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You’ve bought a TIG welder. You’ve practiced making beads. You’ve put together a welder cart, a welding table, and a rack for scrap metal. Once you have a little TIG welding experience, it’s time to make some projects to sell. What kind of things can you weld up for sale?
There are lots of TIG welding projects to sell. Shop items, outdoor furniture and yard art, interior décor, grills, and smokers, even fitness equipment, can be fabricated with TIG welding.
One good place to identify TIG welding projects you can sell is the shop. Don’t focus on welding-related projects, though. Chances are that if someone needs a welder cart or a metal table for welding, they will whip one up for themselves. Instead, try to do projects that can help non-welders in the shop.
Most shops accumulate lots of heavy tools, equipment, and parts. Shelving from home improvement stores is both flimsy and expensive. Square tubing welded into shelf frames can be a great alternative to the cheap stuff. Build the shelves themselves from wood or sheet steel or sell just the frame and let the buyer install whatever shelves they prefer.
You can also custom-make shelves to match the dimensions of the customer’s shop. Store-bought shelving may be too long or too narrow, too tall, or too short for a particular shop. As a welder, you can build shelving that matches the dimensions of a shop perfectly.
Auto mechanics need to raise vehicles to make working under them easier. A set of two (or even four) heavy-duty ramps that a car can be driven upon are a quick and safe alternative to jacks. Car hobbyists-amateur racers, off-roaders, and customizers-are a good market for car ramps.
Don’t skimp on the metal for car ramps. They have to hold cars that weigh thousands of pounds, so the construction should be top-notch. Use steel that is thick enough to handle the weight of a car with plenty of strength left over.
Sometimes mechanics need to get a car’s wheel off the ground and work under it. In those cases, jack stands are just what is required to hold the car up. The best jack stands are adjustable so that they can be set to the best height for each project.
Like car ramps, jack stands need to be super strong. Make sure your welds are solid, and everything is well-supported. Steel isn’t that expensive, and it’s better to over-build jack stands than to risk breakage.
If you have lots of contacts who work on cars, custom accessories can be great projects. Heavy-duty bumpers are widespread in rural areas with lots of deer. For craftsmen who work out of their pickups, racks for ladders, pipe, and other tools are necessities for everyday work. Headache racks are popular accessories for keeping cargo from damaging the back window of pickups.
For ideas about custom auto projects, look at vehicles in your area. Jeeps outfitted to crawl on rocks in the desert need different accessories than swamp buggies in the deep south. Don’t be afraid to approach owners of vehicles with custom work to ask questions. Chances are, they love to talk card and would be happy to tell you what is good about their custom work-and what a good welder could do better.
If you are feeling ambitious, it is possible to weld up an entire flatbed utility trailer! This is a project that you definitely need to buy plans for-don’t try to make it up as you go along. Make sure you understand your state’s requirements for lights, inspection, and setting up a title for the new trailer.
Patio and Garden Décor
Another area where there are lots of opportunities to sell TIG-welded projects is for patio and garden decoration. Whether it’s furniture, garden accessories, or just whimsical pieces of art, welded projects work great in the great outdoors.
Unlike wood, metal won’t rot when exposed to the elements. Iron and steel need some protection, while aluminum and stainless steel will last practically forever outside. You can build attractive, durable furniture that matches any type of garden with a TIG welder.
Garden benches are lovely places to sit and enjoy the peace and tranquility of a garden. Benches can be old-fashioned wrought iron, a mix of metal and wood, or even futuristic structures. When it comes to building a garden bench, your imagination is the only limit.
Picnic tables are usually either made of wood, which won’t last, or pre-fab metal kits, which look boring. You can TIG weld tables that look light and airy, or heavy and solid, or like something from the future.
Be creative-you can make a round table with panels that are shaped like the petals of a flower, or one with an inset container to hold ice and drinks. How about one with built-in sockets to hold lanterns or tiki torches? Think about what things you need to eat outdoors, then find ways to build them into the picnic table.
