There’s a lot of talk about using 6010 or 6013 electrodes for stick welding because they’re ideal for beginners. They tend to work great in a variety of positions, on AC or DC, and on a variety of metal thicknesses. While these electrodes certainly are easy to use, keep in mind that 7018 electrodes are what a lot of structural welders use.
You may learn to stick weld with a 6010 or 6013, but sooner than later, you’ll want to get your hands on some 7018 electrodes and practice laying beads with tight arcs. In fact, if you practice your technique with a 7018 electrode for stick welding, you’ll produce less spatter, control the puddle, and prepare yourself for a wide variety of construction, structural, pipeline, or nuclear power jobs. When you get stuck with a 7018 stick welding electrode, you’ll also get stuck with a job.
Image source: Miller Welds
Stick Welding with a 7018 Electrode
The 6010 or 6013 electrodes are ideal for a thin to medium metal thickness. They penetrate the joint extremely well, but they aren’t ideal for creating strong structural welds, don’t provide a lot of filler metal, which means you need to do more passes, and they won’t do quite as well for out of position welds.
The 7018 electrodes provide more filler and generally create stronger welds because of the amount of filler they add. They also freeze fast for out of position welds, making them ideal for a wider variety of projects. Generally speaking, if you’re already stick welding, you may as well add more filler and create a stronger weld unless the metal is thin and the joint needs really deep penetration. In addition, the more experience you gain on a 7018 electrode, the better prepared you are for a variety of welding jobs.
Keep a Tight Arc While Stick Welding
The key to a clean stick weld, especially with an electrode like the 7018 that deposits a lot of material, is to keep a tight arc that concentrates the heat in the weld joint and, consequently, the filler metal from the electrode. The wider your arc, the wider your weld. With a wide arc you’ll distort the metal and deposit material all over it, leaving slag and bits of metal rather than a strong weld joint.
The key to keeping a tight arc is to learn how to manage your distance from the metal work piece while the electrode shortens. With a consumable electrode, you’ll need to move it closer to the metal while you work. In addition, running your welder at the higher range of your recommended settings will help you weld nice and hot without sticking to the metal.
Chipping Hammers and Stick Welding
When you’re done stick welding, you can keep your weld free from scratches and dents by dragging your chipping hammer along the slag rather than hacking or pecking at it. While it’s no secret that wide stick welds with a 7018 electrode aren’t fancy, you don’t have to make things any worse with your chipping hammer.
How to Stick Weld a Clean Fillet Weld
When you’re doing a fillet weld, you need to run your puddle right up to the edge of the metal. If you wiggle downward, away from the edge, you’ll leave an uneven jagged edge. Sometimes the weld joint will be large enough that you need to make multiple passes, even with a 7018 electrode. You can create a clean weld by overlapping your passes roughly over 2/3 of the weld. In addition, if you want to keep your finished welds clean, strike your arc on the area where you’ll be welding over so that you cover all of those arc strikes.
Practice Different Rod Angles While Stick Welding
When you strike up an arc to stick weld, you can’t always control the positions for your welds. Sometimes you need to weld with a pull, push, or “straight in” rod. Don’t get caught doing only one when you practice stick welding with a 7018 electrode. You don’t need too much of angle—usually about 5-10 degrees will give you all of the angle and visibility that you need.