Need help with stoarge shelf design - help me get a new welder!

snipped-for-privacy@kcwc.com (Curt Welch) wrote:


The welder showed up Thursday the after I ordered it from cyberweld.com. I've had a great time playing with it and just getting to know what it can do. I wasn't really sure what a welder of this size could do since I've only worked with larger machines (like the Miller 251). To see what thickness material it could be used with, I welded some 3/8" rebar to the end of some rusty old 1" bar (both of which I found buried in the ground in my back yard). Those were the largest chunks of metal I happened to have lying around. It didn't seem to have any problems producing enough heat to do that weld.
The miller marketing material says it can weld up to 5/16" in a single pass. I don't quite get that. Why would anyone even try to weld 5/16" in a single pass? When I welded 3/8" plate (open grove) for certification testing with a larger 251 machine, I would use six passes in three layers. The odds of making it work without getting cold lapping if you tried it one pass seems near zero to me. It took a surprising amount of practice to get it to pass a bend test using size passes. Does Miller actually think this smaller machine could weld 5/16" material in a single pass and get a good weld???
And more important, for those of you that have done a lot of work with a machine the same size as my Millermatic 180, what do you believe are its limits on what size metal it can weld in multiple passes? Should it be able to do vertically any size if you simply used enough passes? Or will you reach a size material where it sucks away too much heat to allow a machine this size to make good welds? And if so, what is that limit?
These machines come with suggested voltage and wire speed settings in a chart under the cover. If the goal is to make multiple passes (say 3 - one root and two cover), on 1/4" metal, how do you read the chart? Do you use the setting for 1/4" metal, or do you assume each pass is 1/8" and use the 1/8" numbers?
In class, I mostly ignored the chart and just played with the settings until the weld seemed to be good - but I've never gone back and compared what I was using, on the 251 to what was listed in the chart.
I also got some material and build a single shelf prototype for my project. Here it is (with the new toy in the background):
http://newsreader.com/shelf_prototype.jpg
This was made with 1" square verticals (1/16" thick), and 3/4 x 3/4 x 1/8 angle iron for the shelf tray. The wood is 5/8" OSB which fits perfectly in the 3/4 angle iron tray so the top of the angle iron aligns with the top of the wood. The shelf is 2' x 4' so it's just 1/4 of 4x8 sheet.
Using the angle iron shelf tray design makes each shelf only take up 3/4" of vertical space which helps to maximize storage space. If I ran a 1" square tube underneath the shelf, that would be 1" less vertical space wasted for each shelf.
It can easily hold my weight (about 200 lbs) when standing on it, but it does flex quite a lot - about 1" down in the middle (on the long dimenstion) when I stand in the middle. I didn't notice any flex along the short side (though there must be some).
That flex will be less when it's in the real configuration because the legs bend out on the prototype to allow it to flex. In the real configuration, the verticals won't be able to bend out like that since they will be welded to other shelves. The net result should be a lot less flex. But even as it is, I would feel very comfortable putting 500 lbs on that shelf distributed over the full length. Most of my storage needs are more in the 50 lb range or less so it will be more than enough for that.
The design will also make it trivial to replace the wood in the future so if I need a shelf to hold more weight, I can pop out the OBX and drop in something like 3/4" plywood or whatever is required.
With this design, the material is about $16.00 per shelf which puts the cost of a 5 shelf unit right around $80 or the same as a similar sized Home Depot heavy duty shelf. Because it's welded together, I believe this design might actually stronger than the HD unit even though the HD units use more metal in them.
However, if I built a wall of shelves (as I'm thinking) and share the 1" verticals between adjacent units, that will drop the cost down to about $13.00 per shelf or $65.00 for the same amount of space as the $80 HD unit. And I'm going to be building 9' tall units which you can't get at HD, so I end up with more space for the money than anything I could buy.
Of course the time and effort I'm investing to design and build these, as well as the cost of the welder and other stuff I keep buying, blows all "cost savings" completely out of the water. But it's interesting just knowing that the basic price of the material needed for this type of project can work out to be less than the cost of store bought shelves. Knowing that helps me feed my basic need to design and build stuff. :)
It sure is fun finally having a welder at home and being able to put some these skills to work on a real project. Thanks everyone for helping me get that new toy with all your feedback and ideas!
I'll share pictures when the real shelf project is done as well.
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snipped-for-privacy@kcwc.com (Curt Welch) wrote:

