How to Set Up Stick Welding: A Comprehensive Guide for DIY Enthusiasts

Setting up a stick welding system can be a daunting task for DIY enthusiasts, but with the right knowledge and guidance, it can be a rewarding and satisfying experience. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the step-by-step process of setting up your stick welding equipment, ensuring you have the necessary tools and understanding to tackle your welding projects with confidence.

Machine Setup

The first step in setting up your stick welding system is to ensure your welder is properly connected and configured. Begin by plugging the welder into a power source that matches the voltage and amperage requirements specified by the manufacturer. Next, connect the electrode holder to the welder using a DINSE connector, ensuring it is plugged into the socket marked with a “+”. This will set the welder to use DC Reverse Polarity or DC Electrode Positive (DCEP) polarity, which provides a stable arc and good penetration.

To complete the circuit, connect the ground clamp to the welder using a DINSE connector in the socket marked with a “-” or the top one. This will ensure the workpiece is properly grounded, allowing the current to flow through the metal and create the necessary arc for welding.

Stick Electrodes

how to set up stick weldingImage source: Manual Metal Arc welding (MMAW)

Stick welding electrodes come in a wide range of classifications and sizes, each suited for specific types of welds and parent metals. When selecting your electrodes, it’s crucial to match them to the material you’ll be welding. Carbon steel electrodes, for example, are typically stamped with a 4-digit code, such as E6013, where the first two digits refer to the tensile strength, the third digit indicates the position the electrode can be used in, and the fourth digit specifies the flux coating and the current to be used.

Consider the thickness of the metal you’ll be welding and choose an electrode size that’s appropriate for the task at hand. Thicker metals will require larger-diameter electrodes, while thinner materials may call for smaller-diameter options. Refer to the manufacturer’s recommendations to ensure you select the right electrode for your project.


Stick welding is commonly performed using DC Reverse Polarity or DC Electrode Positive (DCEP) polarity. In this setup, the electrode is positive, and the workpiece is negative. This configuration provides a stable arc and good penetration, making it a popular choice for DIY welders.

It’s important to note that some specialized welding applications may require the use of AC (Alternating Current) or DC Electrode Negative (DCEN) polarity. Always consult the manufacturer’s recommendations or seek guidance from experienced welders to ensure you’re using the appropriate polarity for your specific project.


The settings on your stick welder will depend on the type of electrode you’re using and the thickness of the metal you’re welding. As a general starting point, use the amperage recommended by the electrode manufacturer. From there, you can fine-tune the amperage based on the quality of the weld you’re achieving.

It’s essential to experiment with different amperage settings to find the optimal balance between penetration, bead appearance, and heat input. Keep in mind that factors such as joint type, metal thickness, and welding position can all influence the ideal settings for your project.

Work Angle

The work angle, or the angle of the electrode in relation to the joint, is an important consideration when stick welding. The optimal work angle will depend on the type of joint and the position of the weld.

For a T-joint or fillet joint, a 45-degree work angle is typically recommended. For a butt joint, a 90-degree work angle is often used. Adjusting the work angle can affect the quality of the weld and the amount of spatter produced, so it’s essential to experiment and find the angle that works best for your specific application.

Travel Angle and Distance

When stick welding, it’s crucial to maintain the correct travel angle and distance. You should always drag (pull) the weld, as pushing the electrode can lead to slag entrapment and contamination of the weld pool.

To achieve the proper travel angle, tilt the electrode slightly sideways, between 10 and 15 degrees. This will help you maintain control of the weld pool and ensure a smooth, consistent bead. Additionally, keep the arc length short, with a rule of thumb being that the arc length should not exceed the diameter of the electrode.

By following these guidelines and experimenting with different techniques, you’ll be well on your way to mastering the art of stick welding and tackling your DIY projects with confidence.


  1. The Ultimate Guide to Stick Welding
  2. Stick Welding Basics
  3. How to Stick Weld: A Beginner’s Guide
  4. How To Stick Weld: Basic Guide
  5. Stick Welding Techniques