Building the Lincoln AC-225 Welder Shop Cart
Mobilizing the welder and on-the-move storage
Text, photos and video by Tom Hintz
Original Post – 3-10-2011
Final Update – 3-21-2011
NOTE: This will be an on-going story with updates added as major steps (or problems) in the construction process are reached.
An important premise behind NewMetalworker.com is that I am doing everything you see in my 2-car garage shop. As with my wood site, NewWoodworker.com, I felt it was important for me to do everything you see on NewMetalworker.com in an environment that is similar to what the majority of the people visiting my sites work in. That includes dealing with the complications of a small workspace as well as a limited budget, just like many of you.
Since the Lincoln AC-225 Welder is my primary stick machine I needed to make its 106-lb mass mobile. Lincoln offers a simple wheel kit that would handle simple mobility but I wanted to incorporate a better way to store my growing collection of metalworking clamps. Those needs spawned the idea for the cart shown in the story.
I know this is going to draw email but I am going to do all of the welding on this cart with my Lincoln Pro-Mig 180 Welder rather than the Lincoln AC-225 Welder that will live in it. The 1” angle steel is only 1/8”-thick and the Lincoln Pro-Mig 180 Welder is just better suited for that job. Also, I am way better at controlling the Lincoln Pro-Mig 180 Welder. I will practice my stick welding once I get his cart done, I promise!
Materials and Design
The Lincoln AC-225 Cart would be made primarily from 1” mild steel angle because it is relatively cheap (I have a budget, too!) and easy to work with. I bought a set of 6”-tall, ball-bearing-equipped wheels/tires and dug up a pair of locking casters with 3”-tall wheels that I had in the shop but have long since forgotten why.
I want to incorporate a work surface on top with a couple of shelves and bars to the rear of the Lincoln AC-225 Welder from which welding clamps can hang. All I know for sure is that the overall length will be about 32”, 17-3/4”-wide and the height around 38 to 40” measured from the floor. Vague I know but this think-as-I-go process is how I created some of my best in-shop carts and fixtures.
I had measured the bottom of the Lincoln AC-225 Welder and found that I needed a 17-1/2”-wide by 11-1/4”-deep (inside dimensions) opening to accept the bottom of the Lincoln AC-225 Welder. I cut pieces of the 1” angle steel to build a 17-3/4” by 32” (outside dimensions) frame plus one additional cross piece to frame out the “seat” for my Lincoln AC-225 Welder at the front of the cart. I should note that I used cope joints throughout the frame to be sure that I had a flat flange on the inside to hold the Lincoln AC-225 Welder and to provide a solid surface for shelving material later.
I measured back from the front edge of the frame and marked the location of the cross brace that would complete the Lincoln AC-225 Welder frame. After fitting the ends of this cross brace I welded that in place and then set it on the floor. The inside measurements looked right but I have learned the hard way to test something critical like if the Lincoln AC-225 Welder actually fit this frame before moving on. It did so I moved on.
After welding up the frame I tacked the casters in place at the front corners and then welded them in place. They have a bolt-on flange but I can’t see having to remove them so welding just made sense. Then I blocked the frame up (right side up) on a table so that it was level. Then I set a rear wheel next to the frame to measure for the bracket that would hold the tire at that height and keep the frame level. After cutting the brackets from 3/16”-thick mild steel plate I drilled a ½”-diameter hole for the bolt/axle in each mount and then welded them to the bottom of the frame so that the back of the tire is flush with the back face of the frame.
Then I inserted the bolt/axles from the inside of the brackets and welded those in place as well. Last for the wheel brackets was grinding pieces of scrap to make small gussets that I could weld to the back of the wheel brackets just to be sure they stay straight under the expected loads.
I cut two pieces of 1”-angle, 36-1/2” in length for the rear uprights. That length puts the top of the cart at 40” above the floor. That height is also important because that is where the work surface will be located and 40” has proven to be a comfortable working height for me. Using my Bessey Welding Magnets I welded the rear uprights in place to the inside of the rear frame corners where they won’t interfere with the tires.
Using two 5”-long sections of round 1”-diameter steel tubing and a couple scraps of 1” steel angle I made handles that will provide a way to move the cart where we want. I spaced the handles low enough that they will not interfere with anything lying on the work surface that is yet to be added. You will notice in the photos and video that only one handle is welded on. That is due to a professional miss alignment during fabrication and not having enough stock to fix that error.