The Milwaukee 6180-20 chop-saw I ordered hasn't shown up yet so I had to do all the cutting for the prototype with my angle grinder. That would sure be a lot of work if I had to do the entire shelf project that way. But it looks like my chop-saw will be here Tuesday which will probably be the same day my steel will get here. I was concerned the chop saw was going to take longer and delay my fun!
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I see you went with tube. I would have gone with angle to minimize the gap between one unit and the next.

Turn the angle over and set the shelf inside of it, and have even less wasted space. The negative might be that spills would stay in the angle and cause whatever spills cause.

Plywood does not cost much more, and is a lot stronger. Or if you have a friend in a shipping yard, and a friend with a planer you can bust up a benuch of shelves and put in plank shelves. I see pallets made out of all kinds of quality wood. Lots of pine, oak quite often, but I have seen cherry, and even mohogany a couple times.

And to almost totally eliminate distortion and the chance of collapse put a couple diagonal flats top to bottom on the back.
> With this design, the material is about $16.00 per shelf which puts the

I can tell you it's a lot stronger and better design than the 59-64 units you were originally talking about.

That in my opinion would be the only argument against using angle instead of tube. Sharing verticals. Maybe you could find some T.

And now the truth comes out. LOL.
I think my excuse was better. I bought a $250 wrecked aluminum boat so I could turn it back into a $2000 hull. My first project will almost pay for my welder... If it goes well. LOL.
Bob La Londe www.YumaBassMan.com
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Meant to say bust up a bunch of pallets.

Bob La Londe www.YumaBassMan.com
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Well, currently, my thought is not to have separate units with gaps between them but to just make one large 16' wide built-in wall unit all welded together as a single unit. With that approach, there is only one vertical support with shelves welded to either side of it. That works well with the square tube. With angle, it would not not as aesthetically balanced unless I used two verticals back to back.
But I'm trying to decide still if I want to do it that way, or make them separate units so I could move them in the future. If I use angle iron for the verticals, I could make 4 separate units for each 4' wide self section and bolt them together to make a nice solid stable wall unit. That would allow me to take them apart and put them somewhere else or move them out of the house if need be in the distant future. Otherwise, they would become a permanent fixture which require them to be chopped up to take them down. They will be located in the utility room where the furnace and hot water heater is so the space is ideal for storage. The odds of wanting to use the room a different way is unlikely, even for someone new buying the house in the future.
I'll order the steel on Monday so I still have a day to flip a coin as to which why I'm going to go. :)

Maybe you can't tell from the picture but that's what I did. It seems to be a a nice clean and strong design that way.
One (probably insignificant) disadvantage of using the angle is that it means the angle will overlap the corners and that will require that the wood shelves be tilted at an angle to remove. That will limit how close together the shelves can be spaced if you want to be able to get them out. When using square tube welded to the ends, no tilting of the shelf is required to remove it from the angle iron tray.

Yeah, but I don't expect to be storing much that could spill in the units so that's not a big factor for me.

It costs about twice as much. OSB is cheap.
1/2" BC plywood is 22.88. 5/8 OSB is 10.38. But still, the steel is most the cost of this design so using plywood wouldn't add all that more to the total costs. However, that's why I built the prototype to get a feel for how strong the shelf was using that sized steel and OSB. My feeling is that this size OSB is overkill for 90% of what I will put on these shelves (Chrismas decorations, etc) so there's just no need to spend the money on plywood. If I want to fill a few shelves with heavy crap, I always have the option of using strong material on just those shelves. But even so, this design will support a _lot_ of weight near the supports so if keep the really heavy stuff near the vertical supports it will be more than fine as it is.

