If you are into welding, either as a profession or a hobby, you’re in need of the right equipment. One of the essential elements of welding equipment are welding rods, also known as welding electrodes.
Welding rod is the generic name for the stick electrodes or filler metal that join two separate base metals in the process of shielded metal arc welding (SMAW). So whatever welding machine you have, you need to pair it with the best all-around welding rod to get the job done right.
Now, the market offers lots of different welding rods that are suitable for various welding jobs. And, since welding rods are necessary for your work, it’s very important for you as a welder to choose the best-suited welding rod for your type of welding. Luckily, I’m here to help you find exactly what you need.
In this article, you’ll find a selection of both light and heavy-coated stick electrodes along with overviews of their specifications such as ductility, current, polarity, base metal, and so on. Make sure to read the buying guide at the end, where I give you a few more tips that will help you decide on your purchase.
So, let’s take a look at the best all-around welding rods and their pros and cons, so you can make the right choice.
Top 5 All-Around Welding Rods
Best Overall: Hobart 770458 6011 Stick
The Hobart 770458 6011 Stick is my favorite pick for best all-around welding rod, characterized by durability, versatility, and overall high quality.
I recommend this rod for both newbies and professionals because of its versatility and ease of use. One of its greatest advantages is that you can use it in any welding position: flat, vertical, overhead, and horizontal. Plus, these all-purpose electrodes are suitable for welding galvanized carbon steel and carbon, and they’re also used for welding with painted metals, rust, and dirt.
When it comes to user-friendliness, this welding rod is the real deal, as it’s lightweight and convenient to carry around while working.
The Hobart will keep you safe in your welding work. Its coating is made of sodium cellulose materials that provide great protection.
Last but not least, the Hobart is quite durable. The warranty of Hobart 770458 is 5 years, so if you’re not very regular in your welding, you can still expect them to last you for a long time.
The only potential drawback of this welding rod is that it’s difficult to remove slags.
- Lightweight and portable
- Improves performance through AC and DCEP currents
- Deep penetrating through materials
- Durable coating made of sodium cellulose
- Efficient when used in any position for either flat, horizontal, overhead, or vertical welding
- Hard to remove slags
Best Vertical Welding Rod: Forney 31105 E6011
The Forney 31105 is an all-purpose rod that supports deep arc welding through rusted steel.
This welding rod is versatile and suitable for welding in different positions. It’s made from a metal that solidifies quite fast, which will give you great results when welding in any position, including overhead, flat, vertical, and horizontal welding.
Forney 31105 E6011 will enhance your performance in the welding process and increase productivity if you use DCEP and AC polarity reverse machines. It’s great for welding casting steel, galvanized tank, and pressure pipes.
You’ll love how easy it is to use and set up the Forney. The featured instruction manual will tell you everything you need to know.
Before welding, you won’t need to fuss with lengthy preparations, you will only need to get your surfaces ready, which will both save you money on operational costs and boost performance. Plus, it’s easy to clean and maintain the Forney because it produces very little slag.
Overall, the Forney 31105 E6011 features a strong arc force for the deep penetration of surfaces.
One disadvantage that welders mention, however, is that the slag produced gets stuck in the exhaustion pipe.
- Excellent for cold steel roll fabrications
- Minimal preparation of surfaces necessary
- Produces little slag
- Easy to clean and maintain
- Highly durable
- Convenient for beginners in welding
- Easy replacement of damaged parts
- Slag may get stuck in the exhaustion pipe
Best for Experienced Welders: Forney 30705 E7018
Another Forney welding rod in this series is the 30705 E7018 model. This welding rod is considered one of the best among experienced welders, so I highly recommend it if you’re professional or thinking about getting serious with welding.
This stick welding rod is ideal for welding in any position as it produces sturdy, precise welds that make it suitable for the construction of high-rise buildings, bridges, dams, and shopping malls.
The Forney 30705 E7018 is made of durable, high-quality materials. It contains low alloy, mild steel, and low hydrogen. In fact, this welding rod is excellent for structural welding because its low hydrogen content helps prevent peeling or cracking. Additionally, the low hydrogen electrodes produce decent results on lower amperage. It’s also convenient for offsite welding in workshops or factories.
These stick electrodes enable low penetration for all-purpose applications. An additional feature is the professional welding head that works really well for steel that’s difficult to repair.
The thick flux powder that it contains makes the Forney easy to use when joining thick materials. The powder promotes the flow of the filler metal and absorbs the oxides that are produced during heating.
