Do You Push or Pull When Stick Welding?

When it comes to stick welding, the age-old question of whether to push or pull the electrode has been a topic of debate among welders. The answer, however, is quite straightforward: the recommended technique is to pull the electrode towards you, rather than pushing it away. This approach offers several advantages that can lead to a stronger, more consistent, and more visually appealing weld.

The Advantages of Pulling the Electrode

Improved Visibility

Pulling the electrode towards you allows for greater visibility of the weld pool, making it easier to monitor the progress of the weld and make any necessary adjustments. This enhanced visibility is particularly beneficial when working in tight spaces or when dealing with complex joint configurations.

Deeper Weld Penetration

The act of pulling the electrode creates a deeper and narrower weld pool, which results in better penetration into the base metal. This deeper penetration leads to a stronger and more durable weld, as the molten metal is able to fuse more effectively with the underlying material.

Consistent Weld Bead

Pulling the electrode also tends to produce a more consistent weld bead, with a more uniform appearance and fewer irregularities. This can be especially important when working on structural or load-bearing applications, where the integrity of the weld is of utmost importance.

Reduced Spatter

When you pull the electrode, the weld pool is more contained, leading to a reduction in spatter. This not only improves the overall appearance of the weld but also helps to minimize the cleanup required after the welding process is complete.

The Science Behind the Technique

do you push or pull when stick weldingImage source: Manual Metal Arc welding

The reason for the superiority of the pulling technique lies in the behavior of the weld pool. When you push the electrode, the weld pool tends to be shallow and wide, which can result in less penetration and a weaker weld. Conversely, pulling the electrode creates a deeper and narrower weld pool, which allows for better fusion with the base metal and a stronger, more durable weld.

This difference in weld pool behavior is due to the way the molten metal is directed by the electrode movement. When pushing, the weld pool is pushed away from the welder, resulting in a wider and shallower pool. When pulling, the weld pool is drawn towards the welder, creating a deeper and more focused pool.

Stick Welding Technique: Step-by-Step Guide

To effectively pull the electrode when stick welding, follow these steps:

  1. Angle the Electrode: Hold the electrode at a 10-15 degree angle, with the tip pointing slightly towards the direction of travel.
  2. Maintain a Consistent Arc Length: Keep the arc length between the electrode and the base metal consistent, typically around 1/8 to 1/4 inch.
  3. Move the Electrode Steadily: Slowly and steadily pull the electrode towards you, maintaining a consistent travel speed.
  4. Adjust the Angle as Needed: If the weld pool becomes too narrow or deep, slightly increase the angle of the electrode. Conversely, if the weld pool is too wide or shallow, decrease the angle.
  5. Monitor the Weld Pool: Closely observe the weld pool, making any necessary adjustments to the angle, travel speed, or arc length to maintain a consistent and high-quality weld.

Exceptions and Considerations

While the pulling technique is generally recommended for stick welding, there may be some exceptions or situations where a pushing technique may be more appropriate. For example, in certain overhead or vertical welding applications, a pushing technique may be preferred to better control the weld pool and prevent it from dripping or falling.

Additionally, some welders may have a personal preference for the pushing technique, based on their experience or the specific requirements of the project. In such cases, it’s important to experiment and find the technique that works best for the individual welder and the task at hand.


In the world of stick welding, the choice between pushing or pulling the electrode is a critical decision that can have a significant impact on the quality and durability of the weld. By understanding the advantages of the pulling technique, including improved visibility, deeper weld penetration, and a more consistent weld bead, welders can optimize their stick welding process and produce high-quality, long-lasting welds.

Remember, the key to successful stick welding is to practice, experiment, and continuously refine your technique. By mastering the art of pulling the electrode, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a skilled and confident stick welder.


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