Sadly, I don't. :)

I've got one of those.

Another friend pointed out the idea of using 2x4s as well thinking they would be cheap because of the high volume they get produced in. However, they aren't cheap enough. At around $2 per 8' 2x4 I would need 7 4' pieces per shelf making the shelf cost around $7 vs $2.60 using OSB or $5 using plywood. They would be a good option for an all wood heavy duty shelf but for this steel/wood type design, they would be overkill.

Yeah, that idea occurred to me. I'm going to order some flats to start building my material stash and to give me the option of adding that if I feel it's needed. Not only would the diagonal add obvious strength to stop the parallelogram effect, I can weld it to the back of each shelf frame making each of the middle shelves substantially stronger at the same time. However, my current plan is to tie the tops of the verticals into the ceiling so that will prevent any parallelogram effect without needing the diagonals.
But, if I go with the separate unit approach instead of the "one big wall unit" approach, the diagonals would be very useful to add stability when the units are transported or moved.

You bet!

Yeah, you win. :) I need something to pay for the welder as well to really feel good about it. That might show up in time.

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On 30 Jul 2008 15:41:07 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@kcwc.com (Curt Welch) wrote:

Two reasons: Fluxcore is a lot messier to work with, spatters a lot more and the flux generates a lot of smoke. Not fun when working indoors or in a confined space (under a car) with no breeze... Gas ends up a lot cleaner.
And you have to reverse the polarity on the torch stinger and ground when changing between fluxcore and gas, and inevitably it will get forgotten one time - and the weld looks like utter crap and fails from no penetration, and you just can't figure out why it's going so horribly wrong...
And then it hits you why. >_<
I figure it's easier to just stick with Gas for everything.

Google 'acetylene deflagration' - it isn't pretty. No kids allowed to play with the Gas Axe or the bottles.

This can't be stressed enough - ALWAYS have a garden hose or garden sprayer or spray bottle full of water handy (right next to you) to put out little fires you will cause while welding on things - always seems to be wood or fabric within range of the sparks.
And ALWAYS have a good CO2 or ABC dry chemical fire extinguisher handy nearby while you are working, on the welding cart or the wall of the shop. Use it if the fire gets to be too much for the water spray, or you light off flammable liquids or something electrically charged.
And it isn't a bad idea to have a helper standing fire watch with you, you've got the mask on and are concentrating on the weld puddle, not what's goiing on in the background.
They had a huge wildfire out in the Ontario/Perris area a few years ago, lost a bunch of houses - two guys welding on a guard rail in 40 MPH winds, and no extinguisher handy to stop it. They lit off the grass, and it was off to the races...
And don't forget the Universal Studios Hollywood backlot - roofers with a propane weed-burner torch to heat up tab shingles. They allegedly stood 'fire watch' for an hour after finishing with the torch as required by Studio Rules, then went to lunch...
And the Bellagio in Vegas - cutting torch on the roof, expanded polystyrene foam for those detail wall moldings, no extinguisher...
See Dick weld. See Dick torch the building. Don't be a Dick. ;-)
--<< Bruce >>--
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Good point.
After over a year of welding classes, I only played with flux-core for the last two classes, but that was more than enough to completely understand the concept of "messy". Flux-core even makes stick look clean by comparison.
I know the polarity issue with flux core and I've seen exactly what you say happen. My buddy started playing with flux-core a class or two before I did, and he had the polarity reversed (aka he forgot to switch it when putting the flux-core wire in). He knew better, and the instructor knew better, and I knew better, but none of us thought to check it until after he had been struggling to make even a half-decent weld for an entire class. We were all thinking there must be "something wrong" with the machine. Well, yeah, there was something wrong with the machine, the way _we_ set it up! :) It's so easy to forget a detail like that.

