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View Full Version : What type of welder for 1/4" thick steel?


prostar205
11-09-2006, 12:41 PM
I am adding a shelf to my moorage slip to house the control box for my Sunstream Float Lift and also a 5' Deck Box. The shelf will be 12' x 2' and made from 2"x8"s. I plan on supporting the shelf with metal brackets fabricated from 1/4" steel plate. Most people around my area want ~$150 to do the welding. There are going to be 5 brackets total.

I was looking at Harbor Frieght Tools (www.harborfreight.com) and found that I can buy an ARC/MIG welder for around that same ~$150 and do the work myself. My question is: will an ARC/MIG welder do the job with 1/4" thick steel plate?

Thanks for you help.....

Maristar210
11-09-2006, 12:43 PM
No. Sorry that welder is for light gauge sheet metal only.

I would strongly suggest you have it done professionally if you are not familiar with welding. Withou the proper heat (see amp draw) you will not get the metal penetration you will need to ensure the two pieces not only become one, but stay one.

BOL

Steve

M-Funf
11-09-2006, 12:51 PM
I agree with the above, not enough power...

$150 doesn't seem too bad since you don't have a welder. If you can get a good MIG welder from a friend or rent one, you may save a few bucks, but if you don't have much welding experience, you'll be wasting lots of time. If you've got time to waste, and the weld isn't too critical, go for it...Good Luck!

ctkiteboarding
11-09-2006, 01:07 PM
it will be less costly to have a pro do it ,, the fustration level alone will be worth 150 and the welds will hold,, welding is a bit of a science and experience is paramount good luck R

rcnjson
11-09-2006, 01:52 PM
You wanna do it yourself... go for it! MIG welding is easy. Get some extra material and practice on that. Try to set it up in the same position that you will be welding in. That will make a difference in your settings. The cheapo from Harbor is a bad idea. You would need a better (bigger) welder. For about $400 you can get a good one that will do what you want and a lot more. If you are a do it yourselfer, you will find a ton of uses for it. If all you are doing is welding steel, just make sure everything is clean (grind or brush surface) and go for it. I mean you aren't building a nuclear reactor here. If it isn't perfect, it is a learing experience, you can get better as you go.
If you never try it, how will you ever try it?
My $.02
k

Diesel
11-09-2006, 01:56 PM
For a single pass you will need 250 amps minimum. Is you dock galvanized? If so pay the $150 and save a few years on your life.

DemolitionMan
11-09-2006, 02:21 PM
A mig gun is fine for 1/4" We own a roll off container service and all of our containers have 1/4" floors and its all done with a mig gun.

prostar205
11-09-2006, 02:31 PM
For a single pass you will need 250 amps minimum. Is you dock galvanized? If so pay the $150 and save a few years on your life.

Diesel -

The dock is made from pressure treated lumber. I will be thru bolting these brackets to 2 - 2x10s with galvanized bolts.

I have done some welding in college. I am a mechanical engineer and took a manufacturing class where we did sand castings, machining on a metal lathe and welding. Now, its been almost 18 years since I was in that class and have not touched a welder since. So, I would classify my welding experience as non existant.

I was just thinking that if I have to spend $150 to get these brackets made - why not spend that $150 on a welder and do it myself. I would also have the welder for future projects.

loeweb
11-09-2006, 02:32 PM
Don't know about your situation, but if you know anyone who has a welder (friends, farmers, nascar enthusiasts) they would be the obvious choice for me. Probably cost you a couple of beers and the time to talk to them and get to know them. No more than you are going to weld try and find someone. Maybe even send it to school with a kid who has tech classes, surely they will be able to do it for you. The point I am trying to make is just find someone that has access and you're in.

RexDog1
11-09-2006, 03:00 PM
Welders are one of those tools you say, “What did I ever do with out one?”
A good welder can get pricey for home/light auto work, go with a mig
I have a Miller, Millermatic 210 and after a college night class on welding
It is a nice set up
If you have some small amount of welding you might look for a local muffler shop
that you trust, might save you some money.:twocents:

rcnjson
11-09-2006, 05:09 PM
I've got the millermatic 130, welds up to 3/16" in a pass. I have never found a use to put it on the highest setting. I would weld the 1/4" with it, I would just bevel both sides of the plate BAM 1/8" welds. The welder I have fits in that $400 price range with the gas and I have never pushed it. For the type of work I do in the garage and around the house, it always does the job. Prostar, I'm in the same boat (no pun intended) as you, went to engineering school, took a manufacturing processes class, learned the basics of welding got interested. If I took all the stuff I have welded to a shop to have it done, I'd be out thousands. I'm serious. I'll give you the fact that I have taken 3 semesters of welding at the tech school since I graduated and have gotten pretty good at all types of welding, but never would have gotten there without trying it myself. I put a roll cage in my race car 2 years ago. Did it in my garage, using my MIG for the plates to the car and my buddies TIG for the cage itself. Turned out great! If you need any advice let me know.
k

