A welding rod is a generic name for filer metals or sticks electrodes that a welder uses to join two separate base materials in the process of shielding metal arc welding. If you are a beginner or a professional, you might be asking yourself which are the best welding rods for you since there many different options for you in the market, all claiming to be the best. These options make it harder to choose the best one to use. Fortunately, there are better rod options that are user-friendly with good additional applications, unlike others.
The weld and metal will determine the choice of welding rod you will use. Ensure that your welding machine pairs well with the welding rod you prefer to get the job done correctly. As a welder, you should choose suitable welding rods for your preferred type of welding. The good thing, we are here to help. This article will explore various welding rods, factors to consider when buying them, and frequently asked questions about welding rods. So, let us start!
1. Best Overall Welding Rod: Forney E6013 Welding Rod, 3/32-Inch, (30305)
The Forney E6013 (30305) features a stable arc that makes it easier to weld weak joints due to its exceptional arc initiation and also an excellent choice for any beginner due to its versatility and convenience. 5LB 3/32 6013 is best suited to weld in all different positions and used for general purposes to shallow penetrations. You can use Forney 30305 when performing different welding jobs and materials since it supports various welding applications like ship repair and light fabrications. You can apply Forney 30305 in different steel products like mild steel fabrications, low alloy, and galvanized steel. Forney 30305 electrodes use AC and DC currents; hence, they are right for welding machines with different voltages.
This rod produces low spatter and thin slag, making it easier for you to clean; however, it virtually cleans itself in vertical down fillets. Moreover, you can use Forney 30305 E6013 on all types of mild steel where you require a better-looking appearance and effortless operations in all different positions. Also, it’s ideal for vertical down welding and where uneven welds require you to adjust your position appropriately. A thick coating feature helps in reducing spatter and improves overall performance. The welding rod produces high-quality welds with thin materials at a lower amperage. This rod has an excellent wetting action which yields smooth and flat beads with a steady arc. However, Forney 30305 produces slag in abundance in front of the weld.
- Uses AC and DC currents
- Ease of use and convenient for beginners
- Suitable for different steel applications.
- Suitable for welding thin metals
- Requires high maintenance, which can be time-consuming when cleaning splatter
2. Best for Experienced Welders: Forney E7018 Welding Rod, 3/32-Inch, (30705)
Forney E7018 Welding Rod is 5LB 3/32″ 7018 (30705) in this series. Many experienced welders indicate that they highly consider it to be the best. So, if you are a professional welder, we recommend that you go for this stick welding rod as it’s ideal for welding in all different positions to produce sturdy and accurate welds. These welds are suitable for the construction of high buildings, dams, and shopping malls. This sticking rod is made of very durable and high-quality materials. Forney 30705 comprises low hydrogen for general purpose AC and DC+ applications that require low penetration, low alloy, and mild steel.
The low hydrogen levels make the rod excellent for structural welding because it helps prevent peeling and cracking: Also, the low hydrogen electrodes produce better outcomes on lower amperage. Forney 30705 electrodes enable low penetrations for all-purpose applications. This sticking rode features a professional head that works for steel that gives you difficulties when repairing. It also features a thick flux powder that makes it easier to use as you join materials and promotes the flow of the filler metals.
The powder also absorbs the oxides produced when heating. As a result, the rod may get oxidized when not handled correctly. This because the product is not suitable for low exposed circuit voltage. Nevertheless, the Forney 30705 features iron powder that shields the molten weld beads from exposure to moisture and contamination.
- Produces welds that are stronger and smooth
- Suitable for different welding positions
- Thanks to the thick flux powder, it’s easy to use
- It’s convenient for making cold steel rolls
- if not handled correctly, the rods may be oxidized
3. Best 6010 Welding Rod: Forney E6010 Welding Rod, 1/8-Inch, (31610)
Forney E6010 (770458) has a solid quality that offers you highly reliable and consistent performance. This all-positions sticking rod is versatile and best-suitable for other welding purposes. All positions in welding include overhead, horizontal, flat, and vertical. Therefore, you can use the sticking rod for all-purpose welding, pipe, maintenance, and fabrication building. Additionally, you can use this sticking rod to perform a welding job that requires you to penetrate dirty, painted deeply, or rusty surfaces. Then this electrode is right for the job as it has a cellulose coating that establishes a quick penetrating arc.
