best all around welding rod

Best All-Around​ Welding Rod

If you are just getting into welding, you might be a bit confused as to what’s the best all-around welding rod. Even when you gain more experience with the different rods available, the number of choices can make it tough to decide which one to use. Luckily, however, there are certain options that are better than others. Some rods just seem to be more user-friendly with additional applications. 

So what is the best all-around welding rod? The best all-around welding rod would be the 6011, especially for the DIY’er and hobbyist. With 3/32 and 1/8 size rods on hand, the 6011 will get the majority of your jobs done. It is a fast-fill freeze rod, runs on both ac/dc and handles dirty contaminated jobs better than other electrodes.

Of course, the choice of which welding rod to use will also be dictated by the weld and metals you are applying them to. 

Runner ups would have to be the 7014 rods for horizontal applications and the 6013 for vertical welds.

Now after saying that, I hate to break it to you, but that’s just my opinion and there are many different types of welding rods you can choose from that you might end-up having better luck with. It just might be you have a favorite, passed down to you from a teacher or mentor. 

So, if you’re ready to explore this subject in more detail in order for you pick the best all-around welding rod for your situation, then let’s get to it!

What is the Best Welding Rod for a Beginner?

Again, I have to say that for me, the best welding rod for a beginner would a 6011 to start with. If you want a rod that will cut through just about anything like rust, dirt and/or paint, then go with the 6011. The 6011 burns hotter than a 6013 and will penetrate the metal better to make that weld. 

If you want a rod that doesn’t burn as hot, then the 6013 would be your next option and you might even like the bead it leaves behind a bit better than using the 6011. Although for a beginner, I would definitely recommend the 6011. 

That being said, if you were to try a 7014 rod, you might be even more pleased with the end result of your weld, as a 7014 will run smoother leaving less to clean-up when done. 

My final recommendation is to start with a 6011 and once you have mastered that, move on to another rod. 

What Do the Numbers Mean on a Welding Rod?

I should mention quickly what the numbers mean on a welding rod. We can discuss this in more detail in another article, however, I just want to touch briefly on it here. 

The first two digits are the tensile strength. 6010 would then have a tensile strength of 60,000 pounds per square inch. 

The next number is the position of the weld. For example, if it’s a horizontal or vertical weld etc., a number 1 as in 6010 means it is an all position welding rod and is okay for any position. 

The last 2 digits together are for the coating and welding current. For a 6010 rod, the coating and current are dictated by the #10. For example, a coating could be sodium potassium and the current DC+ or AC and DC- etc. Your welding rod packages should indicate these attributes. 

What is the Most Common Welding Rod Size?

The most common welding rod size will differ again, depending on the application but the most commom sizes would be 3/32″ and 1/8″ as mentioned in our opening statement. Rod thickness increases when the thickness of metal increases. This should make sense if you consider using a 1/16” rod on a ½” thick piece of steel. This weld will not hold very long. It will crack and pull apart quite easily. 

There are welding charts available online, however, here is what I would recommend when considering the size of rod for your project. These stats are the ones more commonly found and recommended online. 

1/16” rods work best for metal up to 3/16” 

3/32” rods work best for metal up to ¼”

1/8” rods work best for metal thicker than 1/8”

5/32” rods work best for metal thicker than ¼”

Chances are you will be using 1/8” thick rods when just starting out. Make sure to always match up the correct sized rod to metal, as a thicker rod will destroy thinner metals leaving you with a mess and wasted money. On the other hand, as already mentioned, if you use to small of a welding rod the weld will not last very long. 

Which One is Better Forney or Vulcan Rods?

I recently ran into a question online where someone was asking which rod is better and quite a few replied saying they preferred Forney or Vulcan. These are great options, however, I just want to take a different look at this question than you may have expected. For me, it’s not about which rod is better – and don’t get me wrong, there are just as many ‘crap’ rods available as there are excellent ones.

I believe the best rods, whether they are a Forney or Vulcan, will be dependent upon these four things. 

  1. The packaging makes a difference. You are thinking, ‘What? Packaging?’ yes, the last thing you want is damp/wet welding rods. You always want dry rods for clean welds. The coating on some rods will break away if it gets damp. 
  2. Another not so obvious reason for what rod is better is which one is readily available to you. There’s nothing worse than being fully immersed in your project to find out you just ran out of welding sticks and you have another 6’ bead to run. 
  3. Already mentioned previously, sometimes the better rod is the one you learned on first. It’s like anything in life, whatever you practice at, you get good at and it then becomes your favorite. 
  4. Lastly, it will also depend on your welding machine. You would think a welding machine is a welding machine, however, most welders will agree that what works best for one machine might not work best for another. So whether you have a Campbell Hausfeld or a Lincoln, the best rod just might differ. 

So what does this mean for you? It means try a rod based on my recommendations above and keep using that rod until you know it either works great for you or you need to try a different rod. 

That being said, these Forney rods can be purchased on Amazon and are reasonably priced. Start out with a 5lb package and if you like them then next time try the 10lb pack. These are “all position” rods meaning you can weld on vertical or horizontal surfaces as necessary. 

I also recommend you purchase a proper storage container for your rods. This one here on Amazon will do the job. Storage containers help keep rods from getting damp. 

Conclusion

In conclusion, I want to point out that I realize it’s not cut and dry with which rod is best for an all-around rod but that there are things to consider. 

If you go with a 6011 numbered rod and its 1/8” in diameter, then you should be using metal that is at least 1/8” thick and so on. 

The fun and enjoyment you get from welding will be the journey you take and the progress you make on your projects. 

Something not mentioned yet is sometimes it’s about your skill level as well. Some people just have a knack when it comes to learning new things in the trades and catch-on so quickly. Others, it can take months or even years of practice to get the desired results they are looking for.  

So, that’s about it! Good luck, fellow hobbyists, with your future projects. 

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Hey, this is Brian and Gene. Since the two of us have pretty much been self-employed our entire lives, we have a lot of experience designing and creating all sorts of DIY projects for businesses and homes—projects that have helped us make money or save money through the years!

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