Advice for beginning garage fab...

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by dietDrThunder, Aug 20, 2016.

  1. JohnCW

    JohnCW Long timer

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    Regarding the cost of an adult welding education course. I went and did one a few years back to come up to speed with MIG/TIG. I'd done a fair bit of stick and oxy years ago, but hadn't stayed with the times as these new technologies became common.

    Anyhow to the point, I think the current cost of a 10 week 1 night a week (3 hour) course here is currently something like $250. I remember thinking at the time i did the course, I'd used nearly as much steel, gas, rods, and wire (all supplied) as the cost of the course. Getting to use a wide variety of different machine types (inverter, old transformer, etc) was invaluable. For stick welding, the saving by knowing how good and easy to use a heavy old $50 trade quality stick machine can be compared to some of the new price point 'do it all' machines would pay for the course.
    #21
  2. Ricardo Kuhn

    Ricardo Kuhn a.k.a. Mr Rico Suave

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    Did somebody mention "press Brake"..??

    From my favorite page, forum actually but I never post anything, I'm just not good enough.

    Home Made Tools, 93 different press brakes.
    http://www.homemadetools.net/site/search?q=press+brakes&Search=
    #22
  3. dietDrThunder

    dietDrThunder Why so serious, son?

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    Great advice all. Thanks!
    #23
  4. redprimo

    redprimo Been here awhile

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    Aluminum really isn't that difficult to weld once you learn how to TIG weld and follow the cardinal rule of welding aluminum: cleanliness is the single most important thing required for a good weld. You can get a good leg up on learning how to TIG weld by learning how to gas weld, same two handed kind of welding only TIG is easier.

    A good welder doesn't have to break the bank. I picked up a complete TIG machine with a water tank and most of a full cylinder of argon for $850. the catch is it is a 30 year old Miller 330 A/BP which is nearly the size of a port-o- potty and weighs in excess of 800lbs. That particular machine, or slight variations was in production for 35 years and was the gold standard of TIG welders once upon a time. They can be configured to run on single or three phase 480 or 220.

    One thing that hasn't been mentioned about taking a class at your local community college is you will likely meet some cool guys that are there for the exact same reason you are. Its a great way to find someone that can lend a hand or moral support once the class has ended and maybe has a tool or two that you don't.
    #24
  5. Ricardo Kuhn

    Ricardo Kuhn a.k.a. Mr Rico Suave

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    Plus you get to play a "Structural Engineer" so the welder does not make a hole on the floor all the way to China..
    Ding, DING dInG, best part ever, specially hot crazy metal chicks, even better if they are your Teachers..
    #25
  6. Tee2

    Tee2 I SAID! Woo Hoo!

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    There are basically 3 steps to making something. Cutting/bending, connecting (welding), and finishing (grinding, paint). Finishing is easy and cheap compared to the other two. Rattle-can, brush, take to powder coater. Connecting, that is the fun part. Researching welders so you get the most bang for your buck. Learning about AC, DC, polarity, all that stuff and we spend most of our money on the welder to. The cutting/bending is an after thought, you have your new welder and you want to weld something. How are you going to cut your metal? I say figure this part out first and spend the money here over the welder. A right angle grinder may be all you need, but what if you need 6 of the same pieces? Do you want to take half a day cutting with a grinder? Maybe a plasma cutter would be better. Or a cold cut miter saw, or hot cut off saw. Being able to make accurate, repeatable, and maybe quick cuts makes welding, fitting, and finishing easier. And sticker shock is not just with welders. The thicker and faster you want to cut comes at a price. Bending metal is even worse. There is no one machine that will do it all. A finger break for sheet metal $500. good up to 16ga. you want to bend 1/4" X4" you're looking at press breaks now. They are expensive and big.

    I bring this up because it is where I am at right now, nice new welder, have the grinders, hot cutoff saw, and I spend so much time cutting and grinding to fit. I have a project that I need to bend a 90 on some 16ga stainless. I can't do that without a BIG break. So that will get put on a back burner.

    The other good thing about taking to CC course is the might have the breaks, shears, punches you need for your projects. Make friends with the instructor and maybe you can still come in a use when your class is done and use some of the equipment.

    It's a fun thing to get into so many projects you will think to make.
    #26
  7. nickguzzi

    nickguzzi Long timer

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    I attended a night class for years so I could get my hands on the machines I didn't have access to at home or work. Cylindrical and surface grinders, quite a few vertical and horizontal mills, all sorts of lathes, shapers, optical measurement stuff and the tooling of course.
    Some times I just made brackets, sometimes I did real precision stuff. Occasionally the instructor would let me leave my stuff set up, to save having to redo it next week.
    The welding courses were in the same hall and on the same day, so I could mosey down and join stuff together rather than have to take it to work.
    Best thing is, I could phone up or drop by and pick Steve's brains if I was lost for ideas. I even managed to pull in a quick privateer.
    He also gave me a few 15kg rolls of mig wire which were donated to the college when a local firm went tits up.

    Point is there is much more happening and available on a technical/engineering course than the bare curriculum.

    Welding- balancing white hot metal on a stick.
    #27
  8. Schmokel

    Schmokel In desperate need of a nap.

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    Get the biggest TIG you can afford. 220v is ideal. My Hobart MIG kicks ass.

    Also, lease the giant bottles of Argon mix. When I was into the buggies and 4x4s, I'd burn through a small bottle pretty quickly.
    #28
  9. RichPlusXT350

    RichPlusXT350 Adventurer

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    If you are just starting your workshop, hand tools will do wonders. Start with a solid work bench, and with that a quality bench vice. For cutting metal a hack saw will do a lot.

    You sound pretty serious about welding, and the thread has given lots of great tips on that. Beyond that make your work area functional and rugged, and then get down to a project. Bigger tools can be purchased when you find you need them.
    #29