This is a simple welding cart I made to hold my new welder.
This was my first welding project ever. If you're taking the leap into teaching yourself to weld, I recommend making your own cart.
It's a great first-time welding project that provides an opportunity to practice some basic metal cutting and welding techniques. I'm not a novice to making things in general, but a lot of this was brand new territory for me. This instructable covers what I did.
Step 1: Get Some Metal
I started collecting old metal bed frames a while back, picking them up whenever I'd find them at my local thrift store.
They're a decent source of angle iron for a reasonable price. However, like wooden pallets it's debatable whether or not they're worth the effort to harvest the base material. It's a lot of work, as the iron used for bed frames is extremely hard and somewhat difficult to work, but I enjoy using old stuff like this so I think it's kind of fun.
I recommend slicing off rivet heads using an angle grinder with a thin cut-off disk, and then pounding out the rivets with a large nail punch and a hammer.
I set up some saw horses and various clamping arrangements to help out this process. After a little trial and error, I had figured out a basic system that worked for me.
If you're going to do likewise, be sure to wear all the proper safety equipment for this kind of activity.
Step 2: Marking for Cuts
For my welder (this is what I have) and the gas bottle I got to use with it I decided to make a cart that is basically two shelves, both 11" by 28".
I made each shelf using angle iron with mitered corners.
I used a thin cut-off wheel in an angle grinder to make all my cuts. To mark cuts, I used a paint pen with a speed square.
Angle grinders can be dangerous. Follow the safety guidelines that come with your tools.
I recommend using angle grinders with the guard, and simply letting the weight of the tool do the work whether cutting or grinding. They don't respond well to excessive pressure . . much like people!
See photo notes for details.
Step 3: Cutting
To make the cuts, I clamped the metal pieces to my table to hold them securely. The cuts where then made carefully by hand.
I've used metal-cutting chop saws with abrasive disks in the past, and I'm not a fan. In my experience they are good for rough cuts but are not as precise as I want. Handheld grinders do the trick for me and are as precise as I want them to be.
Step 4: Clean Up Cuts
Some fine tuning of the cuts was done using a bench grinder.
The paint on the metal was removed using a wire wheel on the grinder wherever welds would be made.
Step 5: Lay Out and Fine Tune
The pieces for each shelf were laid out and the mitered corners got some additional fine tuning on the bench grinder to make sure they fit well and the whole thing was square.
Step 6: Tack and Weld!
Each corner was tacked together first. (A tack weld is a small welded spot, rather than a full bead.)
Then I flipped it over and did full welds along the joints.
Step 7: Complete Both Shelf Frames
Here's a shot of both shelves completed. I was excited that they were square and not warped!
Step 8: Vertical Frame Pieces
Vertical frame pieces were now measured, marked and cut as before, but with 90 degree cuts.
Step 9: Tack Up Frame
With the help of some magnets to hold things in place temporarily, I tacked the vertical supports to the bottom shelf, and the top shelf to the vertical supports.
This structure was fairly weak at this point with just tack welds, which allows for some gentle bending and tweaking to keep everything square.
Step 10: Add Full Welds to Frame
Full welds were now added to each joint.
Step 11: Oops!
At this point, I decided to grind down my welds to make the whole frame look pretty.
Later on I realized that I had made all these joints incredibly weak.
A couple of them cracked after the frame was painted and the wheels were in place. So later I came back, ground off the paint back down to bare metal, and then re-welded the outsides of the joints and welded the insides as well.
Several photos in the following steps show the frame in this cleanly-ground, pre-fixed state.
Step 12: Axle
For the back wheels, I purchased two no-flat wheels from Harbor Freight, and a 5/8" metal rod to be an axle.
A piece of the rod was cut to the length needed, and holes were drilled on a drill press to hold cotter pins that will hold the wheels in place.
Step 13: Weld Axle to Frame
Because of the size of the back wheels along with the size of the caster wheels I had for the front, I needed to weld the axle onto the frame about 1/4" up on the backside to make the cart be level when completed.
The axle rod was propped to the height needed with a piece of wood, and was welded in place, top and bottom.
These may be messy welds, but I think they'll hold! I had to make several passes to fill in the gaps between the round rod and flat frame.
Step 14: Almost an Oops!
I was just about to weld these zinc-plated washers in place on the axle when I recalled reading about the dangers of welding galvanized or zinc-plated metal. In a nutshell: it's highly toxic and can make you very sick or kill you. So . . you know, heads up on that one!
I ground off the plating where I was going to put a couple of small welds using my bench grinder, holding each washer with a pair of pliers to do so. Then I tacked these washers in place. I should note that I'm working next to a fully-opened garage door with a lot of good ventilation.
Step 15: Handle
The handle was made with 5/8" rod that was left over from the piece used to make the axle.
Pieces were cut as desired, and laid on my table and held as needed with magnets.
Step 16: Weld Handle
The handle pieces were tacked together on one side and then the other, and then fully welded together.
Step 17: Paint Frame
The frame was cleaned and then painted with primer.
After the primer, the frame was painted with a couple of coats of grey spray paint.
Step 18: Fix Those Weak Welds
As noted before, after painting I realized my welded joints were very weak.
I ground off the paint wherever I wanted to add reinforcing welds, and then added all the new welds.
Step 19: Shelf Boards
I made shelf boards out of 3/4" mdf, simply because this is what I had available. I may replace it at some point with something stronger and more longer-lasting, but it works for now.
A hole was cut in the back of the top shelf to hold my gas bottle securely. The shelf boards simply sit in place without any additional fasteners.
With the shelf boards cut and fitting as needed, I touched up the paint over the re-welded areas.
Step 20: Add Wheels
The back wheels were slid into place with some additional washers, and the cotter pins were dropped into the holes in the axle to keep the wheels in place.
The front caster wheels were bolted in place to the front of the frame.
Step 21: Load It Up
The shelf boards were replaced in the frame, and it was loaded up with my welder and gas bottle.
The whole thing rolls into place for storage under my folding work table.
Thanks for taking a look!