View Full Version : Stick welding aluminum

06-20-2004, 12:47 AM
I picked up the Lincoln AC/DC buzz box a couple of weeks ago and heard and read from a number of resources that the aluminum electrodes work at least half way decent.
They are pretty high priced locally (over $20.00 a lb.) but I've got a source that I can get 5 lbs. for about $15.00.
My question is, has anyone actually tried them and what kind of results were obtained?
I do plan to try them but any experiences will help point out any drawbacks/weaknesses that may be encountered.
I know a proper aluminum weld can be tricky but thats just part of the learning curve.
I have searched the archives and understand the mig/tig difference etc, but found nothing on alum. stick weld.
So, anyone tried it?

[This message has been edited by inspectorsparky (edited 06-20-2004).]

06-20-2004, 06:09 AM
I tried them about 15 years ago, just to see how they ran. Only ran 2 or 3 rods, and the results weren't that great. Wasn't sure if it was me or the machine, so I really am not much help.
Two weeks later I got my Tig machine, and that box of rods never got ran.
David from jax

06-20-2004, 07:19 AM
Have a look here.May find some info:

06-20-2004, 07:29 AM
I saw a guy welding aluminum coke cans together at the flea market once, he was just dripping the rod onto the can. It held, I don't know how.
I don't think I trust that to fix a transmission case or other expensive item.


06-20-2004, 09:03 AM
The ones that use a propane torch work for thin things like extrusions,but the arc rods do not,very crappy welds,I always wanted to experiment with running argon over the area during welding,but I got a spool gun for the mig and that was as far as I got.

06-20-2004, 09:27 AM
I get good results with MIG and argon but it gets tricky as the aluminum gets below about 1/8"(3mm).

06-20-2004, 09:31 AM
I have used them to weld a few items. The problems with them are maintaining an arc, flux build up and cleaning. If you do try them make sure you store them in an air tight container as they will pick up moisture at an alarming rate. I had some wrapped in a plastic bag that the flux all turned to paste.

06-20-2004, 09:41 AM
I have saw them run argon-mig on cable trays on the jobs.. NO couplings, just welded tray and it holds really well. A spool gun works much better than a mig since the wire is so soft it does not want to feed down the liner in the hose. It wads up at the feed rollers and makes it really frustrating. If you do try, use large wire and keep the stinger straight instead of lots of loops. It works, just not really as good as a spool gun.

People climb in the trays and pull cable. They have not fell yet by a tray breaking.

Welding cast aluminum has the same problems that anodizing it does, sulphates and silicates on the surface. I think MOLD casted aluminum anodizes better. I have colored some tattoo machines that came from a steel mold.

Tig w/pedal: The surface melts at a higher temperature then the sublayers. When you are welding with a pedal, you pick up the power, when the surface melts you push the pedal and let up on power. I usually just burn out a hole.


G.A. Ewen
06-20-2004, 10:32 AM
Welding aluminum with stick is something that I have only done occasionally. I have never been able to produce a nice looking weld but the welds seem strong enough. I went out to the shop this morning and glued a couple of 3/8" scrap pieces together for a photo. This is about the best that I can do.


06-20-2004, 11:39 AM
Hey thanks for all the posts!

I was torn between MIG and Stick welders before my recent purchase and went with the buzz-box, price/capacity/versatility and they (Lincoln) said it has TIG capability for future upgrade though that will be down the road and a few more dollars.

I would be welding non-critical items like low-load fixtures and brackets, artsy-fartsy stuff and such and I dont mind having to do some grinding to clean up a sloppy looking weld if it has good integrity.

Heck G.A. thats apretty good looking weld to me, in fact it looks better than most of my steel welds so far, I am just getting started and have only played around with it a couple of times but I'm getting the hang of it and I'm also getting to knock the cob-webs off of my grinder technique!!!

Good welding bbs MW,
I had found a couple of others but there didnt seem to be much usable info on them.
I've added it to my favorites.

Thank again for all the responses-much help!


06-20-2004, 12:32 PM
Steve...I haven't done much alu stick welding either (always had tig or wire available). The tip about the moisture is good...I found I got better welds if I put the rods in an oven for a couple hours at 250- 300deg. However...It is possible to do decent welding with rods once you practice enough. There is an old weldor here who builds alu checkerplate boxes for trailers etc. and he only uses alu stick. He does nearly as good a job as you'd get from a spool gun. I think it's one of those practice make perfect deals so give it a go.

Steve Stube
06-20-2004, 01:41 PM
G.A. Ewen, my experience is about the same as you show. Thanks. How do you keep your Al rod stored, long term?

