Angle iron vs. square tub for welding projects?

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I'm planning on welding several benches and carts for my shop and was wondering when to use square tube vs. angle iron.
When I made my welding bench last year, I used 1/4" X 1.5" x 1.5"
angle iron that I scrounged via dumpster diving.
However, I'm making a new bench for my benchtop drill press and small lathe and was considering using square tube (3/4" x 1/8"). The dimensions of the bench will be 5' long x 30" high x 24" deep.
Any reason why most of the projects I see in books and online use angle iron over tube? Is it just because angle is less expensive? Easier to work with? I would think that one would be able to use smaller tube as it would be stiffer than angle for a given size.
A local rental center carries a 135A Lincoln mig welder which I was planning on using that to weld these projects. I was thinking that the 135A welder (using flux core) would do a better job on 1/8" material than 1/4".
Thanks for your thoughts, Aaron
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Aaron Kushner wrote: I'm planning on welding several benches and carts for my shop and was wondering when to use square tube vs. angle iron.(clip) ^^^^^^^^^^^ It seems to me that you have described your own best criterion: whatever comes out of the dumpster should be considered best, unless it is totally unsuitable.
Angle iron and tubing have somewhat different problems in making corners. Often, they can be used together, eg, a stand with tubular legs and an angle iron frame. When you drill a hole in angle iron, you can tighten an screw and nut without any spring from hollow metal. And, you only have to drill through one web. If you want to contain a slab top, angle iron makes a nice frame. If you are spanning a long gap, angle iron is more likely to twist under load, due to the fact that it has a vertical web on one side only. So, you can complicate your thinking by adding channel to your list of possibilities. Any of that in the dumpster? <G>
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Leo, thanks for the interesting tips. I probably should have said that the shop being referred to was my garage and not a commerical shop.
I used to work in an industrial area where dumpster diving was particularly good, but now I'll be buying new stock for these projects and wanted to use the "right" materials.
As to the angle being able to hold a top, I actually found that to be problematic on my welding table. The area between the slab and the channel fills with all kinds of crud. For these new projects, I was considering bolting the top on so the top can be easily swept clean.
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Ignoring strength considerations:
Tube looks really nice when you take the time to finish it well. Angle iron, even well finished, always looks a little "scabbed" together. I find that when I build with tube, I am a little more "proud" of the finished product and it kind of "feels" better to use when done. All subjective but I would say use the tube and you'll feel good about all your projects in the years to come. Not really any stronger (depending on sizes, materials, and design) but something you and others visiting will say "wow, that's a cool stand" to over the years.
Oh yea... a tubing stand will probably be able to be sold to someone else, and angle iron stand probably will be considered "junk". Just a thought if you ever have a "garage sale" to move old stuff that you've replaced. (based on what I've seen go or not go at local shop auctions)
Koz
Aaron Kushner wrote:

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I agree with the other posters. The stuff I make in my hobby business to sell the others I always use tubing because it looks so much more professional than angle. Plus for legs I like to weld a nut inside the tubing end that a plastic foot can screw into. It makes the item look really professional and allows the unit to be levelled.

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I use square and rectangular tube for all my carts. They look much cleaner. If you miter the corners, they look great. Also, tube has a better finish than angle for painting. JR Dweller in the cellar
Aaron Kushner wrote:

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Cannot beat 1.25X0.125" square tube. Cut with a abrasive saw miters are perfect and profesional looking results
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wrote:

Weigh up the cost of hiring the welder against the cost of buying hammer in joints for the square tube.
For example http://www.dexion.co.uk/products/construckits/page.htm .
These can produce a very professional looking job and are generally as strong as the tube. They aren't necessarily cheap compared with a weld, but they may be reasonable compared with hiring a welder.
HTH Mark Rand RTFM
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Angle can be handy when you want to make a frame with the legs pointing up, as it can then contain something. I have made many things from angle and maybe ten from tube, and I like them both. Tube is stronger per weight, of course. I'm pretty used to angle iron, though. And I don't agree with those who say weldments from angle look like scrap. Go look at a big hammerhead crane on a construction site or a TV tower and tell me those look like scrap. I punch a lot of holes now, and angle is much better than tube for punching. Tubes can telescope and angle can't. Tubes can be VERY problematic if you are going to get something galvanized or plated. Interior dead spaces are NOT allowed. You can't paint the inside of tube except by dipping or by doing something crazy like pouring paint into it and turning it all over. Angle comes in many sizes.
It boils down to what you're making and what you can get cheap.
Grant
Aaron Kushner wrote:

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Angle iron is easier to work with, but for the same amount of metal, it is not as good at resisting torsion as any tubular section. If your object has a lot of bolt holes, angle iron may be a better choice as well.
If all you have to cut the material is an Oxy torch, I would suggest angle iron. Small thin tube can be sucessfully cut with an oxy, but requires more skill than most casual users have. If it's small enough, a hacksaw becomes an option.
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I agree about the torch, but in case someone wants to give it a try on thin metal, angle the torch so the flame points in the direction of travel. This gives you a larger effective cross section. Also, increase the speed a bit.
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Thanks for so many good suggestions. The hammered fasteners look interesting, but the welder is $30/day to rent and if I cut all the material the day before, it shouldn't be too hard to weld everything in one day (famous last words).
In reference to the oxy-fuel cutting... I know I'd make a mess of things if I tried that. I purchased a Morse Metal Devil blade and it has worked great on my projects. I've used it mostly in my contractor table saw. It makes mitering and notching angle iron very quick. I suppose it will work just as well on 1" tube.
Sounds like square tubing is what I'll use. I asked the local metal dealer for prices and found that .75" tube actually costs 10% more than 1" tube. Why is that? It is 30% less weight than 1" tube. Is it harder to manufacture? I only ask out of curiosity - I'm planning on using 1" tube.
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On Sat, 07 Feb 2004 02:40:02 GMT, Aaron Kushner
......and in reply I say!:
Have you done much welding? You are dealing with 3mm walls, so that's not too bad, but light for a stick welder as a beginning project.

