So you’ve been welding for a while, and your latest project is welding sheets of thin metal.
One thing that all welding techniques require is the right accessories and equipment for a specific project. So, welding thin sheet metal requires a special type of welding rod, and I am here to end your search for the best rods for this particular welding process.
Regardless of whether you are an experienced welder or a junior member of the welding community, you might find yourself struggling with thin metals. Before we get started, you can read our guide on how to weld thin metal, what machine to use, how to adjust the heat, and learn a trick or two.
Although there isn’t any absolute definition of what is considered a “thin” metal, I would stick to the general rule of thumb that any metal below 3/16” is actually thin. So 1/16” electrodes, for instance, are quite popular for thin metals because they’re strong and bendable at the same time.
In welding processes, the quality and efficiency of your welding rod will affect the outcome of your work, i.e. the melting, the quality of the filler metal, and finally, the joining of the base metal.
So, in this article, I will discuss rods that are best suited for thin and sheet metal welding. I will also cover their main features, their pros and cons.
Don’t forget to read the buying guide at the end of the article, where I’ll go over what to search for in a welding rod for thin metal, what technique will get you the best welds, and tips for people with different skill levels.
Best 5 Welding Rods for Thin Metals
Best Overall: Forney 30705 E7018 Welding Rod
The Forney 30705 E7018 Welding Rod is a low-hydrogen welding rod that can help you produce high-quality welds on DC machines with low amperage and AC machines with higher amperage.
The Forney is quite well-suited for general-purpose welding. It runs on AC and DC+, and is a great choice for steel (mild, hard, stainless) and low alloy. It’s also used for cast iron in customary repair projects that require low penetration.
One of the advantages of the low hydrogen content of the Forney 30705 is that it prevents the weld material from peeling and cracking. Plus, you can work with it in all positions (vertical, horizontal, overhead) on hard steel without additional preheating. The Forney is perfect for welding materials with thicker sections or joints with cracking tendencies.
Just like us, other welders too find it a good choice for tack welding and fabricating cold-formed steel (CFS). It’s also ideal for out-of-position welding.
One of the downsides of this rod is that it is not recommended for use with a low open circuit voltage (OCV).
- Perfect for welding thick and cracked areas
- Designed for welding CFS
- Ideal for tack welding
- Provides good results on DC welders with low amperage
- Not recommended for use with a low open-circuit voltage
Runner-Up: US Forge Welding Electrode E6013
Another favorite of mine in the series of best welding rods for thin metal is the US Forge Welding Electrode E6013. It’s an all-position rod that is convenient for light gauge framing, especially with mild steel.
This welding rod is quite popular with seasoned welders, who find it to be one of the best rods if you weld vertically and overhead. It’s used for sheet metal, general purposes, and repairs.
In fact, the US Forge Welding Electrode is quite versatile. You can use it for construction, farming, and industrial work, where there’s always something that needs fixing.
The rod is quite straightforward to use for stick welding. It’s complementary with both alternative and direct currents.
Maintenance is simple with this welding rod. The US Forge welding rod produces little spatter and a manageable amount of slag, which is easy to clean and remove.
- An all-position rod
- Ideal for light gauge work
- Convenient for vertical and overhead welding
- Used in both production and repair work
- Easy to operate
- Little spatter
- Easy to clean and remove slag
- Not suitable for small machines (110 volts)
Best for Professional Welders: Forney 3125 E6011 Welding Rod
The Forney 3125 is an all-position 6011 welding rod that is the perfect choice for galvanized steel tanks, steel casting, shipbuilding, railroad cars, truck frames, and pressure pipes. That’s why I especially recommend it for professional welders.
The powerful potential of its arc length makes it perfect for penetrating deeper in materials, as well as for the rapid freezing of rusty, dirty, oily, and painted metals.
You can use it with any technique, though I think it performs best with an arc or a stick welder. The recommended polarity is AC, but it also works with DC + as well.
This electrode is great for out-of-position welding because of the quick metal solidification that allows you to weld both vertically and overhead. The travel speed is faster thanks to the smooth wetting of the arc. At the same time, its well-balanced spread will give you flatter contour fillets and fast deposition.
Overall, the Forney 3125 is super easy to clean up after. Because it fits right into the repairs-and-maintenance categories, you’ll be happy to know that it requires very little surface preparation.
