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Fabrication 101 Everyone has to start somewhere and for some, theOFN might be that somewhere.

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Old 02-20-2009, 04:03 PM
LT 4x4's Avatar
LT 4x4 LT 4x4 is offline
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work table

I am trying to figure out how I want to set my garage up. It isn't very big, and I still have to fit 2 small cars inside it. I want to build an all purpose work table. I have been looking at pictures of welding tables online and have noticed that they all seem to be made out of very heavy steel, and don't have any wood shelves, or back peg boards or anything. Is there a reason for this?
I was thinking of making a heavy wood table with shelves on the bottom, and a thin sheet of metal on top of a plywood table top. Then mounting a peg board to hang tools on the wall behind it. I also want to instal some power outlets, and a floresent light.
I do want to be able to weld on this table, Is there any reason that I can't combine a good work bench and welding table?
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Old 02-20-2009, 04:44 PM
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nhrocker nhrocker is offline
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From my personal experience there are two main reasons I won't be using wood for my new welding table. Flammability and strength/straightness.

I've used wooden benches, floors, etc for welding and burned every one of them. Even with a piece of sheet metal over the suface heat can still transmit through it enough to start combustion. Personally I prefer to not even put the sheet metal on there, so that I can tell if it does start burning and put it out before it spreads (yes, I learned that one from experience...luckily no major damage to anything other than the plywood).

For strength and straightness wood is never enough. Wood naturally will bend, warp, and sag. You can't rely on it to be a flat work surface. Depending on what you're using it for that might not be an issue, but for me I like to have at least a reasonably flat surface. The strength comes into play with large heavy items, if you "adjust" items on the table (pounding, hammering, dropping, etc) and also clamping to the table. When you clamp something to it you should know its not going to move, it can with wood. As you weld the wood will allow things to warp, pull, and move if you're not careful. Steel won't do that nearly as much.

As far as storage, I usually have grinding dust, hot cuts, and possibly spatter near my work area, so having somewhere for that to gather isn't very good, especially if that surface is wooden. Using steel grate, mesh, expanded material, etc helps keep material from accumulating and removes flammability from the equation.

You could always mount your lights, electrical, and pegboard to the wall and build your welding table on casters to sit underneath it. Against the wall you'll have your pegboard and outlets right there to use your work bench. Roll it away from the wall to protect everything else and use it for welding. Depending on your use you don't have to use as heavy material as some do for their tables. I'm working on a design for mine and plan on a lighter framework with either a 1/4" or 3/16" thick top with plenty of bracing under it to make up for the thinner than normal material. The top will be "disposable", when it gets to the point I'm not happy with it I can cut it up and use it on projects. The table will be on casters for portability, have built in 2" receivers for attaching other things, storage underneath it, and will still be narrow enough to fit through a standard door opening for portability.
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Old 02-21-2009, 10:50 AM
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idickers idickers is offline
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One of my first projects was to build a welding table out of some scrap angle and plate I picked up at one of those "by the lb" places. It's about 60" wide x 38" deep with a .25" top. Now I need a table to catch the slag from cutting with the torch, and I need to mount a post-dolly and bead roller, but don't have any space in the garage. My solution was to build a "work-station" for metal-mooshing. I welded in two 3" square horizontal tubes under my welding table. In these slide 2.75" square tubes with holes to lock into different positions in the outer square tube. These smaller horizontal square tubes are welded to vertical square tubes, which act as receivers for different tools. In the pic I've got a post-dolly stuck in the end. I can remove the receivers when not in use and store them under the table. I've also mounted my ProTools 105HD in this setup and it is easy to use, and I can put the bender out of the way when not in use.