Good point. Thanks. At school I've seen a few fires - like guys catching their pants on fire and not realizing it until they got a good little blaze going. And there was this pile of leaves outside one of the bay doors (the lab has 2 large roll up garage doors that get opened at times when it's hot). The leaves had built up between the building and the small shed that held the air compressor next to it. I had suggested to the instructors that someone should probably clean those out before a spark found it's way into it, but I never took the time to do it myself like I could have. And sure enough, not long ago, I noticed the fire extinguisher that was normally on the O/A cat was gone. When I asked about it, I found out that pile of leaves had caught on fire one day when I wasn't there. Well, that at least did get the leaves cleaned out! :)
I happen to have my hose right outside the garage where I'll be doing the welding, and I already had a medium sized fire extinguisher on the wall of the garage. But the wise thing to do (which I didn't think of) is make sure the hose is set up with a spray nozzle and turned on before I do any welding in the area. And I'll go out and buy a larger fire extinguisher for the other corner of the garage today before I try out my new welder. The spray bottle at hand idea sounds like a good one as well, I'll have to do that. Always much better to get any fire under control quickly rather than letting it get larger as you fumble to get a hose or extinguisher. Thanks for the reminder. If I let a fire damage the house (or me) in the first week of having a welder at home, my wife would never let me weld at home again! :)
The welder I order on line yesterday morning showed up today. That was a shock. Free shipping and a 100 lb+ package showed up in one day! The Fedex tracking info said it wouldn't be here until tomorrow!
Gota go play with the new toy now....
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On 31 Jul 2008 15:46:33 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@kcwc.com (Curt Welch) wrote:

Just remember, the Homeowners Insurance people get REALLY Nervous when you start keeping things like Flammable Gases, Oxygen cylinders, compressed gases, flammable liquids and the like around a house.
They get much less nervous when they see you take safety seriously, even if you do it on a budget. There's a marked steel or concrete block shed out back where the gas cylinders and the flammables live when not in use, not stored in the basement. You keep fiberglass welding blankets and drape off your work area. A garden hose works as well as a Fire Hose, just not quite as much water volume.
And if you are fast, you can get it with one squirt of a quart-sized hand pump spray bottle of water. Good for doing plumbing work, cool the joint so you can go on to the next.
So what if the fire extinguisher you have is 20 years old, it has a current Hydro and refill tag. And there's another one in the other corner of the shop, and a 'Class K' or CO2 in the kitchen, and a dry chem by every exit door in the house, and one in each car...
Go unwrap your presents...
--<< Bruce >>--
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On 31 Jul 2008 15:46:33 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@kcwc.com (Curt Welch) wrote:

Wait till you do flux core on galvanized....
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:) There's always something else fun to try isn't there!
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On 29 Jul 2008 20:03:21 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@kcwc.com (Curt Welch) wrote:

The angle iron will be hot rolled. So it will need grinding wherever the welds go if you are going to MIG weld the stuff. So I guess you will need to buy an angle grinder if you don't already have one. Oh well. ERS
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snipped-for-privacy@whidbey.com wrote:

Yeah, there will be a collection of other stuff I'll be able to justify picking up in this project. :) But I've got two angle grinders (4 1/2 & 7) and 2 small air grinders and a bench grinder. Not to mention files and sandpaper :). So I'm already set there. I've been talking welding classes for 4 semesters and have accumulated all the basic hand tools I could justify as a result of that. And I've got 50 years of collecting tools for general house work and woodworking so I've got all the basic hand tools you would expect. I've probably own about 7 drills for example. I've only started to get into metal working however in this past year so the tools specific to metal working is what I'm way behind the curve on. I've only got about 10 vise-grip pliers so far - will probably want to add to that collection before this is over - you can never have enough of those suckers when working with metal. I've owned a set or two of vise grips since I was very young but never really understood their value until I started welding and working with metal.
It's the big stuff I need mostly now like a welder, chopsaw, bandsaw, coldsaw, plasma cutter, break, shear, iron worker, press, tube bender, forge, anvil, mill, lathe, fork lift (oh and lots of space to hold it all). A mig welder and chopsaw however are the only two big pieces missing to let me start doing some real fabrication work at home. Maybe I'll sneak in a oxy-acetylene outfit as well with this project.
Ah, well, I just ordered a Milwaukee chop saw as I got distracted in the middle of writing this post. One less item on the "must get" list. :)
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I recently got a closeout deal on a Milwaukee portaband at Lowe's. I already had the Milwaukee abrasive saw and a cutting rig. The portaband is so much quicker and quieter than the abrasive saw. Getting the cuts straight and square I am learning to do. Use it for everything that I can. No cleanup required. If I had the portaband first, I would have passed by the abrasive saw purchase.
On 30 Jul 2008 00:45:10 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@kcwc.com (Curt Welch) wrote:

