Discovering the 7018, 6013, 6011 and 6010 Welding Rod Sizes
Let’s take a closer look at the 7018, 6013, 6011 and 6010 welding rods – four of the most common and fundamental welding rod sizes which you’re likely to come across – to try to understand each in more detail.
A recap on welding rod classification
For starters, looking at the welding rod classification can already tell you quite a bit about the type of electrode you’re using. The first two numbers refer to the tensile strength, or how much stress the weld bead can withstand. If the classification starts with ’60’, for example, it means that the welding rod can withstand 60,000 pounds per square inch. As a result, the higher the number, the stronger the electrode.
The third digit tells you about the positions in which that welding rod can be used. In all the welding rods we’re looking at today, you’ll see that the number is ‘1’. In other words, all four are all-position electrodes.
The final number is a little more complicated. SMAW welding uses electrodes which are coated in various chemicals, which protect the joints during the welding process. The last digit in the classification is used to identify coatings that have been used on the electrodes, and so which current should be used. We’ll cover these all individually for each welding rod.
The 7018 welding rod
By looking at the classification, we already know that the 7018 welding rod is an all-position rod which produces weld beads which can withstand 70,000 pounds of stress per square inch. The last digit – when read in conjunction with the penultimate digit – indicates that it has an iron powder low hydrogen coating, so it can be used with AC and DC+ currents.
The fact that the coating has a very low hydrogen content means that it produces welds which are very strong and smooth. It also explains why you might hear these electrodes referred to as ‘low high’ rods on occasion, too!
Although low hydrogen rods have their benefits, they do have to be stored much more carefully than most other rods in order to prolong their lifespan. With these electrodes, you can’t allow any water or moisture to come into contact with them at all. The best way to prevent this from happening is by storing the 7018 welding rod in a rod oven at 250°F if you don’t plan to use it for anything more than a few hours. A professional, purpose-built welding rod oven is ideal if your budget allows, but if not then you could always try a makeshift oven of your own.
This is a very versatile welding rod, which is probably why it’s one of the first you’ll come across when learning to weld. Its strength makes it fantastic for structural welding, including on nuclear power plants, high-pressure pipes, and large bridges. The key to achieving the smoothest, strongest welds on any of these projects (and more) is to drag it across the surface of the metal, although you can also move it from side to side slightly. Either way, you’ll find that you produce minimal spatter.
The 6013 welding rod
Once again, the 6013 is an all-position welding rod, but this time you can see that the welds will be able to withstand 60,000 pounds of stress per square inch. Not as much as the 7018, but it’s still pretty formidable and more than enough for most projects. Here, the last two digits – ’13’ – tell us that there is a high titania potassium coating on the electrode, so is compatible with AC, DC+ and DC- currents. This offers huge versatility as you can use it at low voltages and with virtually any welding machine, even those which are AC only. This level of versatility sets the 6013 welding rod apart from all the others which we’re covering today.
Beginners will probably be introduced to several other welding rods first – including the 6010 – but this is an electrode which is often overlooked as it’s just as easy to use. One main difference is that it’s typically paired with small, entry-level welding machines, whereas some of the other welding rods are usually used with slightly more advanced machines.
As it isn’t quite as tough as the previous electrode which we’ve looked at, the 6013 welding rod is better suited to smaller jobs such as automotive projects. It achieves medium penetration on thinner sheet metals, although it’s worth noting that it should only be used with new, clean metal sheets. This welding rod produces slightly more spatter than the 7018 (but in the greater scheme of things it’s still impressively little), and any slag can be removed quickly and easily. As a result, the welds are clean and visually appealing.
The best technique to use when welding with this electrode is to move it in small circular motions across the joint. Not only does this help to produce strong welds, but it’s also a great way to control your speed.
As with most electrodes, you should try to prevent the 6013 from coming into contact with any water. It should be stored in a moisture-proof container, and if it does become damp for any reason then it should be thoroughly dried out in a warm welding rod oven before use.
