How Would You Make This? Video inside

How would you weld these parts if you were given these plans?

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I’ll preface this by saying I’m not a fabricator, but I do have training in mechanical drawing. Both drawings are missing the Dimensional and Angular Tolerances, as well as Material Specification and Finish. If I were in a position to make either, I would decline “Frame Step 6” as it is double-dimensioned in several places. If provided with Tolerance and Material Specs, I would prefer “Frame Step 6 FT” as it has a Datum, leaving no room for interpretation. (Of course, this all hinges on Mrs.GRC allowing me to buy a Fireball Fixture table!)

These are a set of internal drawing that we used in house that I provided for Jason, they are not meant to be a production level drawing otherwise I agree this is not built out anywhere near what a shop would need for prints. The “Frame Step 6” print gives Jason a cut list as well as general constraints for the shape, the "Frame Step 6 FT provides all the points that are needed to fixture the given part on our fixture table grid. For example the non FT version would not be used in a professional shop (we use this for quick turnaround because we don’t have cut list software) , I would instead provide a cut list and a properly dimensioned/ toleranced print. These are used as our own in house “shop drawings”.

Probably the easiest way to make it without a fixture table, would be to loft the pattern onto a table and then set and secure enough alignment stops to be able to tack weld the frame. Then take the frame off the table, set it on a known surface and then shim and clamp it for final welding. It would take way longer than using a fixture table, but with care, you can get the same or better accuracy. In the aerospace industry, we often build initial parts without hard tooling or jigs to under .010" tolerances, but it takes time and using both lasers and transits to set physical locations.

BTW…lofting that print would take probably well over an hour and a second person to get started.

we would use a plate steel table, do all the layout on the table itself, and it would take a few hours to get it all done. Then torch cut where the joints are so that we could weld inside the fixture we created with all-thread welded to the table and makeshift stair clamps to keep it as flat as possible. The first one or 2 for production would turn out ok but after that they wouldnt be nearly as flat anymore.

@Duriensbane This is one unique stair tread out of many. Would you still go through all that hassle for one?

we’ve done worse. It would depend on how long they are willing to give us to get it accomplished. I personally have a few jigs in and around my work area that were one offs from when i started and i only keep them around just in case we need something similar again.

@Duriensbane Sounds like your the perfect candidate for a fireball fixture table. Just take a picture of a setup for archiving.

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I would make a jig for it on the plate table. Thicker plate (like 3/4" and thicker) is typically flatter than 1/8" over 40", Angle would work fine for locating the tubes and Bessey clamps would work fine for holding the parts down.
When I first started, I would use this method often because I didn’t have the money for a fixture table.

@Halseys_Welding What would your estimated price be for one if I came to you to build it?

About $600-$700 as built on a plate table.

My opinion on plate tables is there great for certain applications where tight tolerances don’t matter. Doing anything under 1/8" on a plate table is like trying to hit .0005 with a clapped-out Bridgeport. 1/8" is obtainable on a plate table but you’re working for it. To be competitive in 2023 you have to have the right tool for the job, if you don’t, you’re doing nothing but wasting time and money, fixture tables are right tool for jobs where precision counts. My opinion is that every weld shop should have at least 1 GOOD fixture table, when we bought ours, (we bought ours before fireball was around in 2006) it was like a group of cave men that had just discovered fire, we wondered how we ever did without it, it was a game changer for us.


Sorry went on vacation and totally forgot about the pictures I took.

This table use to be 11.5 x 5.5 but we added another cell, and i lost about 7 feet of my work space and needed more room to move my acorn table around and we cut it in half.

Also a side note added to my previous, if i couldnt convince our leads to use a steel table and build/rebuild to make the full peice/job work, i would do what i have pictured and use my acorn table and a load of clamps. Its only 5x6 but ive build bigger things on my old 4x4 that you wouldnt think would work, but if you get creative you can do alot with very little.

Also, i am using fireball squares and clamps, and recently we did convince our productions manager to buy 2 more sets of clamps for another table that is weird and has 1 5/8 holes, not the acorn 1 3/4 holes. It was the only option i could think of that actually worked. And the idea game from stronghand tools acorn platen clamps.

I’m really not qualified to reply but a few things come to mind:
(1) What if you do work in metric? Do you need a whole different table and accessories?
(2) What does a table and “all” the accessories you need cost?
(3) How does this cost compare to a piece of 1" plywood, a 1" drill, shims, clamps like furniture makers use (bench dogs), and asbestos pads (or whatever they use now). If stabilizing the flatness of the plywood is a problem could you clamp angle iron pieces to achieve it?
(4) How does the cost and time compare to cutting the pattern and using it as a template? Or cutting an inside and outside template?
(5) I’ve looked at lots of YouTube videos and seems lots of fabrication these days is done with laser or water cut parts with tabs and slots.

Groping around I did find this link… as evidently an alternative:

Just lobbed in from the peanut gallery. I’d try anything before buying a table and all the accessories unless I was doing this 8hrs per day, 6 days a week, … for years.

Jason shows how he tackled this weldment in a step-by-step video featuring the Fireball fixture table. If anyone wants to know how it was done, I recommend checking it out!