You may have originally learned to weld for a specific purpose.
Maybe you bought a welding machine for a classic car restoration project.
When the original project is finished, there are other schemes that can be a great way to improve your welding skills.
Although many people find welding a chore, some will find it fun. The ability to basically melt two pieces of metal together to form a bond should never be underestimated.
Join me as I suggest projects where you can save money with your welding skills and equipment.
How Welding Can Save You Money
Although the initial outlay may seem high, owning your own welding equipment can save you money in the long run.
Many of those items, that would have otherwise been consigned to the garbage, can be fixed or restored with your welding kit.
Whether it’s a damaged bed frame, a rusted grill stand or a broken bicycle, you can use your welder to fix them.
When learning to weld, buying a welding machine can save you money on renting equipment. Often, renting equipment on three or four occasions will be as much as buying a budget machine.
You could even make your outlay back by renting it out to colleagues—just make sure they fork out for the consumables.
Parts of machines that may no longer be available or expensive to buy can often be fabricated using a welder.
Older cars feature many cast iron or other strong metal parts, which you could repair with the right welding kit. Bodywork repairs can save you serious amounts of money.
Automotive Welding Projects
One of the best ways you can save money with your welding equipment is in car repair or restoration. Cracks or rust in auto panels can be simple to fix when you have the right equipment and know how.
Welding a car may seem daunting at first, but technology has made welding easy for anyone to learn the basics.
Bodywork can often be the most expensive part of maintaining a car. Welding shops at garages will often charge over the odds for simple jobs you could achieve in your own workshop at home.
You can save time and money by fixing a problem yourself, instead of buying new parts or paying the local body shop.
Why You Need a Welding Machine for a Car Restoration Project
Virtually every part of a car needs assembling or welding eventually, and nowhere is this truer than restoring older cars.
Whether it's a rusted or cracked door panel or maybe a broken engine/chassis component, a good welding machine can save you both time and money.
Rebuilding the body or replacing ornamental pieces are quite common processes and can normally be achieved without too much difficulty.
However, a cracked or broken cast iron part can send shivers down the spine of even the most experienced enthusiast.
Cast iron tends to be more commonly used in older or vintage cars. It is a ferrous metal, containing approximately 95 percent iron.
The remaining composition tends to be alloys, such as silicon or carbon. Although the metal casts well into shape and is ideal for high heat situations, it doesn’t cope well under tension and can be brittle.
Conventional brazing techniques result in a crack that is likely to reappear when the part is put back into operation. Screws closely spaced and screwed into the root of the crack with heads ground down can prevent this problem.
The best solution, though, is to repair the cast iron and join the broken surfaces with welding to prevent further cracking.
Best Type of Welding Type for Automotive Sheet Metal
Three of the main types of welding, TIG, stick or MIG, could be used when welding autos.
Let’s look at the advantages of each, although in reality, the last option we look at is normally your best.
TIG Welding for Cars
The TIG welding process uses tungsten for an electrode that creates your welding arc. For projects where more precision is needed with a smoother finish, TIG is ideal.
A filler metal is used to bond the parts being joined together. A shielding gas is pumped through the nozzle to keep the arc stronger and more sturdy.
The extra control needed by TIG welding, like using both hands and often a foot pedal, can make it harder to reach more difficult areas.
For components that can be removed to work with on the bench, TIG will give greater precision and control. Just don’t expect to get under your car with a TIG welder in hand.
Stick welding used to be the favored and most common welding for many projects, including car restoration. Like TIG, it also uses a filler metal, but it is not as precise and can leave an ugly finish with lots of splatters.
The high heat involved with stick welding also makes it unsuitable for many of the thinner metals often found on car bodywork.
Stick welders tend to be the least expensive welder to use and can be operated almost anywhere on the car. When used overhead though, they will splatter a lot.
The feature that makes these welds suitable for hidden areas of the car is that they are not as sensitive to the cleanliness of the metal as other forms of welding.
MIG welding tends to be the quickest of welding processes and the easiest to learn. Again it uses a filler material and gas shield, but feeds the filler as wire through the welder, meaning you can perform it one-handed.
It may not be as precise as TIG welding but can still result in a pretty clean finish.
For mainly auto-body repairs, MIG welding should be your go-to choice. A MIG welder can handle a wider range of metals and thicknesses than TIG or stick, and is suitable for quick repairs. A MIG welder will create a strong bond without sacrificing a clean appearance.
Can Welding Save Money in Car Repairs?
