Introduction: How to Make a Welding Table

Picture of How to Make a Welding Table

Whether you're a weekend hobbyist or a professional daily welder, a solid welding table is a must have for any job. A great welding table has several important traits. It will be able to stand up to long term abuse. The work surface will be made of thick metal that won't warp or deform under heat, loads, or small accidental cutting. It will be at an appropriate height for the given fabricator to use in a comfortable position. Simplicity is key! Make something easy that will get the job done in the long run. The beauty of welding is that you can always add on more later.

All things considered, there are many potential hazards associated with performing this task. Always double check to make sure all safety equipment is in place and that you are properly protected with gloves, safety glasses, and helmets.

Step 1: Laying Out the Pieces

Picture of Laying Out the Pieces

The first step in preparing this table is acquiring the necessary equipment. While there may be alternatives to the equipment I have used, this equipment will guarantee a time efficient process while maintaining quality work. From left to right moving across the top of the picture we have:
- Bench grinder (with a wire brush wheel) mounted to a stand
- Oxy acetylene cutting torch
- Tape measure
- Striker to ignite the cutting torch
- Permanent marker
- Regular safety glasses
- Darkened safety glasses for use with the brightness of the cutting torch
- Leather gloves
- Welding helmet
- TIG filler material
- TIG welder.

Directly in the middle of the table are the unclean pieces that will be used for fabrication. For my design, there are 11 frame members and three heavy duty steel plates.

*Note: This project requires, at minimum, an introductory knowledge of the shop equipment listed above in order to complete fabrication*

Step 2: Making Your First Cuts

Picture of Making Your First Cuts

The first step in this process is cutting all of the pieces to their appropriate size. The picture shown above is meant to illustrate what a solid cut from the cutting torch should look like once you are finished. The dimensions you use are completely subjective as there is no wrong way to build your own fabrication/welding table. For reference purposes however, I will list the dimensions I used to fabricate this table.

- 4 legs, cut from 1 inch square tube, each at 30 inches long
- 7 remaining frame pieces, cut from 1 inch square tube, each at 32 inches long
- 3 heavy duty steel plates each at 36 inches long, 12 inches wide, and .75 inches thick

To remain economic, all of the steel I used in this project is recycled from other structures that were no longer needed. This can make the project more difficult as you might end up with lots of pieces of different size, but the cutting torch will make quick work of all the pieces and you will end up saving a lot of money.

Step 3: Cleaning the Recycled Material

Picture of Cleaning the Recycled Material

In the image above, I am working with the bench grinder that was mentioned in the equipment list. When it comes to welding, few things are more integral than having clean metal to work with. If you wish, you may clean the material before cutting as instructed in the last step. This often produces much cleaner cuts. However, you should re-clean the material after that is finished if you have chosen to clean and then cut.

If you don't want the metal to rust again over time, I would suggest coating it with something. A relatively cheap solution would be a RustOleum product. However, you should not coat the plates that will sit on top of the table. Those need to be exposed metal so that you can properly ground working pieces through the table to the welder.

Notice the use of gloves when using fabrication equipment.

Step 4: Your First Welds

Picture of Your First Welds
As far as ranking what is most important to the success of this project or any other fabrication, welding is most often the most crucial component. Do not be discouraged if your welding seems lacking at first. A clean and well penetrating weld takes practice to obtain. You can often gain experience through various contacts or friends. The qualities you should look for are:

- consistent welding beads
- consistent patterns within the weld
- consistent penetration to the inside of the tube
- aesthetically pleasing finished products 

The following video from youtube user thuth67 illustrates the time it takes to accomplish even small welds with TIG. It also demonstrates what to strive for as a final product in terms of the aesthetics of the weld.
 

Step 5: The Top of the Frame

Picture of The Top of the Frame

The first step I completed was the complete welding of the top section of the frame. This section will aid in both keeping the legs together and giving the heavy duty plates a place to sit evenly. Since your welding surface will sit directly on top of this, it is important to make sure this is as flat as possible. Make sure you don't apply too much heat while welding as this can cause the metal to warp. Likewise, you want to make sure you're at least starting with straight pieces so you have less to worry about when putting everything together.

Step 6: The Back of the Frame

Picture of The Back of the Frame

Next up is welding together the back of the frame. For this, I chose to weld the two back legs to the cross member. The cross member will aid in keeping the legs from bending out. It also gives the welder a place to put his feet up if he desires. One could even weld a basket or something similar on to any one of the lower cross members to make scrap metal more readily accessible later on. The cross member on this section is 7 inches from the ground.

Step 7: Both Sides of the Frame

Picture of Both Sides of the Frame

Here, you can see the left and right sides of the frame. The members seen running from left to right across the picture are the cross members that will be welded on to the back legs. For my purposes, I have once again placed these members 7 inches from the ground. Welding these members to the back of the frame will complete the lower portion.

