Welding has become a staple skill in my work, having incorporated it into many of my most recent woodworking builds. After all, the people who influence my work the most are metalworking experts. Not only have I made some great friends from the world of fabrication, but I do truly believe the skillset has made my work much more creative.
The ability to weld, in my opinion, can help set a good woodworker from a great one. Even a basic understanding of welding furniture can take your builds to the next level, which is why I’ve partnered up with Lincoln Electric to bring you Welding Basics for Woodworkers. Check out these basics to keep in mind before welding furniture for the first time
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One of the biggest things to keep in mind is when getting started is that metal is extremely dirty. Unlike wood, metal will have dirt, oils, and sometimes rust on it, which all need to be cleaned off to get a good weld. Start by giving your metal a good wipedown, grinding off rusted pieces.
When welding, it’s vital to ensure a flat surface. While you can weld on a wooden top, you need to be extremely careful not to damage or ignite the wooden surface. In my shop, I have a table specifically for welding that is metal and flat. You can get a really solid welding table at a great price here.
Additionally, since these are the basics for people looking to start off with welding furniture, I have a recommendation for a great welder. The Lincoln Electric Power Mig 210 MP is the perfect welder for getting started. It includes a sheet inside the wire feed that helps break down everything you’ll need to know. Additionally, the 210 model helps tune in al the settings perfectly so you’ll get the right weld every time.
Most beginner welders know that there are different types of welds. This includes tig, mig, and flux core mig welds. Each of these has its own benefits, a different price point, and varying ease of usage.
I consider tig to be the most well-rounded and versatile of the four, allowing you to work at a slow pace with clean lines. Mig uses gas to shield the arc with the filler itself as the electrode. Both of these are good for welding furniture because the wind is not something you need to take into consideration. However, if you’re welding a bridge (for which we hope you’re not a beginner), you’ll use a flux core mig.
If you’re curious about these different types of welds, there’s a ton of information and literature available online about which welds are best for your specific projects. The Lincoln Electric 210 MP is a mig welder and I find it great for most of my welding applications in my shop.
When welding, it’s important to get accurate, flat, clean lines before starting the weld. Start off by always clamping down your work. You do not need specific clamps for welding -- just clamps that can hold your metal in place long enough to get a good seam. Before fully welding, always do a test fit. I’ll use tacks - or small weld points to make sure my metal is going to fit well together and not expand.
Many times I use metal for the base of some of my builds. Be sure to measure everything out to a true 90-degree angle before build-up and after tacking. This will help make sure your furniture is strong and is going to last.
You may be wondering what types of motions to make while creating your lines. First, know that it is important to keep your torch angle between 45 and 90 degrees. If you keep it any lower, the shielding gas won’t flow properly.
When you’re welding furniture, there are 4 common ways to make your weld lines. Furniture welds often don’t need to be anything spectacularly strong; a simple line will many times do the trick. Most welders will use one of 4 pulling techniques: the ‘e,’ the ‘c,’ a whip technique, or a straight line. For your purposes, a whip or a line will do the trick, but you can practice the stronger techniques while you’re at it.
Once you’ve welded up a project, you’re going to want to clean up your welds for a nice finish. This is especially important for beginners because you’re not always going to have the prettiest weld lines. On an angle grinder, use a flap wheel to sand down your lines. Use 40, 60, and 80 grit to get it down to your desired smoothness.
Once smooth, clean your metal yet again, this time using acetone. Once the acetone is fully dry, use a self-etching primer and then a metal finish paint to paint to your desired color. These both can be purchased at most hardware stores.
Now that you know the basics of welding for woodworkers, check out some of my latest builds with welding to try it out for yourself:
Want to try this build out for yourself? Download the digital plan now for step-by-step instructions, measurements, and a detailed look at how to punch this project in the face.