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A minimalist welding surface?

General welding questions that dont fit in TIG, MIG, Stick, or Certification etc.

A minimalist welding surface?

Postby AussieWelder » Sat May 13, 2017 11:00 am

Good morning everyone,

I'm curious to know if anyone has ever tried a very lightweight approach to making a 'temporary' welding surface.

As I am doing my very first project, and need to get fabrication going between wet spells here in MD, I'm proposing to use a 'sacrificial' sheet of ply or OSB. I realize that this is flammable, but I figure that if I stand off the project by say 3" or 4" with pieces of framing lumber as spacers, I should be able to work off a fairly flat surface that is light and easy to handle.

I have an existing well-built deck surface to support this temp table (I can lay the sheet on the deck, and again block this up so that I have some inches of clearance between the deck surface and the board), and I'm convinced that overall it will be flat enough to work with this project (it's railing and therefore hopefully not subject to extreme fitment issues).

Does this sound within reason, or is it ridiculous? To construct sections of railing, I need a surface that is aprox 40" x 48", if I am going to fully support each section, as I begin tacking it together. I can 'rib' the surface with true pieces of framing lumber, to provide enough stiffness to prevent sagging.
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Re: A minimalist welding surface?

Postby Otto Nobedder » Sat May 13, 2017 11:20 am

AussieWelder wrote:Good morning everyone,

I'm curious to know if anyone has ever tried a very lightweight approach to making a 'temporary' welding surface.

As I am doing my very first project, and need to get fabrication going between wet spells here in MD, I'm proposing to use a 'sacrificial' sheet of ply or OSB. I realize that this is flammable, but I figure that if I stand off the project by say 3" or 4" with pieces of framing lumber as spacers, I should be able to work off a fairly flat surface that is light and easy to handle.

I have an existing well-built deck surface to support this temp table (I can lay the sheet on the deck, and again block this up so that I have some inches of clearance between the deck surface and the board), and I'm convinced that overall it will be flat enough to work with this project (it's railing and therefore hopefully not subject to extreme fitment issues).

Does this sound within reason, or is it ridiculous? To construct sections of railing, I need a surface that is aprox 40" x 48", if I am going to fully support each section, as I begin tacking it together. I can 'rib' the surface with true pieces of framing lumber, to provide enough stiffness to prevent sagging.


TamJeff uses MDF almost exclusively. This stuff is much harder to ignite than OSB or plywood, more rigid/flat, and lets you do layout directly on the surface with a pencil. Depending on the size you need, you can get MDF for free by picking up a cheap-o desk made from it that's been set out for the trash man. Take the top off, and use it upside-down. (Most are assembled with cam-lock hardware and no glue.)

That said, ply or OSB should work as you've described it. You should be able to work directly on the surface without igniting it, though you may char it.

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Re: A minimalist welding surface?

Postby AussieWelder » Sat May 13, 2017 11:30 am

Brilliant! Thanks a ton Steve.

I was also thinking of 2 little mods to make the approach more feasible - for tack welds and shorter-duration welds, I could have a small piece of lightweight steel plate (1/8") to slide right between weld point and the board underneath - say a 3" x 3" aprox square scrap piece. I will have an air gap of a few inches between metal and wood in any case, making it easy to position.

My wife has a little spray bottle she uses to mist our indoor plants. I will also have that available to do a little spritzing on scorched areas as needed.

Grant.
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Re: A minimalist welding surface?

Postby Louie1961 » Sat May 13, 2017 12:07 pm

For years my only welding table was a piece of plywood across 2 saw horses. I have a couple of pieces of 2 ft x3 ft scrap 11 gauge my brother brought home from work (side panels from some machine or another). I elevated one of those plates with 2x4s, and was able to put the work clamp on that rather than the pieces to be welded. Worked fine for small stuff.
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Re: A minimalist welding surface?

Postby PeteM » Sat May 13, 2017 12:47 pm

In a shop where I made windows for churches we used "decks" that were 48" x 96" plywood framed with 2x4. Since all of the work was from templates, we'd cover the whole set with cardboard sheet of the same size and build directly on it.

It was actually very nice. If we needed to block or push anything, you could just screw a piece directly in to the cardboard/plywood and tap a little wedge in to get things perfect.

Another nice thing for repetitive assemblies was to set up a jig that you just drop pieces into, fit a little, and start tacking.

Very versatile.
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Re: A minimalist welding surface?

Postby Olivero » Sat May 13, 2017 8:36 pm

I've fabbed stuff, aluminum stuff, on a wooden table before. Table didn't look too good but by the time you got a drop of molten aluminum on it to the time your done welding, it put itself out. At least in my case, pissed off the maintenance crew though, it was their table :lol:

Oliver! Why didn't you use your STEEL table?!

Cause I knew it was going to get messy and its easier to clean up here than over there? sheesh.

Dammit! now we have to sand it to make it pretty again

I guess so.... want to see what I built on it? :lol:

I love being an ass sometimes

Never had much but myself and blankets catch on fire, and paint, paint definetley catches on fire. I think wood would be just fine temporarily or permanently.
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Re: A minimalist welding surface?

Postby AussieWelder » Sat May 13, 2017 9:19 pm

Thanks all. After reading all the feedback, I actually feel almost 'high tech' in that I've ripped a sheet of ½" MDF, and tomorrow will stiffen it up with pieces of framing lumber that look to be in good shape for a true edge.

The blocking idea is a good one too. I'll be able to pin down pieces of wooden blocks easily, in order to repetitively and accurately space railing elements for tacking into position.

Cheers! - Grant.
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Re: A minimalist welding surface?

Postby thespian » Sat May 13, 2017 9:52 pm

Until about a year ago I used MDF and about 6 saw horses under a 5 x 10 sheet of mdf, that was 1" thick, it worked pretty well.
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Re: A minimalist welding surface?

Postby ldbtx » Sun May 14, 2017 9:11 am

I worked in a boatyard years ago that built pontoon houseboats. We had a 4' X 24' plywood welding table. It was especially good for building deck rail. Just drive some nails in partway and you had a jig for laying out the members. It got scorched a bit now and then, but worked just fine.
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Re: A minimalist welding surface?

Postby cj737 » Mon May 15, 2017 6:53 am

Grant - You can even lay a sheet of aluminum over the wood to help isolate it from a direct flame if you're nervous. Plus, you'll have the added benefit of the steel railings not welding to the aluminum ;) Run your layout lines in Sharpie on the ally, tack and weld away on the steel.
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