Vertical stick welding is one of the positions that has a learning curve that can be really frustrating. Hey, I have been there and know first-hand! However, once you get past vertical welding all you have left is overhead for the structural welding positions. Welding vertical up is not really that hard to do. So here are the basics for running an E7018 electrode:
- Set your machine correctly, preferably on the lower range of the amperage setting.
- Keep your electrode angled to a maximum of 45 degrees pointed upward.
- Keep your arc length on the shorter side but not touching the metal.
- Use either a weave or a slight side-to-side motion more like a zig-zag.
Setting up your welder for running vertical up is just like setting it up for any other position. The only catch here is you want to be in the lower range of the recommended amperage setting. This is not set in stone because every welding machine runs differently. This is even true for two brand new welding machines that are the same model. It comes down to how well they are calibrated. For a 1/8 E7018, I run between 110 to 120 amps. On a 3/32 E7018, I use between 85 to 95 amps. Finally you want to set the welder just hot enough that the electrode does not stick.
The electrode angle is what makes vertical stick welding different from any other position. When traveling vertical up with the electrode, you are running your electrode fore hand instead of dragging it. Typically you just want to have the electrode pointed upward and never go past 45 degrees. If you go past that angle you will likely lose your shielding and get porosity.
The arc length should be short but not so short that you are scraping the metal. This is due to the extremely short arc length you get that causes roll over and a very convex weld. With the E7018 electrode the slightly longer arc spreads out the weld better and gives it a smother appearance. If you are ever running an E8018 or an E11018 you will definitely want the arc length on the longer side to keep the weld smooth. These extra high strength alloy electrodes have a very stiff arc and need to run much hotter.
Finally, the welding techniques used are either a slight side-to-side motion or a weave for wider welds. The E7018 runs best with a side-to-side motion, but you must always keep moving forward. If you pause or back up by the slightest bit it will create lumps and rollover. So that eliminates doing circles and whipping the rod. Learning to do a tight side-to-side motion with an E7018 is one of the most important lessons I have learned to date. Later on when you get that motion perfected you should start learning to weld with your rod angle straight to the metal (in other words at a right angle) and then start dragging uphill! Yeah, that’s right! Dragging uphill! The book does not cover this or even mention it, and that is how you take it to the next level! I have shared this with a few friends and they have found that their welds became a lot smoother and more uniform. This is due to the slag that stays behind the rod and keeps the metal flowing more smoothly. As for the strength of the weld, I have done this on AWS bend tests and passed military X-Ray tests! Here is the trick to dragging uphill. You need to strike the arc with the rod pointed directly square to the metal, then you start to travel. Once you are moving you start to drag the rod by letting the arc roll slowly toward the direction of travel. Then just keep moving up and side-to-side at the same time. That’s all there is to running an E7018. It just takes time so you need to have some patience. Once you pass vertical welding, all you have left to do is to learn overhead for structural welding!
Author: David Zielinski – GoWelding.org