Welding is a widely used fabrication process, allowing manufacturers to join pieces of metal and other materials using heat. However, while welding is critical to the production of everything from jet aircraft to handrails, it’s not only for professionals. If you’re interested in learning welding as a hobby or as a skill to broaden your career prospects, the best way to improve is through practice. This is the same with any skill.
In the process of learning how to weld, there are a variety of projects you can work on to further your skill and understanding of the welding processes.
Regardless of the project you choose to undertake and the material you intend to make it from, you must clean your workspace, equipment, and materials you’ll use. Contamination can take many forms, and while gas shielding can help reduce the risk of atmospheric contaminants entering the weld pool, it doesn’t substitute for cleaning.
You should always clean the workpiece thoroughly, preferably with a cleaning solution that won’t leave a residue. Drying also shouldn’t leave any trace, so use a lint-free cotton cloth.
Don’t forget the importance of gas shielding to reduce atmospheric contamination. If you’re welding reactive metals such as titanium, this becomes especially critical. Always pay close attention to the coloration of the welds. Depending on the material you use, this can indicate the weld joint’s quality, the effectiveness of your gas shielding, and possible contamination of the weld pool.
These factors may not be essential for beginner welding projects if you’re using them strictly for practice. However, if you end up building anything that you intend to use, like tables, shelving, seating, and other load-bearing equipment, be aware of pitfalls to avoid and how to identify and fix defects.
Beginner Welding Projects
It seems fitting that, when undertaking a welding project to practice your skills, you’d start by making some of your welding equipment. You can erect a welding table made from sheet steel relatively easily if you follow a few steps.
Welding tables usually have a perforated steel top or are composed of a series of steel tubes or bars to allow convenient clamping of workpieces.
You’ll have to first decide on the design best suited to your workspace for fabricating a welding table. Rectangular steel tubing provides a flat work surface while still allowing you to clamp parts to it. This is a highly versatile example that should last for years.
Another example of a welding accessory that you can make yourself is a welding cart. This is a kind of mobile table you can use to transport your tools and welding equipment. If you weld using a process where you have to supply your own inert gas using a cylinder, a welding cart can help you keep your tools organized and mobile.
Scrap Metal Box
One of the simplest projects to start with is a box made from scrap metal. You’ll need enough sheet metal to cover five sides unless you want to cover all six and create a cube instead. Aside from your welding equipment, you’ll need an angle grinder, a way of cutting metal, and a sander.
Depending on the welding equipment you have, you may decide to cut the sheet metal with a torch. If you don’t have a torch, a drill press and a hacksaw also work.
A metal box made from scrap steel can serve as a holding place for spare parts, swarf, and turnings, small tools, or any number of workshop-related uses.
One project that can make your summer get-togethers cozier is a barbecue pit. Instead of buying one from a store, consider welding one using sheet metal for the ash catcher, formed into a parabola, and steel tubing for the legs. Besides being functional, a made-from-scratch barbeque pit can also add character to your backyard and become a conservation starter.
Storage racks and shelving for the garage or workshop can be expensive. Fabricating industrial-strength alternatives yourself can save time and money while also helping you to develop your welding skills. You can weld racks or shelving using angle iron for the legs and steel tubing or pipes.
If you need additional stability, you can weld legs that you can adjust yourself. For a mobile shelving unit, consider using casters.
Of the many beginner welding projects, a simple shop stool is one of the easiest and most useful. Whether you need a stool for your shop, garage, or around the house, you can fabricate one using steel tubing, a stabilizing brace or cross-section, and vertical legs. When you’re done, paint for decoration and rust prevention, and it should last years. You can make or buy the seat. Steel or wood work equally well. However, if you want to use the stool for welding at any point, use a metal surface for safety reasons.
A car creeper lets you slide under your car or truck to perform routine maintenance or repairs. Rather than buy one, you can fabricate one yourself using steel pipes or rectangular tubing, a flat piece of metal or wood to lie on, and a set of wheels or casters. If you’re looking for the perfect holiday gift for a mechanic friend, a homemade car creeper is an excellent accessory for the garage or workshop.
Not every welding project has to be a practical tool or accessory for work or general use. Many welders choose to use welding equipment to cut and weld artistic projects too, including sculptures. Although these projects are often more free form and less carefully planned than more general-use and work-related projects, you can still use every artistic work as a learning experience.
Improve Your Skills With Easy Projects
By working on these kinds of welding projects, you’ll become familiar with various welding processes and practices, helping you develop the skills necessary to turn welding into a career. Even if welding professionally isn’t for you, these projects will let you make the most of a fascinating hobby. You may even end up with a few useful household and workshop accessories.