Shielded Metal Arc Welding and Flux Core Arc Welding create a couple of challenges that don't exist with Gas Metal Arc Welding and Gas Tungsten Arc Welding. First Shielded Metal Arc Welding and Flux Core Arc Welding have smoke and slag as their form of shielding so this leaves a residue on the metal around the weld.

Secondly there are sparks generated in both of these processes that are nonexistent in Gas Tungsten Arc Welding and significantly less than in Gas Metal Arc Welding. Finally, both of the Shielded Metal Arc Welding and Flux Core Arc Welding processes have a heavy slag coating on the surface of the weld that must be chipped off and removed. These three issues create challenges for fabricators to finish their product after welding and before the product gets painted, plated, powder coated, or otherwise.

As for the smoke residue, we can either mechanically remove it using a handheld brush, or if we have larger quantities, can mechanize the brush with a die grinder powered by air or a rotary electrical device such as a grinder, or drill motor. For carbon steel weldments, a carbon steel brush works just fine. Remember, that we were working on stainless steel we must have a stainless steel brush either in our hand or on our powered equipment. Failure to do so will result in carbon steel being embedded in the surface of the stainless and causing it to rust after finishing or cleaning.

The sparks generated in the Shielded Metal Arc Welding and Flux Core Arc Welding process create a significant amount of spatter in and around the weld that must be cleaned up prior to painting or finishing. Use of the proper welding procedure, machine settings, electrode manipulation, travel speed, filler metal and shielding gas can minimize the amount of spatter and cut significantly down the amount of post weld clean up. A good way to clean up the spatter is to use a sanding disk or flapper sanding pad to remove the spatter in the heat affected zone and other areas adjacent to the weld.

A hard grinding wheel also works, depending on the desired finish appearance. Again if this better is not too heavy, that wire wheel that works great on the smoke, can also do a number on the spatter as well. Finally, if it's heavier we can use a chipping gun or air hammer to knock lose the particles using a chisel type tool attachment. The amount of finishing required will depend upon the final service use of the part or component as well as the desired final finish.

The chipping hammer has served the welding industry well for many years as the basic tool for removal of slag from Shielded Metal Arc Welding and Flux Core Arc Welding. Fabricators, currently employ other methods in production facilities to speed up the removal of slag from welds. The best slag is one that peels off by itself and only needs a light effort to remove the balance of it. Getting the correct filler metal, shielding gas, if used, and flux combination will help in this regard.

Besides the chipping hammer, air chisel, and air hammer, many other pneumatically powered tools are used. The needle scaler is also widely used for removing slag that is stuck to the weld and doesn't readily come right off. The needle scaler leaves fewer tool marks than an air chisel or air hammer.

In larger production facilities, especially the steel building manufacturers, the use of a tool called the Wheelabrator is another more extensive piece of powered equipment for cleaning up base material after welding. Sandblasting and shot blasting are other alternatives for post weld cleanup in large-scale operation when hand working the components is cost prohibitive or not practical.

Check out the Longevity website ( or YouTube channel ( for more details and information about equipment for different welding and cutting processes. Longevity has the right machine for your exact application, so take a look and choose what is the best fit for your materials, product and needs.