This is a typical welding table, which is a great work surface for any home or professiona
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Q. I'm new to welding and will be making my first welding table for my garage. I plan on using a 3/8-inch plate, 2 by 3 feet for the top. How do you keep the tabletop and frame from rusting? By the way, your DVDs are great!
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A. Glad you like the DVDs-I've got more on the way! The rusting of bare metal is a problem in areas that have high humidity. In dry climates, bare steel kept indoors can go for years without developing much surface rust at all. I don't know how humid it gets in Cleveland.
Rusting inside my shop was never much of an issue until I moved to my current location, about two miles from the Pacific Ocean. Now, most bare steel will start developing surface rust in a month or two.
There are some steps you can take to help offset the rust. You can certainly paint the legs, and maybe the table edges, which will give them very good protection. Ordinary paste wax applied to the tabletop on a regular basis will retard the rusting considerably. Oil or grease offers better protection, but it makes a mess, and fouls everything you put on your table. You'll probably be sanding your welding tabletop surface for various reasons (spatter, removing bumps left from temporarily tack-welding fixtures to the surface, etc.) and you can easily sand off any rust then, or whenever it becomes a problem.
One of my favorite products for removing a light coating of rust from large surfaces is a 3M Clean 'n Strip disc. It removes rust (and paint and most other soft materials) without removing much metal at all. These are available from any large industrial supply house, and most automotive paint stores have them, too.
Products like Naval Jelly remove surface rust chemically, and they leave a phosphate coating that retards further rusting, although the coating they leave is sometimes chalky in appearance.
Q. I have a custom-made gas tank for a '64 Chevy truck that I put in the rear of the original frame. It is made from stainless steel and polished. I put a small dent in it toward the bottom of the back side of the tank. The dent is below the filler neck, and I would like to know the best way to take the dent out. The tank is still new, and has never had gas in it. What do you suggest?
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A. Roy, if the dent is near the filler opening, you can probably snake something down into the tank to help take the dent out. You may have to make a special tool for this, by welding a heavy block of steel to the end of a stout steel bar. You can hold the rod with the block on it in a vise, with the block sticking straight up, and then the tank can be snaked over the tool, upside down. A flat block might work, but a block that is somewhat rounded will be easier to center on the dent. The support rod might work OK being straight, but you may need to bend it to get the tip of the tool to touch the tank in the right spot.
You'd hammer against this tool to remove the dent, similar to hammering against a dolly block. The trick is to hammer off-dolly, with the tool inside the tank touching the center of the dent, then you hammer all around the point of contact.
It is difficult to know exactly where the tool is touching the tank, but by doing some light hammering, you can tell by the sound where that point of contact is, then you can move the tank to bring the point of contact to the center of the dent. This a little tricky, but it can be done.
Here's a dynamite trick a seasoned metalworker showed me. When doing work of this sort, he mounts a laser pointer to his ceiling, and aims it at the center of the block he'll be hammering against. Then, when you place the tank over the tool, you can use the point of laser light to position your dent over the tool with precision!