes. See if you can find someone in a YouTube video demonstrating your welder and evaluating its performance. Also, brand name flux core wire performs better than no-name economy wire. </p>
hello<br>I cannot find anywhere on my instructible app to ask a question.<br>so I chose you.<br>how can I remove spot welds from my stainless steel kitchen colander without using a drill?<br>the colander has a/an oval pedestal base &amp; food stuffs get caught between the base &amp; colander.<br>my toothbrush works some, however, the bristles then get caught.<br>there are six spot welds..... I want the pedestal gone.<br>No drilling. thank you for your time and any suggestions.
I looked on YouTube to see what I could find. One video removed a piece of automobile sheet metal without harming the piece behind it. The guy in the video used a narrow belt sander powered by compressed air. He ground through the spot weld in the piece he no longer wanted, but without touching the metal behind he wanted to keep.<br><br>https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=hvHiJQL7_9s
<p>awesome Phil!</p><p>thanks!!</p>
Thanks. Avoid the temptation to pick up a piece of steel without tongs or gloves, It is probably hot and will burn you. Have fun and experiment. Practice, practice, practice. Prepare the work well so the welds go deep, and you will probably be fine. I probably should have taken some classes, but now there is a guy who pays me to weld some things for him. With wood you can make little ones out of big ones. With welding you can make big ones out of little ones. As soon as you can, get an auto darkening hood.
I already have it! eheh! bought two years ago and never used :(
<p>Auto-darkening helmets, even those that are solar powered, do contain batteries. In my experience, old batteries are weaker and the lens will be darker in use than it is supposed to be, making it more difficult to see properly while welding. Some helmets are made so the user can easily replace the batteries as needed. For those sealed with batteries inside there are videos and other items on the Internet that show how to open the sealed area and replace the batteries. Some add a battery holder for the more common and easily replaceable AAA or AA batteries rather than the 2025 or 2032 &quot;coin&quot; batteries.</p>
<p>I'm quite sure that my helmet only use &quot;solar&quot; power from the welding spark :-)</p>
<p>Thank You for educating new people! </p>
I am not at all advanced, myself. It is good to help those who are starting. Maybe it will be easier for them than it was the rest of us. Thank you for looking.
thank u sir<br>
Thank you for looking. In part, I share things like this so I can remember everything later when I forget something.
could you post next about to make our own circuits or design our own circuit.(only if you like)
<p>Falstad has a circuit applet anyone can use online. With it you can try various circuits to see how different components change them, and whether they work or not. The applet does not include integrated circuit chips, but regular discrete components. Go to falstad (dot) com/circuit.</p><p>The U.S. Navy has a course on electronics. A 1995 version is available for downloading on-line, and is not difficult to find. There are lots of electronics blogs and pages. Learn about basic circuits, like amplifiers. Combine them with other circuits and adapt them to see what you can do with them. </p><p>I know only a very little about electronics. </p>
thanks for your replying my question
what things are used for gas welding
<p>You need a good torch set with gauges, hose, and tanks. Many an arc welder costs less money to get started. A pair of goggles is sufficient and less costly than the nice self-darkening hoods needed for arc welding.</p>
<p>Thank you for taking the time to post this. I have been welding for about a year plus: self-taught from reading books, talking with real weldors, youtube videos and online articles like this and of course the best practice - actually welding. This is an excellent article. I really liked your heat warping diagram and the way you explained that. I knew there was a better way to approach this problem and I will implement some principles you made clear. I noticed you are in Vancouver - I'm not far, just over the Glenn Jackson Bridge in Portland. Thanks again!</p>
Ben,<br><br>Thank you for your comment. My welding education has been very much like yours. I wanted both to catalog what I had learned for my own record to consult later, and to share it with those who might find it helpful. More welding would certainly help me. But, I do not have unlimited supplies of steel for practice, nor do I have regular projects. <br><br>A few years ago we had purchased our present house not too far from where I-5 and I-205 join together again in the north end of Vancouver. I was attending meetings about four times a year at The Clarion on Airport Way. I rode my bicycle down from our house and got onto the bicycle lanes down the middle of the Glenn-Jackson Bridge. Since we actually moved to Vancouver, an encounter with skin cancer has caused me to cut back on exposure to sunlight and bicycling. <br><br>It might be fun to meet sometime.
This is welding of mild steel. Could you please comment on its quality? Thanks.
<p>I am not qualified to comment. Perhaps some others with more experience can comment more accurately.</p>
<p>Hello every one, I have a welder that gets hot and stop passing current (stop welding) after less than a minute of welding what should I do to fix it ? !!</p>
For starters, I would put an appropriate meter on the cord that pugs into the outlet and check the current draw. How does that compare with the rating on the label? If the actual current draw is considerably higher than the rated current draw, you will need to determine why. At the least something could be frayed and shorting. At the worst the transformer windings could be shorted, and that could require a replacement. Unless the problem is something simple and easy to fix, you probably need to take it to someone who repairs that make.