Step 8: The Completed Frame

Picture of The Completed Frame

Here, we see the first glimpse of what the final product will become. All of the frame pieces have been welded together and the frame is now ready for anything that can be thrown at it. By ensuring that all of my welds penetrated the metal and bound everything together I can be assured that the shear weight of the steel plates on top won't cause the structure to fail. This is an extremely important piece of the whole project. The success or failure as well as the potential for injury all rests on the integrity of this structure.

The lack of a cross member on the bottom side of the frame with regards to the picture is intentional. This table was designed to facilitate welding while sitting down and being heavily involved for long periods of time. If you wish to have a table for standing I would recommend fairly different dimensions and the addition of other pieces.

Step 9: Loading the Final Phase

Picture of Loading the Final Phase

Here we're moving on to the last step. Each of the three of these steel plates needs to be sufficiently welded onto the completed frame. Full welds are not essential and will waste filler material. Instead, the fabricator of this table should strategically place welds incrementally along the base of the plates to hold them in place without using an excess of filler. Having an inch long weld every 3 inches should be more than enough.

Additionally, I should note that the plates hang 2 inches over each side of the frame. This was done in an attempt to make it easier to place the ground for the TIG welder. The ability to conveniently place the ground on the table as opposed to the work piece will save time and make working on the piece easier. You avoid having to move the ground as you move the piece, and you don't have to worry about it, or the cord connecting it to the machine, getting in your way.

Step 10: Congratulations on the Completed Table!

Picture of Congratulations on the Completed Table!

At this point the only thing left to do is set up the welder, sit down in the chair, and get to fabricating. You have finished with your first welding table! In addition to TIG welding, this table can be used for:

- hand grinding of other pieces
- cutting
- stick, MIG, and oxy acetylene welding
- plan sheets
- and many other tasks

As long as you have used quality materials and sufficiently fabricated everything, this table will be one to last a lifetime! 

Comments

PierreS6 (author)2016-01-08

nice site

Taykaim (author)2015-12-10

Just a safety note. Gloves are great while using a hand held grinder. However, they should not be used with stationary power tools, as they can be caught and pull your hand into the tool.

hurly26 (author)Taykaim2015-12-10

That's a fair point. I've had shop teachers that go both ways to be honest. I was once in a class where the teacher said you would be kicked out of the class and given an automatic fail for the course if you were ever caught not wearing gloves regardless of the operation. I've also had teachers that were adamantly against the use of gloves in situations such as what you mentioned. I made this Instructable quite a while ago now but I will say I currently never use gloves when working with bench grinders, table saws, or other rotating equipment that is of comparable size. Thanks for the input!

Jeffrey G C (author)2014-02-16

Just a suggestion, but you could take a 1/4in of that square stock, and weld it to a leg to place you welding torch / gun. (MIG gun or TIG torch only, stick clamp might be interesting if it isnt isolated) Also A few holes could be drilled into the table to make clamping parts down easier.
Since I am in college, and my welder is with my parents, I just welded a tab to a thin plate for me to use as a "table" until I can get my own place where I can set up a my own welding booth and fabrication shop. But something like this will eventually be built in said shop.

Thank you for the great instructible, it's very well put together.

granz (author)2013-09-29

This is a great instructable. Well thought out and excellent pictures along the way. One of the best I've seen. I used a 240V 20A MIG welder to build my table frame though, as I don't own a TIG welder. 3/4" plate is a bit thick for this MIG Welder so I used 1/2" plate. The welder specs say only 1/4" max, but I was able to get some decent looking welds anyhow on 1/2". I figure it's staying upright anyway, so the welds to hold the top on don't need to be super strong.

hurly26 (author)granz2013-09-29

The nice thing about the TIG that I used is it has a range from 0 to 150 Amps. I've never come across a reason to use the 150 though except for quickly cutting through a piece of metal. I find you have a lot more play on what you can do with TIG because you add filler in as you want. So, if you aren't satisfied with how far into the metal you've penetrated, you can just keep heating without adding more filler. And I agree, if you table is standing then you're fine. The table itself isn't meant to hold outrageously large loads so as long as you don't plan on welding 50 foot industrial I-Beams together anytime soon it's not so important to have it be super structurally sound (although it's not a bad idea to do so too).

granz (author)hurly262013-09-30

Actually, I wasn't thinking when I listed the MIG specs, it takes 20A from the wall, but the welding current goes up to 110A, so it did pretty well. I've been doing MIG mostly for automotive work for years but I'd like to get into TIG sometime soon. What type of TIG welder do you use and would you recommend it (It's hard to see in the first picture)?

hurly26 (author)granz2013-10-01

Sorry it took a bit for me to get back to you! I have two TIG machines in the shop I have access to. One is a Miller Maxstar 150 STL and the other is the Miller Maxstar 150 STH. They're both fairly simple welders that are easy to set up and get to welding. Me recommending them really depends on me knowing what you intend to use them for. If I were you I would decide on a budget and then after you've decided on that then go to http://www.millerwelds.com/products/tig/ to see what's available for your needs in that budget range. They give all the specs there. Also keep in mind what you're going to be welding. For instance, I didn't need to weld those heavy duty plates for a structural purpose but more for just securing them. As you'll notice, the 150 isn't rated for anything even near that thick. If I had needed to make them structurally sound I would've needed the 700 model. Also, pay attention to which ones offer AC/DC and which only offer DC. Based off of you saying that you spend time working on automotive pieces I'm going to guess that you'll probably want a welder that is made to be able to weld aluminum just in case.

