Learning to weld

I know the knowledge of this group is broad, so I thought I’d throw a side project in here.

As some who follow me may know, I recently acquired a mill. That pretty much immediately made a welder my next ‘want’.

So I picked one up. It’s a cheaper one off of Amazon. Not one of the big names, but it got good reviews and is plenty powerful enough for what I’ll be doing with it.

My first project was upgrading my collapsable trailer. This picture was from before I shrunk the bolts and painted everything.

While I was working on that project using flux-core, my gas bottle came in. My second project was a welding cart. I wanted one that would carry not only the welder and gas bottle, but the folding welding table that I picked up too. I also wanted it to be able to carry the 25’ extension cord I bought.

This is the result of that work. I still need to grind a bunch of welds and paint it, but it works for now. I think I’m going to 3d print some end caps for the open tubing.

I’ve learned that welding is about 60% settings, 30% figuring out where to stand to see what you’re doing, and 10% remembering that freshly welded parts are HOT.

I’m also lucky in that I have a good friend that is a really good welder. He’s helped me a lot. Youtube has helped too. It’s amazing how much theory you can learn just from that.

I still plan on taking a machining/welding course at some point. Just not sure when.

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I fondly remember learning to stick weld in the Physics shop at University. Dude had me run straight lines and clean slag until I could manage to write my name in cursive. Cursive will be the secret code that the elderly use to hide the uprising from the youth.

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For a great many welders, this is a first project. (Mine was intake piping for my car, lol.)

I bought a MIG welder, and haven’t used it yet. I have a stick welder that has been beat about plenty and a cheap cart for it that I complain about every time I use it, but have never gotten around to upgrading.

I do have projects waiting for me to get around to getting the MIG set up. Funny, as soon as I got the MIG I stopped getting any welding done, because I had it, so I didn’t want to just use the stick welder, but I didn’t want to fuss about with setting up the MIG. That’s on the list of things to get done this summer.

Your cart looks good. Congrats!

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On that project I have been working on with the neighbors we just went from flux core to gas and it makes it a lot cleaner to work with for sure. I still really enjoy the slow intricate tig welding, over that run and gun mig…but either one gets the job done!

Love the cart, I can’t wait to make one myself. Definitely going to steal your mesh idea. Most of my flat surfaces are full of woods chips.

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With your CNC race videos, I’m sure that half the neighborhood is ankle deep in MDF bits.

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What you don’t see in the picture is the old fitted sheet that I use to cover the entire cart when not using it. My buddy gave me that idea. He uses old fitted sheets over the top of all his metalworking stuff to keep sawdust off of them when doing the woodworking.

I originally wanted to fabricate drawers to keep everything in instead of shelves. I decided that that would be a bit too much work for cart v1.0.

The cart was my second project because I wanted to use the gas for the welds instead of flux-core. There’s a few of the very first welds on this cart that were still flux-core as I used up the small spool that came with the welder.

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Fitted sheets, I like it. Gives me an excuse to get some new sheets, and keep the garage a bit cleaner.

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Around these parts it seems like everyone’s first welding project is a smoker. Mine was too!

@niget2002, I’ll be keeping an eye out for your inevitable plasma table build :wink:

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No, but I will be welding a new firebox for my smoker.

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I thought it was only my physics school that had weird labs. Our field session had a metal working section (where we milled a tiny vise from al and brass and even used the screw setting on the lathe, but no welding). We had one section on “computing” where we used Linux and did some simple CAD. What I remembered the most was the prof’s love of free open source software. We had one session where we set up vaccum experiments. And one on how to handle radioactive materials (they didn’t give us anything that exciting. They did tell us which door they were behind though).

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Xavier University in Cincinnati used to make all the physics students in the Electronics Lab build a Multimeter and the theory was that the Theoretical Physicists of the future would learn not to make ridiculous requests of the Engineers building their experiments. So everyone was forced to try to use a drill press and the brake to bend the sheet metal. I lucked into a job in the shop and I got to do lots of the lap setups and cleanups as well as building things. I swear that was the best part of school. It didn’t hurt that I could do all the experiments backwards and forwards by the time I was done with school. Tons of experience with vacuum pumps, lasers, holograms, photography darkrooms. There were move metal shop tools than woodworking. Those were good times and likely the reason I am on this forum today.

