Stick welding with a hobby welder

For years I've wanted a welder but just never seemed to get around to buying one. With my latest bug out truck I finally convinced the wife I needed one to complete the project. Using a small hobbyist stick welder I completely redid the body of the truck and welded in a lot of extra steel for added strength.

I wanted to get a big boy stick welder like I have at work but I don't have the power to my garage for one or the extra money. I decided to go for the hobbyist 110v stick welder because it plugs in anywhere, its small,  and it seemed sufficient for my needs.
Most small welders use tiny low voltage electrodes sized at 1/16 or 5/64. I found these rods are pretty much useless as they blow holes through any thin steel, they are pricey, the welds are tiny, and the rods are very short. After messing with the tiny rods a bit I looked at the regular length 3/32 7014 rods and they were perfect for 16ga up to 10ga.
Welding thicker metal is a pretty simple matter just grind off any rust at the joints and be sure all of the joints are tight fitting. Drag the electrode to strike an ark and the move it in a c or g shape. Thin metal is a very different story and will surely try your patience. The best way I found is to quickly drag the electrode across the work repeatedly until you build the metal up. Once you have a nice build up start the actual weld. Do short 1" or less welds and skip an inch between every weld. More than likely you will burn through which can be fixed by filling the hole after the weld cools. Make sure you pound the slag off the top of any weld and make a second pass if needed. A good auto darkening helmet makes everything a bit easier too. I can go on all day about how to weld but its a technique that needs to be learned by doing.
In general my tiny hobby welder has been able to handle anything I threw at it. The duty cycle isn't the greatest but whenever I exceed it I just clean up my welds or cut my next piece of metal while the welder cools. Practice makes perfect so no matter the welder this seems to be the key to a good weld. I won't be able to construct bridges but anything an average person needs to fix can be done. A welder is a nice addition to any garage and could prove essential in a shtf scenario as long as power is available.

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