Having your own welding setup can save you a significant amount of money on car repairs.
Parts of the body that have corroded or broken can either be replaced with new sheet metal or the cracks can be repaired relatively quickly with a MIG welder.
Exhaust manifold and muffler repairs are quick and easy to sort out when you have the right welding equipment to hand.
Apart from the investment in a quality MIG welder, you will also need to match the filler wire to the base metal you will be working with.
Choosing the correct shielding gas can be vital too, although a 75 percent argon and 25 percent CO2 should cover most welding projects. Other tools you may need include:
Welding on cars can be relatively easy if you are an experienced welder, and shouldn’t take longer than any other welding tasks.
If you are a beginner, it may be better to practice on pieces of scrap metal before being let loose on your beloved car.
Most of the time will be spent in preparation, ensuring you size up a patch correctly and check the gauge of the metal.
You would think your welding kit could save you serious money on home plumbing repairs.
However, most pipes found in domestic homes nowadays are made from copper, due to its flexibility, durability and ease of installation.
The problem with copper is its soft composition and higher levels of heat conduction. Traditional welding methods will simply blow a hole in the pipes. The extra conductivity also makes it harder to work with, as the heat will transfer quicker to the whole pipe.
Instead, copper pipes should be soldered, for a leak-free connection. Soldering a copper pipe is a relatively simple process that can be easily performed at home. The whole process can be performed in less than an hour, depending on the size of the job.
How to Solder Copper Pipes
Although we are looking at welding processes, soldering a copper pipe is similar and the most common method in plumbing.
Propane torches will normally reach lower temperatures of 3500 degrees Fahrenheit, which avoids the pipe blowing. Solder or flux used for copper pipes will easily melt at 3500 degrees.
Click here for a more detailed guide to soldering copper pipes used for plumbing from our friends at homedepot.com.
What Is Pipe Fitting?
Pipe fitting and welding go hand in hand. Steel or iron pipes are welded together, normally at the fabrication stage. Welding and pipe fitting are actually two separate careers.
Welders will normally work on construction projects, or for the manufacturers of the pipes, fusing the metal parts together.
Pipe fitters tend to specialize in threading or joining the pipes. They, too, can work in the manufacturing industry, but are normally employed by the oil, gas or electric companies.
Pipe fitting is a lucrative career, with an average annual wage, according to the Bureau of Labor, of $52,590. That’s significantly higher than the average of $40,240 for welders.
However, pipe fitting requires a separate certification. The training for this takes a minimum of four years to complete, before you are even tested.
Pipe Fitting at Home
Welding pipes is one of the most durable ways of joining pipes together. Steel pipes can be welded together by MIG, TIG or stick welders.
Before welding the two pipes, you need to ensure there are no gaps between them. When welding, you will need to take measures to keep the pipes continually aligned.
Start by aligning the two pipes together, using clamps to hold them in place. Fire up your welding arc and allow the arc to form a small welding puddle or tack weld on the surface of the steel.
By moving the arc slightly you can form a series of welding puddles or tack welds around the circumference of the pipe.
As you move your welding tool along the circumference, you should create a welding puddle that extends along the entire circumference. When the two pipes are joined together, extinguish the arc and allow the welding puddle to cool.
Although it sounds quite simple, pipe fitting that involves gas should always be performed by a certified professional. Building regulations in all states require certification for anybody wanting to hook up to network gas or oil supplies.
Practicing pipe-fitting skills can come in handy in many other projects where you use tubular steel to make the frame of the project.
Building Your Own Bike
By putting some of those pipe welding skills you have learned into use, you could easily make your own bicycle. Although many of today’s modern bikes are made from carbon fiber, steel is still very much in demand.
For cross-country BMX-style bikes, or road bikes, steel will be more durable and survive better in crashes or scrapes.
Custom built steel bikes can be considerably more expensive to purchase than an off-the-shelf model. With your own welding equipment and many online resources, you can manufacture your own frame at a fraction of the price.
You could even cut up a couple of old, or cheaper, bikes to reweld together in your frame.
How To Weld Your Own Bike Frame?
TIG welding your own bicycle frame can be one of the most rewarding welding projects you may undertake.
It could also be one of the most difficult and specialized. Welding a custom bike frame with a TIG welder will require a lot of practice, preparation, and then more practice.
A simple blueprint, or plan, for your bike will help you work out which parts fit together where. You will need to decide what tubes you intend to use, how they will be joined and the miter lengths and angles.
