You Guys said I should use 1/2"

You guys said I should use 1/2"... So I did. Sorta. LOL.
After doing all of this I and doing some testing I can tell you 3/8 plate
would have been more than adequate. I used 3/8 plate and then bandaided 1/8" onto both sides. I cut it slightly smaller than the tang on the plate, and cut the holes slightly larger giving me a nice step to weld the three plates together.
I can tell I am going to need a little more practice and experimentaion before I weld this all in place, and weld on the sheet on the front. Welding 1/8 to 3/8 is quite an experience. Its all about gun angle.
Bob La Londe
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