Hammocks are another popular way to enjoy the great outdoors, but it’s hard to set them up. Unless your yard has a pair of big trees that are just the right distance apart, you need a hammock stand. A good welder can whip up an attractive hammock stand in only a few hours.
While you are at it, you can add some beautiful customizations to the stand. How about an umbrella for shade? Or maybe a side table to hold a cold drink? It’s easy to TIG weld a better hammock stand than people can buy in stores.
Yard Art and Sculpture
When it comes to yard art, the only limit is your imagination. Whimsical whirligigs, realistic statues, bottle trees, and anything else you can think of can be made into yard art. You can even display and sell it in your own front yard.
Any wind-powered yard art is called a whirligig. They can be simple pinwheels, compound pinwheels, or even intricate little sculptures of people at work. Pinwheels are simple enough to make that you can likely freehand them. Representative statues of men cutting wood, airplanes, and other complicated designs probably require you to download plans. Make sure to paint your whirligigs in bright colors!
Bottle trees are multi-branched sculptures covered in colored bottles that you see in some yards. In some parts of the south, bottle trees are said to catch ghosts and haunts that might trouble your yard. The “tree” is just iron or steel rods welded into a tree shape. You can use one main trunk with branches, or several different trunks to hold upside-down bottles.
Bluebottles are preferred for catching ghosts (because ghosts like blue?), but any colored glass gives a nice touch of color to a yard.
Flowers and Birds
Bright metal flowers and birds are a nice touch in an otherwise green garden. Flowers can range from simple flat daisies and sunflowers to 3-D roses and big flowers with layers of petals.
Realistic, three-dimensional birds are not an easy thing to weld, but bright stainless steel or aluminum bird sculptures are a garden accent that is sure to sell. You can also use different metals to get color effects in a bird sculpture. Iron will turn rusty brown, while copper will eventually become green. Mix metals to give your bird a unique, lifelike color pattern.
With the current popularity of industrial furniture in home décor, welded projects aren’t just for outdoor decoration anymore. Whether your projects are all metal or mix metal and wood, welded furniture and decorating items are very popular.
Welded tables, chairs, and stools are trendy these days. It is relatively simple to convert welding table plans to make a dining room table. Many furniture plans require little more than making a cube from square tubing, then adding a wooden top or seat.
Dining room tables can range from simple rectangles made from square tubing to trestles with several parts to ornate carts. Tops should be wood, glass, or stainless steel to make it easy to clean the table. You can sometimes pair dining room tables with sideboards or serving tables made from a similar design.
Chairs are a little bit trickier than tables, so you should probably locate plans before you try to build one. Comfortable chairs don’t have a straight back – there is a slight lean to the back that’s needed to match a nice sitting position. If the back is too straight, the chair feels extra-hard and uncomfortable. If there is too much lean, it’s like sitting in a lay-z-boy all the time.
Chairs are also subject to a lot more stress than other pieces of furniture. People sitting down hard, rocking up on two legs, and general wiggling mean the joints in chairs have to be able to take a beating. If you are selling chairs, make sure to get a nice thick bead on all the weld joints.
Another handy seating project is stools. A bonus is that there are tons of plans for shop stools around, and most of them fit well with industrial décor. Make sure all your measurements are spot-on, and all your angles are right, though. You can’t sell a wobbly stool.
Coffee and End Tables
When it comes to coffee and end tables, you can really let your creativity shine. These tables don’t have to be as sturdy as chairs or as functional as dining tables. You can create funky shapes or patterns for the base of the table, then show it off with a glass top.
You might even consider mixing metals for a coffee table. Small bits of copper in an otherwise dull iron framework can stand out and make your table a focal point.
Another nice effect is using architectural features in a coffee table. Arches that resemble bridges, sharply angled legs, cables, or even welded chains can add a lot of visual impact to a coffee table. Make sure to use a glass top for these fancy tables to show off your welding results!
Just like for shops, racks with welded frames can be a nice touch for an industrial-themed home. For indoor shelves, make sure to get the metalwork clean and shiny. You might even want to varnish the metal to keep it bright. Use furniture-grade lumber finished with stain and varnish to complete the effect.
