What is a welding cabinet?
A welding cabinet tends to be larger than your average welding cart and has enclosed drawers instead of shelves.
What do I mean by thrifty?
I'm talking about getting a cool, custom welding cabinet that will give you your best bang for the buck. In addition it makes a very easy first welding project.
The base for our welding cabinet is a used two drawer cabinet. These are the smaller ones that have a foot print of 15" wide x 18" deep x 29" high.
I picked up two of these at my local thrift shop for $6 each.
The portion of the cart you will build consists of a base and a top.
These are constructed with 2" and 3/4" steel angle.
The file cabinet sits on the base. The top then sits on the cabinet.
What will the welding cabinet look like?
I'm not going to get into cutting the angle in this article as there are several ways of doing so. I used a metal cutting band saw to cut mine.
While I have a Everlast 255EXT TIG welder, I decided to make this cart using my new EverLast Power MTS 251Si MIG welder. One of the reasons I purchased the MIG machine so I could work with hot rolled steel with less prep.
The only prep I did with the stock was to wipe it down with acetone to remove oil. I kept an eye out for rust, but did not have to remove any. I am fairly new to MIG but the build went very smooth and without issues.
At some point I will probably sandblast the cart and paint it Everlast green.
The following are the drawing files for the top and base.
Building the Base
For the base you will need the following:
- 2, 2" x 1/8" x 30" angle
- 4, 2" x 1/8" 11-5/8" angle
- 4, heavy duty locking castors
While I purchased the angle for the longer pieces, I used scrap for the shorter ones. (Hence the holes and cutouts)
(A) First, I a clamped the 30" iron to a bench top. I then clamped the front and rear 11-5/8" angle in place using a square to make sure they are square. I don't clamp the other 30" angle yet, but I do test fit it.
(B) Next, I tack the front and rear pieces in place as shown.
(C) Once in place, weld the joints. Add the other 30" side and repeat. I then do the same with the two remaining 11-5/8" components.
Note that the distance of the first center piece is 14-13/16 from the front as shown in figure C2.
(D) Flip the base over and weld all the seams.
(E) Grind the welds on the flat side so that the casters can be welded in place.
(F) The final process is to weld your castors to the base. I placed welds inside the three holes that mated with the angle.
Building the Top
For the top you need the following:
- 2, 2" x 1/8" x 36" angle
- 2, 2" x 1/8" 11-5/8" angle
- 2, 3/4" x 1/8" x 18-9/16" angle
- 2, 3/4 x 1/8 11-5/8" angle
(A) Just as you did with the base attach the two 2" cross pieces (11-5/8") to one side of the side pieces (36") using a square and clamps.
Note the distance of the rear cross piece from the front cross piece (C2)
(B) Tack in place.
(C) Add the second side and tack. Once all four seams have been tacked, weld the seams.
The cabinet guides are used to position the top assembly over the file cabinet.
(D) Flip the assembly over and using the top drawing (C2) place the front cabinet guide (11-5/8") in position as shown. Use magnets to help hold in place.
(E) Repeat the process for the rear cabinet guide as shown.
(F) Place one of the side cabinet guides on the side of the assemble as shown.
(G1-G2) Flip the assembly on its side and hold in place with magnets as shown. This will allow an easier position for welding.
(G) Repeat the process for the other side cabinet guide.
(H) Go back and weld all remaining seams that have not been welded.
(A) Cut a piece of stock 15-1/4" x 10-3/4" and insert into the section at the rear of the base. Note that this is used to support the tank. I recommend at least 1/4" metal or 1/2 - 3/4" wood stock. It does not need to be secured. The sides of the base and the weight of the tank are sufficient to hold it in place.
(B) Insert your file cabinet into the front section on the base as shown.
(C) Set the top in place as shown. The cabinet guides should slip over the cabinet.
(D) Cut a piece of stock 15-1/4" x 28-3/8" and insert into the section at the front of the top as shown. This is used to support the welder. I recommend at least 1/4" metal or 1/2 - 3/4" wood stock. It does not need to be secured. The sides of the top and the weight of the welder are sufficient to hold it in place.
Add your tank and welder
Place your welder on the top base as shown. Set your tank in place and secure with a bungee as shown.
I welded a couple 1/4-20 nuts to the rear side pieces on the top as shown. This allowd me to attach a chain to better secure the tank.
Note that I still use the bungee.
I drilled a couple 1/4" holes in the rear cross support on the top as shown. This keeps the bungee from slipping off.
I cut a piece of 1/8" steel to fit the open slot on the front of the top as shown.
I then tacked and welded in place.
I then grinded smooth with a flap sander.
I cut two large 12" spike nails down to about 2".
I then welded them to the welder cabinet as shown.
I can now store the torch from the front while welding. I can also store it from the rear for cart transport.
I added some foam rubber pipe insulation to help cushion the tank when moving the cart. It's not really needed but keeps me from scratching the tank.
I added as steel handle to the front of the cart to make it easier to move.
I enlarged the mounting holes and removed some of the paint, then spot welded it to the cart as shown.
I added a piece of sheet metal (15-1/4" x 28-3/8") to the top as shown.
I also added a piece under the tank.
I have a 12' x 12' section of my shop with some cement backer board on the floor. It became clear that I needed to lift slightly to get the front (or rear) wheels over the bump. This would cause the top to lift off the cabinet. It became clear I would need to tie the top to the base.
I could have welded something in-place but wanted to be able to disassemble the unit for upgrades/painting. I decided to add some 3/8" threaded rod to tie them together.
I drilled a hole in the top cabinet guide side and dropped a 3/8-16 threaded rod through hole and let it hang.
I added a nut and then welded it to the base side.
I did this on both the front and rear of each cabinet guide. Once all tie rods were in place, I tightened the nuts on the top, thus securing the top to the base with the cabinet sandwiched between.
This project started as an experiment, but turned out much better than I expected. I will probably make a second cart for some future welding equipment I will be purchasing.
The Finished Welding Cabinet
Please note that the cart top is not attached to the cabinet and if you pull up on the top it will lift off the cabinet.
This is not a problem if you on a flat shop floor, but if you will be moving the cart over a rough floor or thresholds, you will need to secure the top of the cart to the base.
This is easily done by attaching some bar stock between the two. I like the ability to change the file cabinet so I was thinking of welding some nuts to the top and base and then attaching bar stock with 1/4-20 bolts.