Welding rods are of different types with the most common welding rod sizes being the 6010, 6011, 6012, 6013, 7014, 7024 and 7018. These seven have different characteristics that make them suited to different welding projects.

Welding Rod Sizes And Uses – What Welding Rod Do I Use?

Probably the first thing you learnt about welding electrodes or welding rods is that they can either be consumable or non-consumable. But this is not the only thing you need to learn about rods. 

Welding rods are of different types with the most common welding rod sizes being the 6010, 6011, 6012, 6013, 7014, 7024 and 7018. These seven have different characteristics that make them suited to different welding projects.

It is, therefore, necessary that we look at each individually. This way at the end of this article you will be more informed on these four welding rod sizes and uses.

Welding rods are of different types with the most common welding rod sizes being the 6010, 6011, 6012, 6013, 7014, 7024 and 7018. These seven have different characteristics that make them suited to different welding projects.

Welding Rod Classification

But before we get into each of these welding rods, let’s delve a little into the world of welding rods classification. When you buy a welding rod you will notice three sets of numbers imprinted on it. 

These numbers refer to a different characteristic of the rod. The first two numbers represent a rod’s tensile strength. This refers to how much stress the weld bead can take. If for example, your rod has the number ’60 then it means it can withstand 60,000 pounds per square inch.

The higher the number the stronger the stick electrode. The third number tells you the position in which the welding rod can be used. In most cases, the third number will be ‘1’, meaning the rod can be used in all positions.

The last number represents which coatings have been used on the rod. This number, therefore, influences which currents should be used.  This number varies from rod to rod and we will go into it in more detail later on.

But for instance below we are giving you all the welding rod general specifications and their comparison.

Quick Comparison Of Different Welding Rods

Specs Of RodsE-6010E-6011E-6012E-6013E-7018E-7028
CoatingHigh Cellulose SodiumHigh Cellulose PotassiumHigh Titania SodiumHigh Titania PotassiumIron Powder Low HydrogenIron Powder Low Hydrogen
PositionAll PositionsAll PositionsAll PositionsAll PositionsAll PositionsFlat Horizontal Fillets
CurrentDCEPDCEP ACDCEP ACDCEP DCEN ACDCEP ACDCEP AC
PenetrationDeepDeepMediumShallowShallow to MediumShallow to Medium
Tensile Strength60,000 PSI60,000 PSI60,000 PSI60,000 PSI70,000 PSI70,000 PSI
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The 6010 welding rod

Arguably the most common welding rod out of the four, the 6010 has a tensile strength of 60,000 pounds per square inch. Additionally, it can be used in all four positions, horizontally, vertically, flat and overhead.

This electrode offers deep penetration thanks largely to its coating. It has a coating comprised of cellulose, titanium dioxide, magnesium, aluminum, and metallic deoxidizers. The cellulose makes up to 30% of its weight. 

As such, it is sometimes referred to as a cellulosic electrode. Another characteristic of this rod is that it cools quickly. Also, it leaves a very thin layer of slag which can easily be removed.

The 6010 welding rod amperage

Different stick welding rods are suited to different amperage settings. And the best amperage setting depends on a rod’s diameter. A 1/8 inch 6010 welding rod works best with an amperage of between 75 and 125 amps.

The 6010 welding rod polarity

When it comes to polarity due to its coating this welding rod can only be used with a DC current. Thus, it is useless when paired with an AC based welding machine.

6010 welding rod uses

  • Pipe welding
  • Welding of dirty or rusted metals
  • Auto body repair works
  • Welding joists and bridging

Advantages

  • Offers a deep weld penetration
  • Leave very little slag after welding
  • Burn quickly
  • Can be used in all four positions
  • Can weld metals that are dirty and rusted
  • Can be used outside.

Disadvantages

  • Only compatible with DC electric current
  • Are not easy to master and may be complex for beginner

Tips and techniques

There are several useful tips and techniques you can employ when welding with the 6010 rods. One useful tip is whipping it 3/32 to ½ distance. Then immediately pull back at around 1/8 inch and pause.

This allows the welding rod to establish the weld puddle on the spot. Whip the rod backward and forwards with the same movement. 

Who is it for?

When it comes down to it, the 6010 welding rod is not for everyone. Beginners will find it a bit difficult to use. Thus, it is best suited to professionals who have some experience in welding.

The 6011 welding rod

A close counterpart of the 6010, the 6011 welding rod is another common rod that comes with a variety of great characteristics. Unlike its counterpart, this one can use both the AC and DC currents. 