The technical specialization is as follows; amperage range of between 65 and 130 amps and 60 000 PSI tensile strength. The arc starts very fast, enabling the electrode best suitable for oily steel and pipe welding. The arc starts very fast, enabling the electrode best suitable for oily steel and pipe welding. Furthermore, this sticking electrode requires less maintenance as the inside of the pipe characterizes a root bead that offers protection from DC as the vertical overhead produces low residue meaning that the rod leaves little slag, unlike others.
Another best thing about this product is that it requires minimal preparations, and it cools down after use so you can stow it away immediately. The drawback to this product is that it’s only compatible with DC electric currents hence not suitable for AC-based welding machines.
- Requires minimal surface preparations
- Best suitable for welding rusty and dirty metals
- Produces less slag hence easy to clean
- Rapidly cools down after use
- It is only compatible with DC electric current.
4. Best Lightweight Welding Rod: Hobart 6011 Stick, 3/32-10lbs, (770458)
We mostly prefer Hobart 6011 (770458) because it’s durable, versatile, and high-quality. Due to its ease of use and versatility, we recommend this sticking rod to beginners and professionals. The best thing about this product is that you can use it in any position, including horizontal, vertical, flat, and overhead welding. Hobart 770458 all-purpose electrodes weld galvanized carbon steel and carbon and used welding rust and dirt.
Hobart 770458 has the following technical specifications; 60,000 PSI tensile strength and AC and DCEP currents. This sticking rod is user-friendly as it’s lightweight and easy to carry around as you are working. The Hobart features a coating made up of sodium cellulose materials that ensures that you are safe as you perform welding jobs. This sticking rod is quite durable with five years warranty even when not in use; the product will last for a prolonged period. The only drawback to this product is that it is difficult to remove slags.
- Deep penetration through metals and portable
- Has a durable coating made up of cellulose
- Improves performance and productivity through AC and DCEP currents
- Difficult to remove slags
5. Best Arc Welding Rod: Forney E6011, 3/32-Inch, (31105)
The best arc welding rod is an all-purpose rod that helps welders support deep arc welding through rusted steel is known as Forney 31105. It’s very versatile and best-suitable for welding in different positions. Forney 31105 is made from a metallic material that solidifies very fast, giving you better results than welding in different positions like horizontal, flat, overhead, and vertical welding. This welding rod enhances your performance and increases productivity when you use DCEP and AC polarity reverse machines in the welding process.
Forney 31105 E6011 is excellent for welding galvanized tank and pressure pipes. It is easy to use and set up Forney with the help of an instruction manual. You don’t need to stress yourself with lengthy preparations. All you need is to get your surfaces ready, which saves you money and boots your performance. The Forney needs less maintenance, and it’s easy to clean because it produces very little slag. A strong arc force featured in the Forney offers a deep penetration on the surfaces; however, it has one disadvantage: the slag produced in the welding process gets stuck in the exhaustion pipe.
- Highly durable
- Very affordable
- Less maintenance and easier to clean
- Suitable for a beginner in welding
- The slag gets stuck in the exhaustion pipe.
Factors to Consider When Buying the Best Welding Rods
1. The type of welding rods
They are two main types of welding rods: consumable and non-consumable
- Consumable rods– These welding rods get consumed during the welding process (they usually melt and fuse with the weld). Stick and MIG welders use consumable welding rods.
- Non-consumable rods– These types of welding rods don’t get consumed; however, they merely serve to offer electricity, a stable arc and heat the weld. Furthermore, these welding rods are made of tungsten because of their high melting point, and you can use them in TIG welding.
2. Base metal properties
When choosing a welding rod, it is essential to consider the base metal composition of the metal you are working on. Your primary goal is to match or closely match the rod composition to the base metal type, which will ensure a strong weld. If you are in doubt about the base composition of your metal, ask yourself these questions;
- Is the metal magnetic? If the metal is magnetic, the chances are good that the base metal is alloy steel or carbon steel. If the base metal is not magnetic, the material could be 300 series austenitic stainless steel, manganese steel, or a non-ferrous alloy like brass, aluminum, copper, brass, or titanium.
- What is the appearance of the metal? If you are working with a component or broken part, check for a grainy and coarse internal surface, which means the base material is cast metal.
- What type of sparks does the metal emit when touched by a grinder? According to the rule of thumb, more flare in the sparks shows a higher carbon content like in A-36 grade steel.
