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Thread: Cheap welding rods?

  1. #1
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    Cheap welding rods?

    I figured this one would have been discussed but nothing came up in my search.

    I haven't posted in a while... mostly because of one recommendation that was offered to me in my last post... That being, "all you need now is 500 hours of welding under your belt" That made sense to me. Well, I'm not there yet and I still suck... just not as much as I sucked last time I posted. I've put a lot of hours in and even had the luxury of making millwright friend who in my opinion is a a damn good welder. He was kind enough to spend some time with me and point out all my shortcomings... There were many.

    It feels like every bead I lay down I'm getting better and better... the only issue is that I'm going through a lot of rods... And rods aren't free.

    I've seen much online talking about different types of rods and their application... but not brands... Does anyone have any input on name brand rods vs the no-name stuff one can get at Harbor Freight and the like?

    How different is a Lincoln 7018 form say, Vulcan or Chicago Electric? Is there some middle ground some of you look for?

    Just curious as to where money is best spent. I don't mind paying for quality if the value is there.

  2. #2
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    Re: Cheap welding rods?

    Just look for
    Approvals and Conformances: ē AWS

    Dave

    Quote Originally Posted by TorontoJoe View Post
    I figured this one would have been discussed but nothing came up in my search.

    I haven't posted in a while... mostly because of one recommendation that was offered to me in my last post... That being, "all you need now is 500 hours of welding under your belt" That made sense to me. Well, I'm not there yet and I still suck... just not as much as I sucked last time I posted. I've put a lot of hours in and even had the luxury of making millwright friend who in my opinion is a a damn good welder. He was kind enough to spend some time with me and point out all my shortcomings... There were many.

    It feels like every bead I lay down I'm getting better and better... the only issue is that I'm going through a lot of rods... And rods aren't free.

    I've seen much online talking about different types of rods and their application... but not brands... Does anyone have any input on name brand rods vs the no-name stuff one can get at Harbor Freight and the like?

    How different is a Lincoln 7018 form say, Vulcan or Chicago Electric? Is there some middle ground some of you look for?

    Just curious as to where money is best spent. I don't mind paying for quality if the value is there.

  3. #3
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    Re: Cheap welding rods?

    The problem with practicing with cheap rods is that you won't know when you're doing something wrong, or if it's just the rod. I found the cheap Chinese rods at Princess Auto were inconsistent. Power Fist one week, Power Weld the next... most of them seemed to weld "ok", but you could feel differences in them. I had 6013's and 7014's I couldn't tell from the Lincolns or Hobarts .... but lots of the pro's here will tell you they don't like Hobart either. I'm no pro. When it came to the 7018's I noticed a huge difference, and really didn't like the Chinese ones on AC. On DC the differences are less noticeable. Maybe as part of your practice you could try a few different brands at exactly the same settings, same metal etc. just to get a feel for the differences, and what you like or don't like. Might be an interesting comparison to post up here.
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  5. #4
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    Re: Cheap welding rods?

    Look around on ebay and places like that and find an unopened 50# can at a decent price. I'd go with Lincoln / ESAB or one of the major American mfgrs. A few years back Oscar or somebody here found a killer deal on rods through the Laredo TX Home Depot and I stocked up back then, so fortunately I have a heap of rod.

    50# should get you started.

    Another option: Take a welding course at your local community college or vo-tech. If you're diligent, you can burn up your tuition's cost in rod and the instruction will be almost free!

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  7. #5
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    Re: Cheap welding rods?

    Yup we stocked up good! They caught on, but it was worth it helping others out and not keeping it to myself.

    As far as rods not being free, well that's the nature of this game, unfortuneatly. Gotta pay to play. I havent used harbor freight rods nor Forney, but I have used some from EBay and Amazon. The biggest difference is in E6010 rods. Those will run drastically different from different brands, assuming one even has a machine capable of running them. Also old E6011's tend to light up very, very messy. Old E7018's don't like to be ran at the lower end of their range; porosity may result. I recently saw some real cheap rods on EBay, but have yet to try them. Mundaka I believe. Their bulk pricing seems good considering it includes shipping.
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  8. #6
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    Re: Cheap welding rods?

