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  1. #1
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    Default Thinnest steel that can be neatly stick welded

    I will shortly be fabricating some garden gates made of steel square hollow sections that will involve welding a lot of small patterns such as squares within triangles etc. I want the gates to be as light as possible and so will want to use the thinnest sections that can be neatly welded. I will be using a basic stick welder for this job - an od Miller econo twin which has a fairly high ocv for DC and AC welding. As an amateur welder I am reasonably compentent, but certainly not up there with the professionals.

    My questions are:

    1) What is the thinnest square sections that a professional welder can neatly weld? I can handle 1/16th of an inch about 90% of the time - the remainder ends up with blow holes that are difficult to fill given the thin sections involved. I would like to have a go at something thinner, but want to be guided by your advice as to whether this is possible after a lot of practice.

    2) What rod classification is the easiest to use for this task? I generally use E6013 but is there a better electrode in terms of welding ease and neatness?

    3) What is the best rod size you use to weld thin sections? I actually find that the 1/8th inch rods are easier to use than the 1/10th for thin sections because it's easier to strike an arc with at low amps. But I am interested in what the experienced welders use.

    Thank you.
    Last edited by jbwilson; 04-29-2013 at 10:51 PM. Reason: Remove excess verbiage

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Thinnest steel that can be neatly stick welded

    I think that if you're welding 1/16" metal with decent consistency, you're doing way better than most stick weldors. I don't have a lot of experience welding thin material myself, but I have heard people say that 6010/6011 can be very good for thin material. It's counter-intuitive because it's a deep-penetrating rod, so you would think that you'd burn through all over the place, but because it's fast-freeze, if you use a whip-and-pause motion and keep your travel speed up, I have read that some folks like it better than anything else for thin material. Anyway, food for thought...

  3. #3
    Elite Member dex3361's Avatar
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    Default Re: Thinnest steel that can be neatly stick welded

    I used 1/16 6013 rod welding thin stuff. That was before I got a mig welder. I was welding 1/20 of and inch metal this evening. I would be pulling my hair out trying to weld this with a rod.
    Randall



    1Timothy Chapter 2:
    3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;
    4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
    5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.
    From: The HOLY BIBLE

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Thinnest steel that can be neatly stick welded

    1/16" thick or (16 gauge) is about the practical thinnest limit for stick welding and even that will take some skill to accomplish. I have heard the really really skilled can do 18 gauge but I can not.

    As already pointed out some use the fast freeze properties of 6010 or 6011 to successfully weld thin stuff. I am not one of those people who can do it though as I always burn through with 6011.

    For me, I would use 5/64" diameter 6013 with the stinger - and work + since you have DC. 6013 is low penetrating rod to start with and the stinger - and work + will result in even less penetration. 6013 burns best on this polarity anyway. Granted there are 1/16" diameter electrodes too, but I hate all 1/16" diameter electrodes except 7014. 1/16" diameter electrodes are like welding with a noodle. 5/64" are thick enough to not flex so much and I really like 5/64" 6013 for thin stuff but not as well as a wire feeder of course. Thin stuff is where a wire feeder shines.

    Since you have DC you could add a low cost tig torch for $50 or so (plus you would need an Argon bottle). With scratch start tig you can weld thinner stuff pretty easily.

  5. #5
    Super Star Member k0ua's Avatar
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    Default Re: Thinnest steel that can be neatly stick welded

    Quote Originally Posted by rankrank1 View Post
    1/16" thick or (16 gauge) is about the practical thinnest limit for stick welding and even that will take some skill to accomplish. I have heard the really really skilled can do 18 gauge but I can not.

    As already pointed out some use the fast freeze properties of 6010 or 6011 to successfully weld thin stuff. I am not one of those people who can do it though as I always burn through with 6011.

    For me, I would use 5/64" diameter 6013 with the stinger - and work + since you have DC. 6013 is low penetrating rod to start with and the stinger - and work + will result in even less penetration. 6013 burns best on this polarity anyway. Granted there are 1/16" diameter electrodes too, but I hate all 1/16" diameter electrodes except 7014. 1/16" diameter electrodes are like welding with a noodle. 5/64" are thick enough to not flex so much and I really like 5/64" 6013 for thin stuff but not as well as a wire feeder of course. Thin stuff is where a wire feeder shines.

    Since you have DC you could add a low cost tig torch for $50 or so (plus you would need an Argon bottle). With scratch start tig you can weld thinner stuff pretty easily.
    What he said with one addition, you can cut the 1/16 6013 rods in half to better control them.. I don't like 1/16 6013 any better than anyone else. In fact, I don't even like 6013. But you can weld some pretty thin stuff with it, but 14 guage stock is about the thinnest I have ever successfully welded. That all said, I would get the argon bottle, and a cheap HTP regulator and a Chinese e-bay 17V torch, and get to TIGing. way more control, and will do way better job with your rig. I have several packages of 1/16 Lincoln 6013, and I doubt I will ever use them. Not since I got my TIG torch going.. it is just not worth the concentration and aggravation when TIG works so well.

    James K0UA
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  6. #6
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    Default Re: Thinnest steel that can be neatly stick welded

    A lot depends on the joint. You don't want any gaps. With a 6010/6011 you can usually turn the amps down pretty low and still strike an arc. You can also put a bunch of tacks without having to worry too much about slag getting in the way.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Thinnest steel that can be neatly stick welded

    Thank you all - most useful. You actually convinced me to go down the TIG route. I actually have a TIG outfit but not the argon gas cylinder. In Australia you have to TIG weld a lot to justify the expense. - the annual rental on the bottle alone is over $200 per year. But I remembered the very neat weld joints achievable with TIG and so hang the expense. It's been several years since I used TIG and so a bit of practice will be required. I hope my TIG equipment including the bottle pressure regulator still works - it's been over 15 years since I last used it. I'll blow out the dust and hope that the thread on the regulator won't fail and fly off the cylinder under 2000lbs of pressure.

  8. #8
    Gold Member DaveOmak's Avatar
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    Default Re: Thinnest steel that can be neatly stick welded

    Buy the Argon bottle.... When I started, I purchased my bottles.... saves a lot in rent...

  9. #9
    Super Star Member k0ua's Avatar
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    Default Re: Thinnest steel that can be neatly stick welded

    If you are not going to TIG a lot, you can get by with a 80 cuFt. bottle. You should be able to buy one for well under $200. Good Luck on your TIG journey.

    James K0UA
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  10. #10
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    Default Re: Thinnest steel that can be neatly stick welded

    If you are stuck on stick welding the project. Look up MG Easy-Strike rod. 5/64. has a hot start tip on each rod. Works well if you need to stick weld something that thin. There are other processes that would work better. Good Luck.

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