You can find many plans online or even use CAD to design your own, including how the chainstay will fit. Once you have your design, you can set up a jig to hold the parts in place as you weld them.
The most labor-intensive part of the process will be cutting the frame and fitting it together. TIG welding a frame will need more than just clamps and planning. You will need to work on the correct positioning of your hands as you work.
What Is The Best Material for a Bike Frame?
Although we mentioned steel bicycle frames earlier, aluminum can make your bike much lighter. If you are working with aluminum, you will need plenty of filler.
Skimping on the amount of filler used will result in weaker welds that may crack later. Not ideal when you’re cycling down the highway or on a cross country jaunt.
Steel may be more durable, but it is much heavier. Another alternative favored by many cycle enthusiasts is titanium.
Titanium tubing will be much more expensive to purchase. Many experts would recommend steel for practice models and then upgrade to titanium when you’re ready.
Building a bike frame will be a time consuming process and a test of your TIG skills. Many local colleges now run bike building classes, which can be a social way of learning to build a bike.
Plus, there is a mine of information to be gathered from such courses. You can also find a good guide to starting on the instructables website.
One of the projects that can be an easy place to start is welding your own wrought-iron fence or ornamental gate.
Wrought iron will not only stand the test of time in durability, but never goes out of fashion. Wrought iron fences will cost an average of $2,688 to install and last the longest of any metal fence.
According to the Home Advisor website, the national average to install an aluminum or steel fence is $3,524. The materials will only cost about $7 to $60 per foot. Labor can be the expensive part, costing between $10 and $30 a foot.
Steel, aluminum or iron fence prices will depend on not just the fence height and style but how difficult it is to install. Obstructions like trees or a sloping yard will make it more difficult and push up labor costs.
Using your home welding kit to create a fence can be a great way of saving money but, be warned, it is also very time consuming.
How To Build Your Own Fence
Perhaps the first decision to make is what material you intend to use.
Aluminum has a low-density and is more malleable than steel but is also significantly weaker. Steel will provide a much stronger fence but can be susceptible to rust and will need more maintenance.
Unfortunately, stainless steel is prohibitively expensive for fencing, at four to five times the cost of galvanised steel. For the strongest fence, with the least maintenance and the most weatherproofing, you should use wrought iron.
Once you have decided on the material you are going to use, you will need to take measurements to determine how much you require. With a fence or gate construction, measurements will be vital, it’s pretty hard and costly to unweld if it doesn’t fit.
When building your own fence, a MIG welder is the best tool to use, although it may not be possible, with thinner materials like aluminum.
MIG will provide that secure weld you need, save time and can offer a better finish than stick welding. A project like this shouldn’t be too difficult and is suitable for beginners.
Building Your Own Workshop
For all your welding projects you are going to need somewhere to store the gear and the work materials.
Why not use your welding kit to build the workshop itself? A workshop bench, shelving or storage racks can easily be assembled with a welding kit.
Building your own workshop facilities will save money, be good practice for other welding projects and allow for your own unique design.
It’s also something you can show off to your welding buddies when they come around to assist with projects.
Welding Table or Bench
A simple place to start would be to make your own metal workbench for the purpose of welding. Spaces on the bench surface will allow for easier access to clamps, while a flat bar at the bottom can be a foot stand.
Other additions could include caster wheels with brakes, for easier moving around your workshop.
For extra sturdiness, we recommend using hollow mild steel bars with a 1.5-inch thickness. You can also use thinner bars for a lighter table, but it may not offer enough strength or support for heavier objects to be welded.
If using thicker steel bars, you will also need more heavy duty caster wheels to support the bench/table weight.
Tools you will need include a drop saw, an angle grinder with disks, a welding machine, spirit level and set square. Paint brushes and paint can also be useful for giving it a more professional finish.
This is a simple welding project which actually involves more cutting than welding. The main time taken will be machining all the metal parts to fit together.
A MIG welder can save time on the actual welding, with most joints not visible when the project is complete. This is a project you should be able to finish in an afternoon to sell or you can buy the best ones here.
An important part of any workshop, especially when welding, is keeping it clean and tidy. Over the years you will gather many tools or scraps of metal that can take up valuable floor space.
If you want to store welding machines and accessories, you’re going to need something that is secure and strong.
Fortunately, even a newbie welder can manage to create enough tacks and joints to make strong metal shelves in their garage.
Scrap metal and welding machines can find suitable storage spots on your new shelves. You may even have scrap metal you can use for this project.
