Welding bookends is a great DIY project that can be fun and practical. Whether you’re an experienced welder or just starting out, with the right tools and techniques, you can create unique and functional bookends that can be displayed with pride. This guide will provide step-by-step instructions on how to weld bookends from start to finish, covering everything from material selection to the post-welding inspection.
With patience and attention to detail, you’ll be well on your way to creating beautiful and functional bookends that you can display with pride or sell for a profit.
Table of Contents
A pair of decorative and functional bookends, made of durable steel and incorporating a unique touch with a spare gear or spanner.
This is an ideal project for a novice welder, even as your first ever project. It is simple and doesn’t involve any advanced techniques or difficult patterns. You can adjust any dimensions and design to suit your personal preferences.
Welding Process: MIG
Shielding Gas: 25% Carbon Dioxide and 75% Argon
Filler Wire: .035″ ER70S-3
Recommended Amperage: 125 amps
Wire Feed Speed: 200 inches/minute
- 140 Amp MIG Welding Machine
- Circular Saw
- Wire Brush
- Welding Helmet
- Welding Gloves
- Welding Jacket/Apron
- Clamps or Magnetic Squares
- 30-in x 4-in x 1/8-in Mild Steel Plate
- A Spare Feature – Spanner, Gears, Horseshoes
- Estimated Cost: $15
- Expected Duration: 25 minutes
- Sales Price: $40
- Profit: $25
- Hourly Rate: $60/hour
Assemble all the welding equipment and test it – make any necessary adjustments to the settings. Your workspace should be set up with proper ventilation and lighting, and the steel plates should be cleaned and prepared by removing any rust or debris.
You should practice welding on scrap materials to warm up and test settings before starting the project if you are hesitant.
Today we will focus on a ‘straight’ or ‘back-and-forth’ pattern (also known as a weaving pattern) for this project.
PRO TIP: Properly prepare the joint - Square the edges of the metal pieces and bevel them if necessary to ensure proper penetration.
Step 1: Cut the Steel to the Desired Size
There are two main design considerations – selecting either an ‘L’ shape or a ‘T’ shape. The T shape gives more stability but is less attractive, in my opinion. The choice is purely up to you and what you want the final design to look like. Keep in mind, there will be minimal force coming back from the books.
For my project, I have taken a height of 6-inches for the vertical plate, and 4-inches for the horizontal.
Mark the cut line on the steel with a pencil, making sure it is straight and accurate. Place the steel on the saw bed and align it with the blade. Turn on the saw and carefully guide the steel through the blade, keeping the cut line aligned with the blade.
It is important to take your time and be precise in your cuts.
Step 2: Clean and Prepare the Plates
Remove Debris: Use a wire brush or sandpaper to remove any debris, such as rust, oil, or grease, from the surface of the steel plates.
Clean the Steel: Clean the surface of the steel plates with a degreaser or solvent to remove any remaining contaminants.
Dry the Steel: Thoroughly dry the steel plates with a clean cloth or compressed air to ensure that no moisture or residue is present.
Inspect the Steel: Carefully inspect the steel plates for cracks, dents, or other imperfections. If any are found, they should be repaired or the plates should be replaced.
Prepare the Joints: If welding T or L-shaped bookends, prepare the joints by beveling the edges of the plates to be joined. This will create a V-shaped groove, allowing for better penetration and fusion of the weld bead.
Step 3: Weld the Bookend Together
Align the Plates: Align the steel plates and place them in the desired position, ensuring they are in the correct T or L shape.
Clamp the Plates: Use the clamps to securely hold the plates. Make sure the clamps are tightened enough to prevent any movement of the plates while welding. A good option is using a magnetic square tool to align the plates.
Weld the Plates: Start by tack welding each corner to keep the pieces aligned. Then weld the plates from one end, working steadily and slowly along the joint. Keep the weld pool small and consistent, and maintain the correct travel speed and angle.
