Starting a fabrication shop

Discussion in '<a href=' started by justractors, Nov 11, 2001.

  1. justractors

    justractors LawnSite Member
    Messages: 39

    I have been considering starting a small welding and fabrication shop in Northern Michigan.
    I currently have a Millermatic 250 wire feed, Lincoln AC/DC stick welder, decent oxy/acet torch set, 7" amd 4 1/2" grinders, and a fairly heavy duty three in-one-lathe, mill, and drill press.
    I have a lead on a 52" shear with a 1/4" capacity and a brake with 10 gauge capacity that are affordable.
    I would prefer to stay in-shop and stay away from any portable equipment.
    In this part of the world I would be able to stay busy building accessories for golf carts while the business built up.
    There are no small fabrication shops in this area now and the large ones have no desire to do many small piece work jobs.
    Any comments, suggestions, or advice would be appreciated.
    Thanks in advance.
  2. stslawncare

    stslawncare LawnSite Bronze Member
    from DE
    Messages: 1,484

    i think someone should start one for landscapers and farmers
  3. justractors

    justractors LawnSite Member
    Messages: 39

    That would be prinmarily what I am interested in doing.
    I also like to build small garden type tractors and attachments. I have built a couple of front buckets for them and have an old Panzer that I am building one for now.
    I have also built a super heavy duty log splitter with a hydraulic loader for the big stuff.
    For me it is very interesting to design and build items such as these and to also put an older machine back into operation after everyone else has given up on it.
    I have also done a few one of a kind trailers for local folks.
  4. CT18fireman

    CT18fireman LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 611

    Though I am a landscaper my fully equipped shop means I often do repairs and fabrication for others. Of course I charge for this but it is also a change of pace that is enjoyable work. I think maybe I should convince 75 to move here and go full into that line of work.
  5. 75

    75 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 992

    Bill - sounds like you've got a good selection of equipment already, one item I would invest in right away is a good chop saw. Other items such as steel racks, bench and horses you can easily fab yourself.

    Depending on what sort of projects you will be doing, a couple of spark blankets (for protecting things like glass/paint on vehicles you are working on) may be worth getting. They ain't cheap, but then neither is replacing glass!

    You may already have this, but a "rosebud" (heating tip) for the torch is handy when you have to sock the heat to something you're trying to either bend (fabricating) or straighten (repair welding!)

    Some sort of material handling equipment is almost a must-have also - I'm thinking of something like a chain hoist on an overhead beam.

    Don't skimp on a fabbing bench - we used a 4' x 8' sheet of 5/8" plate for one of ours at work. That gives you something solid enough to be able to pound on, tack to etc without it distorting. (I know, $$$ now but the bench will last you a l-o-n-g time!)

    We also have a torch cutting table, which is basically an open grid 4' x 8', built from flat bars stood on edge, leaving about 6" square openings. You can throw anything up on the table and cut away without having to block it up or worry about supporting the cutoff piece.

    And it sounds like you have a good "niche" market in your area too. Even though I work at this trade full-time, I also enjoy working on projects for myself and people I know - such as the bulk of the fab work on my old '75 GMC, grinder stands and other shop tools, and the currently under-construction rear gate/ramp for a friend's utility trailer.
  6. rdln

    rdln LawnSite Member
    Messages: 18

    another market in your area might be custom mobile elevated hunting platforms, theres a lot of rich hunt club owners around that dont want to work for thier game. Get liability insurance especially for those trailers.
  7. UnionWelder

    UnionWelder LawnSite Member
    Messages: 6

    Just lease with 3,500 SQ Building for Welding repair and lance. There is alot of farmer around this town. Start my business not too long ago. But it growing and growing. Great I pick great spot for My business. Yeah Alway first start off with small thing to weld like cart, go kart, Dune buggy, and there thousand to make and profit!!

    for two year, I work as welder start at home using my huge shed. untiul this year decide to register business name and lease building on Busy HWY.

  8. Alan Bechard

    Alan Bechard LawnSite Member
    Messages: 175

    Finding the niche where you fit in and the specialty that you service is important. Sounds like you have that with Golf Carts.

    Having a couple of products that you can sit in the shop and build when there is no repair work coming in the door is a good thing to have as well.

    If you can find something or know of something that you can easily repair that people usually replace and you can get for free or real cheap can give you some nice income in your shop. (I do bent and mangled sportbike Motorcycle controls)

    You will never go hungry with your skills as a welder in this day and age. Pick the work that you want to do and turn away the other things. Resist the temptation to bid low to get work into the shop, most often I find that is when I am the unhappiest.

    Do not try and compete with someone bulding something on a production line. The 5X 8 trailers coming out of Sykeston MO for example. They sell them ready to go for $350 to $400, heck, I end up with that in materials, but ask for motorcycle rails and a split drop loading ramp, nifty little ties in the corner, a gas can mount on the side, That is what you can do that they cannot compete with.

    Give me a call sometime if you would like to talk about it. e-mail me for the #

    Al Bechard
  9. Gravel Rat

    Gravel Rat LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 9,544

    Good luck on the venture getting into a steel fab business is a hard bus to get into make sure you have the right experience todo the jobs you want to tackle and go for it. Don't expect tobe making money right off the bat it probably will take a year before you start making a profit. Once you build a name for yourself then you will start making money you will make more money building things that people (Customers) are going to need doing welding repairs isn't a big money maker.

    I have been welding since I was 14 and worked in my families steelfab shop we never did get into milling with lathes etc we just build large projects like barges etc.

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