I welded a thing! This is my very first welding project ever, so please don’t look too closely at my welds. Ha! I decided to make a welded steel and faux marble coffee table for my “mom cave” aka living room/office. If you missed my first post about learning how to weld, you can check that out here. I really wanted a quartz top, which I may eventually swap this one for, but for now I wanted to go the budget-friendly route. Check out the tutorial below, and I’ll also share what I learned and some challenges I ran into since this was my first experience welding all by myself.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.
- (5) – 3 ft. long pieces of 3/4″ Tube Steel
- 1 short 3/4″ wide flat steel bar
- Faux Marble Vinyl Contact Paper
- X-Acto Knife
- Welder (I used this affordable one which is great for beginners.)
- Welding Helmet
- Angle Grinder along with a cutting disc and a flap disc
- Drop Cloths
- Acetone (to clean the steel)
- Rubber gloves
- Magnetic Welding Clamps
- Wire Cutters
- Safety Glasses
- Self-etching primer (I couldn’t find the type I was looking for so I ended up using this one to protect from rust.)
- Gold spray paint (I used 2 cans)
- Plywood or wood project panel cut to
First, I cleaned all of my steel using acetone and a sponge. I used my angle grinder with a cutting disc to cut one of my 3 ft. long pieces of tube steel in half. Then, I cut 4 pieces of tube steel at 14 inches long each. After cutting them, I clamped them together and used a flap disc on my angle grinder to grind them perfectly even.
I used my Forney Easy Weld to weld the 18 inch long pieces to the 3 ft. long pieces. These right angle magnetic clamps are a life saver and definitely an essential welding supply to have on hand. If you’ve never welded before or are just starting out, you’ll want to first do some tack welds which means a you weld a little dot on each end of the piece you are welding, and then go back and weld across the seam, connecting those tack weld dots.
I used my angle grinder with a flap disc to smooth my terrible welds.
After I had both the top and bottom of the table base welded (so, 2 rectangles), I connected them by welding them to the 4 pieces of 14″ steel.
Since the tube steel is open at the ends, I needed to close them somehow, so I cut small pieces of 3/4″ flat steel bar to size and welded those on the ends, and then used my angle grinder to grind them flush. In hindsight, I should’ve done this before I connected everything because that would’ve required less grinding.
After welding everything together, I used a flap disc on my angle grinder to grind the heck out of all of my welds to smooth everything out. (An angle grinder is a lifesaver if you’re not a very good welder!) I had to go back and touch up a few of the welds because I am a newbie, and if you look too closely you can definitely tell that I’m no pro. But it’s good enough for a beginner project as far as I’m concerned.
I really wanted quartz or marble for the top, but the remnants that I found were just too expensive for this project. I wanted to do this on a budget, so I used $20 vinyl faux marble contact paper on wood, and you guys, it’s actually really convincing! It comes in a roll, is easy to apply, and is such a great (and inexpensive) alternative. And I can always swap it out with real quartz later on if I decide to.
And here it is!
Now, let’s talk about what I learned and some challenges that I faced. I learned first of all that I should’ve practiced A LOT more before diving into this project, but it was a great learning experience. I think I should’ve just played around with the settings more and practiced running lots of beads on a scrap piece of steel before starting on an actual project. (But I was too impatient.) My biggest challenge was getting the settings just right. It was difficult to fine tune the wire speed so that my beads would be decent. If you aren’t familiar with welding, there is a wire that is fed through the nozzle of your welding torch which is consumed as you weld. You want the wire speed to be just right, not too fast and not too slow. You also want your travel to be just the right speed as well (the rate at which you drag your torch across your work piece). Getting everything just right was hard, and none of my beads were even close to being perfect. But with time and practice, I’m sure that will change. If you’re interested in welding, I highly recommend taking a class. I learned how to weld at Freeside Atlanta, but you could check around locally and see if there is a similar place near you. For more on how I learned as well as what gear I bought to get started, check out this post.
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