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Old 23-03-2005
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Default Setting up for some basic fab work

Many moons ago, I worked as a boiler maker to pay my way through the end of high school and my university degree. I haven't done any welding since but having changed jobs a couple of years back, I now have a lifestyle where I've got more time to play with these sort of things again.

I've read some of the posts on face masks, etc and I know that there are plenty of people on here who are magicians at fab work. I am hoping that we can tap into your experiences and perhaps use this thread as a way of putting some suggestions as to what people have / recommend for the average Jeeper wanting to do some basic fab work. I'm not talking DIY structural engineering (rollbars, towbars, etc), just the basic sort of things that people can start out and build up their skills with.

What welders would you recommend?
What other tools are useful in a basic kit? Grinders? Drill Press?
Etc . . .


Over to the experts!
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Old 24-03-2005
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Full engineering shop only way to go
Hoist
MIG
TIG
Oxy set
Spot welder
Stick Welder
Hydralic Press
Sheet folder
Sheet roller
Pipe bender
Lathe
Mill
20CFM Compressor (3 Phase of course!)
Full kit of air and impact tools
4in, 6in and 9in Grinders
Cut-off saw
Plasma cutter
Guillotine

That should be enougfh to get you started
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Old 25-03-2005
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BC,

Marking Out the job your boily skills will have enabled you to mark out, square up, scribe where appropriate, chalk where appropriate and define your follow points in 2 dimensions. Therefore, you still require the basic tools and instruments you had back then - an engineers combination set, a decent scribe, a pin punch or three, ball-peen hammer, compass, verniers and so on.

Genuine English and American implements are nice and costly; there are some reasonable and cheap Chinese implements but you need to be careful as many, not all, are total kerap. Buy a really decent hack-saw and really decent bi-metal blades from 12tpi for alley up to 24 tpi for steel.

Cutting Are you cutting steel or alley or both? If you are cutting only up to 1.6mm low carbon sheet metal and alley, such as the paper thin panels on modern cars, then a tri set (left, right & straight) of good quality aircraft shears will do you very well and after a few weeks you will have the forearm strength or Arnold Schwarzenegger when he was Mr. Olympia.

For cutting big tube, round and flat bar - a cold saw is nice, a hot saw (sometimes called a drop, hot or chop saw) is cost effective. A power hack saw cuts the best but I swear they were all invented to inflict the most mess possible in all workshops. They are not cost effective for folks working from home.

A single phase plasma is superb for light sheet steel and alley and a three phase unit is good for up to 20mm. But plasma cutters require a starting budget of around $2000 and consumable tips and shrouds are expensive.

Oxy/Acetylene if you don't already have it will run you around $200+ for a basic kit plus gas and bottle hire.

If you have a compressor, consider a cheap cut-off tool and 1mm abrasive cut off wheels.

Consider outsourcing for big cutting jobs as there are many engineering shops around. It will all come down to budget and how much you are equipped and skilled to do your own.

If you have CAD and can generate DFX files, this can be another option for outsourcing to a plasma or laser cutter at an engineering works.

Grinding/Linishing again if you have a compressor consider a little air powered surface sander with 50mm abrasive disks. Although a 4 or 5 inch grinder serves the triple purpose of cutting, grinding and linishing just by swapping in the appropriate disks and pads and is probably more cost effective in the long term.

A bench grinder is invaluable and and Australian "Abbot & Ashby" (made in China) 8", single phase unit is versatile and viable at $140 inc. GST. Add an Aussie "Multi Tool arm and you are really set up for linishing but you have the added cost of consumable abrasive belts.

Welding, if you have Oxy you can weld. But Oxy has issues that would be best addressed perhaps in a welding only discussion.

There are a couple of really decent, mini inverter type, single phase units from the likes of Lincoln, Kemppi, BOC and others that come with a MMAW rod holder and you can buy a scratch start TiG torch to go with them as well. There are also some cheap (and sometimes nasty) Chinese ones on the local market also.

Welding probably deserves its own thread though hey.

Drilling There are many decent Jap & German made units on the market. There are some very reasonable Taiwanese pedastle drill units on our market as well. DO NOT buy less than a 3 Morse Taper (3MT) unit.

There are some great text books around too. You must buy the late Carroll Smith's "Engineer to Win".

There are heaps more tools and implements but these are some of the basics without having to win Tatslotto.

All the best bloke!
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Old 25-03-2005
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A favourite book of mine is the Metal Fabricators Handbook by Ron Fournier published by HP books, this guy builds race cars drag cars etc, and does some swisho sheetmetal stuff.
I'm a mech draftsman, 3d cad stuff is great, I like to see what the finished product is going to look like before I lift a tool
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Old 28-03-2005
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I picked up a great hardcover book on "welding fitments" at a garage sale for .50c
for a complete novice I have found this a very handy publication.
Most of my other stuff in the shed is from garage sales or second-hand shops.(6in bench grinder, bench press drill, 10in cut-off wheel,160 amp stick welder,toolboxes with tools ect. If you are particular in what you buy, you can save a lot of money this way.
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