Hi all. It is no secret that I love tools. So I thought I would write up a quick article on my top ten favorite home metal fabrication tools.
1. My Hobart Mig Welder –
A staple of the Home Metal Fab Shop is the MIG welder. I have had this Hobart Handler 180 since around 2006. This is my go-to tool. MIG welders are easy to use and versatile. They will weld all projects that are ferrous (iron) steel. This machine and process are also known as GMAW Gas Metal Arc Welding.
They have since upgraded the model to a Hobart Handler 190 with SpoolRunner 100. The 190 has more power level options and comes with the Spool Runner 100 which you can load aluminum wire into and weld aluminum! (I really wish mine had this…)
2. My heavy metal welding bench –
I bet this thing weighs over 400lbs with all of the junk I have bolted and stored on it. The advantage of working on a metal bench is that while welding or plasma cutting you can simply hook the ground clamp to the table as long as the project you are working on is on the table or in the vice.
No links to products for this one. I suggest you build your own welding workbench as a practice piece!!
3. My Large 6-Inch Shop Vise –
Speaking of vices, they are also one of my favorite tools. This 6 inch one I use for almost every project is probably older than I am. But with it firmly bolted to my heavy metal work bench I can bend and bang on all kinds of projects without the table or vice moving around.
2. My Metabo 6-Inch Angle Grinder –
This is probably my second most used tool in the garage. This is a larger 6″ wheel grinder that has the horsepower to make quick work of grinding and smoothing metals. However the body is still compact and it isn’t too heavy.
The Metabo grinders do come with a higher price tag but I think it is worth it. The manufacturer date on mine is 2008 and it is still kicking to this day.
5. My 4.5″ grinder
– This is my Black & Decker 4-1/2-Inch Angle Grinder. Goes to show you that you don’t have to buy the biggest/best/most expensive tools to get projects done. Notice I have a flap disk on this grinder.
I am guessing I have been using this one since 2010. I can’t tell anymore because it is so old and used the stickers have worn off.
6. My combo Everlast 250EX AC DC TIG Stick Pulse Welder –
I bought this off-brand combo unit back in college. I really wanted the capability to do all of the different welding and cutting processes without spending a bunch of money. This Everlast machine has really done well for me over the years. Make sure you take some notes on the settings for when you switch between processes so you can get your settings correct.
NOTE: If you want to TIG weld aluminum you will need an AC/DC TIG not just DC (the DC units are cheaper so pay attention before you buy)
My unit is over 10 years old and they have since quit making it. Here is the equivalent machine that is available today:
7. My Tubing Bender –
More info on my tubing bender here: Tools of the Trade!: Tubing Benders
8. My air compressor –
I didn’t invest in a large air compressor until just a couple of years ago. Knowing now how useful they are, I should have gotten one a long time ago. It could have easily paid for itself in being able to buy cheap air tools instead of expensive battery powered tools. This unit is a 30 Gallon capacity 3 cylinder air compressor that runs off of a 220V plug.
I got lucky and bought this old one from a neighbor. However if I were to buy one today I would buy one like this (vertical to take up less floor space).
9. My Chop Saw –
Though I use it less than I used to since I now have a plasma cutter, the chop saw is another one of the standard fab shop tools that make cutting all kinds of tubing down to length. There are some very affordable chop saws with free shipping available on Amazon.
Same style as mine with a 14″ abrasive blade. Cuts well but is loud and makes a mess.
More expensive (but better) option
These saws (I have heard, haven’t personally used) are legit. It uses slower speed and a metal tooth blade that throws off minimal heat and sparks. Also leaves a nicer finish on the cut edge. More expensive unit but the blade lasts longer between changes.
10. My VISE-GRIP Locking C-Clamps-
Don’t underestimate these welding vice grips. They are handy. There is a reason I keep them right next to the welding table, because I use them almost every time I am working on a project. The C – shape allows you to clamp objects that aren’t flat or are irregular shaped.
Well, that is a quick summary of my top 10 favorite DIY Home Fabrication tools. Of course I have a lot more than ten, but we will have to save the rest for another day.