    I just went to my local AirGas, told the guy I was learning in my garage, and he went in the back and came out with (presumably an older) 5# box of 7018's, which he sold me at his cost. Said he wouldn't feel right selling them otherwise. Win, win.

    Also, in line with the OP's original question: I've heard that many pros don't even use rods up a lot of times. Wonder if getting to know somebody on the local jobsites could lead to looseys/butts being passed along? Probably impractical, but could be good PR (environment/putting less in the landfill and community outreach).

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    You lose nothing by asking.

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  10. #7
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    Re: Cheap welding rods?

    I have got brand name I wasnt all that thrilled with. We used some crap at the nuke,,, must have cost them millions for porosity on starts, a guy had to be super fussy. I dont have experience with cheap rods or flux wire but some of the very best solid I ever used was generic from the welding store and I just bought a roll from Menards I havnt tried yet.
    To tell the truth,,,, would need to be a daily driver and have them next to each other to do a real test. Yo most people all the welding I do is fine but it takes me 10 days some each day before it really comes back, before I am driving the rod vs hanging on for the ride.

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    Re: Cheap welding rods?

    After buying tons of wire and rod price is big part. I look for {Approvals and Conformances: ē AWS}.

    I have some different I America made rod but I quickly found the technique for and San saved money

    I only buy rod made in the USA.

    After 2018 I try flux core wire not made in USA it work good .

    Dave

    Quote Originally Posted by Sberry View Post
    I have got brand name I wasnt all that thrilled with. We used some crap at the nuke,,, must have cost them millions for porosity on starts, a guy had to be super fussy. I dont have experience with cheap rods or flux wire but some of the very best solid I ever used was generic from the welding store and I just bought a roll from Menards I havnt tried yet.
    To tell the truth,,,, would need to be a daily driver and have them next to each other to do a real test. Yo most people all the welding I do is fine but it takes me 10 days some each day before it really comes back, before I am driving the rod vs hanging on for the ride.

  12. #9
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    Re: Cheap welding rods?

    Buying in bulk is going to be your first step to saving a LOT of money. At tractor supply a 1 lb carton of 1/8th inch Hobart 7018 rod is $15.99. A 5lb box of the same rod is $26.99 ($5.39/lb). A 25 lb box of the same rod is $74.99 ($3.00/lb). Same is true for all the other rods they carry, if 7018 isn't your flavor of choice. $3.00/lb is about as good as you will find for name brand rods. The only downside to the Hobart rods is they don't come from the factory in a hermetically sealed container. I have never found that to be an issue with these rods, but if you want true low hydrogen performance, these rods need to be baked before use. Again, for learning, don't bother with that step.
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  13. #10
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    Re: Cheap welding rods?

    Weldingsupply.com has 50 pound cans of 1/8th inch Lincoln Excalibur 7018 MR rods for $146 ($2.92/lb). That is a pretty good deal, and Excalibur are my favorite flavor of 7018 rod. The 3/32 rods are even cheaper and are great if you are learning to weld vertical up.
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  14. #11
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    Re: Cheap welding rods?

    All great infoÖ Thanks

    So far Iíve stuck to Hobart and Lincoln. A few pieces of advice here that stuck out to me

    Trying some different rods as part of the learning process

    And buying in bulk. Iíve always bought 10lbs but Iím going to be checking out 50lb bundles Since practice is my main priority right now

  15. #12
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    Re: Cheap welding rods?

    It pays to shop around. Hobart 1/8" 6013 is $22.99 for 5lb at TSC, Lincoln is $13.67 at Home Depot. Lincoln 1/8" 7018 is $16.97 for 5lb, $178.50 for 50lb at HD - so buying the larger quantity costs more per pound in that case.

    The majority of my fabrication welding is done with Mig, but the versatility of stick shines for repairs - and it's all I had when I started out. I don't burn a huge quantity of rods, but I like a wide selection. Five lbs each of 6011, 6013, and 7018 could give you a lot of experience, for under $50.
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  16. #13
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    Re: Cheap welding rods?

    Quote Originally Posted by tiggen View Post
    I just went to my local AirGas, told the guy I was learning in my garage, and he went in the back and came out with (presumably an older) 5# box of 7018's, which he sold me at his cost. Said he wouldn't feel right selling them otherwise. Win, win.

