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Calm out of chaos - My Shop Build #4: Amateur Metalworking Incoming!

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Blog entry by TheBossQ posted 10-05-2016 07:34 AM 646 reads 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: Heavy Metal Part 4 of Calm out of chaos - My Shop Build series no next part

Monkey see monkey do. That’s the extent of my training and experience in cutting metal and melting it together to form anything of use. So you’re forewarned. Safety gear HIGHLY recommended if you wish to continue reading.

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Go ahead. I’ll wait. (5 seconds pass) NO? Okay, suit yourself. But stand back.

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Turns out a $500 welder REALLY IS $1,000. You need a tank, gas, wire, gloves … and when you discover that you suck with a Harbor Freight portable bandsaw (actually, this tool sucked), you need a better way to cut metal that doesn’t set the dry grass on fire. Which a 10” cutoff wheel on a miter saw will quite readily accomplish. Well, I don’t know this for a fact. That’s a lie. I know for a fact.

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I have a host of problems. I don’t have a good way to accurately cut my stock. I have no welding cart. The welder and tank are just sitting on the ground. I have no welding table. Actually, I have no work table to speak of. I’m welding on the ground and I promise you, that’s not fun. I’m struggling to square things up. Turns out metal is some slippery stuff.

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Fabrication of version 1 of the table saw frame is a hard fail. My cuts suck. My fit up sucks. The end result sucks. My choice of 2×3 rectangle tubing was poorly thought out … TIMEOUT! Stop, think, reevaluate what you’re doing.

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I need to:

1) Figure out a better way to cut metal.
2) Get a welding cart
3) Get a welding table
4) Pretend this first attempt never happened
5) Fabricate the table saw station

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Okay. This portable bandsaw needs to go back to Harbor Freight. It’s not that great and I’m even worse with it. I take it back and I spot this:

The wonder of technology allows me to instantly YouTube this machine and find out that it’s pretty decent. A few Google searches and I find that Grizzly and General International (and probably a host of others) sell this exact machine in their colors. In less than 30 minutes, my decision is made. I present my 20% off coupon and I take this thing home for $220.

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And I freakin’ love this machine. For a brief moment, I thought I would simply use it, get by with it, but ultimately hate it and take it back. Not so. This is a keeper and quite simply a gem. It’s far from perfect, but cuts beautifully and as accurately as you can set it up. I’ll do a comprehensive review on this machine another time.

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I don’t want to buy the welding cart. Frankly, MAKING a welding cart is probably the best first project you can do when you’re learning welding. So I head to a local scrap yard and I rummage around and it’s all just garbage. But about 20 minutes into my search, hidden in a corner, I find a pallet of 1×2, .125 rectangle tubing. This is perfect. The pallet of material is $40 @ $.25 a pound. Score!

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I do some searching online, settle on a design in my head and I do some sketching in a notebook. Time to start cutting. And man is this metal bandsaw ever making my life easy. I get the base knocked out in an evening.

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I know I’ll need some sheet metal for the shelves, so I stopped by the steel supply yard after work the next day. Got home and got to work. Cut and tacked in the risers, the rails for the upper shelf and welded it out. Cut my sheet metal to size, stitch welded that to the frame. Drilled and tapped 16 1/4-20 holes for the casters and installed them. Located the welder, drilled through the bottom of the metal cabinet. Center punched the mating hole locations on the sheet metal underneath, drilled and secured the welder with a couple bolts and nuts.

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And now I have my welding cart.
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Welding on the ground still REALLY sucks. But I’m having fun!



6 comments so far

View robscastle's profile

robscastle

3392 posts in 1670 days


#1 posted 10-05-2016 08:13 AM

Looks like an OK job, (apart from the dry wall and ankle bustting wings near the wheels) so to confirm this fact you need to post some close ups of the fillets so we can pass judgement.
There is one thing for sure,... Juno will not be chewing the legs off it!...unless she is a four legged version of Jaws!!

