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Sheet Metal Welding with Stick Questions

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  • Sheet Metal Welding with Stick Questions

    This is probably a stupid questions, but is it possible to weld thin sheet metal with a stick welder without making a mess?

    I've got a Miller Dialarc HF and it is set-up for stick (maybe TIG one of these days) and have considered using this welder for welding mower decks - 11 to 12 gage thickness.

    But as a broader question, is welding sheet metal more about heat zone control and that is where MIG is better?

    According to the manual, it looks like on the lowest end of the dial, the amperage is about 10 amps???

    If it is possible to stick weld with such low amperage outputs, are you closing in on the heat zone control of a MIG welder and with it the ability to weld 11, 12 or thinner sheet metal?

    Take my observations with a BIG grain of salt as I'm not a welder, just a hack with a nice Miller.

    But if practice made perfect and I could get this welder to weld thin sheet metal without making a mess of things, I could save some $$$'s and floor space and just use this welder for everything from sheet metal to thicker bar stock type stuff.

    Any thoughts, tips, tricks for welding sheet metal with this machine would be appreciated.

    Miller Dialarc HF

  • #2
    Yes, it is possible just have to use a 3/32 rod or smaller. With a 3/32 you have to move quickly and no gaps.
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    • #3
      Check out Lincoln Fleetweld 35, 37, 47 pick the rod you think is right for your job.

      Tip: turn the work so you can make the weld down hand.


      • #4
        I picked up some little tiny rods from the harbor freight just to see what they would do.

        I was surprised with sheet metal in the flat position what a good looking bead they made.

        But tried them on 1/8 in vertical and made a mess. It actually looked like it was going to be a decent weld but under the slag was pretty much nothing.

        Seems they run at 30 to 50 amps. Maybe ok for a mower deck.


        • #5
          I was at the local welding shop picking up some tig torch parts and saw a display on the counter. It was for these little multipurpose rods. They were designed to run real low amps. some german type of rod. I'll swing by and check them out and let you know what they were. You can run 'em ac or dc and the guy behind the counter was impressed with how well they ran. I was pretty skeptical but it might be worth looking into!
          MillerMatic 251
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          • #6
            Set the machine as low as it will go then try to strike an arc. Turn the dial up gradually until an arc is easy to strike without the rod sticking to your work.


            • #7
              Turn it up till you blow a hole in it, then down a little.


              • #8
                I know better but it never crosses my mind to change the polarity. I have never welded sheet as a trade like some here can and do but as a matter of fact when the need arose and only real modification is to turn the machine down a pinch if I really have to. If I can get away with it a bigger fatter rod, a 6011 1/8 and I plan my way around it well.

                I went out of my way to buy some 11 and 13 3/32 when I got my Max thinking I would be some kind of sheet whiz but nothing really changed, still do it with the same rod I always had and the full, getting older boxes of jr rod ride cabinetit.

                I know this sounds pushy but for the home, maintenance, hobby crowd with a stick need can do it with 3 electrodes. Get 10# of each, 6011x1/8, 7018 in both 3/32 and 1/8 and call it a day. There is a lot of rods in a can of 3/32 18 and works great on about 90% if a guy cant get the hang of 11 right off the bat, take the lo hi at 90 burn it on hard to miss, 85 for lighter stuff and up and for when you want to kill it use a 1/8. I use 1/8 more for speed than actual weld deposit most of the time.


                • #9
                  Here is a dandy you dont see all the time but 7018 down. Real useful on occasion. This was all rudimentary hand cut on 10 ga, beam connections from mobile homes etc. What wasnt vert was tight fit flat so turn the machine up nice and toasty run down on the verts for speed and finish.

                  I should have had pics of the job but the essesnce is that when I fit it all there was some pressure to see some welding but tack up poor fits and anchor tack when we fabricated and then put a whole pocket full of larger rod to work at one point. On 10 ga where its tight can run up for a stringer a long way, if the cut opens up start and go down etc.

                  Generally,,,, in my best day at any given time would be an A minus welder if I wanted to, I was never real happy with my natural ability on demand but when involved in work, bridges, some powerplant both flavors where there was critical testing managed to survive despite myself. If I got outfitted and comfy and practice some under some circumstances would be superior to my best. A chore I used to find repulsive in my 20's I now find as interesting as any, filling a poor fit on a light sheet as quickly as possible. A\

                  Any of these take me about a week to really come up to speed on if I am daily dilligent, last time I tried to be a good welder found out quickly I would have been in trouble in a hurry on a real fussy test which I never liked taking anyway, in production I come up to speed real quick.