Plus, I think this model is quite user-friendly because its stable arc muffles noise and provides low-medium penetration with very little splashes.
This rod works great with machines that support both DCEP and AC/DC + polarity. Its tensile strength is 70, 000 PSI, so it can withstand high levels of stress during the welding process. Also, it’s appropriate for casting steel, galvanized tank, and pressure pipes.
What may come as a deal-breaker is that the Forney is not suitable for low exposed circuit voltage OCV. Plus, if mishandled, the rods may get oxidized.
In case you were wondering about protection and maintenance, I am happy to inform you that the Forney 30705 E7018 features iron powder that will shield the molten weld beads from moisture and contamination.
- Simple to use thanks to the thick flux powder
- Convenient for making cold steel rolls
- Excellent in out-of-place repairing and tack welds
- Produces strong and smooth weld
- Supports both direct and alternating currents
- Suitable for all welding positions
- Possible oxidizing if mishandled
- Impossible to use on low exposed circuit voltage OCV
Best 6013 Welding Rod: Forney 303305 E 6013
The Forney 303305 E 6013 is versatile and convenient for beginners, as it can weld even weaker fitting joins thanks to its stable arc.
You can use the Forney 30305 for different welding jobs and materials. It supports different types of welding applications, i.e. light fabrication, worn-out steel surfaces, and ship repairing. It can be applied in various kinds of steel products like low alloy, mild steel, and galvanized steel. The electrodes of Forney 30305 E 6013 use AC and DC currents, so it’s suitable for welding machines with different voltages.
This electrode produces thin slag that you can easily clean. It’s therefore convenient for mild steelwork, where you may need smooth operation and a good-looking finish. Also, it’s perfect for jobs where uneven welds require you to adjust your position accordingly.
The Forney 30305 E 6013 comes with a coating that is thicker than the standard models in this series, which reduces spatter and improves performance.
The welding rod can produce high-quality welds with thin materials at low amperage, including shallow penetration welds. It also produces smooth and flat beads. Plus, this rod is perfect for weak-fitting joints due to its exceptional arc initiation.
What you may find inconvenient is the abundance of slag that forms in the front of the weld. Additionally, some users have found the quality of this rod subpar.
- Supports welding thin metal sheets
- Easy to use, simple for newbies, simple guidelines
- Uses both AC and DC currents (supports welding in any polarity)
- Suitable for various steel applications
- Useful for standard repairs
- Useful for shipbuilding and welding of worn-out steel
- Questionable quality
- Cleaning can be time-consuming
Best 6010 Welding Rod: Forney 31610 E6010
This rod is versatile and suitable for a variety of welding jobs. It can be used in all-purpose welding, pipe welding, maintenance welding, shipbuilding, and fabrication. As it supports all positions in welding, you can use it to work in any welding positions – flat, horizontal, vertical, and overhead.
If your work requires deep penetration on dirty and rusty surfaces (light to medium), or painted materials, you can easily get it done with this electrode, as it has a cellulose coating that creates a quick penetrating arc. Another advantage of this welding rod is its ability to burn through rust and dirt and thus produce well-balanced welds over dirty surfaces.
The fast-starting arc makes this electrode well-suited for application with oily steel, pipe welding, and galvanized steel. The amperage range for this rod is between 65 and 130 amps, while the tensile strength is 60, 000 PSI.
Maintaining this welding rod is quite simple. The inside pipe features a root bead that ensures safe protection from the DC while its vertical overhead repairs produce a lower amount of residue, meaning the rod leaves less slag than others in its category. Plus, it only requires minimal surface prep. If that’s not enough, the device cools down rapidly after use so you can stow it away quickly.
One of the potential downsides of this welding rod is its unique compatibility with DC electric current, which makes it unsuitable for AC-based welding machines.
- Designed for all welding positions
- Rapid cooldown after use
- Produces less slag so it’s easy to clean
- Great option for thorough weld dissemination
- Suitable for welding of rusty.dirty metals
- Minimum surface preparation necessary
- Compatible only with DC electric current
Best All-Around Stick Welding Rods: Buying Guide
The market of welding equipment offers a multitude of tools and gear. However, it’s important to consider both expert suggestions and the requirements of your specific welding job when choosing electrodes for your own welding practice.
So, don’t forget to check information concerning ductility, tensile strength, corrosion resistance, base metal, weld position, current, and polarity. The exact specifications of these will clarify what you should purchase and enhance your productivity.
