Setting up a welder with the proper electrodes is key to doing a good job. For all three welding processes, MIG, TIG and Stick, there are multiple electrode choices.
When using MIG for regular mild steel, which is the most common application on the farm, selecting ER 70S-6 welding wire is the best choice.
“For mild steel the best choice would be ER 70S-6,” says Tom Wermert, brand manager for Tweco, a welding equipment supplier. “Probably 90 per cent of all mild steel wire today is that grade.”
To use MIG on aluminum, there are a couple of options to consider, but one stands out as the best choice there as well.
“There are two popular types,” says Wermert. “One is 4043 the other is 5356. 4043 is the best choice. It gives a cleaner, better weld. 5356 is used more in higher-strength structural aluminum work. A farmer wouldn’t need that.”
For welding mild steel using the TIG process, Wermert recommends ER 80S-D2.
When it comes to Stick welding, be sure to use an electrode that is correct for the current type (AC or DC) and the welding position they’ll be used in. Some electrodes are rated for all positions, flat, horizontal, vertical, overhead.
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6011 and 6013 are general purpose electrodes that are useful for farm repair work, because they perform well on rusty base metal. They can be used in all positions and will work with both AC and DC current.
7014 rods have iron powder in their coating which increases the amount of filler metal they deposit. That can be useful for fabrication projects. These all position rods also are fine with both AC or DC in either polarity. They produce nice, easily cleaned beads with less spatter.
When storing stick electrodes, it’s important to keep them in a dry place, preferably sealed in their original container or wrapping until needed. Any that have become damp should not be used, because moisture can be released as steam from the heat of the arc and compromise the strength of the finished weld.
Stick electrodes that have been subjected to moisture can be dried out by placing them in an oven and baking at 250 F (121 C) for several hours.