Heavy Duty Box For a Trailer

I will post more about this trailer in the future, but here is what I have started with.  The box is 4′x4′x30″ and is made from 1/8″ steel plate.  Needless to say, it is really heavy.  It is a fun project because it requires a lot of different tools and skills to make it function correctly.  Welding the end pieces on and grinding the welds smooth was very time consuming, but in the end it came out pretty good.  Can you guess what I’m putting in the box?

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Practice your welds

I’ve said it a million times, but the best way to learn how to weld is to practice as often as you can.  Unfortunately, practicing can also become very boring if all you are doing is welding bead after bead on a flat plate.  A fun way to get some good practice is to make something out of your practice pieces.  For instance, this past weekend I got bored and made a pair of steel dice just for fun.  It was a perfect way to practice welds because each one of them had 12 welds that were identical.  Each weld I would try something a little bit different and compare it to the others to see what the affect was.  The best part is that instead of just having a pile of scrap, I made some cool paperweights.

Parts to a Dice

A fun way to practice

Tacked Steel Dice

Tacked Together....Ready to practice


TIG weld on Dice

1st Weld Down

TIG Weld

Try something new on each weld....see what happens

Steel welded dice

Lucky 7

a pair of steel dice

A pretty cool paperweight


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Plasma Table Complete

Well…it’s almost complete.  I’m having too much fun cutting stuff that I don’t want to stop to paint it.

Building the table was actually fun.  I really wanted it to be as square and level as possible

Come-along pulling table square

Using a come-along to pull the table square

so I spent a lot of time measuring and remeasuring and remeasuring again.  At one point I had it all tacked together but it had racked just slightly so I had to use a come-along to pull it back square.  Once I was sure that it was perfectly square I added a few more tacks to each joint to make sure none would break and started MIG welding it together.  While the table is heavy, I was able to rotate in onto each side so that I could weld the joints in the flat or horizontal position.  Because I rotated it after a few welds it let each joint cool down enough between welds so that I didn’t overheat a particular joint and cause any unnecessary weld distortion.   Overall the table frame came out great and is almost perfectly square.  It’s also strong enough to take a direct hit from a scud missile.

Bessey Clamps on tubing

Clamps, Magnets, Come-Alongs....whatever it takes

Because of the way that the Torchmate rails mount to the table I had to make a bolt access hole so that I could have a way to reach the nuts once the cap was put on.  I made a slotted hole using a mag drill to drill out two holes, and then cleaned the area in between out with a cutting wheel and a die grinder.  The slots came out nice, and will give plenty of room to get the wrench inside to tighten the bots later.

Hougan Drill into tubing using Mag-Drill

Drilling holes for bolt access

I didn’t put any holes in the cap plate before I welded it on.  That way I could get the Torchmate rails all lined up and mark the holes exact location once the Torchmate system was fully assembled.  I made the cap plates just barely larger than the inside diameter of the 3″ tube and rounded the corners.  Doing this well make it easy to weld, and allow for a full penetration weld.

tubing with slotted hole

Bolt access hole in tubing. Note the cap plate tacked on top.

Once the table was finished I had to weld up the water pan.  I had another shop bend 1/8″ plate to minimize the amount of welding that I would need to do.  They were able to make it out of a single plate, so all that I had to weld was the corners.  The shop did an amazing job and held the dimensions exactly as I asked.  I obviously needed a way to drain the table so I drilled out a hole and welded a 3/4″ pipe nipple to the bottle so that I can attach a ball valve to it.

Steel Water Table Pan

Steel pan prior to welding & drain installation

Unwelded steel corner

Unwelded corner of pan

Fully welded corner joint

Fully welded and ground corner joint

Drain in water table

3/4" pipe drain prior to welding on the inside of pan.

3/4" pipe nipple drain

3/4" pipe nipple welded to pan for drain

Once the pan was welded and installed, all that I had to do was make some slats and slat supports.  I made the slat supports from 1/4″ x 3″ flat bar and cut 1.5″ deep slots into them using a abrasive chop saw.  The chop saw blade is just wider than an 1/8″ so the 1/8″x3″ slats fit perfectly inside them.  I took my time to make sure that each cut was as close to exactly 1.5″ deep as I could, and spaced them every 2″.  It sounds sort of like a ghetto way to do it, but I was happy with the results.  I will probably cut some supports at some other point on the plasma table since it should be more accurate and waaaaaay faster.

5" deep water pan installed

Water pan installed into table.

Fully built plasma table

Finished....except a few more slats

You can’t see it because it is under the water pan, but there is two additional tubes that help support the water pan.  Overall, I’m really happy with how the table turned out.  I have it all up and running now, but I’m going to take it apart soon and paint it all up.


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Torchmate Plasma Table Build -Day 2

So “day 2″ of the build is actually day 3 since I’ve come down with some sort of illness that seems to be similar to the virus that is in the movie Contagion.  Even though I’ve felt horrible, in between throwing up and blowing my nose, I’ve managed to get a little work done on the table.

I decided to fully weld the end frames, as I’m calling them.  I usually don’t like to fully weld something until I’ve completely tacked it together, both to help with weld distortion and to

Crate that Torchmate 4x4 Growth Series Arrived In.

A box full of motivation showed up today

verify the thing fits before I put 15 lbs of weld wire to it.  However, since this table will have a few joints that will be hard to get to when it’s fully assembled, and since its heavy enough that I don’t really want to flip it over 6 times when it’s assembled so that I don’t have to weld on my head, I went ahead and welded out the two frames on the bench.

Because my shop floor is not level, and since a table filled with water will prove that to me, I knew that I need some sort of way to level the table.  I was going to buy some swivel leveling feet from McMaster-Carr, but thankfully I came up with a more cost effective solution, and one that will work just as good.  I was walking by pallets of extra scrap bolts at my real job and had a “ah hah” moment….Why not turn some bolts upside down and turn them into screw feet!  Genius!!!  Admittedly, I’m not anywhere near the first person to have this idea, but since it saved me $100, I was stoked.  And to make things even better right next to the pallet of bolts was a bucket of plate washers with perfect dimensions to work for the base plates….I must say it was my lucky day.  Although maybe all this luck is what backfired and got me sick???

It should be pointed out that welding to hardened steel nuts is generally not a good thing to do. (Yes, I just did it)  Especially if they are going to be a critical connection….Like hanging something overhead from a nut you welded.  But I figured that the table weighs about 400lbs, the torchmate kit is listed at 298 on the bill of lading, a 5/8″ x 48 x48″ plate weighs 408 lbs, and the pan filled with water adds another 500 lbs which totals about 1600 lbs when its all said and done.  1,600 lbs is a fraction of what that weld is good for so without going all engineering nerd on you, I feel comfortable welding the nuts on my table.  I could have eliminated some concern of the weld cracking by putting the nuts on the outside of the plate, but that wouldn’t have looked as cool

Oh, and the best part about today…The Torchmate Kit showed up.  That’s just the sort of motivation I need to work through SARS.

Sorry for another day of crappy pics.  Camera is still MIA.

Structural Steel Bolts A325

My "leveling feet"

Steel Plate Washers

Plate washers that I found in a bucket full of rusty garbage

Steel nuts weled to steel plate

The nuts that will be used to level the table welded to baseplates

Steel baseplates welded to 3" square tube

Base plates all welded up. The nut is hidden inside the tube.

Flair Bevel Weld

Tubing Weld -Flair Bevel Groove weld

Welded Tubing Connection

Typical Welded Connection

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Torchmate Plasma Table Build-Day 1

I am going to try and document as much of this little project as possible.  Since I’m pretty busy with my “real job” right now this is a nights and weekends sort of project for me so it might take a little longer than it should.

I picked up the tubing and got all the pieces cut and two of the end “frames” tacked together last night.  I plan on building the table by first making the two end frames on the bench which will make it super easy to make them perfectly square, and then since the table will be bigger than my work bench I’ll have to set it on the ground to weld in the other 4 horizontal members.  I used a cold saw to cut the tubing which made for really accurate cuts.  It’s easier to make a table square if you at least know that your cuts are square!

Sorry for the less than perfect photo quality.  I seem to have misplaced my camera, so all that I have is my phone right now.

Tubing for Water Table

3"x3"x3/16" Square Tubing Is All Cut Ready To Go

detail of tubing cut with cold saw

I used a cold saw to cut the tubing...Nice and square!

Dobermann Pincher Inspecting Metal Frame

Weld Inspection Can Be A Bitch

Multiple Clamps Holding Tubing Frame Square

A couple clamps, some temporary lugs, and a good 'ol dead blow hammer make things square

Dobermann Pinscher Guarding the shop

Tell her that you don't like it....


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