I also wanted to make a cutting table for my torch, so I welded angle on to the horizontal 3" square tubes to act as a shelf for a frame I made out of angle. I also added some angle above the shelf to keep the sliding frame from tipping when extended. I filled the frame with angle, and now I have a cutting table I can slide away under my welding table when I don't need it.
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Old 02-21-2009, 11:14 AM
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Mymechanics Mymechanics is offline
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That is great Ian. I would love to see some more pictures if you have them. I think It is time to make some changes to my table.
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Old 02-21-2009, 11:18 AM
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Ladderbar Ladderbar is offline
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Nice table well thought out
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Old 02-21-2009, 12:41 PM
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idickers idickers is offline
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Thanks for the kind words. Here are two more shots of the table. I've got a HF bead roller that I beefed up, and the 105HD, neither of which stores well on it's own. So I took some leftover 3" square tubing and cut 6" long lengths and welded them to the top of the table on the sides. Now I can store the bead roller and the bender on top of the table at the side, out of the way. I also cut some some 1" rod and welded it to the legs to hold the die for the roller and the bender.
The second shot shows underneath the table, showing the 2.75" square tube nested inside the 3" square tube, and the angle welded to the bottom to act as a shelf for the pull-out cutting table.

Last edited by idickers; 02-21-2009 at 08:20 PM.
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Old 02-21-2009, 01:00 PM
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idickers idickers is offline
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Originally Posted by Dave18 View Post
Drill Doctor, im assuming thats a drill sharpining jig, sounds like a great idea, they taught us at college but it never sunk in to my head Going have to google that and see if i can get that here.
I love the Drill Doctor. I never learned to sharpen bits by hand on a grinder, and once I started working with metal I was running out to replace bits on a regular basis until I found this tool. You don't think about it, but NOT having to run to the store at 10 at night is a great productivity booster! Just resharpen and keep working.
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Old 02-21-2009, 03:07 PM
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rdn2blazer rdn2blazer is offline
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Originally Posted by idickers View Post
I love the Drill Doctor. I never learned to sharpen bits by hand on a grinder, and once I started working with metal I was running out to replace bits on a regular basis until I found this tool. You don't think about it, but NOT having to run to the store at 10 at night is a great productivity booster! Just resharpen and keep working.

Learn hot to sharpen a drill by hand and you will never use the Drill doctor again. I know, I know, easier said then done. It IS easier said then done but a GREAT skill to know & learn. I was fortunate enough to be tought by an old timer machinist at one of the machine shops I used to work at. He was the best conventional machinist I have ever worked with. This was in about 98'. He started in machining in 57' so 41 years of machining experience, AND he was a third gen machinist. Had alot of his grandpops and dads tools they used in his tool box. Some very cool old hand tools.

As far as precision, he would hold plus minus .0001 all day everyday if thats what the job called for on diameters, ID or OD. Would do some bad ass mill setups too. He tought me ALOT. He showed me how to sharpen drills though, and very well I might add. He liked to wear the OPTIVISOR magnifying glasses, so he could see small detail stuff. He once sharpened a 1/8 in drill by hand, I took it into inspection and checked it out on our big Optical Comparator to see how good it really was.

I was humbled as to how perfect a grind it was. I also looked at it under a microscope, It just looked like a factory grind, completely Symetrical. I know after learning from him I'm still not as good as he was after knowing how to grind drills for 11/12 years now. I can sharpen a drill really good though, and I will sharpen drills down to 1/8 but not smaller unless it's my last drill. Maybe in another 30 years I might be as good as he was. I left that shop finally and moved on, George, last I herd retired and moved from California to Wyoming somewhere. I will always remember what he tought me, and pass it down to my son too. THANKS GEORGE where ever you are!!!