**************************************************** sorry remove ns from my header address to reply via email
Spike....Spike? Hello?
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Aaron Kushner wrote:

I think 3/4" will be a little light, especially if you ever need to use the big hammer to make a small adjustment to something sitting on your bench.

All my shop furniture is square tube except for an angle iron square fence on two sides of the welding table, and angle and t stock as drawer runners in the workbench.
Stuart
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On Fri, 06 Feb 2004 18:40:01 GMT, Aaron Kushner
......and in reply I say!:

Without knowing how many webs and buttresses you are going to use, that sounds like awfully small tube for such a bench. I have not used lathes since my training days, but they need really stiff support.
If you use thicker sections, in the end it's cheaper per strength in most cases, and takes a lot less time. The weight of the bench should not matter here.
In another post you asked about 1" being cheaper than .75". They would sell a heap more of the 1". Probably because of the above. **************************************************** sorry remove ns from my header address to reply via email
Spike....Spike? Hello?
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I just thought of something that hasn't been mentioned: Angle iron is almost always hot rolled. As far as I know, square tubing is always cold rolled. This probably accounts for the "junky" look many of you object to in angle iron assemblies. If you can find cold rolled angle iron, it would probably look better, but I'll bet it would also be a lot more expensive.
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Aaron Kushner wrote:

One major point I did not see elsewhere in this thread: Square tube is enormously stiffer in torsion than angle. In fact any closed section is much stiffer. See "Design of Weldments", Blodgett. A little bump on a table with angle iron legs will set it wiggling with a kind of twisting movement.
See the design of my lathe and layout tables at <http://www.metalworking.com/dropbox/_1998_retired_files/SmithyBench.txt <http://www.metalworking.com/dropbox/Layout-tbl.txt
Ted

Mine used old pipe for legs - same reason as above. See <http://www.metalworking.com/DropBox/_2002_retired_files/WELDTBL.TXT

3/4 is too lite. Do look at the articles referenced above. Even 1" for the full length is kinda wiggly.

Partly and probably mostly because they never read Blodgett. If the angle (old bed frame) was free (it often is) and if you weld two pieces to form square tube, ypou would be better off. You don't need continuous welds. 1" welds spaced 4" apart would be sufficient.
Ted
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Ted Edwards wrote:

Yes and no. If you design a table with just sticks of angle for legs, then yes they will wobble more than tube. However, if you e.g. run a course of angle around the bottom say 6" up from the floor, then your angle table will be very rigid. I built my lathe stand out of 2x3x" angle and it is very rigid indeed.
In fact, if you were building a machine stand with a top square of angle and a bottom square of angle and angle between, if you think about the way you design it you can easily put in drawers. Building storage into machine stands makes a huge amount of sense in a small shop. One thing I wish I'd done differently on my lathe stand is to have one or two of the drawers be deeper than the others. I can't store my lathe chucks in a drawer and I'd wanted to.
Plans for my lathe stand are at http://www.tinyisland.com/images/stand.pdf although they are in the dreaded PDF format.
Grant Erwin Kirkland, Washington
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Grant Erwin wrote:

I have no doubt that extra course of angle will help a great deal (I have done this) but using tube, be it round or square, for the legs makes even more improvement. Read section 3.6 in Blodgett. He gives both theory and actual measurements.
Ted
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Before I acquired most of the tools that I have now, which would have made the project enormously easier, I built a bench with a frame of 1x2 tube, probably 1/8 wall. I used a crummy Mig welder (with skills to match) to weld the side frames together and weld brackets on the horizontals as well as tabs to bolt the bench top (1/8 steel from the surplus dealer) in place. The whole thing, bolted together, is fairly rigid and doesn't budge when hammering on the 100 pound vise I have bolted to a corner. I also only put one lower horizontal brace across the back so I can shove stuff (e.g. phase converter, motors, etc) under the bench for storage. A bonus is it will tear down when I have to move it, although I'll probably be tempted to redo the welds before putting it back together. I've gotten a lot better at making them semi-reasonable.
I used a steel cutting abrasive disk in a circular saw to trim the top to size. Ugly and dirty, but cheap and it worked pretty well.
For the new shop, I have somewhere between 6 and a dozen (I've lost count and they're in storage) steel workbenches I've acquired at auctions for $1-2 each.
The welding table I'm using now was also a $1 auction special. It was welded up of bits of angle with a 3x3 x 1/4 steel plate welded to the top. I had to grind the welds off the top to take it apart enough to move it. It's ugly as sin, but suprisingly functional. (No, I didn't bid specifically on this bench, but it was part of a lot containing 2 other benches that I did want)
Paul
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