Metal Working

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Blog entry by scruboak51 posted 06-05-2014 03:03 AM 1445 reads 0 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch

To borrow a line from Forrest Gump, metal and wood working go together “like peas and carrots.”

While the traditionalists may gasp; even their tools are metal, so at some point the incorporation of metal into the wood working skill-set fits nicely. From building your own tools to using metal fastners to going full bore and incorporating metal into the finished product, it just makes sent to learn the trade.

I’ve been researching and saving for a good welder, but much like good woodworking tools the entry price is about $1,000+. Fate intervened when our driveway gate broke and I realized it would be both cheaper and faster to purchase an entry level 90 amp flux core welder from Harbor Freight to make the necessary repair.

$180 USD got me the welder, an auto darkening helmet and a spool of wire. My prior welding experience was a handful of times 15+ years ago using an old stick welder. It was miserable. So it was with a bit a trepidation that I fired this unit up and set about fixing the gate. To my surprise I got it to lay a clean bead and while not pretty, it got good penetration. Success!

With the gate fixed I thought I’d try my hand and making some hair-pin style legs. Despite the fact that I somewhat despise the style; it is popular (and popular sells) and I figured it would be a good opportunity for me to learn. Also I’ve got a slab of redwood that is a difficult shape and would probably look good on a thin pair of metal legs.

With little more than an idea and a bit of confidence, I welded up my first leg

One of my problems with hairpin legs is that they are not adjustable, so if you’ve got an un-even slab, or worse an en-even floor (mexican tile is popular out here) then you can run into level issue. While I am sure this is not a novel approach, I decided to tackle the issue by welding a hex nut to the bottom of my leg which would then allow for a threaded leveling foot to be inserted.

The operation for creating the foot was as follows
  • Insert a smaller sacrifice bolt into the nut – just large enough to block slag from entering the threads
  • Tack each leg to the nut
  • Build a nice thick bead on all three sides
  • Take unit to bench grinder to shape the piece and grind down the sacrifice bolt allowing it to fall out
  • Run a tap through the nut to clean any slag that may have snuck in or correct any warp issues.

The base which attaches to the table is something I struggled a bit with. I ended up drilling holes through the metal plate, tacking the leg on, then flipping the entire unit and filling the back-side.

It’s not pretty, but it’s functional. I’ve already noticed an improvement in quality from unit 1 to unit two. I’ve got one more unit to build so hopefully that looks even better. The best part is I’ll have 3 legs for about $15 in material cost, less than the cost of 1 leg from the local fabrication shop.

Well, that’s all for now, thanks for reading.

2 comments so far

View Grandpa's profile


3261 posts in 2878 days

#1 posted 06-05-2014 03:09 AM

The leg looks good. 3 legs always set solid on a floor whether tile or not. Save these for 4 legs and another project. 4 legs have to be adjustable.

View realcowtown_eric's profile


617 posts in 2140 days

#2 posted 06-05-2014 03:43 AM

Way to go. looksgood to me.

Over the years i’ve also had to go to the darkside….So many of my WWing buddies have delved deeply into the metal side of things. Gotta watch them sparks around the sawdust!

I just had to dig out my MIG to fabricate some drawer slides. Machinist neigbour saw them after I extracted a “promise not to laugh” out of him. To me looked like hell, but he congratulated me! Didn’t make em look any better though.

-- Real_cowtown_eric

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