Shelving systems made from metal tend to have three parts. The horizontal shelf trays can be made with square metal tubing, welded into a frame.
This supports the shelf itself, which again can be welded into a tray-like construction for extra support. Additionally a shelf will need some welded vertical struts to the frame for attaching to the wall.
The project will only require some sheets and tubes of metal, a cutting device and the use of a MIG welder. For finer shelf designs you may want to use a TIG welder to get more precision.
A coat of paint can add to the finished look, with the whole project only taking a day or so, depending on how many shelves you will make.
If, like me, you have accumulated even more bits and pieces over the years, you may want to construct a storage unit. These units will normally consist of shelves or compartments, in a freestanding design.
It’s something you can easily put in a corner to avoid flammable gases or liquids getting too close to your working area.
Creating a rack storage system can be simple, using either angle iron, metal tubing or even wood. It will allow you to make use of unused space in your garage or workshop.
It could become an organized system for storing your leftover rebar, pipes or metal tubing, as you see in DIY stores.
Again, these can be easy to build using any type of welder you have.
The choice of TIG, stick or MIG simply depends on what type of finish you want.
TIG welding could be overkill for a project like this, with a MIG welder being the quickest method.
Projects for Your Workshop
Other projects for your workshop could include making a holder for your MIG torch or a trolley for larger gas cylinders. A simple clamp-like device can be machined, which gives you somewhere to safely rest your torch.
A project to build a rolling tool/supply cart can be an easy way of practicing your welding skills. Using scrap bits of metal, you could build a trolley with storage drawers to keep your tools centralized when working on future projects.
Depending on the strength of the metal used, it could also transport heavier equipment around the tool shop.
One novel welding project is using an old brake rotor to make a screwdriver storage system. Clean up the brake rotor before cutting it in half and re-welding the pieces at 90 degrees to each other.
Drill holes large enough to hold your screwdrivers, evenly across this L-shaped creation, before affixing it to the wall.
When the weather gets warmer and summer is finally here, there’s nothing I like doing more than spending a day on the lake.
Getting the boat out of the garage is one of the first jobs of summer for many people.
Fortunately, your welding skills can come in very useful when you need to make repairs to your boat, trailer or other boating equipment.
Can Welding Save Money on Boat Maintenance?
Many of the boats we have now are made from a fiberglass or wooden construction. Some boats still use aluminum for the chassis, or engine propellers that may need repairs. It’s unlikely you will have a steel boat in your garage.
Extra parts for boats can often be expensive, with many thinking of it as a luxury hobby. Handles for getting in and out of the boat are just one thing that can be easily manufactured using your welding equipment.
Other accessories may include decorative features, an anchor or chains and hoops to hold the boat secure. A swim platform is something else you can make with your welder. There are even projects that show you how to make your own basic aluminum boat.
It will always be cheaper to make your own parts and carry out repairs when you have your own welding equipment.
All the repairs done and accessories made for your boat are no use if you can’t get it to the lake. The constant moving in and out of lakes or sea water will eventually cause your trailer to rust, and potentially crack.
Learning how to repair a trailer can be a great skill to learn for both personal use and as a money-making project.
Repairing a boat trailer can be a simple process, just make sure you grind away any rust and sharp edges on the trailer.
Sometimes, certain parts of the trailer can be easily repaired with a MIG welder: just ensure it is clean and dry before starting. Other times, you may need to cut away the rusted portion and refabricate the part, to get your trailer back on the road.
If you are removing larger parts of the trailer you will need to brace the frame so the removal doesn’t cause bending or damage. Always try to use matching materials for the rest of the chassis for easier welding. A crossplate over the new portions can reinforce the welds.
With a smooth finish and repainting, the trailer can look as good as new. Next week at the lake, who knows, somebody else may require your services.
Repairing a Boat Propeller
The propeller of the boat is another item that often needs regular repairs or welding. It may be due to corrosion. Other times you may have clipped the propeller on the bottom of the lake in shallow conditions or when loading it onto the trailer.
Boat propellers can be tricky to repair and you need to pay extra attention to the metals you use in order to repair them. For most propeller welding projects, a high-frequency AC/DC TIG style of welder with foot control will give the most precise welds.
Just be sure to use a welding rod appropriate for the metal you are repairing, whether it is copper, bronze or aluminum. You need to make sure your weld is a good match for the blade repair and will stand up to the friction that the propeller endures.
A repair will be much cheaper than buying a replacement blade, but you will need to be an experienced TIG welder. Most repairs, depending on the size of the break, should be fixable in an hour or so, after a thorough cleaning of the blade.