kurtr
11-09-2006, 09:34 PM
You would have to bevel the edges and use multiple passes to weld the plates together to get 100% penetration. When I worked in the taconite mines in the great white north we would weld the cracks in the 1 inch frames on the big haul trucks with 1/8 inch welding rods and multiple passes after we would gouge out the cracks. This was the process that the manufacturer of the haul trucks required. We would also have to pre-heat the frames prior to welding. One thing to remember is that the steel plates will "move" around with multiple pass welding. It would be best to have some steel to practice on.

SKI*MC
11-09-2006, 09:44 PM
I have a Millermatic 135 and it does the job just fine. We don't do any really heavy welding, but there are sometimes when i wish it could do better... But other then that, awesome welder!

Leroy
11-09-2006, 10:38 PM
THere is a cheap one at my parents house and I love playing with that thing! Have a couple of beers and go for it Prostar! I find many jobs can be done for the price of the equipment if you are into a little manual labor.

RobertT
11-10-2006, 10:48 AM
I cannot fathom the load that you would have to place on your brackets to force a failure on even a crap weld if you weld every edge. Add gussets of any kind to the mix, and concern over.

Just my opinion, knowing nothing of what you plan to do.

However, I wouldn't touch it unless I was desperate for some mechanical therapy (which being in the construction field I am never in need of).

$150.00 is cheap.

On the other hand, if it were me and I was dead set on what you speak of, here is what I would do.

I would look up a local welding shop, show up about 3:30 in the afternoon with a cooler full of iced down beer and/or 50 bucks. I would simply ask the owner or whomever is there for a lesson. I would tell them that you are looking to buy a welder for little projects around the house, and would appreciate a quick ten minute lesson.

Chances are:

1. For the 50 bucks and/or beer they will complete all of the work for you.

2. You will get to learn valuable techniques in the minimum amount of time. Craftsmen always love to show off.

3. They will probably be able to give you VERY valuable advice on which welder to buy, or may even have one there that they will sell cheap.

4. You will find out in a short amount of time if you really want to do any of this stuff at all. I have several welders at my shop. I enjoy welding for exactly five minutes, then I loose desire quickly.

for what its worth...

Jorski
11-10-2006, 11:41 AM
Can't you find a suitable bracket that has already been mass produced...can't be very expensive

Maristar210
11-10-2006, 11:55 AM
I cannot fathom the load that you would have to place on your brackets to force a failure on even a crap weld if you weld every edge. Add gussets of any kind to the mix, and concern over.

Just my opinion, knowing nothing of what you plan to do.

However, I wouldn't touch it unless I was desperate for some mechanical therapy (which being in the construction field I am never in need of).

$150.00 is cheap.

On the other hand, if it were me and I was dead set on what you speak of, here is what I would do.

I would look up a local welding shop, show up about 3:30 in the afternoon with a cooler full of iced down beer and/or 50 bucks. I would simply ask the owner or whomever is there for a lesson. I would tell them that you are looking to buy a welder for little projects around the house, and would appreciate a quick ten minute lesson.

Chances are:

1. For the 50 bucks and/or beer they will complete all of the work for you.

2. You will get to learn valuable techniques in the minimum amount of time. Craftsmen always love to show off.

3. They will probably be able to give you VERY valuable advice on which welder to buy, or may even have one there that they will sell cheap.

4. You will find out in a short amount of time if you really want to do any of this stuff at all. I have several welders at my shop. I enjoy welding for exactly five minutes, then I loose desire quickly.

for what its worth...


This is a good idea Prostar. If you showed up at my welding shop at 3:25 you would have some takers on this with just a few beers, especially today.

I might also add if you are doing this to justify getting a welder because you want one PM me and I can help you make a good decision. Please do not buy the Harbor Freight one. You'll be pi ssed later if you do. I have 40 welder/fabricators in my shop. We have every type of welder for every application and we do some very nice TIG work on Aluminum so..... if you just want some brackets made I will make and send them to you for free. Just send me a PM and get me a sketch. I have done this for other TMC guys and I'm more than happy to do it for you too. We have lots of "drops" around here and it will be accomplished easily.

BOL - Steve


Steve

prostar205
11-10-2006, 11:59 AM
Can't you find a suitable bracket that has already been mass produced...can't be very expensive

I have looked everywhere; ebay, craigslist, googled "L-Brackets, etc.... NOTHING that meets my dimensional requirements.

I ended up going to a scrap metal place near my home and found L-brackets that were already bent into the correct shape but did not have a stiffing rib on the inside of the bend. I now need to add the rib and that is what I want to use the welder for.