Last edited by rdn2blazer; 02-21-2009 at 03:11 PM.
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Old 04-23-2009, 10:05 AM
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tbd85hilux tbd85hilux is offline
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I know I haven't fabbed anything near what Y'all have yet but from my experience so far the first tool I bought is till one of my most used... A good socket set with extensions, wobbles, and breaker bars. I bought the set when I was first getting into offroading and have added to it over the years. I've since purchased 4 grinders (2 4inch, 1 4.5 inch, and 1 bench), A Hobart welder (replaced crappy HF that I learned on), Air compressor, Sawzall, air compressor w/ accesories, drill press, Kobalt vise, Hobart Plasma cutter, Lincoln 210 Arc welder, and a cherry picker (engine hoist) Here soon I'm getting a tube bender, angle finder, and an assortment of welding tube clamps. I've done this over the years as my budget and experience has afforded. So I agree... the best tool is only as good as the operator. I know I could get a plasma table to cut parts out but what good would that do if I didn't know what I needed to cut or how to use it? And don't forget that a good box or storage location for all your tools is essential as well. And in that time frame I've had a lot of "consumable" items in there too. Several sets of welding gloves, several more sets of mechanics gloves, half a dozen sets of ear plugs, 3 full face shields, 3 sets of safety glasses and 2 auto dimming welding hoods (1 for me and 1 for anyone else helping me). I think the safety part is the most important part of it all. After 5 years of "garage" booty fabbing i've still got perfect sight (better after the PRK surgery in fact), all 10 fingers and toes, great hearing, and no "cool" scars to show off!

Paul G.


x2 fire extinquishers (1 used when the ground under a truck I was welding on lit on fire, 1 to replace it)

Last edited by tbd85hilux; 04-23-2009 at 10:09 AM.
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Old 05-17-2009, 03:56 AM
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scorpion scorpion is offline
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I have purchased many tools and have quite a collection. My favorite of all time is the 3-axis cnc mill.

Have to haves:
  • dewalt cordless impact drill/driver
  • Welding clamps of various sizes (the easier they are to clamp, the better!)
  • A Good Welder that will last you for years that is capable of welding the true thicknesses you intend on welding (buying one that is too small only to have to sell it and buy a bigger one later can be painful)
  • Drill press - you can do many things with a hand drill but, in the end, you'll save a ton of cash having a drill press. A consistent feed rate and accurate rpm can put much life on your drills. The better you get at drilling holes the right way, the more you can do with a drill press. For example: With the correct feed rate you can drill a 1.25" hole with a 1.25" drill bit on a single pass and still have life left on the bit. I've never seen someone pull that off with a hand drill.
  • Tooling, tooling, tooling. Just about every tool you're going to have in your shop will require some form of consumable and, in most cases, there will be many different types for various purposes. A 4.5" grinder, for example, can run cut-off wheels, grinding discs, sandpaper discs, wire wheels, polishing stones, etc. Each has a specific purpose and if you learn what they are as well has have them around when you need them (don't buy just one!), it will save you a lot of time.
  • Drop cord. You can get an extension cord that's on a self-retracting reel that you can hang from the ceiling. Doing so will keep the extension cords off of the floor and speed the cleanup process. Look into a retractable air hose reel and drop light too.
  • Basic fab tools (which includes the 4.5inch grinder and a sawzall).
  • Basic hand tools - now-a-days you can get a set of rachet wrenches that can replace a socket set. Add to that a set of screw drivers, a hammer, some pri-bars, a file, a pic set (think dental tools), an allen wrench set, and few various sized hammers and you can do quite a bit. Once you drift into specialty tools you'll find yourself spending the big bucks.
  • Something to cut material with - a torch can work but finishing the part you cut will take some effort (get a big belt sander). A plasma is better but expensive. Some use saw-z-alls...depends on your skill, preference, and budget. You will need something to cut a bracket out no matter what project you're planning on.

