best all around welding rod

The Best All-Around​ Welding Rod (A Complete Guide)

If you are just getting into welding, you might be a bit confused about the best all-around welding rod.

But even when you gain more experience with the different rods available, the number of choices can make it tough to decide which one to use.

Luckily, there are certain options that are better than others. Some rods just seem to be more user-friendly with additional applications. 

So, what is the best all-around welding rod? The best all-around welding rod would be the 6011, especially for the DIY’er and hobbyist. With 3/32 and 1/8 size rods on hand, the 6011 will get the majority of your jobs done. It is a fast-fill freeze rod, runs on both AC/DC, and handles dirty contaminated jobs better than other electrodes.



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Of course, the weld and metals you are applying them to will determine the choice of welding rod.

  1. The Hobart Sticks listed here on Amazon are a good price; they also have the others we discuss further in the post.
  2. Runner-ups would have to be the 7014 rods for horizontal applications and the 6013 for vertical welds.

Ready to explore this subject in more detail and pick the best all-around welding rod? Let’s get to it!

What is the Best Welding Rod for a Beginner?

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Again, I have to say that for me, the best welding rod for a beginner would be a 6011 to start with.

If you want a rod that will cut through just about anything, like rust, dirt, and/or paint, then go with the 6011. The 6011 burns hotter than a 6013 and will penetrate the metal better to make that weld. 

If you want a rod that doesn’t burn as hot, then the 6013 would be your next option, and you might even like the bead it leaves behind a bit better than using the 6011.

However, for a beginner, I would definitely recommend the 6011

That being said, if you were to try a 7014 rod, you might be even more pleased with the end result of your weld, as a 7014 will run smoother, leaving less to clean up when done. 

My final recommendation is to start with a 6011, and once you have mastered that, move on to another rod. 

What Do the Numbers Mean on a Welding Rod?

I should mention quickly what the numbers mean on a welding rod. We can discuss this in more detail in another article; however, I just want to touch on it briefly here. 

The first two digits are the tensile strength.

6010 would then have a tensile strength of 60,000 pounds per square inch. 

The next number is the position of the weld. For example, if it’s a horizontal or vertical weld, etc., a number 1, as in 6010, means it is an all-position welding rod and is okay for any position. 

The last 2 digits together are for the coating and welding current.

For a 6010 rod, the coating and current are determined by the #10. For example, a coating could be sodium potassium and the current DC+ or AC and DC- etc. Your welding rod packages should indicate these attributes.

What is the Most Common Welding Rod Size?

The most common welding rod sizes will again differ depending on the application, but the most common sizes are 3/32″ and 1/8.”

Rod thickness increases when the thickness of metal increases. This should make sense if you consider using a 1/16” rod on a ½” thick piece of steel. This weld will not hold very long. It will crack and pull apart quite easily. 

Welding charts are available online; however, here is what I would recommend when considering the rod size for your project. These stats are the ones more commonly found and recommended online. 

  • 1/16” rods work best for metal up to 3/16” 
  • 3/32” rods work best for metal up to ¼”
  • 1/8” rods work best for metal thicker than 1/8”
  • 5/32” rods work best for metal thicker than ¼”

Chances are you will be using 1/8” thick rods when just starting out. Make sure to always match up the correct rod size to the metal, as a thicker rod will destroy thinner metals, leaving you with a mess and wasted money.

On the other hand, if you use a welding rod that is too small, the weld will not last very long.

In welding, it’s also essential to know about different types of steel and their difference. For instance, do you know the difference between carbon steel and alloy steel? Check out the guide to learn more.

Which One is Better: Forney or Vulcan Rods?

I recently ran into a question online where someone was asking which rod is better, and quite a few replied saying they preferred Forney or Vulcan.

These are great options; however, I just want to take a different look at this question than you may have expected.

For me, it’s not about which rod is better – and don’t get me wrong, there are just as many ‘crap’ rods available as there are excellent ones.

I believe the best rods, whether they are a Forney or Vulcan, will be dependent upon these four things. 

  1. The packaging makes a difference. You are thinking, ‘What? Packaging?’ yes, the last thing you want is damp/wet welding rods. You always want dry rods for clean welds. The coating on some rods will break away if it gets damp. 
  2. Another not-so-obvious reason for which rod is better is which one is readily available to you. There’s nothing worse than being fully immersed in your project to find out you just ran out of welding sticks and you have another 6’ bead to run. 
  3. Sometimes the better rod is the one you learned on first. It’s like anything in life, whatever you practice at, you get good at and it then becomes your favorite. 
  4. Lastly, it will also depend on your welding machine. You would think a welding machine is a welding machine. However, most welders will agree that what works best for one machine might not work best for another. So whether you have a Campbell Hausfeld or a Lincoln, the best rod just might differ. 

So what does this mean for you? It means try a rod based on my recommendations above. And then, keep using that rod until you know it either works great for you or you need to try a different rod. 

That being said, these Forney rods can be purchased on Amazon and are reasonably priced. Start out with a 5lb package, and if you like them, then next time, try the 10lb pack. These are “all position” rods, meaning you can weld on vertical or horizontal surfaces as necessary. 

I also recommend you purchase a proper storage container for your rods. This one here on Amazon will do the job:

Storage containers help keep rods from getting damp. 

If you just started welding, you might also want to check out how hard welding is. Read the guide for detailed insights on welding as a career.


In conclusion, I want to point out that I realize it’s not cut and dry with which rod is best for an all-around rod but that there are things to consider.

If you go with a 6011 numbered rod that is 1/8” in diameter, then you should be using metal that is at least 1/8” thick and so on. 

The fun and enjoyment you get from welding will be the journey you take and the progress you make on your projects.

So, that’s about it! Good luck with your future projects, fellow hobbyists. 

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