Weld the Second Pass: After completing the first pass, inspect the weld bead for any defects or areas that need additional welding. Make a second pass if necessary, following the same procedure as the first pass.
Remove the Clamps: Once the welding is complete, remove the clamps and inspect the bookends for any defects. If necessary, make any repairs and repeat the welding process until the bookends are of good quality and free from defects.
Step 4: Weld the Styling On
Now is the time to weld the styling on. The most common styles I have seen is to cut an old gear into 1/4, and to cut a spanner in 1/2, and weld one piece onto each end.
Cut the Gear or Spanner: Use a metal cutting saw, grinder, or torch to cut the gear or spanner along the marked lines. Wear appropriate safety gear, such as gloves and eye protection.
Clean and Prepare the Pieces: Clean the gear or spanner cut pieces to remove any debris or residue. Inspect the pieces for defects or imperfections, and make necessary repairs.
Clamp the Pieces: Clamp the gear or spanner pieces to the bookends, ensuring they are in the correct position and aligned with each other.
Weld the Pieces: Begin welding the gear or spanner pieces to the bookends at one end, working steadily and slowly along the joint. Keep the weld pool small and consistent, and maintain the correct travel speed and angle.
Step 5: Grind and Sand Welds
Let it Cool: Give it time to cool completely before cleaning and grinding the welds.
Remove Slag: Use a chipping hammer or wire brush to remove any slag or debris that may have formed on the surface of the welds.
Clean the Welds: Clean the surface of the welds with a cleaning solution, such as a degreaser, to remove any oil, grease, or other contaminants. Rinse the bookends with water and dry them thoroughly.
Grind the Welds: Use a grinder with a coarse grit sanding disc to grind the welds. Start by grinding along the length of the weld, holding the grinder at a low angle and using light pressure. Move the grinder in a circular motion to ensure the weld is smooth and even.
Smooth the Welds: Change the sanding disc to a finer grit and repeat the grinding process, focusing on smoothing the surface of the welds. Apply light pressure and work evenly and steadily to achieve a smooth surface.
Inspect for Defects
A visual inspection is a simple and effective way to check for surface-level defects in the welded bookends. During a visual inspection, look for the following common defects:
Cracks in the weld or base metal can be visible as straight or jagged lines on the surface.
Porosity refers to small holes or voids in the weld caused by entrapped gas. It appears as small, circular defects in the weld bead.
Undercutting is a condition in which the base metal around the weld has been melted away, creating a groove along the edge of the weld.
Overlap occurs when two separate welds overlap one another, creating a ridge or bump on the surface.
Lack of fusion occurs when the weld bead does not properly adhere to the base metal, creating a gap or separation between the two.
Frequently Asked Questions
How should welding equipment be tested before use?
Check for damage or malfunctions: Inspect the welder for any signs of damage or wear, and ensure all connections are secure.
Verify settings: Ensure that the voltage, amperage, and wire speed settings are appropriate for the materials and thickness.
Test the wire feed: Connect the spool of welding wire and check that it feeds smoothly and continuously through the gun and nozzle.
Check the arc: Strike an arc on a piece of scrap metal and adjust the voltage and wire speed if necessary to achieve a smooth and stable arc.
Check for gas leaks: If using a gas-shielded MIG welder, check for leaks in the gas supply system.
Test weld: Make a test weld on scrap metal and examine the resulting bead for consistency and quality. Make any necessary adjustments to settings before starting the main project.
By following the steps outlined in this tutorial, beginners and experienced welders alike can successfully produce high-quality bookends that are both functional and stylish.
It is important to properly prepare the materials and equipment and to follow all safety guidelines. During the welding process, it is important to pay attention to the weld pool and ensure that the correct settings are used.
After the bookends are completed, it is essential to perform a thorough inspection to check for any defects and ensure they are of good quality and suitable for use. With these tips in mind, welding bookends can be a fun and rewarding experience, resulting in a unique and beautiful addition to any home or office.