What Is the Best Welding Rod for a Beginner?

welder using welding rod

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Of the hundreds of different types of welding rods out there, where should a beginner start?

Different welding school instructors may recommend beginner welding rods for different purposes, so be sure to consult your welding training teachers.

If you’ve yet to enroll in welding school, you could consider using the 6010, 6011 and 6013 welding rods. Many professional welders agree these 3 welding rods, or electrodes, are best for beginner stick welders

Which one you choose can depend on several factors:

  • What type of welding you’re doing.
  • What metals you’re welding.
  • What positions you’re welding in.

Keep reading for more details about the 3 best welding rods for beginners.

Beginner Welding Rod Considerations

What is a welding rod? And what do the numbers and letters that set one rod apart from another mean? Get answers below.

What Is a Welding Rod?

Welding rods are used in shielded metal arc welding (SMAW), also known as stick welding.

A welding rod can also be called a welding electrode.

A welding rod is a mineral- and metal-powder-coated metal rod. The rod has two purposes: to provide filler metal to the workpiece and to conduct electric current to the arc.

What Do the Welding Rod Numbers Mean?

Below is a breakdown of what the letters and numbers used to classify welding rods mean.

Welding Rod E6010
Letter/Number Meaning
E Electrode
60 Tensile strength
1 Position
10 Type of coating and current

Tensile Strength

Welding electrodes usually have four digits, though they can sometimes have five. The first two (or three) digits determine the tensile strength, which is the maximum stress that a material can withstand before breaking.

Tensile strength is measured as force per unit area, so an E6010 welding rod, for example, has a tensile strength of 60,000 pounds per square inch. An E10018 welding rod has a tensile strength of 100,000 pounds per square inch.

Welding Position

The third digit indicates the position of the weld.

  • The number 1 means the welding rod can be used in all positions.
  • The number 2 means it can be used in flat and horizontal positions only.
  • The number 4 represents flat, horizontal, vertical down and overhead positions.

Coating and Welding

The last two digits combined represent the type of coating and welding current. Welding students can reference the American Welding Society (AWS) chart to find out the correct coating and current designations for each welding rod.

For example, if the last two digits are 10, this means the coating can be sodium potassium and the welding current can be AC, DC+ or DC-.

AWS Coating and Current Designations
Digit Welding Current Coating Type
0 DC+ High cellulose sodium
1 AC, DC+, DC- High cellulose potassium
2 AC, DC- High titania sodium
3 AC, DC+ High titania potassium
4 AC, DC+, DC- Iron powder, titania
5 DC+ Low hydrogen sodium
6 AC, DC+ Low hydrogen potassium
7 AC, DC+ or DC- High iron oxide, iron powder
8 AC, DC+ or DC- Low hydrogen potassium, iron powder

Finally, the prefix “E” simply designates an arc welding electrode.

3 Great Welding Rods for Beginners

welding rods electrodes

While there may not be an objective best beginner welding rod, many experienced welders suggest the following 3 welding rods as great introductory tools, each for different reasons.

Here are some of the features and benefits of each welding rod:

E6010

  • This is a mild steel electrode that can be used in all positions.
  • Commonly used for fabrication, repair, maintenance, construction and pipe welding.
  • Quick-starting, steady and penetrating arc.
  • Often a first choice for vertical and overhead plate welding.
  • Ideal for welding on dirty, rusty, greasy or painted steel.
  • Whipping technique is often used with this welding rod.
  • Slag is thin and easily removable.

E6011

  • This rod can be used in all positions.
  • Versatile steel electrode that produces a forceful, stable arc.
  • Commonly used to weld mild, galvanized and low-alloy steels.
  • Suitable for general fabrication, structural welding, ship building, piping, boilers.
  • Handles dirty contaminated jobs well.
  • Deep penetrating rod that burns hot to cut through rust, dirt and paint.
  • Great general-purpose welding rod that makes a strong weld with minimal slag.

E6013

  • High-speed mild stick electrode that can be used in all positions.
  • Great for low-amperage welding on sheet metal.
  • Works well with both AC and DC machines.
  • Doesn’t burn as hot as some other welding rods.
  • Arc is smooth and easy to maintain with quick-freezing slag.
  • Suitable for both thick and thin metals.
  • Produces a clean, attractive bead for instances where appearance is important.
  • Great for vertical welding, and well-suited for irregular or short welds with many changes in position.
  • Commonly used for general-purpose welding, vehicles, ship building and light fabrication.

4 Beginner Welding Tips

Students can receive instruction in different welding techniques in welding school. They usually have the opportunity to practice hands-on welding with the guidance of experienced instructors.

Whether you are currently enrolled in a welding training program, embarking upon a welding career or considering enrolling in welding classes, it’s always good to remember a few important beginner welding tips:

1. Always make sure the welding rod is 100% dry before you begin welding.

Because welding rods absorb humidity from the air, they can get wet, which may cause them to stick and splatter. When not using the welding rod, keep it in an airtight metal box with a light bulb to keep the moisture out (called a “light box”).

2. Make sure the welding rod is compatible with the welding machine.

 

Some welding rods, as discussed previously, work only with AC or DC currents. Some welding rods work with both.

3. Clean your work surfaces.

While some of the beginner welding rods are specifically suited for working well with dirty surfaces, it is a good habit to always clean and grind your surfaces to prevent unwanted contamination.

4. Practice keeping a proper distance from the metal.

Mastering the speed and direction of a weld is a skill that can be learned over time through practice. Keep practicing until your skill is consistent!

Get the Gear. Get the Skills.

It is generally easier to learn welding through guided instruction than by relying on books. For more details on the welding training programs at Tulsa Welding School, call 1-855-237-7675.

When you enroll at TWS, your tuition includes a gear package to get you started with high quality professional welding equipment.

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