Tools I think are awesome but don't recommend unless you intend on using them all the time:

  • Upgrade that pully/belt drill press for a variable speed drill press (adjusting a belt/pully setup is a pain in the a$$). If you intend on using large drill bits (like a 1") you'll want a drill press that can slow down around 100rpm and the variable speed presses can typically get there. If the budget is there, you can't miss with a used knee mill. My favorite tool in my shop is a 3 axis cnc knee mill...probably the best and most useful tool I have ever owned. In this economy I've seen them in the 6k range - that's wickedly cheap.
  • An engine lathe. Doesn't need to be a big one but being able to square the edges on parts you make and turn things down in diameter is awesome. In a pinch I can make things I'd normally buy. There are so many shop applications for a lathe it's crazy.
  • A Bender if and only if you intend on building more than one cage. The over head associated with buying one makes them an expensive tool for a single (and maybe even a two) time use. I have one with just about every die yet I've not needed to use it in a year or so. When I need it, it's nice to have but I don't need it all that often.
  • Air Compressor. Air tools are awesome and will save you a ton of time (and possible some painful knuckles). I don't believe air tools are a shop requirement but they are nice to have. I'd start with a good 1/2" impact and a set of sockets (also get a universal impact wobly, you'll thank me later).
  • A plasma cutter - awesome tool. you can make beautiful parts with one and reduce fab-time in general BUT they are messy as hell and you won't use it all that often. Be prepared to purchase quite a few consumable packs as they tend to burn through quickly in a hand torch. Upgrading to a CNC table is awesome but comes with it many issues (like more mess, nasty cleanup, and a big price-tag). Once you have one you'll wonder how you ever fab'd without one and yet you'll learn that plasma smoke is very difficult to get rid of (pump it outside and your neighbors will not like you).

I started out simple, very simple. A chop saw, a 4.5inch grinder, a torch, and a welder was my first go-round. Then I added a bender and a notcher. Then it spawned from there. What you'll find is that, at some point, the hobby becomes fabricating itself not just a project or two. If your hobby isn't (or likely won't be) fabricating itself and instead, it's building a single jeep, it may not make sense to load the garage with equipment you'll never use again. I know many that have.

Best bet is to pay attention and buy equipment off of those that make purchases for the one time use, auctions, and for-sale BB's. You can get some good deals and end up with much more for your buck. Used is not always a bad thing if the tools you're shopping for are built to be used. Also check places like harbor freight. You can get most of your hand tools for pennies on the dollar there and, for the most part, they're not much different than Craftsman.

Last edited by scorpion; 05-17-2009 at 04:00 AM.
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Old 05-17-2009, 04:01 PM
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Rix86 Rix86 is offline
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Bender and (some) dies: check
Notcher: check
Good welder: check
Plasma cutter (bigger would be better) : check
drill press: check
20 ton press: check
hand tools: check
air compressor: check
Air tools: check
grinders: check
welding table: sorta check
plenty of workspace: NOPE
band saw or cold saw: NOPE
Lift: NOPE (see: workspace)

I make due with sawsalls and a less than spectacular cutoff saw.
A band saw is one of the next things on my list.
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Old 08-17-2009, 07:08 PM
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Chop Tech Fab Chop Tech Fab is offline
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here are the musts in my shop....

-4" angle grinders and lots of them (about 6 now)
-good 200+ amp welder unless you do only sheet metal work
-good vise with pipe clapms and brass insert jaws
-chop saw
-lots and lots of safety glasses laying every foot around the shop
-cutting torch (although a plasma would be nice I am yet to feel the need to drop $1000+ on one)
-good scribes, soap pen, sharpies
-good metal welding/fab bench with torch cutting area too
-GOOD drill bits
-good hand drill
-and one of my most used tools is my Jet 1 hp bench grinder
-lots and lots of hand tools
-tubing bender and dies
-tubing notcher

this is the majority of the equipment I use every day for fabrication in my shop and I can build just about anything in-house with these tools... of course there are a lot of other tools that would make my job much easier and quicker but I have yet to justify spending the money on them... oh ya always gotta have lots of on hand and COLD
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Old 10-17-2009, 04:38 PM
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gipperz gipperz is offline
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I dont have a big shop, I do most of my fabing outside. In my one car garage I keep my miller 252 wire feed, miller syncrowave 200 tig, thermodynamics cut master 38 plasma, big 80 gallon air compressor, grinders of all sizes. Small welding table and large drill press and my jd square model 32 built on a engine style stand for portability. So you could say my garage is very full so thats why I have to work outside. One day hopefully I'll have a big enough building.
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Old 10-18-2009, 12:21 AM
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ponch37300 ponch37300 is offline
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I have a 2 1/2 car garage and I still end up doing a lot outside due to tools taking up to much space. But it's nice to have the right tools when you need them, even if you have to work outside because your garage is for tool storage!