-- Regards Robert

View bushmaster's profile

bushmaster

1369 posts in 1748 days


#2 posted 10-05-2016 02:49 PM

Thats the best cart I have seen in along time, so much more sturdy than the bought ones. Nice welder and good quality.
Mig welders are great, I taught metal work for along time and enjoyed the gas type mig welder. Now that \i am retired I am using a stick welder, Great for thick material which I do most of. Built a wood lathe this spring. Check out my latest projects by clicking on my picture if interested. I did all the cutting on the ground and fabication just on the ground. Need to set up a cutting table. There is also a blog on the steps I took to make the lathe.

Happy metal working and enjoy your welder, All I use is free scrap metal to build things.

-- Brian - Hazelton, British Columbia

View magaoitin's profile

magaoitin

64 posts in 415 days


#3 posted 10-05-2016 06:17 PM

Well done, and congratulations on the first metal fab in the shop. Regardless of the welds, it is a great first project. Plus you know you will be rebuilding it many times (so, so many times) over the life of your shop.

The right band saw makes a world of difference with steel. I have had no luck with the HF Porta-bands. I have bought at least 3 (if not more) for work, hoping that maybe one wouldn’t suck. HF stuff is usually a 50-50 crap shoot for me, and I have struck out every time with metal saws. (3) portabands, (2) 12” cut-off saws, and a partridge in a metal tree, and I gave up on their metal working tools.

Glad to hear that the horizontal band saw is cutting square for you, I might…but no…NO…more metal working for me.

-- Jeff ~ Tacoma Wa.

View TheBossQ's profile

TheBossQ

100 posts in 2159 days


#4 posted 10-06-2016 06:15 AM


Looks like an OK job, (apart from the dry wall and ankle bustting wings near the wheels) so to confirm this fact you need to post some close ups of the fillets so we can pass judgement.
There is one thing for sure,... Juno will not be chewing the legs off it!...unless she is a four legged version of Jaws!!

- robscastle

Hi Robert, I’ll try to get close ups of my welds for you. They’re not great, but effective for the application.

Juno is a savage!

View TheBossQ's profile

TheBossQ

100 posts in 2159 days


#5 posted 10-06-2016 06:20 AM



Thats the best cart I have seen in along time, so much more sturdy than the bought ones. Nice welder and good quality.
Mig welders are great, I taught metal work for along time and enjoyed the gas type mig welder. Now that i am retired I am using a stick welder, Great for thick material which I do most of. Built a wood lathe this spring. Check out my latest projects by clicking on my picture if interested. I did all the cutting on the ground and fabication just on the ground. Need to set up a cutting table. There is also a blog on the steps I took to make the lathe.

Happy metal working and enjoy your welder, All I use is free scrap metal to build things.

- bushmaster

Thank you sir! It’s pretty overbuilt, but certainly better than the cheesy sheet metal varieties.

I’ll take a look at what you’re up to!

View TheBossQ's profile

TheBossQ

100 posts in 2159 days


#6 posted 10-06-2016 06:32 AM



Well done, and congratulations on the first metal fab in the shop. Regardless of the welds, it is a great first project. Plus you know you will be rebuilding it many times (so, so many times) over the life of your shop.

The right band saw makes a world of difference with steel. I have had no luck with the HF Porta-bands. I have bought at least 3 (if not more) for work, hoping that maybe one wouldn t suck. HF stuff is usually a 50-50 crap shoot for me, and I have struck out every time with metal saws. (3) portabands, (2) 12” cut-off saws, and a partridge in a metal tree, and I gave up on their metal working tools.

Glad to hear that the horizontal band saw is cutting square for you, I might…but no…NO…more metal working for me.

- magaoitin

Thanks Jeff, appreciate the encouraging words. The bandsaw is finicky to set up, but hold its setup well.

It needs a better stand, better adjustment features, material support and clamping surfaces. But it was only $220 and I’ll enjoy making those improvements myself. Thanks for stopping by.

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