Aluminum Boat Welding
If you want to practice your welding skills, a small aluminum boat build can be an ideal project. You will be able to practice both MIG and TIG welding when embarking on such a project.
Aluminum of ⅛ and ⅜ thickness would be ideal for the stern of the boat, with self-etching primer used for the exterior.
There are also boat construction kits available from many suppliers which can be highly customizable.
Obviously, the larger and more advanced the boat, the more experience and time you will need. Some enthusiasts have been able to build a small two-person cruiser using their welding skills.
A common problem with aluminum boats can be split seams. Some boat owners will resort to a temporary patch up with fixes like epoxy.
An alloy filler can be used with an oxy-propane gas welding kit to quickly fix separated seams. You will need to use the lower temperatures of oxy-propane,though, as aluminum dissipates heat quickly.
A Swim Platform Welder’s Project
A simple project that can be useful for boat owners is to make a swim platform. These platforms can be attached to the back of your boat, making it easier for swimmers or skiers to get back in.
This project could be quite easily finished on one of those long winter evenings, ready for the next boating season.
Marine-grade stainless steel would be a good choice for this platform, as it is less susceptible to rust. Aluminum could be another option, as this is both lighter and less expensive. If you do use aluminum, make sure it is powder-coated, to avoid rusting.
Using a MIG welder, you can fabricate the exterior of the platform with sturdy round metal tubing. A TIG welder could be used to weld some smaller rods into the platform floor. Just be sure to grind down all the welds, so swimmers don’t cut themselves as they climb aboard.
From the decadent heights of boating, we return to house maintenance tasks you can put your welding skills to use on. If you really want to save money with your welding gear, this is where you should be concentrating your efforts.
Many of those little—and not-so-little—jobs that you had to pay people for in the past, you can now do yourself.
Gutters are something we don’t talk about too much. When your guttering breaks, though, you will know about it and it needs to be repaired as quickly as possible.
It may even be that you decide to replace the whole gutter system. Here, your welding skills will come in handy again.
Most residential houses will now use aluminum gutters, although older houses or in protected areas may still have cast iron.
The seams where the gutters join are often welded, but will lose their strength over time. Your gutters will be exposed to extreme temperatures, force and—of course—water.
Leaks can develop or pieces break away if they are not checked or maintained regularly. When installing guttering, it is best to make as few seams as possible or choose a seamless gutter.
Which Type of Welding is Best for Guttering?
The most laborious part of repairs or installation of your guttering will be removing or attaching it. Ensure that you properly clean any surface to be welded, while the guttering is removed.
Depending on the type of metal your guttering is made from will determine which type of welder is best, with aluminum favoring TIG.
On older houses you will often find cast iron guttering, which you may want to keep for authenticity. MIG welding will create a strong bond on cast iron and will be much quicker and easier to perform than a TIG process.
Although stick welding used to be the favored process for many harder metals, the splatter can leave a messy, and sometimes non-waterproof, finish.
You would be surprised, just looking around your home what welding projects lie in wait. Metal bed frames will often crack or break over the years, which could be simple to fix with a TIG welder.
Chairs and other pieces of furniture may use cast iron, which occasionally needs rewelding. With your welding kit, you can improve the value of your home and property by making many of these essential repairs yourself.
Examples of other projects around the house can include building furniture or fittings.
A wine rack is a relatively simple project you could make in an evening, with some old horseshoes.
Or, why not convert an old grill into a smoker by welding a smoke chamber onto the side? Look around at the projects available. The possibilities are endless.
What are some good welding projects?
Some good welding projects include:
- a wine rack
- horse shoes
- garden/home gates
What can you do with a welder?
Welders are used to weld metal together for a stable join. You can do a lot of projects even as a beginner such as fixing things up around the house and even creating jewelry or ornaments to sell.
Although TIG welding can be a complex process to learn, it’s a good idea to get some experience. MIG may be quicker and easier for beginners but there will be projects where it’s not suitable for use.
And stick welding can just be plain messy—great for welds that are hidden but not so good for indoor projects or bodywork.
As you gain more experience welding, your skill sets will improve too.
Projects that may have looked too complicated in the past will seem achievable.
Many of the car repairs you were too nervous to attempt will become easier, and you will be able to combat them much cheaper at home.
As I said earlier, many people can find welding a lot of fun. As well as saving you money, it can also be a relaxing hobby—and even become a profitable pastime.