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How to Arc Weld

Learn how to arc weld from sculptor DeWitt Godfrey in this Howcast video.


This welding rod fits into an electrode holder which is insulated and allows the operator to safely hold the electrode without danger of receiving an electric shock. The rod can be positioned in the holder in a number of different ways depending on operator preference or the position of the work being welded.

When the welding machine is on and the ground clip is connected to the steel table or to the work itself anything metal on this table is now charged. When the electrode makes contact with the work it completes a circuit with the electricity flowing through the electrode holder, down through the work, and back out to the ground clamp back to the welder.

When an arc is struck a common pool of molten metal is created between the two pieces that are being joined. Into this the melting alloy center of the welding rod is deposited completing the weld. One thing to be careful of as you're welding this rod is being consumed. That is, it's growing shorter. So, the operator has to constantly be aware of both moving the rod laterally but also pushing the rod into the seam being welded.

The first step in learning how to arc weld is learning how to strike the arc. Striking the arc can sometimes be very difficult at first. It's a delicate flicking motion. It's not a stabbing or a quick drag, but as if you're striking a match gently. Once the arc has started the trick is to maintain a nice, smooth molten puddle of metal with a consistent distance between the tip of the welding rod and the surface of the work.

Alright. Let's give it a try. Welding hoods down. Remember, never look at an arc with the naked eye.

Now that you've mastered striking the arc, and it may have taken you several tries don't be discouraged, let's join some metal together. OK, hoods down. After striking the arc I create a nice, even pool of molten metal. You'll notice that the tip of the welding rod stays very near to the arc puddle and that I'm also slightly wavering the tip of the electrode back and forth. The idea is to heat both pieces of metal evenly as the filler rod is being deposited.

Once you've completed your arc welded seam you'll notice that there's a blue-black residue on top of the weld. This residue is a byproduct of the burning flux. It needs to be cleaned away from the weld. You can do this with a chipping hammer and wire brush.

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