When you’re just getting started with welding, one of the most important things you need is a place to put all of your tools, including your welding machine. You may dream of having the perfect welding table as a centerpiece in your workshop. However, that is not always possible, whether because you don’t have the space for such a large object or because you don’t have the funds. You can still create the perfect welding surface with a DIY welding cart.
A DIY welding cart is a great solution for creating your perfect workspace on a budget. It is also better than having a welding table, in some cases, as it makes you more mobile. Whether you need a DIY welding cart because you can’t get your own from the store just yet, or you want to challenge yourself with a project, here is what you need to know.
Table of Contents
What Is a Welding Cart?
A welding cart is a place to keep your welding machine. Welding machines are big and bulky, so they need a designated place in your workshop. You can’t keep them on your welding table because they take up too much space. Plus, you need space between the welding machine and your actual workspace to stretch out the wires and cables that attach the welding machine to your welding gun.
A cart is different from a welding table or workstation because it is mobile. Carts have wheels that allow you to move your welding machine around your workshop and even outside, depending on where you need to go.
Welding carts usually have other features that make working on your projects more convenient. For example, they usually have racks, boards, or slots where you can keep your other tools (although you need to be careful not to add too much clutter to your welding cart as that is a safety risk). Welding carts also have a space where you can store your cables and wires when you are not using the welding machine, so you minimize the risk of tripping.
Having a welding cart is a must when you are putting together your welding workshop. You can buy one from the store or online, but there are a few reasons why you might want to build one. Building your own cart gives you more control over the features and accessories you include. You also know that you will have a cart with quality, which isn’t always the case if you don’t vet the manufacturer you buy from properly.
How to Make a Welding Cart at Home
If you decide to make your own welding cart, it is a great opportunity to practice your skills and get something useful for your workshop out of it.
Equipment Required to Build a Welding Cart
To get started on this project, here is the equipment you will need:
- A welding machine
- A tack-welding nozzle
- An angle grinder
- A bench grinder and wire wheel for cleaning the cuts
- Primer and paint
- A drill
- Paint pen
- Safety equipment such as goggles, gloves, and a visor
1. Collect Your Materials
The first step is ensuring you have all the materials and equipment you need (more on that later). Besides the metal you will use to build the cart, it helps to have a plan ready before you start welding. You can create your own or find plenty of written plans and video tutorials online. Luckily there is a large community of DIY welders who have the same enthusiasm and need to make the same tools for the workshop, so you can find plenty of help in terms of finding a pattern.
2. Measure and Mark Your Cuts
The next step is to prepare all your materials for assembly. Decide on the dimensions of your cart by looking at the size of your welding machine and the space you have available in your workshop. If you use a plan from the Internet, it will tell you what dimensions you need.
Measure each metal piece to the right length and mark the edge with a paint pen and square. Don’t forget the old adage about measuring twice and cutting once—double-check all of your measurements.
You can also use your paint pen to mark each piece with where it will go in the cart at this step. That makes it easier later when you are assembling and can’t find the other leg in the inevitable mess that will descend on your workshop.
3. Cut the Metal to Size
The next step is to cut each metal piece to the size that you need. Some pieces need to be cut at an angle, while others need to be cut straight. Make sure you know the type of cut you need before firing up your equipment.
There are a few different tools you can use to cut metal, but one of the best is an angle grinder since it gives you control over your cuts. Just make sure you have protective equipment in place.
Once you finish your cuts, you need to clean them up to get rid of debris or paint flecks that will affect the strength of the weld.
4. Lay the Pieces Out
Before permanently attaching any pieces, it’s good to ensure that you have the right plan in place. Lay out all the pieces to see how they will fit together.
5. Tack the Shelves Together
The first step in welding is to tack-weld the pieces together. When you tack-weld, you just weld one spot on the joints together, so they fit together while you work. This is temporary and prevents your pieces from moving around.
6. Weld the Shelves Together
Once the pieces for your shelves are tacked together, flip them around and weld each joint properly. Use a full weld to combine the pieces. During this step, weld as many shelves as you are having on your DIY cart (the standard is two).
7. Weld the Vertical Frame
The vertical frame is the part of the cart that holds the shelves upright. It needs to be sturdy and precise. Repeat many of the same steps you did for welding the shelves, including measuring and cutting. Then, tack-weld the four vertical frames to each corner of the top and bottom shelves. The result is a slightly wobbly prism.
Don’t worry if it seems unstable at this point—the point of just tack welding is to give you time to adjust the fit and make sure everything is level. If you’re worried about the cart collapsing, use welding magnets to hold everything in place until you weld the joints properly.
Once you’re satisfied with how it looks, weld the frame fully.
8. Put the Wheels and Axle Together
Now, it’s time to add the part that actually makes your cart mobile—the wheels. Attach the wheels to the axle using cotter pins (you may need to drill holes for those beforehand). Then, weld the axle to the frame. Make sure you weld it at the right height for your wheels to roll along the ground comfortably.
9. Add a Handle
The last component of the welding cart is the handle so you can push it around. Making a handle is as simple as welding two short rods to a longer one which will act as the handle itself, then welding the shorter pieces that support the cart.
10. Add Finishing Touches
Your DIY welding cart is almost done! Check the cart for any irregularities or weak spots where you may need to do additional welding. Then, make it look professional and functional. Paint the cart, which will protect the metal from rusting. Add sturdy wooden shelving to the shelves.
Important Components of a Welding Cart
There are a few components every welding cart should have.
- Shelves. You need at least two shelves, one for the welding machine itself, and one below for cables, wires, and other necessary tools.
- Wheels and a Handle. The cart needs to be mobile, after all.
- A sturdy frame. You don’t want the cart to collapse.
- Additional storage space. If you want to use your welding cart to store other tools, add a board or containers for those tools.
Examples of DIY Welding Carts
Making a DIY welding cart is a common project in welding spaces, and the Internet is full of examples. Here are some of my favorites:
- This welding cart from the YouTube channel Urchfab is perfect for beginners because it is so simple.
- If you prefer to read a written plan, I like this one from Instructables.
- You can also make welding carts specific for your type of machine, such as this Miller welding cart.
A DIY welding cart is a great way to work on your welding skills while spiffing up your workshop. There are plenty of plans available online, or you can get creative and try to draw up your own, with my guide helping you.