One thing I didn't see on this list that I use all the time is a GOOD tap and die set. I have a big matco standard/metric set and then a set of standard bottom taps. Most of the time you can drill a threw hole and use a nut but when I can I would rather drill and tap.
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Old 10-19-2009, 11:41 AM
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mopwr2004a mopwr2004a is offline
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a good set of sockets & open and box end wrenches
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Old 10-19-2009, 12:20 PM
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notoriousDUG notoriousDUG is offline
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I find it interesting no one has mentioned having a proper, and organized tool box and material/large tool storage.

Not exactly tools I know but having stuff properly stored and organized is one of the biggest steps you can make towards having an efficient shop; nothing burns billable time like having to search through unorganized drawers full of random tools or spending to much time looking for an air hose or extension cord.
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Old 12-16-2009, 11:16 PM
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troyman troyman is offline
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Haven't seen it mentioned yet, but a good Portable Band Saw is very nice. I just recently got the one that was featured on Xtreme 4x4 about a year ago. Pretty cool unit that is battery powered and has a stand that you place the bansaw into to make it a small vertical bandsaw.

These are all items that I use quite frequently:
Various lengths of extension cords
1/2" drive sockets, breaker bar and cheater bars (tube big enough to go around your breaker bar)
ratcheting wrenches
Air compressor (best you can afford that can supply the tools you want to use)
Drop, shop and flashlights
Good assortment of screwdrivers and pry bars
1/2" chuck electric drill (drill press would be nice, but I personally wouldn't use one much)
creeper for working under the rig
rolling, adjustable height shop chair
shop radio (nice to have something to listen to when your project starts to p!ss you off )
Ear plugs
lots and lots of safety glasses
A/B/C class fire extinguisher(s)

Smoke detector on the inside of the house just leading out to the garage area.

The tools that are nice are:

210A Mig Welder
Chop Saw
Portable bandsaw
Engine hoist - these are extremely useful for all the heavy crap you tend to move around
Assortment of jackstands
ratchet straps (Various sizes)
bench vice
tube bender (mine's been sitting in the boxes since last Christmas and I still haven't even put it together!)
Good work bench
Beer fridge

There's lots more, but that's a good start!
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Old 12-17-2009, 09:35 PM
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louis louis is offline
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Originally Posted by gipperz View Post
I dont have a big shop, I do most of my fabing outside. In my one car garage I keep my miller 252 wire feed, miller syncrowave 200 tig, thermodynamics cut master 38 plasma, big 80 gallon air compressor, grinders of all sizes. Small welding table and large drill press and my jd square model 32 built on a engine style stand for portability. So you could say my garage is very full so thats why I have to work outside. One day hopefully I'll have a big enough building.
Good Luck, I don't think I have ever seen a big enough building. I found a nice used bead blast cabinet and between that and the plasma cutter I seem to be able to get enough brownie points making metal figures and signs and blasting the occasional dutch oven or other item that I can usually buy a new tool when I need it.


Last edited by louis; 12-17-2009 at 09:36 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old 12-17-2009, 10:17 PM
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entropy entropy is offline
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Has anyone said a freeging pallet stacked 10Feet tall with onhundreddollarbills?
When did empirical knowledge get replaced by a theoretical education?

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Old 12-18-2009, 12:52 AM
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idahoaj1 idahoaj1 is offline
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Originally Posted by troyman View Post
Haven't seen it mentioned yet, but a good Portable Band Saw is very nice.
Thats what I've used the most for notching tube. That and a sharpie and a flapper disk is all a guy needs to do any notch.
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