For instance, while you could use E6010 or E6011 electrodes on dirty and rusty metals, E6013 electrodes are only suitable for clean, brand-new thin metals. So buying the right electrode for the right welding job is of key importance. You don’t want to get stuck with a rod you can’t use, after all.
Also, make sure you identify the light from heavy-coated electrodes. The light ones have a light coating applied through spraying, washing, brushing, dipping, or tumbling, while the heavy coatings are used for welding cast steel and iron, or just any hard surfaces in general.
Best All-Around Stick Welding Rods: Frequently Asked Questions
What are welding electrodes?
Welding electrodes, also referred to as stick welding rods or simply rods, are metal wires coated with chemicals that are used in different types of welding to create and sustain a stable arc, and at the same time to provide filler metal where needed. The current from the welder passes through the rod and heats the metal enough so that it can be welded and fused in the weld pool. The chemical coating, on the other hand, is designed to improve the weld by helping you keep a stable arc and protecting the metal from any sort of damage.
As the metal from the rod may serve as filler metal in some welds, keep in mind that it should be similar to your weld metal.
Depending on your weld, like the type of metal and its thickness, as well as the welding machine you’re using, you’ll need to choose a different rod size. The diameter of electrodes varies in fractions of an inch (or millimeters, if you’re anywhere outside the US). In general, the greater the diameter, the greater the amount of current that the rod can handle. Plus, a bigger electrode means more filler metal. The opposite is true of rods with a smaller diameter.
Finally, depending on the type of welding, there are two types of electrodes: consumable and non-consumable.
Consumable electrodes get consumed during the welding process, i.e. they melt and fuse with the weld. MIG and stick welders use consumable electrodes.
Non-consumable electrodes don’t get consumed, but merely serve to provide electricity, a stable arc, and heat the weld. The filler material doesn’t come from the electrode, but from a separate, manually fed wire. These electrodes are made of tungsten, due to its high melting point and are used in TIG welding.
How can I understand the numbers and letters?
Each type of rod is categorized with a code in letters and numbers. In fact, this numbering system was set up by AWS (the American Welding Society) to categorize specific electrodes based on their specifications, which can tell us what sort of an application they’re best suited for. It also includes instructions for the most efficient ways of operating each electrode.
Let’s break down an electrode (figuratively, of course; electrodes shouldn’t be broken literally), like E6010.
The “E” stands for electrode. So, yes, the E6010 is an electrode!
The first two digits specify the tensile strength. Tensile strength, as we’ve covered, tells us how much pressure a rod can withstand. The E6010, then, features 60,000 PSI, which means it can withstand 60,000 pounds per square inch tensile strength.
The third digit (or fourth, in a 5-digit electrode) tells us the position in which the rod can be used. If the number is 1, the rod can be used in any of the four welding positions (flat, horizontal, vertical, overhead). If the number is 2, the rod’s only suitable for flat and horizontal applications. So back to the E6010 – the 1 means that it can be used in any position.
The last digit reveals the coating of the rod and what current it runs on. The numbers 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, and 8 specify the coating on the rod and whether it works with DCEP, AC or DCEP, AC or DCEN, or all three. In the case of E6010, the type of coating for 0 is cellulose sodium and the welding current it’s compatible with is DCEP.
So, what we have in the end is a mild-steel, all-position electrode with 60,000 PSI, cellulose sodium coating that’s compatible with DC currents.
Bonus details on the most common rods:
Other common electrode numbers include 6010, 6013, 6011, 6012, 7024, 7014 and 7018.
The E6012 indicates all positional welding that can be specially performed for filling gaps between joints.
The E6013 uses DC+, AC, and DC currents and can resist a 60, 000 PSI tensile strength in the welding process. These electrodes also produce soft arcs for welding automotive projects.
The E7018 has a coating of thick flux powder (iron powder and low hydrogen) and its wires produce a quiet arc. The low amount of hydrogen enhances smooth welding. It’s compatible with AC and DCEP.
A Few Words Before You Go…
For the best welding projects, you’ll need welding rods that support high-quality performance and productivity. I believe that that’s exactly what I gave you in my reviews.
If you are looking for the perfect all-around welding rod for your work, it’s important to make sure that the rod is compatible with your type of welding and the base material. That’s why I put together this guide to help you figure out what kinds of rods are available on the market and their specifics so that you can decide which one is best suited for you.
You can learn more about the specs and user reviews of each welding rod by clicking on the product links and heading over to their Amazon sites.