The 6011 welding rod
The 6011 and 6010 welding rods are very similar, so many people wonder what the advantages are of using one over the other. Looking at the welding classification tells us that they can both withstand 60,000 pounds of stress per square inch, and they’re both all-position welding rods. On the face of it, there’s not much between them, but in reality, the classification is where the similarities end…
The final digit of the classification is one of the key difference between these two electrodes – and one factor which stands firmly in the 6011’s favor. The ’11’ means that it has a high cellulose potassium coating, which (like the 7018) can be used with either AC or DC+ currents. As a result, you’ll find that you can use it with pretty much any welding machine, even beginner ones.
The 6011 is very easy to use, while still achieving deep penetration on your welds. Unlike the 6013, you don’t have to stick to clean metal with this electrode, as it can easily cut through dirty or corroded metals. As a result, it’s a great choice for welders who are doing repair work.
This welding rod does produce a small amount of slag, but it’s slightly more difficult to remove than slag from other welding rods, including the 6010. It mostly comes down to personal choice, but if you don’t want to spend too much time and effort chipping off slag, then perhaps the 6011 shouldn’t be at the top of your list.
The 6010 welding rod
As we’ve already established, it’s easy to make comparisons on how similar the 6010 electrode is to the 6011. The 6010 is just as strong, and it can also be used in all positions.
However, it does have one major drawback when compared to the 6011. The 6010 features a high cellulose sodium coating (as indicated by the ’10’ in its classification), so it can only be used with a DC+ current. This means that as brilliant as it might be for so many different applications, the 6010 welding rod is rendered useless if you have an AC only welding machine.
Furthermore, the 6010 is a very common welding rod, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to use. In fact, many beginners struggle to get to grips with this electrode due to the fact that it produces a very tight arc. If you don’t have the skill to control a tight arc, then you can’t even begin to make strong, clean welds, which can be both demoralizing and frustrating.
That said if you do have the skills and the correct welding machine to use the 6010 then it can produce some brilliant welds. Like the 6011, it’s great for deep penetration and cutting through dirty, corroded or rusty metal, making it ideal for maintenance. This electrode is also one of the most popular choices for root passes on pipes due to the fact that it runs noticeably more smoothly than the 6011, and because the slag is easier to chip off.
For the most part, this welding rod can be kept at room temperature, provided that it’s dry. If it does come into contact with moisture for a few hours or more, then it will need to be thoroughly dried out before use. As with most electrodes, you’ll have to throw the 6010 away if it becomes drenched.
The welding rods in summary
Hopefully, by now it should be clear that there’s a lot more to choosing the right welding rod than first meets the eye. It’s important to master the art of four of the basic and most common welding rods, as this will make it a lot easier to understand the principles and properties of others when your welding becomes more advanced.
All four of the welding rods which we’ve looked at are all-position rods, which offers great versatility; all except the 6010 can be used with AC and DC+ currents. In that sense, the 6010 welding rod is slightly more specialized as it requires specific tools and a higher level of skill to use.
That’s why the 6011 is probably a better electrode choice for beginners, especially those who will be working with dirty metals. It produces slightly dirtier welds than the 6010, although it easier to use. Both create deep penetrative welds, making them ideal for tougher repair and maintenance jobs.
The 6013 stands apart from the other two electrodes which can also withstand 60,000 pounds of stress per square inch, in that it can be used with virtually any welding machine. Rather than being used for repair and maintenance, this electrode is better suited to car bodywork and other automotive projects. It should be used with clean, new sheets of metal, but provided that you can tick that box, this is a great, easy-to-use welding rod which is definitely worth trying out.
All things considered, the 7018 welding rod is definitely the bigger brother of the other three. It’s stronger and smoother than the rest, making it brilliant for high-stress structural welds. It does have to be kept bone dry when not in use, but this is a small amount of care to put in to achieve excellent results.
Below you’ll find a small welding rod chart comparing all the different aspects of these electrodes (and a few other common types), which you can use as a quick-reference guide to help you out in the workshop.
All four welding rods have their own qualities, strengths, and weaknesses. Choose the wrong one and your welds will end up weak and messy, but pick the right electrode for the job and you’ll find welding a breeze!