SMAW Welding: How to Weld a Stringer Bead

SMAW Welding: How to Weld a Stringer Bead

SMAW (Shielded Metal Arc Welding), also known as stick welding, is a widely used welding process for various applications. It involves using a coated electrode, which melts and provides shielding gas and filler metal to the weld joint. A stringer bead is a type of weld that runs in a straight line along the joint. This guide will teach you the fundamentals of SMAW welding and how to create a strong and consistent stringer bead.

Essential Equipment

Before you start welding, make sure you have the necessary equipment:

  • SMAW welding machine
  • Electrodes (appropriate for the material being welded)
  • Welding helmet with a proper shade lens
  • Welding gloves
  • Chipping hammer and wire brush
  • Safety glasses
  • Work gloves
  • Work boots
  • Welding table or stand

Safety Precautions

Welding poses inherent risks, so safety is paramount:

  • Always wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Work in a well-ventilated area to avoid inhaling fumes.
  • Keep flammable materials away from the welding area.
  • Never weld on or near a gas cylinder.
  • Use proper grounding to prevent electric shock.

Steps to Weld a Stringer Bead

1. Prepare the Joint

Start by cleaning the welding joint using a wire brush or grinder. Remove any dirt, rust, or paint. Ensure the joint is properly aligned and clamped securely.

2. Choose the Electrode

Select an electrode based on the material being welded and the welding position. The electrode coating provides the shielding gas and filler metal. Consult a welding guide for proper electrode selection.

3. Set the Welding Machine

Adjust the welding machine’s amperage setting according to the electrode size and material thickness. Start with a lower setting and gradually increase it if needed.

4. Strike the Arc

Hold the electrode at a 75-degree angle to the work piece. Use a slight tapping motion to strike the arc. Once the arc is established, maintain a consistent distance between the electrode and the work piece.

5. Travel Speed and Electrode Angle

Move the electrode along the joint at a steady pace. The travel speed will determine the width and penetration of the weld bead. Maintain a consistent angle between the electrode and the work piece, typically around 75 degrees.

6. Maintaining the Arc

Keep the arc length constant throughout the welding process. The arc length should be about the diameter of the electrode. Too long of an arc will result in a weak weld, while too short of an arc will cause the electrode to stick to the work piece.

7. Welding Technique

Use a smooth and consistent hand motion to create a smooth and continuous weld bead. Avoid stopping and starting the arc unnecessarily. If you need to stop, do so in a controlled manner, allowing the arc to extinguish slowly.

8. Cooling and Cleaning

Once you’ve completed the stringer bead, allow it to cool naturally. Do not quench it with water, as this can cause stress cracks. Once cooled, use a chipping hammer and wire brush to remove any slag or spatter.

Tips for a Successful Stringer Bead

  • Use a steady hand and maintain a consistent travel speed.
  • Keep the arc length constant.
  • Avoid stopping and starting the arc unnecessarily.
  • Practice on scrap metal before welding on your project.


Welding a stringer bead using SMAW is a fundamental skill that requires practice and patience. By following these steps and safety precautions, you can create strong and consistent welds for various applications. Remember to always prioritize safety and use proper techniques to ensure a successful welding experience.