Please forgive me that I don't really know how to phrase this question without sounding like an idiot. I'm pretty sure the answer will be something like, "After months/years s of practice, you'll just know."
What do you select first? Do you first pick the rod that you think will work best for the metal, then select the current, then have everything magically work?
This is generally my standard operating procedure.
1. Start with 1/8" 6013 at full power (I think that's 70amps on mine).
2. Can't get any good results, so I switch to 3/32" 6011.
3. Vaporize whatever I was working on.
4. Turn the amps way down.
5. Still burn through everything.
6. Switch to 7014 in 3/32".
7. Can't start an arc, turn amps back up.
8. End up with an awful pile of slag.
9. Grind everything off and glue it together with epoxy.
Clearly, I suck at welding. Which is why I'm here, posting online at a desk job instead of out working repairing stuff.
But anyway, I've actually gained the corrage a few times to bring in a weld for a local shop to laugh at, and hopefully give me some advice.
The guy at a supply shop last time told me all the slag inclusion could be fixed by a simple solution: using a thicker rod and more amps. I told him my welder couldn't handle more amps for the thicker rods, so he told me then the answer was to use thinner rods and less amps. I then began to wonder if he really knew as much as he thought he did.
Thicker rods don't seem to work. with 3/32", the arc looks fine but I can't get any decent results. With 6011, I can't find any middle-ground between burning through everything, and getting a bead to actually stick two pieces of metal together.
7014 runs beautifully and easily, until I look at it without a facesheild on. Then I see that the pieces are being held together by the slag, not the metal. If I chip/grind away the slag, there's not much left.
Do I go thinner? I've seen 1/16" rod recommended around the Net for cheap AC stickboxes like mine. Is it even worth a try?
I'll try to post some pictures later, but I'm afraid if anyone actually sees some of the welds I've done, you'll nicely tell me that I should never, ever, bother picking up a torch again.