Welded wall hangings are also popular. Representative pieces, abstract art, and custom work can all sell well. Look around to see what kind of things are popular in your area and come up with ideas from there.
Most homes include framed photos and artwork on the walls. You can weld single frames with glass and a hanger for photos, or make bigger pieces that hold multiple photos. Common photo sizes (in inches) include 4×6, 5×7, 8.5×11, 11×14, 16×20, 18×24, 20×24, and 24×36. Make sure to include hangers on both a short and a long side so the pictures can be hung in a landscape or portrait orientation.
Words of Encouragement
Many people like to hang encouraging words on the wall. You can weld found objects together to spell out words, or (if you are handy with a plasma cutter), you can make the letters vacant spots in sheet metal. Think about where the words might go, then use objects that relate to that. For example, “Bless this mess” might be made out of cooking utensils to go in a kitchen.
You can also spell out names for people to hang in their homes. This is probably best done as a custom project, but you might be able to sell your samples if they are familiar names like Smith or Jones.
Crosses are also very popular wall hangings. Some people like to have just one as a focal point, while others like to mix a variety of crosses in different materials, colors, sizes, and shapes. Try making up a few different things to see what sells.
Some states have very recognizable outlines, and people will snap up objects with that shape. (I’m looking at you, Texas.) If you live in one of these states, theme objects can be very big sellers. Don’t do this if you live in Kansas, Colorado, or Wyoming.
If you live in an area with lots of horses, used horseshoes are a cheap source of metal for welding projects. There is a whole subset of décor made from horseshoes – from small frames, bottle racks, and crosses all the way up to chairs, tables, and chandeliers.
Horseshoe projects can be good sellers in some areas, but not others. If you live in a rural area, or a part of the west where there are cowboys (and people who want to look like cowboys), horseshoe projects can be a fantastic source of money. If you live in Boston or New York, you should probably look for other welding projects to sell.
People will spend big bucks on holiday decorations. The two biggest decoration holidays are Christmas and Halloween. Christmas trees, skeletons, reindeer, and pumpkin holders can all be big sellers. Use your imagination to make these out of found objects, nuts, and bolts, or shaped iron rods.
If you are handy with wiring, you can add lights to any welded holiday project. Christmas trees are brighter, and skeletons are scarier with the right light effects.
A skilled welder can make equipment and accessories for weightlifters and other fitness buffs. A lot of fitness equipment available is either low-quality stuff that won’t hold up, or it’s a special-order item that requires expensive shipping. If you can tap into the fitness community, there are lots of opportunities for locally built, high-quality fitness equipment.
Bench Press Bench and Rack
A fundamental piece of weightlifting equipment is a bench for bench presses, along with a rack to hold the weights between lifts. You can make the bench just a basic bench, or you can add a hinged leg extension setup on the end.
You can do the same thing with the weight rack. It can be as simple as a couple of stands (like jack stands, but taller) to hold the bar. You can go fancier and make a whole weight storage rack on the backside of the weight rack, complete with cradles for extra weight bars and pins to hold various weight plates.
Another essential piece of weight equipment is the squat rack. This is a much bigger item than the weight bench, making it an excellent opportunity for a TIG welder to deliver locally. The rack needs to be tall enough for a person to stand up with the weight, with pins or pegs to rack the weight up high. It also needs to be wide and deep enough to be stable with heavyweights on it – the weight involved in squats gets quite heavy.
The squat rack should also have a pair of horizontal beams with legs extending out the front. In the event that a squat goes wrong, the rack must have something to catch the weight before it hits the ground and lets the lifter get out of the way safely.
Calisthenics – working out with just bodyweight – is becoming more popular. Even though these workouts don’t require weights, they do require some equipment. Calisthenics stations with a bar set at the right height for pullups and a pair of handles for dips or leg raises could be very popular.
If you find folks who do advanced calisthenics, there are lots of opportunities for specialized equipment. High bars for tricks, pushup bars for advanced pushups, parallel bars for dips, planches, and advanced upper bodywork, and more. There is a lot of equipment that advanced bodyweight buffs can dream up.
