Ok maybe not slick, but at least a little better.
Stick welding is still called Arc welding by a whole lot of folks. So rather than buck the trend, I will just go with the flow and use both terms.
1.The first thing you need to know to be a good stick welder is that you need a decent arc welding machine. Not a great machine, just a decent arc welding machine. Like a Lincoln 225 A/C tombstone arc welder, or a Miller Thunderbolt Stick welding machine. Both can be bought on eBay or Craigslist for around 200 bucks.
2. The second thing you need is a decent auto darkening welding helmet. 50 bucks will get you a decent auto darkening welding helmet if you know where to look. A decent auto darkening helmet darkens in 1/20000 sec, is adjustable from 9-12 shade, and has sensitivity and delay settings.
Why do you need one? Because when you are scratching around in the dark, you can be off track by an inch or more and you will get arc strikes all over the place. With an auto darkening helmet, you can see exactly where you are striking your arc and that alone will make you a better stick welder.
3. The third thing you need to know is that polarity matters. If you buy an A/C only welding machine, then you need to get stick welding rods that are designed to weld on A/C.
Not all stick welding rods work on A/C . That why grandpa only had 6013 welding rods lying around.
6011, 6013, and 7018 will weld on A/C, but 6010 wont. If you like welding with 6010, buy an A/C and DC stick welding machine. You can usually get one for only about a 100 dollars more than what you would pay for a A/C buzz box. Another bonus in buying a stick welding machine that also welds with DC current is that you can hook up a scratch start TIG torch later if you want to venture into TIG welding.
4. Lastly, learn to hold a close arc. This is the most important advise I can give. If your rod sticks when you hold a close arc length, then you need more amperage or you need to use a smaller diameter rod. Holding a close arc will not only help you set your amperage right, but for welding in overhead and vertical positions , it really helps the metal and sparks stay where they are supposed to…on the weld and not all on you.