Part 2 of out A/C unit cage build where we build the side protection and paint it.
Finally got to the metal shop and bought some more steel. A 4×8 sheet of 3/4 #9 expanded steel and some 1 1/2″ angle iron should be enough to get it finished.
TIP – in case you were wondering what 3/4 #9 expanded steel is, the number breaks down like this. The 3/4 stands for the hole size, the next step up is 1 1/2 inch hole size. The #9 stands for 9 Gauge. The smaller the number the thicker it is.
After getting the expanded sheet steel home, I set the it up on some 4×4 wood blocks and marked my cuts with my soapstone. I then got out my 4.5 inch grinder with a thin 1/8″ cutting wheel and started cutting. The boards hold the steel up off the ground so I don’t cut my concrete floor.
Once I got my pieces cut out, I started to fit them in each side of the cage. A little massaging with the grinder is sometimes needed to get the fit just right.
It is probably overkill but I didn’t want to leave the expanded steel loose and floppy at the bottom so, I got out my recently purchased 1 1/2″ angle iron and started cutting it to length with my chop saw.
I then welded in the angle iron pieces and fit the expanded steel into each section. Finishing them off by tack welding around the perimeter of the expanded steel.
TIP – don’t be afraid to ask or look for good deals at your local metal shop. They often have ‘drops’ which are the odd length ends remaining and not useful to them when they built a project. Good news for us because they sell them at a discount. I was able to get a bout 7 sticks of 1 1/2″ with 1/8″ wall angle iron for $.63 per lb.
At this point it was late at night but before I final welded all this stuff together I wanted to go do one more test fit. I’m sure the neighbors wondered what the hell I was doing. This cage isn’t for my house but happens to be the same model and size as the unit I am building the cage for.
Now having the warm and fuzzies that it will fit, I continued to cut, fit, and MIG weld in the rest of the expanded steel and angle iron.
As you can see in the picture below, one side of the cage needed an opening to allow for the hoses and electrical wires from the a/c unit to go through. I measured that I needed to allow for ~8″ but made the opening ~10″ instead to give margin for error when installing.
For big painting projects, I like to use clip on spray paint can handles. They are cheap and save your fingers from cramping up. This one is even fancier than mine with a comfort grip.
Being totally honest, I feel like the biggest pain of this whole project was painting this thing. While trying to paint the expanded steel, I’m pretty sure I got more on the inside of my garage than I actually did on the metal. As a point of reference, if I was doing this again I think I would try to find some kind of roll on metal paint.
Stay tuned for the final part of my DIY AC unit cage build where we will create a clever adjustable anchoring system and install the cage.