- Does a chisel bounce off into the base metal or “bite”? A chisel will bounce off harder metals, like chrome-moly, high carbon steel, or cast iron, while biting into a softer metal like mild steel or aluminum.
3. Welding current
Most welding rods use AC or DC power sources, while some are compatible with both. To determine the right current type for a specific rod, check the fourth digit of the AWS classification, which usually represents the type of compatible welding current and type of coating. Also, the type of power current you use usually influences the penetration profile of the resulting weld.
For instance, A DCEP compatible rod like an E6010 gives deep penetration and delivers an extremely tight arc. Also, it can “cut” through oil, rust, paint, and dirt. Conversely, a DCEN compatible like an E6012 gives mild penetration and functions well when bridging high current fillet welds, welding high speed, or two joints in the horizontal position. Furthermore, an AC-compatible welding rod like an E6013 delivers a soft arc with medium penetration and should be used to weld new sheet metal.
4. Base metal thickness, joint fit-up, and shape
When shopping for the best welding rods, this is a vital consideration. Thick materials require a rod with low hydrogen and maximum flexibility to prevent weld cracking. Welding rods with AWS classification numbers ending in 15, 16, or 18 deliver excellent low-hydrogen properties and great toughness to accommodate residual stress. For thin materials, you will require a welding rod that delivers soft arcs like a 6013. Moreover, smaller diameter rods will deliver shallow penetration to help prevent burn-through on thinner materials.
You will therefore want to assess the joint design and fit-up. For example, if you are working on a material with wide root openings, pick a welding rod like an E6012 that creates a concave weld face perfect for making groove welds and bridging gaps. Conversely, if you are working on a joint that is not beveled or one with fit-up, use a welding rod that delivers a digging arc to ensure enough penetration, like an E6011 or E6010.
5. Tensile strength
It would be best to consider the tensile strength to prevent cracking or other weld discontinuities due to mismatch. Therefore, ensure you match the minimum tensile strength of the rod to the tensile strength of the base metal. You can identify a welding rod tensile strength by referring to the printed first two digits of the AWS classification on the side of the rod. For instance, the number “60” on an E6011 welding rod shows that the filler metal delivers a weld bead with the least tensile strength of 60,000 PSI and thus would work perfectly with steel of similar tensile strength.
6. Specification and service conditions
Before buying the welding rods, ensure you assess the conditions that the welded part will face throughout its service. If you intend to use it in high heat or low-temperature environments exposed to repetitive shock loading, then a low hydrogen welding rod with higher flexibility will minimize the chance of weld cracking.
Ensure also to check for welding specifications if you are working on serious applications like boiler fabrication or pressure vessel. Mostly, these welding specifications will need you to use specific types of welding rods.
7. Welding position
With different welding positions, you have to consider the specific welding position you intend to work on. To determine what position(s) a particular welding rod is qualified for, check the third digit in AWS classification. Here is how to read the qualified welding rod position:
1=flat, vertical, horizontal, and overhead
2 = flat and horizontal only
For instance, you can use a 7018 welding rod in the flat, vertical, horizontal, and overhead positions.
8. Environmental job conditions
To achieve the best results, consider the environmental job conditions. Remove excessive mill sale, moisture, paint, rust, and grease. In addition, ensure you lean base metals to help prevent porosity and raise travel speeds. If cleaning your base metal is difficult, you can opt to buy an E6010 or E6011 welding rod since they deliver a deeply penetrating arc capable of cutting through contaminants.
Frequently Asked Questions about the Best Welding Rods
1. What is the best welding rod?
Undoubtedly, the Forney 30305-E6013 Welding Rod is our best choice. The best feature of this welding rod is, its penetration is great than other sized welding rods.
2. Do I have to remove oil or rust before welding?
Welding is a bit forgiving on unclean conditions; however, it never hurts to grind off excess rust or clean parts with a wire brush. If you clean well and have average welding ability, you can deliver a great weld. Nonetheless, even great welding skills cannot overwhelm poor preparation, as it can result in a lack of fusion, slag inclusions, and cracking.
3. How do I clean rust off metal for welding?
There are different methods to clean rust off the metal before welding. One of these methods is using sandpaper. It removes most of the contaminants apart from oil from hard to reach. Another way is by using a grinding wheel if it is available.