Quarantine Project - Simple Angle Iron Shelf
If you are needing a simple project to pass some time and make quarantine a little less dull, try out this simple angle iron shelf project. It is a simple shelf that is useful and looks great! Also, if you are a beginner welder, this should be simple enough to allow you to get your feet wet and make something really nice. This same shelf would cost between $65 and $100 to purchase from a furniture / home goods shop.
The supplies I used to make this shelf are all listed and linked below! If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below.
I started the project with a 6' piece of 1.5" angle iron with 1/8" wall. Depending on how load bearing the shelf is, 1.5" angle iron should be pretty heavy for this application. You could go down to 3/4" or 1" angle iron for the brackets, but I wanted to go for an oversized heavy industrial look.
Next, the angle iron needs to be cut to size to fit the depth of your shelf. I chose to go with a 7.5" deep shelf. Generally for an "L" bracket shelf, the shelf support side and wall support side should both be identical lengths, so in our case 7.5" for each axis.
To cut the metal, you can use an angle grinder, a chop saw or a band saw. I used a band saw to eliminate the metal "sand" mess that angle grinders and chop saws always cause. I used the Milwaukee 11 Amp Deep Cut Band Saw. We also have a nice cordless option from Metabo here.
After you cut the angle iron to the correct lengths, you will need to mitre one end of each piece at 45°. The 45° angle cuts will fit together the make the "L" brackets 90° joint.
For my next step, I prepped all of the metal prior to welding. You'll want to remove all of the millscale and junk from the surface of the metal especially if you are planning on painting or coating the finished brackets.
To polish the metal and remove millscale, I used a 3M Bristle Disc for the flats of the iron and a Metabo Wire Wheel for the tighter inside angle. If you haven't used a bristle disc before, you will be pleasantly surprised. The Scotch-Brite bristles remove surface imperfections and polish all in one! I definitely recommend these if you like to clear-coat your work. You will also want to add a slight bevel to your iron seeing that later, we will be grinding down our welds.
After you've prepping and polishing the iron, we will start setting up our joints for welding. For this project, I am using a Miller Multimatic 215. The auto-set on the Miller 215 makes it super easy to set my parameter for my 1/8" wall angle iron. All I had to do was set my wire diameter to .030" and my material thickness to 1/8", then I'm ready to weld.
To ensure I have a true 90° angle, I am use the Strong Hand Mini Magnets and a Swanson Speed Square. You really want to be sure that you have a true 90° angle on each of these joints to ensure a level shelf and that it is flush with the wall you mount it to.
Once you get everything squared, you want to tack the two sides of the bracket into place. First I tacked from the outside, then I removed the magnet and tacked the inside corner. The tack on the inside corner was the only inside weld I made. I want the final product to be as polished and seamless as possible, so I decided to not weld the inside of the joint. The shelf also will not be holding much weight at all, so there was no need to add any other welds besides on the outside. After you have tacked everything into place, you will want to confirm that you are still at 90° with your speed square before you add on the full welds.
Once you confirm that everything is squared, you can fully weld the seams and connect your tack welds. I only welded the top and outside corner of the bracket.
Once you complete all of your welds, you will want to set up the newly welded bracket for grinding and polishing work. The best bet will be to use a vise or strong magnets to hold it while grinding. I personally used 2 of the Strong Hand Heavy Duty Magnet Squares. When grinding, I ground the weld down near flush with the base material and then hit it with a flap disc to smooth it out. For the last step, I went over it again with the bristle disc to get rid of any lingering weld heat marks.
After finishing the brackets and smoothing out the welds, I went over both of the brackets with Blue Demon's Ace-Wipes to remove any additional residue before finishing them. The Ace-Wipes are made of industrial solvent and acetone.
The final step is to pick up whichever wood you would like as the shelf and get it finished up. To keep costs down, I would recommend heading to a wood salvage supply. I picked up a 18" x 7.5" x 1.8" slab of walnut from a local woodworker, Craig, the owner of Mossing Studios in Toledo, Ohio.
Altogether this project cost me about $32 and took 1 day to finish. I really recommend this as a simple project to start getting comfortable with your new welder. The finished product is a sturdy shelf with materials all bought from local businesses!
Complete list of gear used.
- Multimatic 215 Multiprocess Welding Machine
- Optrel Crystal 2.0 Welding Helmet
- Hobart ER70S-6 .030" MIG Wire
- Black Stallion Tigster T50 TIG Welding Gloves
- Black Stallion Reinforced FR Sleeves
- Metabo W 9-115 Quick 4.5" Angle Grinder
- Metabo Original Grinding Wheel, 4.5" x 5/8-11"
- Metabo Original Flapper Flap Discs, Type 27, 60 Grit
- 3M Scotch-Brite Bristle Disc
- Metabo 4" Wire Wheel
Clamps & Magnets: