Author Topic: Where do you start when you're a noob with metal?  (Read 2551 times)

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Offline Kev

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Where do you start when you're a noob with metal?
« on: September 12, 2017, 04:50 AM »
Every time I start looking at this space my eyes glaze over and roll back into my head [embarassed]

When you think about what you can do in the world of metal you can get extremely carried away ... welders and cutters, lathes and mills, bending contraptions, etc.

Has anyone made a sensible and satisfying first step recently?

Life is obviously much simpler when you have a few projects in mind, but sadly mine span the spectrum so widely that it's hard to rationalise!

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Offline rst

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Re: Where do you start when you're a noob with metal?
« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2017, 07:15 AM »
Kev, I feel your pain...I got by for years milling on a heavy drill press and X/Y table.  Anything that required a real mill or lathe was taken to a local retired machinist who used to be an injection pattern maker.  Years ago I took two machine tool class' at my local tech school that offered evening class'.  The skills were usefully important but no machines.  Two years ago Grizzly closed up their warehouse/store here in PA and discounted everything in stock.  I ended up with  heavy bench mill, table, and a bunch of tooling for less than the mill alone would have cost.  My only regret is that I did not grab a bench lathe at the same time.  I've often considered taking a welding class, especially to work aluminum but that would aggravate the itch for even more machines and space.  Luckily I have a local welder that is a Navy retired nuclear sub welder that I can rely on for work and home projects.

Offline Holmz

  • Posts: 3779
Re: Where do you start when you're a noob with metal?
« Reply #2 on: September 12, 2017, 08:52 AM »
There is hammering sheets.
Welding.
Milling.
Turning.
Bending/forging

And there is iron, aluminium, copper, stainless, silver/gold, and the rest.

My current project is with copper sheets.

Offline Alex

  • Posts: 5433
Re: Where do you start when you're a noob with metal?
« Reply #3 on: September 12, 2017, 09:49 AM »
When you think about what you can do in the world of metal you can get extremely carried away ... welders and cutters, lathes and mills, bending contraptions, etc.

Yes, you always get carried away.  [smile]

But to start out, forget all that more advanced stuff, you can make so much with just a handful of tools.

Buy some metal in the form of thin sheets, strips or corner profiles. You can make a lot with just these basic materials. Starting out with aluminium is also easier than steel.

To cut and shape the raw materials, get and angle grinder (you have one, or in your case 10, probably), and a bench grinder. A good sturdy metal vice is also a must so you can bend stuff with a hammer.

To connect the pieces, get a drill and a good tap set in the most common screw sizes. A pop rivet gun also comes in very handy.
 
And now you're all set to make lots of stuff. Watch Mirock's video's, he works like this all the time.

Offline live4ever

  • Posts: 508
Re: Where do you start when you're a noob with metal?
« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2017, 12:39 PM »
I've wondered the same thing and am like you Kev (too many interests).  There's just not the same level of instruction available on the web as there is for woodworking, and generally fewer books as well.  I've got my eye on a welder and one day a milling machine, as well as making sure the woodworking CNC I get can handle aluminum. 

Someone needs to become the "Metal Whisperer."
"What you have to do tomorrow, do today.  What you have to do today, do now."  - a wise grandfather who was clearly talking about purchasing Festools

Offline Cheese

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Re: Where do you start when you're a noob with metal?
« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2017, 01:28 PM »
Having worked with metal for almost 50 years, it would be my suggestion to start with:
1...a metal cutting blade for your track saw, that way you can cut sheet stock and some limited extrusion forms.

2...a right angle grinder with a thin cut-off wheel, a grinding wheel and several flap-discs. There are different discs for steel, aluminum & stainless steel. Don't mix them up, keep them separated.

3...the right angle grinder can also be converted into an abrasive belt grinder that uses abrasive belts or non-woven web belts for finishes and textures.

4...a decent drill press with a decent vise to hold the metal for drilling.

That'll get you started and give you a taste of what it's like. Metal working isn't for everyone, it's very dirty compared to woodworking.

In the picture below the closet rod brackets and the vertical shelving rods were made using a track saw, right angle grinder and a drill press. Machine tools just shorten the time it takes to make things.
« Last Edit: September 12, 2017, 01:30 PM by Cheese »

Offline Richard/RMW

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Re: Where do you start when you're a noob with metal?
« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2017, 01:38 PM »
Kev, it's simple really. In my 20's I built/sold numerous utility trailers and did various other projects. All you really need is an angle grinder, a decent but inexpensive 110V MIG welder w/dual shield wire & a cheap abrasive chop saw. Just try to stop there, I dare ya'...

The MIG leads to bottled gas for shielding. And then TIG for stainless and AL. Of course you will "need" a carbide cold cut chop saw, who wants all those nasty sparks flying around? Gotta have a decent auto-darkening hood after all. Oh, and lots of vise-grip c-clamps. How are you going to hold things to keep them from twisting without a modular welding table? 

Watch that first step, it's a doozie...

RMW
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Offline tallgrass

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Re: Where do you start when you're a noob with metal?
« Reply #7 on: September 12, 2017, 02:38 PM »
it is simple. what is it you wish to make? watches, steam engines pieces for you car or other hobby? let that direct your knowledge and acquisition of machines and tools. there is always a rabbit hole to go down but let your experience direct you down the hole. buying before you know how to frame your pursuits is dangerous.  go to maker spaces and school, learn as much as you can, than your decisions and how you solve them will be clear. enjoy

Online BJM9818

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Re: Where do you start when you're a noob with metal?
« Reply #8 on: September 12, 2017, 07:37 PM »
Feb '16 I purchased a millermatic 252. Never welded before but figure go big or go home. Grabbed a 4' square 3/8" piece of metal for a table and started working. I've built a bunch of railing for my houses and many other items you just can't do with wood.

Go for it. My next purchases before the year is up is a nice cold saw and a 4x8 build pro table.

Online Peter Halle

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Re: Where do you start when you're a noob with metal?
« Reply #9 on: September 12, 2017, 07:46 PM »
This is such a timely thread for me.  I was talking to a fellow Fogger that has become a friend over the years and I mentioned that I wanted to learn enough welding to be able to integrate metal into furniture.  Oddly he had been considering the same thing.

Will be following this thread!

Peter

Offline live4ever

  • Posts: 508
Re: Where do you start when you're a noob with metal?
« Reply #10 on: September 12, 2017, 07:54 PM »
I've been looking at [drooling over] the Lincoln multiprocess machine (K4195).  Costs a pretty penny, but extremely versatile and seems like it would be easy to grow into. 

Before that I thought I was pretty set on the Hobart 210, which is a MIG that can take a spool gun for aluminum as well. 

Funny how the hole you're gonna burn in your wallet keeps getting bigger the longer ya wait...lol
"What you have to do tomorrow, do today.  What you have to do today, do now."  - a wise grandfather who was clearly talking about purchasing Festools

Offline Kev

  • Posts: 7603
Re: Where do you start when you're a noob with metal?
« Reply #11 on: September 13, 2017, 05:15 AM »
When you think about what you can do in the world of metal you can get extremely carried away ... welders and cutters, lathes and mills, bending contraptions, etc.

Yes, you always get carried away.  [smile]

But to start out, forget all that more advanced stuff, you can make so much with just a handful of tools.

Buy some metal in the form of thin sheets, strips or corner profiles. You can make a lot with just these basic materials. Starting out with aluminium is also easier than steel.

To cut and shape the raw materials, get and angle grinder (you have one, or in your case 10, probably), and a bench grinder. A good sturdy metal vice is also a must so you can bend stuff with a hammer.

To connect the pieces, get a drill and a good tap set in the most common screw sizes. A pop rivet gun also comes in very handy.
 
And now you're all set to make lots of stuff. Watch Mirock's video's, he works like this all the time.

@Alex it's truly odd for someone on the other side of the world to know your character so well [embarassed]

I think I'm just beyond that step ... hand shaping, bolting, riveting, etc it the level I'm about to advance from (I hope). Have everything you mention and a few other bits too [wink]

Offline Kev

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Re: Where do you start when you're a noob with metal?
« Reply #12 on: September 13, 2017, 05:31 AM »
Having worked with metal for almost 50 years, it would be my suggestion to start with:
1...a metal cutting blade for your track saw, that way you can cut sheet stock and some limited extrusion forms.

2...a right angle grinder with a thin cut-off wheel, a grinding wheel and several flap-discs. There are different discs for steel, aluminum & stainless steel. Don't mix them up, keep them separated.

3...the right angle grinder can also be converted into an abrasive belt grinder that uses abrasive belts or non-woven web belts for finishes and textures.

4...a decent drill press with a decent vise to hold the metal for drilling.

That'll get you started and give you a taste of what it's like. Metal working isn't for everyone, it's very dirty compared to woodworking.

In the picture below the closet rod brackets and the vertical shelving rods were made using a track saw, right angle grinder and a drill press. Machine tools just shorten the time it takes to make things.

@Cheese

My dad was an aircraft mechanic in WW2 and had a varied career following that .. some time spent as a machinist and similar, but I was really only exposed to his projects at home. Everything I did with dad seemed to involve a hacksaw, bench grinder and an arc welder (just the brutal and crude stuff).

Deffo getting a serious drill press again ... can't remember the dumb reasons going through my head when I sold my last one, but this is probably where I start to question whether there's a mill that makes sense across metal working and woodworking.

I do recognise that all forms of welding are a practiced art and I'm not expecting to make a perfect titanium exhaust for a custom bike in the near future! [big grin] I'll be happy if I can consistently weld metal plate cleanly to begin with (and I an organising some lessons in that space).

Love those bracket!

Offline Kev

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Re: Where do you start when you're a noob with metal?
« Reply #13 on: September 13, 2017, 05:42 AM »
Kev, it's simple really. In my 20's I built/sold numerous utility trailers and did various other projects. All you really need is an angle grinder, a decent but inexpensive 110V MIG welder w/dual shield wire & a cheap abrasive chop saw. Just try to stop there, I dare ya'...

The MIG leads to bottled gas for shielding. And then TIG for stainless and AL. Of course you will "need" a carbide cold cut chop saw, who wants all those nasty sparks flying around? Gotta have a decent auto-darkening hood after all. Oh, and lots of vise-grip c-clamps. How are you going to hold things to keep them from twisting without a modular welding table? 

Watch that first step, it's a doozie...

RMW

@Richard/RMW step? It's a cliff edge ... I've started the impulse buying and have a rough idea about the sort of welding gear and cutting gear that I can get. That stuff's not too big, practice gets you there and it can sit in a corner. It's probably the bending, shaping, folding and more complex machining that has me flummoxed (not in a bad way - I love learning and a challenge).

I've seen some welding/fabrication tables that have me very interested - I can see something in that space being very useful.

Offline Kev

  • Posts: 7603
Re: Where do you start when you're a noob with metal?
« Reply #14 on: September 13, 2017, 05:45 AM »
This is such a timely thread for me.  I was talking to a fellow Fogger that has become a friend over the years and I mentioned that I wanted to learn enough welding to be able to integrate metal into furniture.  Oddly he had been considering the same thing.

Will be following this thread!

Peter

@Peter Halle isn't it such a tempting avenue eh? The fusion of wood and metal can be very beautiful.

... have I mentioned that I'd like to learn a little bit of upholstery too? [embarassed] [embarassed] [embarassed]

Offline Cheese

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Re: Where do you start when you're a noob with metal?
« Reply #15 on: September 13, 2017, 09:29 AM »

Deffo getting a serious drill press again ... can't remember the dumb reasons going through my head when I sold my last one, but this is probably where I start to question whether there's a mill that makes sense across metal working and woodworking.


With a drill press make sure the table is equipped with T-slots. It makes it a lot easier to attach tooling or the items you are machining. I modified a Woodpeckers drill press table so for wood and small metal working projects I use that, but for serious metal working I remove the Woodpeckers table and use the T-slots. 

Also steel and stainless require slower drilling speeds (aluminum not so much) so make sure the drill press will turn at 200 rpm or slower, mine goes down to 150 rpm. Ellis makes one that goes down to zero rpm and it also has electronic reverse for tapping.

One of the hobby mills makes a lot of sense if you can swing it. Emco made many versions and they probably made their way to Australia at some point. They even made a mill & lathe combination for a small footprint.


Offline HAXIT

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Re: Where do you start when you're a noob with metal?
« Reply #16 on: September 13, 2017, 11:55 AM »
Kev,
The fusion of metal and wood is something that you will see every time I make something.
Here is the Orion active speakers that I made about six years ago. It is black anodized aluminum with zebrawood.
Here is the speakers and the electronic crossover.









 

Offline HAXIT

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Re: Where do you start when you're a noob with metal?
« Reply #17 on: September 13, 2017, 12:00 PM »
And some more when I started.










Offline Richard/RMW

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Re: Where do you start when you're a noob with metal?
« Reply #18 on: September 13, 2017, 03:02 PM »
Kev, it's simple really. In my 20's I built/sold numerous utility trailers and did various other projects. All you really need is an angle grinder, a decent but inexpensive 110V MIG welder w/dual shield wire & a cheap abrasive chop saw. Just try to stop there, I dare ya'...

The MIG leads to bottled gas for shielding. And then TIG for stainless and AL. Of course you will "need" a carbide cold cut chop saw, who wants all those nasty sparks flying around? Gotta have a decent auto-darkening hood after all. Oh, and lots of vise-grip c-clamps. How are you going to hold things to keep them from twisting without a modular welding table? 

Watch that first step, it's a doozie...

RMW

@Richard/RMW step? It's a cliff edge ... I've started the impulse buying and have a rough idea about the sort of welding gear and cutting gear that I can get. That stuff's not too big, practice gets you there and it can sit in a corner. It's probably the bending, shaping, folding and more complex machining that has me flummoxed (not in a bad way - I love learning and a challenge).

I've seen some welding/fabrication tables that have me very interested - I can see something in that space being very useful.

@Kev I'm teetering on the precipice myself. For the record and for whatever it's worth I tend to bifurcate metal working from machining. My idea of metalworking is along the lines of cutting/bending/welding/finishing which are all pretty much handwork versus high-tolerance machinist stuff. I do dabble in both.

For my version of metalworking many tools do double duty with wood, including a portaband, drill press, disk sander and grinders, vises etc. Absolutely love the Milwaukee carbide chop saw, both for AL and steel.

Right now I am trying to squeeze down existing tools to free up a 3' by 2' area for a small fixture table with MIG/TIG. I've been going back and forth between 115 or 115/230V MIG and going whole hog for an inverter TIG. The latter will do steel/AL with one machine (without a spool gun which looks cumbersome) at the expense of the ease of pulling a trigger and welding MIG.

Realistically 90% of anything I do will be light wall box tube, but AL versus steel is a real issue. Every time I think I have made up my mind I experience another "but for $XX00 more I could..." moment and veer off the road again.

Most likely I will go with MIG and then have justification to add TIG when I run up against some AL that just HAS to be welded...

[doh]

RMW

 

 
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Offline WarnerConstCo.

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Re: Where do you start when you're a noob with metal?
« Reply #19 on: September 13, 2017, 10:20 PM »
I know very little, but need to make simple parts and simple repairs. I bought a south bend heavy 10 and a Bridgeport with dro's. Bridgeport is slightly unimpressive.

I want a surface grinder and a OD grinder.

Offline Cheese

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Re: Where do you start when you're a noob with metal?
« Reply #20 on: September 14, 2017, 01:57 AM »
Absolutely love the Milwaukee carbide chop saw, both for AL and steel.

+1
And also for stainless, just don't bother purchasing the Milwaukee stainless blade. It has a very limited life span. I've found that the Evolution stainless blade lasts 3-4 times longer than the Milwaukee blade.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2017, 08:10 AM by Cheese »

Offline Cheese

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Re: Where do you start when you're a noob with metal?
« Reply #21 on: September 14, 2017, 02:35 AM »
Kev,
Two other items I forgot to mention.

If you're serious about metal working a combination belt/disc sander is a must. The bonus round is that you can use this for woodworking projects also.

There were older band saws that had a 2-speed gear box (8 speeds total) that would allow you to cut wood and then throttle back for cutting steel or stainless.

I have an older Delta that cuts wood at 3000 fpm while I can throttle it back to 80 fpm for stainless. I still cut aluminum at 3000 fpm. 

