The Ultimate Guide to Selecting the Appropriate Amps for Stick Welding

Stick welding, also known as Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW), is a versatile and widely used welding process that requires careful consideration of the appropriate amperage to ensure a successful weld. The amperage required for stick welding depends on various factors, including the welding rod diameter, material thickness, joint type, and welding position. This comprehensive guide will delve into the technical details and provide a hands-on approach to selecting the right amps for your stick welding projects.

Factors Influencing Amperage Selection for Stick Welding

Welding Rod Diameter

The diameter of the welding rod is a crucial factor in determining the appropriate amperage for stick welding. Smaller diameter rods, such as 2.0mm, typically require lower amperage, ranging from 30 to 50 amps. On the other hand, larger diameter rods, such as 5.0mm, require higher amperage, typically between 120 to 170 amps.

To determine the optimal amperage for your welding rod diameter, consider the following guidelines:

Welding Rod Diameter Recommended Amperage Range
2.0mm 30-50 amps
3.2mm 60-100 amps
4.0mm 90-140 amps
5.0mm 120-170 amps

It’s important to note that these are general guidelines, and the actual amperage required may vary depending on other factors, such as material thickness and joint type.

Material Thickness

The thickness of the material being welded also plays a significant role in determining the appropriate amperage. Thicker materials generally require higher amperage to ensure proper penetration and fusion. For example, when welding 1/4-inch (6.35mm) mild steel, you may need to use 120-150 amps, while for 1/8-inch (3.175mm) mild steel, 90-120 amps may be sufficient.

Joint Type

The type of joint being welded can also affect the required amperage. Fillet joints, which are commonly used in corner and lap joints, typically require around 10% more amperage than butt joints. Conversely, outside corner joints may require slightly less amperage than butt joints.

Welding Position

The welding position, whether it’s a flat, horizontal, vertical, or overhead position, can also influence the required amperage. Welding in a flat position generally requires less amperage than welding in a vertical or overhead position, as the force of gravity helps the molten metal flow more easily.

Recommended Amperage Ranges for Popular Stick Electrodes

what amps for stick weldingImage source: Manual Metal Arc welding (MMAW)

To provide a more practical guide, let’s explore the recommended amperage ranges for some popular stick electrodes:

Electrode Type Recommended Amperage Range
Blue Demon 6010 and 6011 Mild Steel Electrodes 90-150 amps
Lincoln Electric Fleetweld 37 E6013 Stick Electrodes 60-130 amps
Lincoln Electric Fleetweld 47 E7014 Stick Electrodes 70-150 amps
ESAB VacPac 7018-1 Prime Stick Electrodes 80-150 amps

Remember, these are general guidelines, and the actual amperage required may vary depending on the specific application and other factors mentioned earlier.

Practical Tips for Selecting the Appropriate Amps for Stick Welding

  1. Start with the Manufacturer’s Recommendations: Always refer to the manufacturer’s recommendations for the specific welding rod or electrode you are using. They will provide the optimal amperage range based on their extensive testing and experience.

  2. Perform Test Welds: Before starting your project, it’s a good idea to perform test welds on scrap material to determine the ideal amperage setting. Adjust the amperage until you achieve the desired weld appearance and penetration.

  3. Monitor the Welding Arc: Observe the welding arc during the process. A stable, consistent arc with minimal spatter and a smooth, even bead indicates the appropriate amperage. If the arc is erratic or the bead is uneven, adjust the amperage accordingly.

  4. Consider the Welding Position: Remember to adjust the amperage based on the welding position. As mentioned earlier, welding in a flat position generally requires less amperage than welding in a vertical or overhead position.

  5. Adjust for Material Thickness: Thicker materials will require higher amperage to ensure proper penetration, while thinner materials may require lower amperage to avoid burn-through.

  6. Use the Appropriate Welding Technique: Proper welding technique, such as maintaining the correct arc length and travel speed, can also impact the required amperage. Consult welding manuals or seek guidance from experienced welders to refine your technique.

  7. Monitor Electrode Consumption: Pay attention to the rate at which the welding electrode is consumed. If the electrode is consumed too quickly, it may indicate the need to increase the amperage. Conversely, if the electrode is not melting fast enough, you may need to decrease the amperage.

By considering these factors and following these practical tips, you can confidently select the appropriate amps for your stick welding projects and achieve high-quality, consistent welds.


Selecting the right amperage for stick welding is a crucial step in ensuring a successful weld. By understanding the factors that influence amperage selection, such as welding rod diameter, material thickness, joint type, and welding position, you can make informed decisions and optimize your welding performance. Remember to always refer to the manufacturer’s recommendations, perform test welds, and monitor the welding arc and electrode consumption to fine-tune the amperage settings. With this comprehensive guide, you’ll be well on your way to mastering the art of stick welding.