And just like all other welding rods, the 6011 comes in a variety of sizes. Also similar to the 6010 this welding rod comes with a high cellulose sodium coating. This rod is built for everyday use and can handle a wide variety of welding tasks

Our recommended pick for 6011 best welding rods

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The 6011 welding rod amperage

The amperage of the 6011 depends on the size and diameter of the rod. On average, a 1/8 inch 6011 will have an amperage of between 75 and 125 amps. On the other hand, a 3/32 inch rod will have an amperage of 40 to 85 amps.

A ¼ inch rod will have an amperage of between 210 and 315 amperage. As such, the larger the diameter the more the higher the amperage.

Polarity

When it comes to the polarity of this welding rod, it can run on both the AC and DC currents. Thus, unlike the 6010 welding rods, this one runs on both polarities

What is a 6011 welding rod used for

  • Ship building
  • Auto body works
  • Pipe welding
  • General repairs and fabrication

Advantages

  • Can be used to weld rusted or dirty metals
  • Works with both AC and DC electric currents
  • Burns quicker than some other rods such as the 7018 welding rod
  • Has a deep weld penetration
  • Produces very little slag after welding

Disadvantages

  • Can be difficult to use especially for beginners
  • The finished weld may not be as appealing as that of other rods such as the 6013 rod

Who is it for?

Just like the 6010, this welding rod is not for beginners. Experienced welders will find it an ideal option. Thus, it is a rod for professional welders.

The 6012 welding rod

The 6012 welding rod has characteristics similar to those of both the 6011 and 6010 rods. All three rods have a tensile strength of 60,000 and can be used in all four positions. Also, all three are very popular among welders.

Similar to the 6011 it uses both the DC and AC currents. However, it does not have the same penetration power as its two other counterparts. Also instead of a cellulose coating, it features a high titania coating.

Our recommended pick for 6012 best arc welding rods

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The 6012 welding rod amperage

Amperage of this rod depends on the size. It comes in a variety of sizes all of which work best with different amperage settings. A 1/8 inch rod is suited to an amperage of between 80 to 140 amps. On the other hand, a rod that measures 3/32 inches in diameter is suited to a range of between 35 and 85 amps.

6012 welding rod uses

  • Connecting open joints
  • Repair works
  • Welding rusted carbon steel sheets
  • Non-critical welding

Advantages

  • Is compatible with both DC and AC electric currents
  • Work best with mild steel
  • Can be used on rusted or dirty metals
  • Can be used in all positions
  • Great for bridging gaps between joints

Disadvantages

  • It has a thin weld penetration
  • Produces a lot of slag after weld and will require cleanup

Who is it for?

This type of rod is perfect for steel welders. The 6012 has been known to work best with steel. Also for connecting joints.

The 6013 welding rod

Not all welding rods are built for professionals, some are beginner-friendly. One such rod is the 6013. With a tensile strength of 60,000 pounds and capable of being used in all positions, it is an ideal option for beginners.

This welding rod can be used with both the AC and DC currents. This means it is one of the most versatile welding rods out there. It can be used with different welding machines of varying voltages.

The 6013 welding rod amperage

Let’s look at the rod’s amperage. Amperage will depend on the diameter of the rod you are using. As such, if you are using a rod with a 3/32 inch diameter an amperage range of 40 to 90 amps will do.

However, if you have one with a diameter of ¼ inch then a higher amperage range of between 250 and 350 will be ideal.

6013 welding rod uses

  • Auto body repair works
  • Ship building
  • Welding of overworked or worn out steel
  • General repair works

Advantages

  • It is relatively easy to use compared to some other welding rods
  • Can be used in all four positions
  • Compatible with both AC and DC electric currents
  • Ideal for welding thin sheets of metal
  • Used in a variety of welding applications

Disadvantages

  • Has a low weld penetration
  • A lot of post weld clean up may be required when using this rod

Tips on how to use it

While it produces welds of a lower quality compared to some of the other welding rod offerings, when used right it can be a great rod. One thing that you can do to improve penetration is to clean the metal you want to weld.

Also, ensure you have a good view of the electrode end as well as the welding arc. Use a slightly whipping motion with this electrode to produce the best-designed weld results.

Who is it for?

Since it is easier to use and master compared to some of the other welding electrodes on the list it is an ideal option for beginners. However, it can also be used by pros who know how to handle it.

The 7014 welding rod

Used for welding low and mild alloy steel, the 7014 welding rod is another common beginner-friendly rod. It has an iron-powder coating that gives it a high disposition rate. As such, results in a fine and smooth in fine and smooth weld with fine ripples.

As you might have guessed this rod has a tensile strength of 70,000 pounds per inch. Furthermore, it can be used in all directions. This is not a low hydrogen electrode and thus does not require strict storage requirements.

Also, unlike other rods, it is not vulnerable to moisture. This adds on to the point of it not requiring strict storage requirements.

