Why is one of these electrodes bent? Keep reading.
2016 August 30 Tech Metal & Shop
In the Easy Weld 100ST Review, I mentioned that the unit could work with 7018 rods.
Well, it seems my first choice was lucky. The 1/8" rods that I tried seemed to work fairly well and started easily. Then I tried some 3/32" ones that should have worked even better.
They sort of didn't.
This article shares what I've learned so far. Let's figure out how to choose 7018 electrodes for these small welders.
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In This ArticleEasy Weld
7018 AC Rods
The Easy Weld 100 ST is a great little welding machine, but like all 120-volt welders, you can't just use any ol' welding rod and expect great results.
120-volt welders typically max out around 85 or 90 amps. Some of them advertise 100 amps, but I don't know about that.
Any of these machines should do better on a 20-amp circuit. Most homes have 15-amp circuits. If you are trying to crank up the current as far as it will go, the welder will probably trip a 15-amp breaker.
110 or 120-volt welders are sort of right on the edge of being able to use 7018 rods. It makes a big difference which brand and type you choose. (I'm still learning this, so this article is sort of my notebook. Hopefully it will help you too!)
If you're thinking of using a 120-volt welder with 7018, don't even think about using a cheap extension cord. Read this article to help you choose the right extension cord.
7018 welding electrodes are used for so-called "code work", meaning that 7018 is what you'll find on jobsites for high-rise buildings, nuclear reactors, and that sort of thing. Done right, the welds meet certain types of structural regulations or "codes".
When properly stored, 7018 is a low-hydrogen electrode. Most of us don't store 7018 properly, but then again we're just making yard decorations, garden carts, knick-knack shelf brackets, and that sort of thing. (That said, it's nice to know you could even get better welds out of 7018's if you do store them properly.)
Even stored out on a shelf, 7018 still has advantages:
- Strong welds
- Easy drag-rod welding style
- Slag very easy to remove
- Potentially the best-looking welds
- Able to weld cast iron to steel, if you do it right
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This is a very popular one among experienced welders. 1/8" Excaliburs were pretty much out of the question with the Easy Weld 100 ST, so I tried some 3/32" ones. That's Lincoln Excalibur 7018 MR.
First I used 3/32" 7018 MR to attach a steel jaw liner to a cast iron vise. That seemed a whole lot easier than precision drilling, tapping, and countersinking the piece of steel.
Here the rods were difficult to start. They stuck like mad! One of them welded itself to the piece so firmly that I ended up wrecking the electrode (see photo at top of page.)
Later I figured out what was wrong. I was running the welder on a 15-amp circuit, and the extension cord was too thin. Hmm, so that's why the welder kept shutting off...
Much later I tried 3/32" Excalibur 7018's again. This time it was on a 20-amp circuit with no extension cord. There was a huge difference.
Maxed out at 85-90 amps, the Easy Weld 100ST has enough power to get good beads with these electrodes. I'm talking about smooth, easy welds where you can almost drag the welding rod. Now that I have more experience with them, I really like these 7018 MR's. Let's hope Lincoln keeps making them available in 3/32". (1/16" would be useful, too.)
If you buy Excalibur 7018 MR for a small welder, make sure you get the 3/32", not the 5/32". (Try this link. The 5/32" is common because it's an industrial size, but that requires some heavy amperage. 3/32" 7018 MR's run smooth as butter with a small welder, if you do your part.
Certain types of 3/32" electrodes may require 90 amps.
One day I called a local store and asked if they had "7018 AC" in 3/32 diameter. They assured me they had 5- and 10-lb containers of 7018AC in that size. After I drove there, I found the only ones they had in 3/32" were not 7018 AC's, but regular 7018's.
Since I had to weld that day, I got the regular Hobart 3/32" 7018's. These, like the Excalibur MR's, are a little challenging on the Easy Weld. They were difficult to start, but once they got warmed up they did in fact run very well. 20-amp circuit required, though.
If only they'd had 7018 AC's...