06-20-2004, 02:31 PM
For Mig welding using aluminum, I found a push-pull machine works great. The gun isn't so darn big that it gets in the way, but since it has a small motor instead, it does the same thing. Plus you don't have to buy those itty bitty spools of wire, which require changing every 10 minutes it seems.
David from jax

G.A. Ewen
06-20-2004, 03:00 PM
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Steve Stube:
G.A. Ewen, my experience is about the same as you show. Thanks. How do you keep your Al rod stored, long term?</font>

Air tight plastic bag. http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//redface.gif I really am to slack when it comes to electrode storage. The rod that I used this morning has been around for more than a year so the plastic bag works but I have got to get off my arse and build a rod oven.

06-20-2004, 03:05 PM

I believe I'd trust that weld on a capshift if it was oil-tight..

Problem getting a good weld on something like that thou, it is porous cast aluminum that has had oil inside it for years,, it is saturated and it messes the weld up..

I'll look into some of the rods, what number do I ask for?

IF you want a smooth weld bead what I have learned is you have to relax, let your arms just float. If you tighten up it makes a knotty bead. When I drink I weld prettier than sober.. I relax.. Kinda like floating in the water I guess, tense up and sink..


06-20-2004, 05:02 PM
I'll definatly give it a try and have read alot about moisture/storage probs with it (most of it I read here in all the archives-some great resources!).

Like I say I'm just getting started with the stick and am concentrating on good penetration/grinding/more good penetration/more grinding flat.

I am watching the puddle not he arc but I am getting some "ugly" welds- however this is only the second weekend that I've got to play with it so...strength over beauty first...

I have piddled with MIG (wire-feed) in a Truck bed fab shop, mostly welding triangular support pieces cut (by me in a jig with band-saw 8 at a time) out of 2"x2"x1/2" squares into auxillary support frame members, but I did alot more cutting than welding.
I also cut triangular bracket (both 2x2 & 3x3x 1/2") with oxy/acetelene and got to do some O/A welding of the same to the steel auxillary frames but once again I did more cutting than welding.

So far, with more comfort/play time (not on the clock) I can compare it (stick welding) to a combination of a couple of other simpler things I've had a lot of experiance doing;

1. Detail airbrushing--applying the right amount and type of paint (metal) in the right place, and having the proper airbush (puddle) control technique.

2. Caulking--applying enough material (metal) to "fill" the cracks without too much material waste (grinding) or having too little fill (poor penetration/build-up) and having to recaulk (make extra non-nessisary welding passes) and proper finishing bead.

Thank goodness I'm in a position to be able to play with these tools on a hobby type basis and have such a good resource here for information that can help every one from the starters to the people who do this stuff every day, yet haven't tried a "little different" trick to do something a litte easier (or at least a different way of thinking about the problem/task/question).

I sure enjoy reading the posts here, I have found lots of help with some of my questions in the archives and discussed here in "real" time, as I gain more experiance I will be glad to post my trials and tribulations if they can help someone else out.

Hey Gypsie,
I play pool the same way, but I have a beer "window" in wich I play GREAT pool, too little lube and I play crappy, too much and I play crappy, unfortunatly the window only lasts about 15 minutes (once again practice makes perfect)!!!

06-20-2004, 06:42 PM
I have two mig feed units for welders.. somewhere.. They go on top of the welder.. I think I tried to ebay them for $50.. I got stuck with two of them.. You use the box, hook it up to the mig aux unit.. most times they have a relay inside to turn it on and off thou.
Tig torches? I sold three on ebay for $25. One was a flexhead water cooled rig. Look there.. It is easier to learn with a high frequency unit, (mine was $159 at grainger) it lights the torch for you, you just get close and it lights like a spark plug.. Saves contaminating the tungsten.
Neato with a 7018 too, you know how they are hard to strike after you burn them. They have a glass type buildup on the end of the rod, you soon learn to bump them to strike. But with the HF unit they light right off like the tig. It smoothes the flame off a stick rig too.

I still need the number for the aluminum rods... PLEASE....

G.A. Ewen
06-20-2004, 09:39 PM
I didn't forget about you David. http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif

Bohler Thyssen Welding U.S.A.,Inc. - UTP 48. Part # UTP-HP 4832

06-20-2004, 10:42 PM
I've used the alum stick welding rods when I was in the maintenance dept for those occasional alum jobs. Keep the heat set on the high side, just below the heavy spatter point. Keep a short arc length and keep feeding, the rod will burn down very quickly. Use a V notch for heavy sections. I always had good results. We had Eutectic brand rods.

Hope this helps,