    Also, in line with the OP's original question: I've heard that many pros don't even use rods up a lot of times. Wonder if getting to know somebody on the local jobsites could lead to looseys/butts being passed along? Probably impractical, but could be good PR (environment/putting less in the landfill and community outreach).

    If life has taught me anything, it's:

    Be pleasant.
    and
    You lose nothing by asking.
    There is an old line joke so to speak in the trades. Spend another 100 for a DC welder and never got to buy rods.

  17. #14
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    Re: Cheap welding rods?

    That good price
    I only purchased rod in 50 pound box's

    Dave

    Quote Originally Posted by Louie1961 View Post
    Weldingsupply.com has 50 pound cans of 1/8th inch Lincoln Excalibur 7018 MR rods for $146 ($2.92/lb). That is a pretty good deal, and Excalibur are my favorite flavor of 7018 rod. The 3/32 rods are even cheaper and are great if you are learning to weld vertical up.

  18. #15
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    Re: Cheap welding rods?

    Today we could even take it a step further and a modern 200 will weld 5/32 lo hy from a common welder circuit. Used to be a guy needed a Dialarc to really run them, cords a problem etc. Well,,, wasnt a problem for guys with infrastructure but now can do it from a common outlet.
    I think Hobarts machine is like 43A at rated. Maybe,, Inverter, limmited applications, maintenance and hobby run dandy from an old 10/50 circuit. Wouldnt be beyond my pride to convert a dryer to welder circuit.
    A lot of those might still originate from service entrance. If a guy has a 4 wire dryer an adapter might be in order. I see a lot oof talk about running buzzers from old circuits and it a guy needs to keep it as a dryer then he is limited to 30A but given some good condition and judgement would not lose sleep connecting a conversion to 50A and 6-50 for buzzer and smaller machines.
    Its kind of the beauty of technology. I say the above with some disclaimer and even a little reservation but cause you can doesnt mean you got to. Beauty of new 30A service machines. Some really less but intended to meet code in this class with some thinking doesnt occur to a lot of us.
    I believe a 12 cable and 30A is legal to a 6-50-R.
    210 mig, 160 inverters and some 200 multi stuff is all in this class. Its a 14 legal machine single circuit in pipe to 50 plus ft depending on model. Its true he cant hook a dialarc to it in the future and if he did would trip up pretty fast but a convenience outlet for modern welding can now come off the same spool as the fricken outlets out to 50+ ft, 65, and wouldnt lose any sleep at 75 ft for occasional utility as most of it sits idle 99.99 + hours in a day. As material cost go up and machines go down they use less peak.
    This is all different for some of us, my case as well as some others providing service to equipment is simply part of the equation and in my own case need to one size up most utilities over common residential but in the end on the branches its one piece at a time. Small shop loads are very similar to kitchen and less than household. About the only on demand is air compression or electric heat and you dont have to weld while the air comp is running. I know a lot of garages run dandy from 100 and most from 60 and these guys with 5 hp comps. You can hear it running and aint gotta go over and crank up a welder to 225 till it shuts off.

  19. #16
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    Re: Cheap welding rods?

    It doesnt mean you cant find a tool runs more but a 5 hp comp will keep a guy afloat doing most common tool chores 1 man wants to do. I was splainin this to a trucker who was insistant he needs 10 hp cause he got 48 wheels and I splain its gonna relatively take a comp cycle per event, 5 or 10, just a little longer run from a 5 and my 3 hp will actually inflate a truck tire only slightly less than a 10 and is way more effecient as shot off and top pressure match similar only slightly slower to get there.
    I have 200 gallon, its nice with long run can really time drain down and run small pump constant with as few starts as needed.
    But reason for larger tanks is also for peak demand. Instead of making hp all at once we simply add a battery in as a buffer. Doubles as dryer reciever with no moving parts cept drain valve I gonna open a squirt now as we grind and paint all week.

  20. #17
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    Re: Cheap welding rods?