There may be some newer saws that also have this feature. Just not sure...
« Last Edit: September 14, 2017, 08:19 AM by Cheese »

Offline tallgrass

  • Posts: 616
Re: Where do you start when you're a noob with metal?
« Reply #22 on: September 14, 2017, 02:53 AM »
I have a great deal of Emco machinery and it is top drawer. the maximat line is not for the hobbyist very $$$$ I have a couple of maximats and they are worth every penny. I am on the opposite side of this.....I am a mechanical engineer who does metal and wood is not my primary deal. Festool is perfect for that since they don't take up much space, though I seem to have accumulated a great deal of it and love it.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2017, 04:35 AM by tallgrass »

Offline Bob D.

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Re: Where do you start when you're a noob with metal?
« Reply #23 on: September 14, 2017, 06:21 AM »
"Two years ago Grizzly closed up their warehouse/store here in PA"

Wow, I did not realize they did this. I was always hoping to make a trip
there but it's a good distance away (>200 miles). Guess I put it off just
a little too long. :(
-----
It's a table saw, do you know where your fingers are?

Offline Richard/RMW

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Re: Where do you start when you're a noob with metal?
« Reply #24 on: September 14, 2017, 08:31 AM »
"Two years ago Grizzly closed up their warehouse/store here in PA"

Wow, I did not realize they did this. I was always hoping to make a trip
there but it's a good distance away (>200 miles). Guess I put it off just
a little too long. :(

Yep, I usta' drop by there when making fishing trips in PA. Picture a bunch of middle-aged male zombies milling around a huge shiny white showroom with glazed looks. The retail store never could have made financial sense as there were never more than a handful of people there. The Muncy operation doubled as their eastern US warehouse which I assume succumbed to changes in the logistics business & they consolidated or went to 3rd parties.

A stop at the Country Store for a smoked brisket sammich then on to Lewis Lumber and before you knew it a whole day of fishing was shot.

But I digress...

RMW

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Offline Kev

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Re: Where do you start when you're a noob with metal?
« Reply #25 on: September 14, 2017, 12:31 PM »
Kev,
Two other items I forgot to mention.

If you're serious about metal working a combination belt/disc sander is a must. The bonus round is that you can use this for woodworking projects also.

There were older band saws that had a 2-speed gear box (8 speeds total) that would allow you to cut wood and then throttle back for cutting steel or stainless.

I have an older Delta that cuts wood at 3000 fpm while I can throttle it back to 80 fpm for stainless. I still cut aluminum at 3000 fpm. 

There may be some newer saws that also have this feature. Just not sure...

Thanks @Cheese

I had a belt/disk sander in mind for woodworking down the track, but for some reason I thought that a dedicated linisher was required for metal work [scratch chin]

I hadn't seen much in the way of "crossover" bandsaws ... the ones I've been peeking at locally such as the small Baileigh seem quite nice!

Fortunately the second hand equipment market in OZ is much healthier in the metal working arena compared to wood working, so I'll probably be able to make some hugely stupid second hand purchase mistakes [big grin]


Online #Tee

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Re: Where do you start when you're a noob with metal?
« Reply #26 on: September 14, 2017, 04:16 PM »
Being called a carpenter or wood worker really sounds like it limits your capabilities. I wish i had more metal tooling.
When youre feeling depressed just treat yourself to a systainer even if its a mini systainer its ok.

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Offline Kev

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Re: Where do you start when you're a noob with metal?
« Reply #27 on: September 14, 2017, 04:26 PM »
Being called a carpenter or wood worker really sounds like it limits your capabilities. I wish i had more metal tooling.

Even craftsman doesn't have the same ring as engineer [sad]

I love the word "artisan", but not many people use it.

Offline Alex

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Re: Where do you start when you're a noob with metal?
« Reply #28 on: September 14, 2017, 04:39 PM »
I prefer to think of myself as an "everythingmaker", just like for instance Adam Savage of the Mythbusters. Wood, metal, plastic, cloth, leather, stone, clay, explosions, you name it, I make. Ok, well, not the explosions. C4's a bit hard to come by around here.

Offline rst

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Re: Where do you start when you're a noob with metal?
« Reply #29 on: September 14, 2017, 05:24 PM »
Jerk of all Trades here... [embarassed]  Actually master of a few... [cool]