A viewer who has just started TIG welding asked Kevin what TIG filler rods are and what he needs them for. For a beginner, that’s a good question!

Filler rod is almost like a coat hanger, although it’s not as big in diameter and doesn’t have that pesky paper on it. Filler rod is what you use when you are TIG welding and working along a joint, melting your two base metals together (you also use filler rod with oxygen acetylene welding, and for that I often DO use coat hangers!). At the same time, you’re dipping your filler rod in to add a little more metal so that the area you are welding comes out flat or a little bit raised. It gives you enough metal to hold the pieces together.

Filler rod comes in many different varieties. Kevin shows some copper colored ones, ER70S-2. They’re for welding steel. He shows 1/16,” 3/32″ and 1/8″ diameter filler rod, which are the most common sizes he uses when TIG welding steel.

There are also ER308 rods for welding stainless steel – he shows some filler rods that are 1/8″ in diameter.

You can remember all these different names or it’s just as easy to go to your local welding store and tell the person behind the counter what you’re welding. He or she can tell you just what you need. As you get more experienced, you’ll know the difference yourself. For instance, there’s a particular type of rod for food grade stainless steel. If you’re making bulletproof armor, you’ll need a different rod. When he works with weathering steel – often known by the brand name Corten – he uses a special rod for that. You need to do a little research.

Is there a “starter kit” of TIG filler rods that every welder should have? Sure. Get some ER70S rod for steel. What size you get – 1/16,” 3/32,” 1/8″ – depends upon what you are welding. The 1/16″ and 3/32″ are great starters – you can do lots of things with them.

If you’re going to work with aluminum, you’ll want some 4043, too. If you’re welding stainless steel, the ER308 will work, but Kevin doesn’t do that much stainless steel work, so he just keeps a small pack around.

What does it cost? A 10 pound box of 4043 filler rod in 3/32″ for aluminum is $61. A 5 pound tube of ER70S 3/32″ for steel is $21. Big jump! A 1 pound pack of 3/32″ for stainless is $24. That’s something to keep in mind: if you’re welding stainless steel, the rod is really going to get you in the wallet.

Where do you get your TIG filler rod? Try a local welding store. In Phoenix, Kevin goes to Praxair, but there is also Airgas, US Weld and Phoenix Welding Supply. Look in your phone book or go online and search for “local welding supply.” You can also buy them from Amazon or any other online welding supply site.

Stay around for another minute, though, to see what else TIG filler rod can do ….