                  My brain says I can go out and run some poster beads. More than pretty from testing where I found I shine pretty well was clarity, when we were doing work where the repetition was super hi, daily long all out of position work, hours of welding, day after day fall asleep the slag was rolling off in chunks that a guy really got better, where you could lay the bead sequence in where the test is happening, the wire and the weld far superior to the base metal, ha.

                  Also back then even when I wasnt working in the trade was involved in welding to some extent, if I had a chance to run a couple beads uphill alwayd took it to keep up a little in the event of a test but today long periods of time can pass, made 2 wire welds 3/4 inch long this week. In reality had my brother do about an hour I pushed on him with a stick welder so I could of had I wanted to but if at all possible I have someone else do it especially in simple repair or customer work.

                  In fact I was glad at several times in career to get away from welding, must have been 5 years I cant recall running a stick. Even now, 20 mins I had it, I dont mind a couple sticks here there or burning a wire thing in the vise but I dont miss it.
                  Attached Files
                  Last edited by Sberry; 02-19-2013, 01:59 PM.


                  • #10
                    I was considering some kind of employment, ha. I got thinking about it and figured I really shoud stick my head in the test booth a few times so I could do what I say I could if that makes sense, so I am driving a welding rod vs taking a week of struggle where it has a mind of its own, I wouldnt be a grape rancher but I wouldnt be outstanding right out the gate either.

                    I like the second one,, well both of them for that matter, no grinding wheel injured cleaning the scaled up and rusted plate, the second was rod off the dash of my service truck, must have been there for years, had about 10 cups of coffee spilled on it, worked fair actually for just dragging it up hill on dirty plate. It didnt have to be perfect but needed to be welded solid and as I recall was on a truck frame cross member deal of some kind and hard to reach, hard to clean and as long as the weld was suffecient not that critical, had more on it than the factory and the service duty was 10% of what it was when new.
                    Attached Files
                    Last edited by Sberry; 02-19-2013, 02:15 PM.


                    • #11
                      The guy figured to have a monster bill, I had itt about half with a good patch and as I suspected they never used it anyway. In many cases even ugly welding works, I will see if I can find a couple more pics of this but I was the second guy on this job. The first had some good ideas and suffecient design etc but was simply not good enough welder to reach in some odd place with poor acess and out of position, the thing was dirty, was really hard and the design requirement was a real weld, it would have worked but this was the point he gave upand quit, tacked some pieces in, weld one side where he could see a bit easy and stop.

                      I did a rework job last summer somewhat the same way, the guy got a couple boogers and berries on a plate that would have withstood half a chance had a good weld across the end had been installed. It wa under a machine with limited head room, they should have taken it apart, head twisted around at 3/4 angle, machine too cold.


                      • #12
                        thin metals

                        yes its possible. the first time i used thin metals was welding a fender on my friends old ford.
                        this is how i did it. i use mig solid wire ,down hand. welded about a inch,then have my buddy with a wet cloth cover my weld as soon as i stoped. well i skipped about an inch and so on and so on.then wen i finished ,went back and filled in the mt spots. i hope you understand?
                        well it worked.the fender didn't get bent or twisted. so he was happy.
                        anyway it is possible to get 1/16 welding rods. but you must be fast as you weld.
                        10 ams is very low. when possible over lap your joint. this is better to weld. if possible? it's possible with tig. but with small mig solid wire i find it fast. tig can be slower ,thus twisting or distorting the metal.
                        well good luck. take your time and it will work


                        • #13
                          With a bit of practice, you should be able weld 11 gauge all day with stick. 11 ga. is ~1/8" thick, that's plenty of metal to work with. Smaller rod is always preferred, but in a pinch, I have even welded 11 gauge with 1/8" 7018 (at about 105 amps) before with professional looking results.

                          Most medium sized mower decks I have seen are 14 to 16 gauge which requires a bit more skill than 11ga., but it's still very doable. Tip: 16 ga. is one of the easiest to remember gauge sizes because it's almost exactly 1/16" thick. Most dumpsters are 14 gauge. If you want to get a good feel for what 14 gauge feels like, go kick a dumpster a few times. I have done many dumpster repairs with both 3/32" 6011 and 7018 with no problems. Heck with 6013 set on straight polarity and good technique it's not all that difficult to weld 14 ga. using 1/8" rod.

                          Historical note:
                          As much as I dislike 6013 in general, it was originally invented/formulated specifically for welding sheet metal tanks. Naturally, thinner gauge sheet metal work is the application where 6013 really shines because that's exactly what it was designed to be used on.
                          2007 Miller Dynasty 200 DX
                          2005 Miller Passport 180