Here is a dimensioned drawing of the bracket that I drew.

Maristar210
11-10-2006, 12:01 PM
I have looked everywhere; ebay, craigslist, googled "L-Brackets, etc.... NOTHING that meets my dimensional requirements.

I ended up going to a scrap metal place near my home and found L-brackets that were already bent into the correct shape but did not have a stiffing rib on the inside of the bend. I now need to add the rib and that is what I want to use the welder for.

Here is a dimensioned drawing of the bracket that I drew.


Prostar

What size are the Holes / Location from edge? Do you want 1/4" steel?

Steve

prostar205
11-10-2006, 12:10 PM
Prostar

What size are the Holes / Location from edge? Do you want 1/4" steel?

Steve

Maristar210 -

I really appreciate the offer. However, I already have all the material and I would guess shipping 5 brackets would be cost prohibitive. Also, as I mentioned in an earlier email, I am a mechanical engineer by degree and love working on little projects like this. However, my job is in Sales for a military aerospace and defense contractor so I rarely get to do this types of activities on the job. Lastly, my thoughts are "a man can never have too many tools". Adding a welder to my library of tools would be nice.

The holes on the short side of bracket are already in the part - they came with the bracket when I bought them. They are oval. Each bracket weighs 15 lbs and is fabricated from 1/4" thick plate steel. I also have the plate steel for the stiffing rib that I purchased from the same scrap metal place I got the brackets from. All I have to do is cut the rib material to the correct dimensions and weld it in.

Maristar210
11-10-2006, 12:16 PM
Maristar210 -

I really appreciate the offer. However, I already have all the material and I would guess shipping 5 brackets would be cost prohibitive. Also, as I mentioned in an earlier email, I am a mechanical engineer by degree and love working on little projects like this. However, my job is in Sales for a military aerospace and defense contractor so I rarely get to do this types of activities on the job. Lastly, my thoughts are "a man can never have too many tools". Adding a welder to my library of tools would be nice.

The holes on the short side of bracket are already in the part - they came with the bracket when I bought them. They are oval. Each bracket weighs 15 lbs and is fabricated from 1/4" thick plate steel. I also have the plate steel for the stiffing rib that I purchased from the same scrap metal place I got the brackets from. All I have to do is cut the rib material to the correct dimensions and weld it in.

Got it. Didn't know which way you were leaning. I totally understand the desire to have a welder. I have been sucking that weld smoke for 22 years.

You might look at this: http://cgi.ebay.com/LINCOLN-SP135T-MIG-WELDER-W-CART-120V-K1873-1-DT_W0QQitemZ130044731082QQihZ003QQcategoryZ113743Q QrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem


BOL - Steve

Upper Michigan Prostar190
11-10-2006, 09:17 PM
I think RobertT hit the nail on the head! that was GREAT advice! I am by NO means a terrific welder. I did junk metal welding when I worked as a plant repairman at the iron mine. when I mean junk metal welding, I mean it. This stuff was all rusted out Sh*t metal holding conveyers, etc.. together. patch, re-patch, and patch again. nothing pretty. However, we did have designated safety welders that were the only ones allowed to weld handrails, stairs, load bearing members, etc... Welding is fun for a while, then its boring. Word to the wise, if you do decide to learn, get yourself a good respirator with the proper welding fume filters. weld in a well ventilated area if possible. the fumes arent good for you.

Blair
11-10-2006, 09:29 PM
welding can be fun and rewarding, but also VERY VERY frustrating... if you do buy a welder spend a few more dollars now and you will thank your self in the future...

we bought the $150 "harbour frieght" special style of welder, and within 6 months we upgraded to a lincoln ( http://www.mylincolnelectric.com/Catalog/equipmentdatasheet.asp?p=19154 )(nothing gut the best... we do own a mastercraft afterall)

the extra money will get you a much better welder,

also if you do get into it make sure you get some good clamps, and some good welding magnets as well they will make your life alot easier, and like everyone has said make sure you ge some extra metal and practice ALOT first

Maristar210
11-10-2006, 09:38 PM
I think RobertT hit the nail on the head! that was GREAT advice! I am by NO means a terrific welder. I did junk metal welding when I worked as a plant repairman at the iron mine. when I mean junk metal welding, I mean it. This stuff was all rusted out Sh*t metal holding conveyers, etc.. together. patch, re-patch, and patch again. nothing pretty. However, we did have designated safety welders that were the only ones allowed to weld handrails, stairs, load bearing members, etc... Welding is fun for a while, then its boring. Word to the wise, if you do decide to learn, get yourself a good respirator with the proper welding fume filters. weld in a well ventilated area if possible. the fumes arent good for you.

:rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes:

PM me if you need me of I am going to leave this one alone....
Steve