- An all-position rod
- Perfect for casting and shipbuilding
- Powerful arc force
- Deep penetration makes it ideal for rusty, painted, oily or dirty metals
- Makes it easy to weld vertically and overhead
- Faster travel speeds and deposition
- Hard to start on lower amperage, but once it gets going there’s no stopping it!
Best for Arc Welding: Hobart 770457 6011
The Hobart 770457 is a perfect choice for arc welding, but I’d also recommend it for stick welding. It runs on AC and DCEP reverse polarity (as opposed to straight polarity), which allows for deep penetrating when you weld.
Overall, the Hobart 770457 offers versatility in arc and stick welding. It’s a low-hydrogen, all-purpose stick electrode that can be used in all positions. It features a 60,000 PSI tensile strength, making it pretty great for work with galvanized steel and carbon.
As the type of electricity (electric current) it runs on is good for deep penetrating, the Hobart is an ideal choice for welding through small-to-medium amounts of dirt, paint, or rust on metals.
It’s also pretty cool that the Hobart comes with a 12-month guarantee – at the very least, you get some peace of mind.
- Suitable for welding in all positions
- Great for use with arc and stick welders
- Compatible with carbon and galvanized steels
- Convenient for welding through light to mild dirt, rust, and paint
- A bit pricey
- Poor packaging can damage the product – but you can always return it
Best for Contaminated Surfaces: Hobart 770479 7018 10-Ibs Stick
The Hobart 7018 stick is a low-hydrogen electrode that you can use to weld in all positions. It’s suitable for low, medium, and high-carbon steel, has a standard 1/8 inch width, and tensile strength of 70, 000 PSI.
In fact, the 70,000 PSI make the Hobart 7018 stick rods great for digging through rust, paint, dirt, and oil.
Keep in mind, however, that these stick rods aren’t recommended for low-voltage AC welders. If you have a small, low-voltage welder, Hobart has another rod designed specifically for you.
One of the downsides of this option is the poor packaging, which can result in damaged goods.
- Great for welding contaminated surfaces
- All-positions use
- Ideal for high-carbon steels
- Work great with an arc and stick welder
- Low-quality package, so tips may get damaged
Best Welding Rod for Thin Metal: Buyer’s Guide
Now that we got that out of the way, the question is – how can you know which electrodes to get?
First, you need to make sure that the parameters are compatible with your machine and the base metal (you can see details about each product on their Amazon page in your browser). To get the best welds with any thin sheet, double-check the rod’s:
- Tensile strength (how much tensile pressure it can withstand before breaking);
- Polarity and current (will it work with your machine?);
- Base metal (to get a strong weld, you should match – as closely as possible – the composition of the rod with the base metal you’re using);
- Position (can it be used to weld overhead, vertically, etc.);
- Ductility (how malleable is it).
One thing to keep in mind is that working with thin materials requires more caution and care on your part, especially because with thin metals, it’s easy to build up too much heat in one place. In order to avoid heat buildup, try using a whipping motion (going back and forth) vertically, downhill, and in whichever position you find necessary.
This is because when you go too slowly, the heat quickly burns through thin metals. You don’t want your base falling to pieces, after all.
If you’re itching to know whether a TIG or a MIG welder is better for this type of welding, head over to our FAQ section.
Best Welding Rod for Thin Metal: Conclusion
Hopefully, our overviews and guide have been useful in your search for the best welding rod for thin metal. Although thin materials require that you are more cautious than usual, and go against most structural welding rules, the work process is simple enough, once you get the hang of it.
Frequently Asked Questions
What size rods should I use for thin sheet metal?
This would depend on the width of the metal you’re working with. If you have new 1/8-inch metal, you should go for 3/32-inch 7018 rods. In case the surface you work on is old and rusty, you might want to consider 1/8-Inch or 3/32 6011 rods. For thinner surfaces, you can try 1/16-inch electrodes.
What type of welder is best for welding thin metals?
A MIG welder is the best technique for metals that are thicker, like structural steel. A TIG welder, on the other hand, is the best for extremely thin sheet metal because the power can be lowered and the penetration controlled more easily, making them great for work that requires precision.
What is the easiest rod to weld with?
E7018 electrodes have a thick flux with high powder content and are considered one of the easiest to use.