granz (author)hurly262013-10-03

Thanks for the info! Yes, you are correct in that I am interested in welding aluminum. Actually, that's the main reason I'd like to get into TIG. Best regards, Chris

kwhit190211 (author)2013-10-01

Nice job, Hurly26, nice job!!
The last bench I made I just used a piece of 1/2 plate & some angle iron for legs, which is a very small one right outside of my garage. I never use a frame, in fact as I always use a single sheet of plate. The one I made for my shop many moons ago I used 6" sch 80 for the legs and 2" x 6' x 8' plate for the top.

hurly26 (author)kwhit1902112013-10-01

Thanks for the positive feedback! That's great especially coming from someone that, as it sounds, has experience from past projects!

kwhit190211 (author)hurly262013-10-01

Hurly26,
Nice to me you.
Yes I've done a lot of projects since I retired.I was a juourneyman pipefitter for 38 years & I am well versed into making honey out of poop!! :) It came with the job.
So now that I am retired,I can start doing all the projects that I had on the back burner because I was working.
I got my list & the wife has another list, so you know which list has the priority, right?
Yep, not mine :) :( :). What can I do. It didn't take me long to know, if I keep moma happy, I'm happy!!
Hurly, keep up the good work.

Keith

obrie021 (author)2013-09-30

Why tig and not mig or stick?. Was it just what you had on hand? My experience tells me a hand grinder is a better choice over a bench grinder. Just curious about your choices since I didn't see anything about your preferences. Forgive me if I've missed that part.

hurly26 (author)obrie0212013-09-30

No, I have access to MIG and Stick as well. I chose TIG because it's easy to manage, produces really clean looking welds that don't use excess filler even if you make a mistake, and the welds are strong. I do believe I mentioned in the second section (first step) that the project can definitely be accomplished with alternative equipment. As far as the grinder goes, I feel a bench grinder is definitely easier in this case. I'm just using it to run down the length of the metal to clean it. If I was going to use a hand grinder with a brush attachment I feel as though it would be tedious. I feel this way because I don't know how you could use the grinder on the metal without having to clamp the metal down to something every time you needed to clean a different side. With the bench grinder I can just hold it in my hands and rotate.

Does that help?

wizard4nh3 (author)2013-09-29

you should have put stick or arc welding which are the same thing tig requires some training and are not as available as arc welders.

hurly26 (author)wizard4nh32013-09-29

Techincally speaking, MIG, TIG, and Stick (or GMAW, GTAW, and SMAW respectively (which stand for Gas Metal, Gas Tungsten, and Shielded Metal Arc Welding, again respectively)) are all forms of arc welding. The term is not specifically reserved for Stick. They all depend upon the formation of an "arc" as opposed to other forms of welding such as oxy-fuel welding which is the combustion of gas. I have experience with all three of those forms of arc welding however, so if you wish to find tips for completing a table with Stick, feel free to message me. All in all it will be the same steps. This was meant as a guide for building a welding table, not a guide to illustrate which form of welding best suits a specific task. You are certainly correct in terms of TIG taking more practice to get down though!

wizard4nh3 (author)2013-09-29

You should have put stick or arc welding which are the same thing. TIG requires more than some training and are not as available as arc welders.

rimar2000 (author)2013-09-29

Great work. I think you will need some holes to pass to the lower side of a big piece (ie a grille) to retouch a welding.

travelfeet (author)2013-09-29

I see the table top overhangs the top of the legs, and so your design makes more sense to me now.

Nice table!

hurly26 (author)travelfeet2013-09-29

Yup, I considered mentioning that as well but I decided to leave it out because the reader can do as they please (in retrospect, maybe I should add that in). The reason I have the overhang is because it makes it much easier to place the ground on the table as opposed to constantly having to place it on each new project you want to weld. With it on the table you can easily move the project around without having to adjust your ground.

travelfeet (author)2013-09-29

Is there a reason the top of the leg assemblies are next to the top frame instead of under it? I would think that under would have been a stronger design.

hurly26 (author)travelfeet2013-09-29

Great point, go for that if you get around to the project! As far as I was concerned, the frame pieces are there to keep the thing together so it doesn't bow out under the weight of the plates over time. Aside from this, I know you can't really see it, but these members all have vertical welds on them as well as on top and bottom. With the filler material I used, the shear capacity of an inch long weld along the vertical on two sides is more than enough to support the plates indefinitely. Does that help?

audreyobscura (author)2013-09-26

Thank you so much for sharing this project! It rules!

hurly26 (author)audreyobscura2013-09-27

Thanks for the positive feedback!

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