7014 welding rod amperage

Depending on the size, the amperage of this rod ranges from 80 amps to 415 amps.  A ¼ inch 7014 rod can be used with an amperage of between 330 and 415 amps. For the smaller rods of 3/32 inches, an amperage range of 80 to 125 amps is recommended.

Polarity

Similar to many of the other welding rods on this list, this welding rod can work with either a Direct Current based power source or an AC one.

7014 welding rod uses

  • Ship building
  • Welding of metals in moist or damp areas
  • Farm repair works
  • Auto body repair works

Advantages

  • Produces a strong weld compared to other rods
  • It is easier to use compared to some other welding rods
  • Is almost impervious to moisture, which makes it easy to store
  • Can be used with both Alternating and Direct Current
  • Can be used in all four positions

Disadvantages

  • Does not have a deep weld penetration
  • Slag produced may require some post weld cleanup

Tips on how to use it

While the slag it produces easily falls off after welding, there are some things you can do to minimize the amount of slag produced. One thing you can do is not to take away the electrode from the molten pool while welding.

Who is it for?

With its relatively low penetration, it is suited to welding low or mild alloy steel. Also since it is easy to handle, it can be used by beginner welders. This makes it a great option for pros and beginners alike.

The 7018 welding rod

This welding rod is sometimes referred to as a low hydrogen welding rod because its flux contains close to no hydrogen. It is predominantly used in structural welding and is very much different from the 6011 and 6010.

The only similarity between these rods is that they can all be used in all the four positions. Known for producing smooth, strong and ductile welds, this is a common rod.

The 7018 welding rod amperage

Generally speaking, the 7018 rod uses an amperage of about 225 amps. However, this for a ¼ inch rod. For a 3/32 inch, an amperage of 90 amps is recommended.

The 7018 welding rod Polarity

The 7018 just like most of the other welding rods on the list is compatible with both Alternating and Direct Current.

7018 welding rod uses

  • Structural welding
  • General purpose repair and fabrication works
  • Weapons assembly
  • Building construction

Advantages

  • Is relatively easier to use compared to some other welding rods
  • Can be used with either an Alternating or Direct current
  • Can be used in all four positions
  • Is a versatile welding rod that can be used in a variety of welding tasks
  • Produces a smooth and strong weld

Disadvantages

  • Due to it being a low hydrogen rod you may need to buy a rod oven to store it
  • Is prone to oxidising if not handled properly

Who is it for?

For welders looking to weld thicker metals using an AC machine, the 7024 is the right rod to use. On the other hand, the 7018 is used for general purpose welding. In particular, if you need a rod for welding carbon steel.

The 7024 welding rod

Probably the only odd one out on the list, the 7024 is a welding rod that greatly differs from the others on the list. For starters, while all the others can be used in all four positions this can only be used in two. To be more specific this rod is designed to be used in flat and horizontal positions only.

The reason being that this rod produces a hot and big puddle and its flux causes the molten metal to solidify slowly. 

The 7024 welding rod amperage

When it comes to amperage it depends on the size of rod you are using. Typically a ⅛ inch 7024 welding rod will have an amperage range of between 100 t0 160 amps. On the other hand a 3/16 inch 7024 rod will have an amperage range of 220 t0 280 amps.

The 7024 welding rod Polarity

The 7024 welding rod work with both Alternating and Direct current. However, most prefer using them with Alternating Current (AC). The run better on this current.

7018 welding rod uses

  • Large welds
  • Industrial welding
  • High speed horizontal welding
  • Flat fillet welds

Advantages

  • Due to their high iron content they have a good deposition rate
  • Do not require to be stored in any special equipment such as a rod oven
  • Is able to lay down lots of weld metal
  • Produces a smooth and strong weld
  • The slag comes of relatively easily

Disadvantages

  • Only ideal for flat and horizontal positions
  • Has a high heat input, which is not always desirable

Who is it for?

This welding rod can be seen as the preserve of professional and industrial welders. It is meant for welding thicker sheets of metal. Thus, if you want a welding rod that can weld thick sheets of metal this is the rod for you.

What welding rod to use?

So what welding rod to use? Well it really depends on what you need. Nonetheless, the 6011 rod is my rod of choice. It has great penetration and unlike the 6010 can be used with both AC and DC powered machines.

The versatility of this welding rod coupled by its penetration power makes it an ideal option for most. Also, it can be used in all directions. However, the other welding rods on the list are also ideal when it comes to certain instances.

For example the 7024 welding rod is ideal for welding thicker sheets of metal. But for me personally, what welding rod do i use? The 6011 welding rod. 

Conclusion

Welding rods come in different sizes. These seven common welding rods are perfect for a variety of welding tasks. However, it is important to know which welding rod is best for what task. The three numbers imprinted on a rod will tell you all you need to know.  

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