7018 AC Rods
I've found that 7018 AC electrodes start MUCH more easily than regular 7018's, even on a DC welder. They seem to hold an arc more easily without sticking. They don't require quite as much current.
1/8" 7018 AC's are a bit difficult on 120 volt machines, unless you are welding thin metal. However, 3/32" 7018 AC's are about right. If you have a 120-volt stick welder or are thinking of getting one, just do yourself a favor and get one or more of the following:
Lincoln Electric 7018 AC (3/32") If you go through that link, some of the results are 1-lb containers of Excalibur 7018 MR (moisture resistant). They're good, but look past those. Look at the five-pound boxes. The old design, in red and black cardboard boxes, says "E7018" in white letters on a blue background... but under that, it says "7018AC-RSP". I think the stock number is ED030568. These things are excellent on the Easy Weld. Make sure to get the 3/32" size (try this link or this one.).
Some 5-lb boxes of Lincoln rods will actually say "7018 AC" in big letters. I think these have a stock # of ED032454. I don't know if these are different from 7018AC-RSP's or not. But if it's Lincoln and says "7018 AC" and it's 3/32", it's probably good.
Hobart 7018 AC (3/32"). Once again, these run great on the Easy Weld. The difference between these and regular Hobart 7018's on a 120-volt welder is like night and day; 3/32" 7018AC's run so much more easily at 85-90 amps. Meanwhile the regular 7018's can be difficult to start. (On a bigger welder this may not happen; I'm talking about a small inverter-type welder here.)
Forney 7018 AC (3/32") Like any brand of bulk electrodes, try to order them from a seller that doesn't throw them in a box with no cushioning. The flux has to be intact for them to work properly.
Figure on running any of these electrodes at 75 to 90 amps, depending on the thickness of what you're welding.
It's actually possible to run 7018 AC's "too hot" at 90 amps. There were times when 75-80 amps seemed just about perfect.
Which is best? That depends on what you're welding, the technique, etc. Try a couple different varieties of 7018 AC, and see which one you like best. Don't throw away the ones you didn't like; you may find some special welding application where they work better than anything else!
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1/16" 7018 Electrodes
Some people hate these thin electrodes, but I think they might be underrated. It's almost like having a flux-core welder.
From what I've seen so far, these work absolutely great with a 120-volt welder. Any bad welds I'm getting are the result of my lack of skill, not the electrodes. But I do know enough to know they don't have any serious issues with the 120V welder. There's enough excess power that you don't have to worry about cold welds. I've been running the Hobart 1/16" 7018's at 65-67 amps.
In fact, I'm starting to realize that may be too hot. I was welding some thin steel and getting burn-through at 65 amps; I kept dialing down the amps until finally it was at 50. Finally the beads stopped looking like 6011 whip-and-pause welds, and now they looked like 7018 welds. This was just above the point where these electrodes wanted to stick to the metal. 1/16" electrodes like to flex and go off course, so it can be a challenge to keep the correct arc length. So get a couple packs and practice a lot.
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120-volt machines are somewhat picky about 7018 electrodes.
3/32" Lincoln Excaliburs require a 20-amp circuit. If you use any extension cord at all, make sure it can carry 20 amps. And the machine will probably have to be maxed out, which should be around 85 to 90 amps. Now that I've tried these some more, I really like them.
7018 AC's work even better; sometimes you don't even need the full amount of current. If you have a 110/120-volt arc welder, get some of these and they will probably work great for you.
Based on my experience I would also highly recommend the Hobart 1/16" 7018's, even though they're not 7018 AC's. But because they are 1/16", they can run at lower amperes.
One more time: make sure you're not running the machine on a flimsy extension cord or a very long run from the circuit breaker. If you have a 20-amp circuit with a short run, that's ideal. If you have to use an extension cord, make sure it's a good one like this. For 50-foot runs, I would use one like this at least. Get 7018 AC electrodes in 3/32" diameter, and you should be able to weld just fine.
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