    Not all brands run at the same amps so leaving the machine settings the same to find differences is a BAD way to compare rods. The problem with buying rods in larger packages is that usually 3/4 of the package sits around forever. I bought 10lb. packs of 7018 in 3/32" and 1/8" sizes for a project and to have a few extra on hand. I purchased a couple yellow rod keepers with the screw on tops and rubber seal ring. They keep the rods dry and they are still good 2 years later. On more critical stuff I warm the rods up to get the best results. You can use a small propane torch, cheap toaster oven or even short the rods out for a couple seconds before starting your weld. In general if the rods are kept dry there is no reason for a rod oven. Proper storage is the key. Rod ovens are for vessel shops or critical structural work.

  21. #18
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    Re: Cheap welding rods?

    I would not use the home oven
    It has a great smell left in oven wife may not like that smell 😳.

    Dave

    Quote Originally Posted by Welder Dave View Post
    Not all brands run at the same amps so leaving the machine settings the same to find differences is a BAD way to compare rods. The problem with buying rods in larger packages is that usually 3/4 of the package sits around forever. I bought 10lb. packs of 7018 in 3/32" and 1/8" sizes for a project and to have a few extra on hand. I purchased a couple yellow rod keepers with the screw on tops and rubber seal ring. They keep the rods dry and they are still good 2 years later. On more critical stuff I warm the rods up to get the best results. You can use a small propane torch, cheap toaster oven or even short the rods out for a couple seconds before starting your weld. In general if the rods are kept dry there is no reason for a rod oven. Proper storage is the key. Rod ovens are for vessel shops or critical structural work.

  22. #19
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    Re: Cheap welding rods?

    I dont store hot anymore. Its rare for me to run multiple pass stick. If it was on the hairy edge would buy new can.

  23. #20
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    Re: Cheap welding rods?

    Do or can do with 3/32 and 1/8 in 7018 most of the time as I am not making a diet of heavy equipment.

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    Re: Cheap welding rods?

    Quote Originally Posted by TorontoJoe View Post
    All great info… Thanks

    So far I’ve stuck to Hobart and Lincoln.
    You can't go wrong with those two, but you can add ESAB in as well...Atom Arc 7018 is really nice. Sometimes shops will sell 50lb cans on eBay if they bought for a big job and had too many. I've gotten a couple that way and save a ton.
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  26. #22
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    Re: Cheap welding rods?

    Read carefully on eBay ads. Shipping on 50 lbs can be high.

    I prefer to examine what I'm buying.
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  27. #23
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    Re: Cheap welding rods?

    I just picked up 5 lbs of 5/32 7018 at the farm store for 14$ and change. Normally don't use much 5)32 at home but it's easier than switching to .045 dual shield for a relatively small amount of welding.

  28. #24
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    Re: Cheap welding rods?

    Quote Originally Posted by Teachu2 View Post
    It pays to shop around. Hobart 1/8" 6013 is $22.99 for 5lb at TSC, Lincoln is $13.67 at Home Depot. Lincoln 1/8" 7018 is $16.97 for 5lb, $178.50 for 50lb at HD - so buying the larger quantity costs more per pound in that case.

    The majority of my fabrication welding is done with Mig, but the versatility of stick shines for repairs - and it's all I had when I started out. I don't burn a huge quantity of rods, but I like a wide selection. Five lbs each of 6011, 6013, and 7018 could give you a lot of experience, for under $50.
    Yes it pays to shop around. A LWS that deals with Lincoln a lot will hopefully have good deals for you. The one I go to sells Lincoln gear exclusively; 50lbs of 3/32" Excalibur E7018 (sealed, brand new tin can) is $122 and the 1/8" can is roughly about the same, maybe $3 cheaper.
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  29. #25
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    Re: Cheap welding rods?

    Quote Originally Posted by G-ManBart View Post
    You can't go wrong with those two, but you can add ESAB in as well...Atom Arc 7018 is really nice. Sometimes shops will sell 50lb cans on eBay if they bought for a big job and had too many. I've gotten a couple that way and save a ton.
    I've convinced a few Ebay sellers who were selling [the rods] cheap, but had big shipping costs (naturally) to send them packed in the medium priority mail box (I think that's the one, it's about 14" long). It is literally perfect for shipping 50lbs worth of rods for a cheap price. Coincidentally, they were Atom Arc 7018s, 3/32". I ended up getting 150lbs for around $200 shipped, or there abouts. Only lost about 25 rods due to damaged flux, but at that price point they were acceptable casualties of war.
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