5000 Dollars To Start A Home Fabrication Business? What Tools To Buy First?

I was asked this question the other day and I thought it be a interesting topic.

If you wanted to start a home fabrication business in your garage, what tools would you start with. You’ll be targeting handrail, gates, grandpa’s rocking chair, you know the small stuff most shops don’t bother with. With the goal of growing and getting better paying jobs.

You only have 5000 to spend to get you started. Let’s leave out hand grinders, drill bits, and general hand tools. You’ll most likely already own them.

Do you go cheap or expensive welder? Cheap or expensive saw? Plate steel or fixture table? Do you focus your money on the material processing or the material assembly? What tools will give you the best opportunity for success?

I started with a harbor freight band saw off Criag’s list $75
$200 Miller welder
Anvil $60 it was a nice one older guy was super nice
And made my own forge


Primeweld MIG285: approx $1000
Spool gun: $150
Gas bottle: $200-300
Good quality battery powered Portaband setup: $650-700
Low cost 2x72 belt grinder: $900ish
Blem Dragon Wagon top:$1000
Tier 1 Table kit: $420
Minion Square Package (Cast Iron Dragon Scale): $380

That pretty much taps out $5000. You’d have to collect cans for scrap to buy a roll of wire and get started, but this collection feels like you could do a lot of fab work in thin or thick aluminum or steel if you get creative and work in sections.

Edited to add: I took the question to mean that if a new guy was starting a shop and needed to buy $5000 worth of shop equipment TODAY. It’s always cheaper to buy used, but you have to be ready to twiddle your thumbs till you find what you need.

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After the first job i went and got a new miller multimatic 220 best welder I think.
And a Ellis bandsaw off craigslist

Got mine off Craig’s list also. I have bought almost all of my equipment used or built it myself.

I Bought a older Bridgeport mill, small atlas lathe, a very small Horz mill and some other accessories as a package.
Sold the horz mill and the accessories I did not need for the same price I paid for whole lot.

Only thing I have bought new was my plasma table. and I have a new press brake on order.

I would take that $5k and make a list of what I think I needed than go looking on C/L, Marketplace and Ebay. It does take time to do it that way.

If there is something I think would be nice to have but really cant justify it, I might set up a search for it that may last for months maybe even years :joy:

I just missed out on a older Wellsaw 20" Vertical band saw that went for $1650
I only bid $1550 :frowning_face: so now I have to keep looking

I’d start with a used, major name HF Tig machine, maybe with a cooler, if you lucked on a good deal, under 1500$. Add a small fixture table such as either of the Dragon Wagons, and an Evolution S355MCS dry saw. This would give you a decent capacity, dry cut miter saw, and the capability of welding steel, stainless, titanium and aluminum, with only rod and gas changes. Once you’ve become established and actually have a financially viable shop, then start upgrading based on what your clientele are wanting done.

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