2018 October 29    Metal & Shop


The thinnest electrodes for stick welding are meant for "lunchbox"-type inverter welders.  They're best for welding thin metal.

I wanted to see what would happen if I tried welding 1/16" steel to 1/8" steel.  Were the electrodes even usable for that? 

Let's find out.

Welding and metalworking can be dangerous.  (Disclaimer.)  Make sure you wear a good respirator and use at least a fan for ventilation.

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In This Article

The Basic Idea

1/16" 6011

1/16" 7014


The Basic Idea

Electrode diameter should be equal to or less than the thickness of what you're welding. 

So, we've got 16-gauge steel, and we're going to weld that to some 11-gauge steel.  The one piece is 1/16" thick, and the other is 1/8" thick.  (Actually we have two sets of these to weld.)

That's a good candidate for 1/16th-inch electrodes.

I used this welder with 1/16" electrodes:  Hobart 6011 for one and Hobart 7014 for the other. 

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1/16" 6011

It's not easy to make pretty welds with 6011 electrodes.  Tougher yet with the 1/16" variety.

The thin electrodes flex a lot, and sticking seems to happen more easily.  It's critical to get the amperage dialed in correctly with these. 

This was about the best-looking weld I could make with 1/16" 6011's:

More typically, I got something like this:

Those are not cold welds.  In fact, these were close to burning through at every moment.  Look at that edge there;  it's melted! 

Best amperage was somewhere about 57 or 58 amps on the Easy Weld.  Any less than that, and they stuck like mad.  Any more than that, and they'd melt holes in the workpiece.  I think if you were welding 1/8" to 1/8" steel, though, you could run these at 65 amps. 

So, these needed about as much current as 3/32" 6011's.  I don't know why.  The flux definitely has cellulose, but it could be some hybrid mixture made just for this size. 

The welds didn't look great, but would they hold?   Let's find out.

After eight or ten heavy blows with a 24-ounce hammer, only the obviously-weak, obviously insufficient welds broke.  The rest of them held fast. 

Most were somewhere between "looping" and "whip-pause" welds, but I had to move the electrode fast because of burn-through.  Hence, uglier welds.

The 6011 puddle solidifies very fast, so this is potentially one of the best choices for sheet metal.  It seems like a paradox, because it kind of is:  the "nuclear light sabre" welding rod, good for sheet metal??  But I already found this when comparing 6013 vs. 6011 on a thin muffler.  The 6013 was an absolute disaster;  the 6011 was actually doable, if you can deal with super ugly welds.

Consider warming up with ten or twenty of these 6011's before you start welding on a good project.  But overall, yep I'd definitely use 1/16" 6011 again.

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1/16" 7014

Like the 6011, best results occurred near 60 amps on the Easy Weld.  65 was a little too hot.  It may depend on the machine;  I'll have to try these with a Lincoln AC-225, just out of curiosity.

Welding with these was a lot easier than with the 1/16" 6011's.  Slower-paced, for one thing.  It was much easier to get beads that looked more like proper welds. 

You can see there's slag along the edges, but it should be removable.  Here's another weld with the 7014:

So, how strong are they?

Twenty heavy blows with a 24-oz hammer did not break the welds.  You can see the substrate got all bent up. 

This could be my new favorite electrode for welding thin metal.  These should be good for anything up to and including a lawn cart.  For stuff like plant stands and work tables, it would be fantastic.  People weld these things together with cheap MIG welders all the time, and look how thin MIG wire is. 

By the way, I immediately started tapping on the welds with the chipping hammer after each weld was done.  (Same with the 6011 welds.)  This helps to reduce internal stresses due to cooling.  I don't know if that had anything to do with the weld strength, but it can't hurt.  When your work area is 40 degrees Fahrenheit, might as well try it.

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Both these electrodes are good for thin metal, but you have to be careful with 6011.  If you move too slow with it, even 1/16" electrodes can burn through the workpiece fast

If you keep the welds short and let the metal cool each time, you can probably avoid burn-through.

Overall, 7014 was the winner here, mainly because it's easier to use in this electrode size.  The 7014 welds were also stronger than I expected. 

Both electrodes have their advantages.  The super fast-freeze ability of the 6011's could be useful if you have to bridge gaps with it.  And 7014... yep I'll be welding with this again.

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