So much for day one of the Lincoln AC-225 Welder Cart construction. Stay tuned! Also, a video is being made as I go and that will appear on this page when the Lincoln AC-225 Welder Cart is completed.
Lincoln AC-225 Welder Cart, Day Two
After making a steel run I cut and installed the two rear uprights. Then I began cutting and fitting the frames for two shelves. I built these frames in the structure just to be sure that everything fit properly and would not require too much “coaxing” that could distort the finished frame. I used cope joints for all of the shelf connections to maintain a flat flange around the inside to support the floor material.
Notice that I am holding one side of the frames back from the outside edge. That is to create a clamp-hanging area that will keep the clamps more within the footprint of the cart. Making the inside dimension of the shelves 12”-wide and 20”-long, both cheated to the same side of the cart creates that cubby hole without sacrificing strength of the shelf frames or the cart in general.
The bottom edge of the 1st shelf frame is located 11-1/2” above the base shelf that is part of the bottom framework. The 2nd shelf is located 12” above the floor of the 1st shelf. That arrangement puts the floor of the 2nd shelf 11-1/2” below the lower edge of the top framework. That spacing seems like it will provide the best storage flexibility within the space available.
I am using simple 26-gauge sheet steel for the floor of the shelves. To make cleaning the cart easier I want the shelf floors to remain loose in the frames rather than tack welded in place. To be sure there is plenty of support for the sheet metal I added a strip of 1/8”-thick by 1-1/2”-wide steel across the midpoint of each shelf, as well as the base storage area below them. These strips were cut and fit flush with the lower edge of the inner flange of the frames and then welded in place. All of the shelf frame welds were done on the outside or bottom surfaces of the frames to keep the inner flange flat.
Next I cut and fit two pieces of ½”-diameter steel tubing to create hangar bars for the clamps in the cubbyhole. I didn’t do anything fancy here, just fit the tubes and welded them in against the inside surface of the uprights.
The area where the tubing meets the handles was ground and filled with weld to make a smoother surface. This took a bit of time but to me is worth the effort. Getting rid of the square end of the angle steel is good for comfort and making a smooth rounded surface looks better when it’s all painted up.
Before closing up the shop on day two of the Lincoln AC-225 Welder Cart build I went over the framework and made sure that everything was welded where it needed to be. Turning the frame upside down revealed a few spots I forgot, which always seems to be the case with something having this many connections. I also had to add a “lip” to the rear of the framework that holds the Lincoln AC-225 Welder. That lip provides the forward support surface for the floor of the shelf in the bottom frame of the cart. I am determined to find all of these missed welds BEFORE it gets painted!
Day Three Lincoln AC-225 Welder Cart
I decided that a 17-1/4”-wide by 32-1/4”-long work surface on top of the Lincoln AC225S Cart would be a good fit. That size let me avoid conflict at the push handles in the rear but extend out over the Lincoln AC-225 Welder itself by several inches but not create a tipping hazard if I get carried away and lean on it.
Because a piece of solid steel plate this size would cost about as much as my car and might weigh about the same I decided to make a grid style top from 1” steel angle. Using angle also provides a bunch of 1” ledges under the surface that make it easier to clamp things down on the surface. To keep all of the angle pieces flush with each other I coped all of the joints.
I added cross bars about every 6” with a larger opening at the rear because I know that sooner or later I will need that wider space. I also added a couple bridges between two sets of crossbars to further vary the spaces available for clamping odd-shaped or smaller objects.
After fitting and welding all of the top surface components I went back over the assembly to weld up the little seams between those parts. The gaps are small but laying a bead across the gaps and then grinding them flush makes the entire surface appear to be one piece. If that’s vain, so be it. I have a welder and a grinder and I am over 21, by how much is none of your business.
Next the top was set over the four uprights on the Lincoln AC225S Cart, positioned front to back as I wanted then leveled and welded in place. I made a couple hangars for the welder leads (cables) and welded them to the underside of the top above the welder space.
To prove to myself that all of this actually works I set the welder in place, hung the leads from the hooks and looked for any final additions. I decided to put a welding rod shelf on the rear similar to the one I added to my Hobart Stickmate® cart earlier. I cut and bent up the pieces for that shelf, welded them in place and put a few rod (5lb) boxes on the shelf to be sure it worked.
Then all that remains is to go over the structure with a wire brush in an angle grinder and paint it. Following paint I’ll cut the sheet metal floors for the shelves, lay those in place and load the cart up for use. That last bit of work will be covered in the video that will be coming in a few days.
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