Grills, Smokers, and Fire Pits
Grills are a classic project for beginning welders to take on. Fabricating outdoor cooking equipment is a great way to create projects that will sell in a hurry. Grills, smokers, and fire pits are welcome in almost any back yard.
A quick word on cooking technology: grilling is not barbequing. Grills expose food to direct heat from coals. The food is only a few inches from the heat source, and flavor comes from searing the outside of the food. Grilling is quick. Barbequing – also called smoking – uses low heat at a distance from the food. Flavor comes from smoke in the cooking chamber, and it takes a long time — the kind of people who will pay serious cash for a smoker care about the different terms.
Grills hold hot coals close to the food. They need a cooking grate that is height-adjustable for better temperature control. There are lots of plans for grills made from barrels split in half lengthwise. You can also make grills from water tanks, pipe, or just about any kind of cylinder.
As you are thinking about a grill plan, see if you can come up with easier ways for cooks to handle some common cooking problems. Are there easier ways to adjust the grill height while cooking, or to get the ashes out when you are done? Can you add counter surfaces or equipment racks to assist the cook? Fancy touches really help sales.
Smokers can be a real money maker for a welder. Smoker designs range from simple designs made from a barrel set vertically to wildly expensive offset smokers on purpose-built trailers. Find a design you can make easily to start with, but be ready to work up custom jobs once you have a reputation as a good builder.
Barrel smokers are just a barrel with some doors to put food in and out, and some racks to hold food. They are easy to make and don’t require much welding. Plans for these smokers are easy to find, and the barrels are easy to build.
Offset smokers have a firebox that hangs off the side of a large cooking chamber. Offset smokers are popular for making Texas-style brisket. They range in size from patio models that can hold a single brisket to trailer-mounted beasts that can feed an army.
If you are making offset smokers, concentrate on using high-quality, heavyweight materials. You probably can’t compete on price with big box stores, but you can make a much better quality product.
Fire pits have grown in popularity in the last few years as a backyard accessory. Instead of cookers, these pits hold firewood that lets you enjoy a campfire safely, even in the city. Fire pits can be simple square boxes, round bowls, or fancy shapes with sloped sides. You can keep them simple or get elegant with the shape.
Fire pits will also need some kind of removable grate or cover to keep sparks and drifting ash in place. The grate is another place for creativity. A simple grate might just use expanded metal, while fancier ones could include cutouts that appeal to the owner. Team logos are always popular for adding in projects like this.
Now that you have some ideas of TIG-welded projects to sell, where can you sell them? Give a little thought to your sales strategy before you start welding. If you decide to make weight racks or giant smokers, online sales that require shipping probably isn’t a good idea. There are basically two ways to sell welded projects: online and in-person.
Online sales let people all over the country find your projects, and they work 24/7 while you are sleeping or welding. They can help your projects find an audience that would otherwise never come by your shop. Some of the most popular online sales shops include eBay for all kinds of stuff; Etsy for handcrafts only; and Amazon Handmade that lets artisans and craftsmen sell their projects through Amazon.com.
Online sales do require you to ship projects, and that can get expensive for metalwork. Make sure you have a plan for how to ship your welded projects and price the products to cover your shipping costs.
The other way to sell things is face-to-face. The easiest way is to put projects in your yard with a “for sale” sign. This works well if you live in a high-traffic area, but it’s limited if you are in a more secluded place. It can also run afoul of local laws, so check your local regulations before turning your yard into a permanent sales yard.
Craigslist is a great mix of online and in-person sales. You can post your completed work to the web with photos and price information, and people will come to you to buy it. It is an easy way to drive traffic to your projects, and it’s free.
If you are making small items, craft shows can be an excellent way to sell projects. Picture frames, bottle racks, crosses, and similar items can be good sellers at craft shows. You can also use the shows to highlight your skills and get commissions for furniture and other big projects.
You can also sell welded projects at specialty shows that aren’t craft shows. You could sell car ramps, and jack stands at auto swap meets, smokers and grills at BBQ cook-offs, or yard art at garden shows. Think about where fans of your work might congregate, and look for ways to sell there.