Quick and easy DIY Portable Upright MIG Welding Cart.
I'm not a professional welder, hell I'm not even an amateur welder. I purchased a little wire feed welder back in the 90s to do occasional small home and auto repair tasks. It was just a flux-core welder at the time (no gas). Then in 2010 I decided I was going to take a crack at doing some auto body sheet metal work (rust repairs) on my truck. Fortunately I was still able to purchase a MIG conversion kit for my little welder. Now, with the tank and stuff, I figured a cart would be useful.
I keep my welder in the basement and often need to haul it outside, so I wanted something that could easily be hauled up and down the stairs, and move easily outside over rough surfaces. So I came up with the idea of modifying a pneumatic tire hand truck.
- Shelf for welder.
- Place for tank.
- Cable and cord storage.
- Tool storage.
- Helmet storage.
- Fire extinguisher.
And here's what I ended up with. I think it came out pretty slick.
I typically prefer to thoroughly plan out projects I get involved with, but sometimes it's fun to just wing it, and that's pretty much what I did here. Now "winging it" doesn't mean I didn't have any plan. I had thought about it a little and had a rough idea of what I wanted to do, but that was about it.
I ran out to my local Menards and chose an inexpensive hand truck that looked like it should meet my needs. I also picked up an assortment of square stock, flat stock, and angle iron.
I chose a pneumatic tire cart because they work better outdoors, especially when your driveway is in as bad of shape as mine (sorry, no pics of that).
Sure, I could have built something completely custom from scratch, but it's actually often cheaper to just modify something that comes close to meeting your needs. I don't remember exactly what that hand cart cost, but I'm pretty sure it was less then the cost of the steel i added to it.
Plus it's often easier to design a modification than it is to design something completely custom. Unlimited possibilities just give me a headache.
I didn't bother to take any photos as I was building it, but everything is exposed so i just snapped some photos of some key areas today.
The MIG Welder.
The shelf is made of square tubing and has two angle supports also made of square tubing.
It's all welded directly to the hand truck (the round tube and flat bar in this image was all originally part of the hand truck.
And notice how I'm not afraid to show my ugly welds or the places underneath where I missed when I painted this.
I drilled a hole through the shelf and the bottom of the welder and welded a bolt to the shelf. Then put a wing nut on it inside the welder to secure the welder while allowing for easy removal.
Cables and stuff.
A simple piece of flat bar hand-bent to perfection and welded to the top of the hand truck worked great for holding the cables, cord, and welding helmet. See photo at top of page to see how the everything hangs on this.
The Fire Extinguisher.
This was real easy. I just used some plastic cable ties to strap the plastic bracket that came with the fire extinguisher to the hand truck.
A place for the MIG Tank.
I welded a piece of square tube horizontally to the existing hand truck brackets that connect the wheels/axle. This serves as the base to sit the tank on.
Then I bent a piece of flat bar to use as a bracket to hold the tank. As I recall, I just used the tank itself to form the bracket, which I then welded to the existing flat bar that came on the hand truck. Sometimes things just go your way, because it seemed like everything was right where I needed it to be on the hand truck I purchased.
You can see how I kept the tank to one side to still allow room on the right to use my foot to help tilt the hand truck back to move it.
Also, I'm glad I just got the small tank from the gas place. I had checked some internet forums beforehand for tank size recommendations, and they all recommended the bigger tank.
This little tank did all the welds on this cart, the welds on my sheet metal auto body repairs (quite a bit of welding on that) and a couple of smaller tasks since then, and still has gas left over. For the little bit of welding I do, I will probably get at least 5 years out of a little tank like this.
Tools and Misc
I picked up a plastic parts bin that was around the right size for this project and then built a base out of angle iron to support it. The angle iron is welded directly to the flat steel bottom of the hand truck. This also serves as support for the cart, and I thought I might need some angle supports on it, but this has been working for me so far. Since I could mount my welder sideways on the cart, it kept the center of gravity back enough where this balances fine. If your welder is further forward, you will probably need a more substantial base with some angle brackets.
I painted this thing using Rustoleum "Hammered" paint. This was a little more "winging it" since I just happened to see this on the shelf when I was going to buy some normal paint and thought "why not?" It's nice to have a project where it really doesn't matter how you paint it so you can experiment a little. This paint went on real nice (I don't remember for sure, but I used either a cheap disposable brush or those cheap foam brushes) and dried quick. I've typically stay away from Rustoleum products because I remember some of them taking forever to dry, but I'm glad I took a chance on this because it looks pretty cool and is holding up real well.
This project just worked out great. As I mentioned earlier, I didn't spend a lot of time planning this out. I pretty much went out a bought a bunch of stuff that I thought might work, and started putting it all together.
The welding cart has worked out great for me over the years. The small tank of gas actually lasted me about 10 years, so I made the right call on that one. I liked the Rustoleum Hammered paint so much that I've used it on all kinds of other stuff. It's pretty tough stuff, it doesn't require a primer, and it goes on easy and dries fast.