Welding DIY – Setting up Your First Welding Shop

Here are 4 Shop Must-Haves You Can Make Yourself

So, have you seen the little DIY welding projects you can make out of horseshoes or rebar? Of course you have!! Google “DIY Welding Projects” and at least a few pictures of horseshoe and or rebar projects are bound to appear. They’re cute, too.

But I’m not talking about those here.

Imagine with me the following scenario, if you will. You have thought about setting up a welding shop…you have the welder and the necessary tools, bottles and equipment needed to weld. You may have a little experience under your belt and are looking to perhaps start a welding business or just have a shop at home for small repairs or farm/ranch maintenance.

Here are 4 pieces of equipment you really must have when setting up your shop – that you can make yourself. See it as getting some practice in.

#1 – Welding Table

First things first: you will need a welding table. Why this is first might be obvious, but maybe not. You will use a welding table to do just about every other welding project on. Some people get by with pipe stands, and a few don’t need a table at all due to the sheer size of their welding projects. But trust me, get to building that table. If nothing else, you can stack all your equipment on it until you build some shelving (see point #4 below) 😉

The “aged” surface of an old hand-me-down table

A welding table can be as simple as some square tube and some plate. You don’t even need casters or wheels yet, although those are nice to have – add them later. If cost is an issue, you can use scrap or re-purpose a table by removing the wood top, as you will see in the video below. Remember if using scrap or modifying something premade – a sturdy, well-made welding table will last a long time. They take a beating!!

Here are a couple of YouTube videos for ideas on an inexpensive table:

  • https://youtu.be/gPkXO3QqMlE –Scrap Metal Welding Table (By the way, we always recommend that you wear good quality leather or cut-proof gloves and of course protective eye-wear when grinding or cutting…because #bettersafethansorry).
  • https://youtu.be/qwBvv3J7hvo – Welding Table Built from Scrap (this video is by a young kid – super impressed as he builds his own welding table, with a little help from Dad!)

If you have a little more money to spend on a welding table, you might look into the innovative and nice-looking Certiflat table kits. You can watch how one is made here: https://youtu.be/31L4VTfFH1A.

#2 – Bottle Cart

Second things second: You will want a bottle cart. Why? Because, gas cylinders are HEAVY and they are EXPENSIVE! Given their height (full-sized bottles), weight and narrow footprint, they are easy to knock over…and you don’t want to accidentally knock one over. Not because they will automatically do what they do in movies – turning into a missile and shooting off across the floor to cause pandemonium and massive explosions – but because your foot would be there to cushion it and that wouldn’t feel very good.

I mean, they could cause some damage and even an explosion if the valve were sheared off. But that is a bit rarer than Hollywood would lead us to believe. But we’ll leave all that to MythBusters.

Store-bought bottle cart with modifications

The bottle cart can be as simple as buying a dolly and having a strap across it to secure the bottle/cylinder to the dolly. You can also buy bottle carts that aren’t too expensive. That was super easy – you’re welcome!

Or…

You can get fancy if you have both the time and inclination. You can build something a little more deluxe that will hold the oxygen and acetylene bottles and also have a place to wind the hose around to keep it tidy and out of the way. Another option if you do most of your work in the field is to have a bottle rack built into your truck bed, but that is for another post!

Below you will find some ideas for bottle carts…

  • Here is a webpage that lists materials and gives step by step instructions on how to make a cart for small bottles: https://metalwebnews.com/howto/oxy-cart/cylcart.html
  • And here is a page that describes and provides a materials list for a custom cart for either small or full-sized cylinders: http://www.thegatesofdawn.ca/wordpress/posts/2009/07/26/welding-cart/
  • For our Pinterest fans out there – news flash – Pinterest is not just for interior decorating ideas, food or clothing! Oh, you already knew that? Hmm…{checking phone and whispered consultations off stage}… Well, anyways. There are many bottle cart ideas to be found there. YouTube also has plenty of videos on modified dollies or hand trucks made into custom bottle carts.

#3 – Metal Rack

A metal rack is a must-have if you are going to keep any pipe, square tube, angle, plate, sheet or round stock in supply. It also works well for your bigger pieces of scrap. Sure, you can lean these things against the wall in your shop, but negotiating some heavy plate or a stack of pipe to get to “that one piece I need” could unleash a metal avalanche. And then where would you be? For safety’s sake, make yourself that metal rack!

Metal racks come in just about any configuration you desire. Take into consideration the following:

  • Where will it go – inside or outside your shop?
  • How much space can you dedicate to not just the rack itself, but the pipe and larger metal pieces that will be on it?
  • Will you use scrap to make it, or will you buy material?
  • Do you want it to be stationary or do you want it on wheels?

In our welding shop, we have a large hoist that is set up on a gantry frame, which fits perfectly over one of the shop bays. It just made sense to add some channel and some brackets to one side of the frame to serve as a metal rack. The lighter stuff goes up above and the heavier plate and sheets go down below, where the brackets keep them in place and the pieces lean against the frame. It’s out of the way and easy to access at the same time.

See below for some cool ideas on various metal racks…

#4 – Shelving

Another necessary item is shelving. This will be for your equipment, supplies and tools that aren’t on carts, on your truck or in tool boxes. Shelving is perhaps the easiest to make of all 4 of these items. All you need is some sturdy angle iron and a few sheets of plywood cut to your measurements. Voila! A shelf…a thing of beauty that you made yourself (Dr. Seuss would be proud).

Some will opt to have store-bought shelving, which is fine. Whichever option you choose, make sure it is sturdy and will be able to withstand life in a welding shop. Because of the sparks and need for durability, metal really is the best option for a welding or fab shop. Remember to make sure the shelf is stable and won’t tip forward when items are stacked on it.

Another option to consider for your storage needs are metal cabinets. These are nice because they have doors and usually a way to lock those doors to secure your tools, supplies and equipment. The doors also help keep things looking tidy, and keep the dust out. And a plus is that metal cabinets can sometimes be found at auctions for fairly cheap!

We have a variety of shelving and cabinets in our shop. The ones that we made are of quite generous proportions and barring an earthquake, those hummers are not moving. They are made of two things – angle iron welded into a frame and plywood set on that frame as shelves. We did break the “metal only rule” in adding plywood, but these shelves are tucked away from any welding and sparks.

Other items to consider in setting up your shop

  • If you don’t have one already, you will want to acquire a bench vise at some point. I’m talking about the really beefy ones that will last for the next 500 years and the same ones that often disappear from the back of your work truck while it’s parked in the welding supply store parking lot. Ask us how we know…
Bench vise
  • An anvil may come in handy.
  • Another storage solution frequently found in shops across the country is the tool box. These are very nice to have…just ask your nearest tool rep. They can be locked, and besides having large drawers, they also usually have smaller drawers for the little items like torch tips or various smaller tools and supplies. Based on the size of the tool box, these can cost you a pretty penny. But expect to own at least one over the course of your welding career.
  • Carts!! If you do a lot of welding in the shop, you will most likely acquire a cart to keep the welder on. You can of course make this, or you can buy it. You may have beat me to it and already bought one when you bought your welder. If not, there are many options to choose from in just about any price range you desire (many of these welding carts will have a place for bottles on them, too). Here’s a fun and informative series on a DIY welding cart:
  • Plasma torch – the pièce de résistance!! The thing all welders really should have at some point. They are rather spendy, of course, but so very nice to have. Save up your pennies for this item, because when you see how nicely they work, you will want one.

This list is certainly not exhaustive. There are many other items that will make setting up your welding shop a little easier…if you think of any I have forgotten, comment below!

GWInc.

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