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They really encouraged experimental stuff. They bought an H press to make yttrium barium copper oxide superconductors and we made a mold and such to press them into pellets, high temperature furnaces to cook them with and they got me liquid nitrogen to test the Meissner Effect. It was fantastic. Then I graduated to the federal government shutting down and my Master’s degree becoming unfunded and then the market was flooded with all the physicists whom needed jobs after the superconducting supercollider was cancelled. And that’s how you go from college to oil changes to working in computer for 25 years. One of the other students was measuring black body radiation in one of the furnaces and vaporized a length of Aluminum wire and wondered why 1200 degrees would melt the wire instead of generate the voltage he was looking for. It’s amazing anyone lives through college.

perhaps too much information.

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I was an electrical engineer. For our control systems class we had to control a mag-lev. Those things are extremely sensitive on their PID loop.

Then in mixed-signal testing we programmed a teradyne for our final project. The thing was huge and in the basement of one of the buildings. There were two commands you could run on it to power it up. One did a self-test that took 5 minutes… the other did a self-test that took 24 hours (and you couldn’t stop it once started). One of the teams typed the wrong command and all the other teams had to reschedule their lab time. That team ended up getting 30 points deducted from their project grade :slight_smile: for pushing the rest of us back on our schedules.

We also had a robot running National Instruments Ni-Daq hardware. It was controlled over the building’s wifi network. This is back when 802.11b was the ‘next big thing’. My team was the first one to get it moving. We drove it downstairs (elevator) and into our prof’s class he was teaching at the time. The look on his face was awesome. Needless to say we passed that class. We also got to take the robot to NI and show it off to all the engineers in their lunchroom. It was pretty cool as a Jr in college having engineers asking us about their product. What we thought of it. How well it worked for us. How we did this or that with it. For the demo we strapped laser guns to the camera mounts and drove around shooting at each other. I had a PC racing steering wheel at the time and we rigged it up through the software to control the car.

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Same here! I landed a job as a lab assistant for my professor who was studying structures in earthquakes. The job was building wall panels, trusses, etc. and then loading them into giant hydraulic machines that would just about shake the building down around us, as well as building the ‘earthquake’ machines themselves. Tons of fun!

Bringing it back on topic, now that I think about it, that’s probably where I first really started learning to weld.

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Love the ideas! Nice.
I grew up just outside Chicago with a great dad (RIP) that kept a very nice garage with all sorts of things the 5 sons loved like arc welders and cutting torches. As well as engine hoist etc. Could not fit a car in there except in winter he would make space for his car but none of us :slight_smile:

Anyway I was about 12 years old and he always had these old leather welding gloves and I thought at that age it was thousands of volts like an electric chair and knew the leather gloves were worn and torn and had rivets at the edges. So I would drip sweat in the welding helmet not from the weather but sure terror of dying at 12 years old of electrocution. My dad was getting irritated by my shaking striking the bead and finally asked me why I was always so terrified?
I explained my fear and he patiently explained it was LOW VOLTAGE but high CURRENT and actually held both the electrode and the ground to show me it was not a lethal death sentence .

We all laughed about it and I learned to weld much better…

My first welding project was a rack for my solar panels. The ready made ones must be made of gold or platinum because they cost so much.

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Latest welding project.

I have a large leather bag that goes on the back of my bike for longer trips. In the past I’ve used a piece of plywood and some 1x material to make a larger platform so that the bag doesn’t sag around the edges of my small luggage rack. This works well, but has always looked a bit hack-ish.

On my last trip I couldn’t find the board and didn’t bother making a new one. It annoyed me the entire trip and my brain got to wandering, as it does on an 1800 mile trip, and I came up with a better looking solution.

When I got home, I welded up this:

It uses two stainless steel bolts and wing nuts with lock washers to clamp over the existing rails on the luggage rack. I used weather stripping on all of the rails that touch the chrome luggage rack.

The luggage rack isn’t supposed to support more than 10lbs. This add-on weights a couple of pounds, so I’ve lost some carrying capacity. Honestly, I don’t know anyone that’s ever paid attention to those weight limits.

I was going to powder coat it, but in the end just gave it a few coats of black paint.

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