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Yeah, I was just at Lowes last night and saw one of the portable bandsaws. Didn't notice which brand it was. I'll have to add that to my wish list as well! Chop saws sure are noisy and messy (and more of a fire hazard).

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Lowe's now carries the DeWalt portable bandsaw. I got the display model Milwaukee at a good price.
While all those spark streams from grinders and abrasive saws, remember to never point the stream at glass (as in windows/doors) or paint (as in vehicles). Don't ask me how I know this. The sparks embed themselves in the surface and do NOT come out.
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:)
For my welding classes, I've been carrying around a large size tool bag to hold all my equipment. I left an OA tip cleaner set (small aluminum case with sharp corners) in the outside mesh section of the bag, and them stupidly tried to walk into the house through the garage past my wife's fairly new car with this large heavy bag over my shoulder. There wasn't enough room between the car and the railing on the stairway to get past so I just kinda pushed past lifting the bag up the best I could. I was thinking the case was soft enough it wouldn't hurt anything but I didn't think about the tip cleaner. The damn thing put an 18" long scratch in my wife's finder without me even realizing it has happened (yes I can be that dense at times).
The next day, after we figured out what had happened, I ripped off the railing on that side of the stairs going into the house so we would no longer have to squeeze between it an the car. Should have done that 10 years ago. It makes things so much easier. And I was of course banned from brining my bag into the house that way ever again. :)
It left be being very careful as to what I do around the cars as well.

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On Tue, 29 Jul 2008 23:10:55 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@whidbey.com wrote:
<snip>

My Dad used to come up with all sorts of nasty metal stuff he wanted me to MIG for him (CO2 mix, .035 wire, Millermatic 200). He was always building/inventing stuff. Other than a bunch of splatter and need to clean the tip area pretty regular, the welds were okay. All I ever did (for this kind of stuff) was clean an area for the ground clamp and a spot for the wire to hit initially. Once you get ignition you can plow through most any sort of contamination. Galvanized, painted, oily, rusty... it will weld, but you will get a BUNCH of splatter.
Now if you want your welds to pass certification...
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Eh... I have 125cf Argon, 84/16 (Airgas Steel Mix), Oxygen, Acetylene, and Propane tanks in my garage^H^H^H^H^H^Hworkshop :) That is 5 tanks total, not counting small disposable ones...
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How am I ever going to catch up to all you guys! :)
Once I get the first tank in (and the house doesn't burn down because of it), the wife will get used to the idea and I can grow from there. :)
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Yeah, my thought was to use a design with different heights, but the lack of adjustment is of course a real question here for down the road flexibility.
And if we move, the ability to take a shelf apart and pack it up is a win. And if someone else has to deal with it (say when I die) they could be stuck with no clue how to get rid of something large. However, in the past when I've moved, I've never done that - the shelves were always moved without taking them apart. :)

Thanks for that info. I've never built anything out of OSB and wondered if that might be the case. I've seen first hand what happens with particle board which is too thin for a wide span. Even though it seems strong enough at first, it will sag over time.

Thanks, all good and helpful info. But no help with getting me a new toy! :)
My real goal here is to find an excuse to buy a new toy and not to solve my shelf problem which is not a significant issue at all, there are 20 easy solutions to that. :)
One solution to my temp self problem is to not use selves at all and just make very high piles of the crap we have already. I have 9' ceilings in my basement so I could make some very nice big piles. :)
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