<p>Ok Phil, once I am home I will try and open it, and try to figure what's the problem with it, maybe as you said it's the transformer winding I think ! <br>Thanks a lot!</p>
<p>if you can check against a working copy of your welder, you can make a precise measurement of the resistance in each winding and compare the two welders. I doubt you can do much other than replace the transformer, if that is truly the problem. What type and make of welder is it?</p>
Invaluable!<br> <br> Found this via your new &quot;<a href="https://www.instructables.com/id/Never-Again-Weld-a-Crooked-Bead/" rel="nofollow">Never Weld a crooked Bead</a>&quot; instructable. Keep up the good work! And Thanks again!
<p>Thank you for your comment. I am sorry I missed it until now. If you have ever seen The Red Green Show on PBS, you know the expression, &quot;We're all in this together!&quot;</p>
In all reality limiting welds to &lt;=3in would be ideal to prevent warping
I've heard you should not put the cable over your shoulder because of the magnetic field or something. I think I read it in some other 'ible and a welding safety guide too.
its not so much emf as if your cable has a nick in the insulation and you bump up against a grounded piece of metal it will give you quite a shock. most dc welders (as far as i know, i could be wrong) don't put out that much emf.
I suppose that could be. I do not know. I probably do that five times a year and then for only a few minutes each time. I probably have more to worry about from my cell phone, which I do not use very often, either. Perhaps some others will be able to add something on this. Thank you for looking and for commenting.
I did find a<a href="http://www.millerwelds.com/resources/communities/mboard/archive/index.php/t-21949.html"> forum discussion</a> on hanging the welding cable over an arm or a shoulder. Most of the concern related to becoming tangled in the cables as a tripping hazard. There was some concern related to electromagnetic fields and heart pacemakers. There was also a concern for possible yet unknown health effects. One person posting quoted some guidelines from Lincoln that discouraged hanging cables over one's shoulder, but no explanation or reason was given.
I'm not too concerned about all the hype over long term effects of EMFs in cell phones and microwave ovens yet (the studies are mostly inconclusive or sketchy); what I read said that doing that could stop your heart. It didn't mention pacemakers specifically, so I'm not sure if your heart would be at risk without a pacemaker.
My father had a small electrical business. I was his helper during high school. The danger was always considered to be an electrical current that flowed across the chest cavity and the heart, either from one arm to the other, or from one arm to the other leg. Only a surprisingly few milliamps were needed to be fatal. But, that is much different from a nearby EMF.<br><br>While the heart beats as a result of electrical activity duplicated in a pacemaker, an EMF would, I believe, be unlikely to produce an arresting current flow across the heart. I simply do not know if a heart could be stopped by a close proximity EMF. It would seem the presence of a metal would be required. Perhaps someone reading this has more and better information.
I found <a href="http://www.magnopro-usa.com/research/Electromagnetic-Fields-and-the-Heart.pdf">this article</a> on the effects of EMFs on living tissue. It does not sound like an EMF from a welder operating on 60 Hz alternating current is likely to stop a heart, but it may produce tissue changes over time that result in heart disease. Other hits mentioned type 3 diabetes caused by EMFs.
Phil strikes yet again like a Thunderbolt from on high! Now I have to ask, you do know that you can tap start stick arcs too right? Match dragging is total rookie material. I was done with that stuff by my third bead.<br> <br> What bugs me the most when I weld is a phenomenon I like to call &quot;back lighting&quot;, where reflected light off my lens makes it more difficult for me to see while I am welding. I have an extra leather bib for my summer welding jacket that I throw over the top of my hood to cut it down.<br> <br> Although doing so does tend to make my hood fog up fast. So I should invent the hood awning and retire a multi gazillionare!<br> <br> My spark box:<br> <br> <br>
Color me a rookie. I tried the tapping method a couple of times and always stuck the rod, so I stayed with what I know. Also, this Instructable is for someone who is just beginning, so the easiest method seems OK.
I've been giving this a bit of thought lately and I have come to the conclusion that my machine just may have a bit better an arc starter in it than most welders usually have due to the fact that is a TIG/Stick welder.<br><br>The engineers at Miller looked at each other and said you know if we throw a heavy lead on this puppy it ought to stick weld OK too. The marketers smiled and nodded.<br><br>I mean sometimes all I have to do is get the rod close and I'm ignited. But this is the only machine I've ever stick welded with so are they all like that?
most stick tig combos have what is called hot start which jacks up amperage like 15 to 20% to make starting electrodes easier. regardless i still preferred my dialarc to my sycrowave for stick welding until i was given a xmt 350 that does mig tig and stick. match stike technique is the only technique i use in the shop for lighting off my electrodes

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