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Old 04-09-2013, 12:56 PM
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Best sheet metal for fabing patches?

I'm going to be learning to weld sheet metal and would like to buy some material to weld a few small spots (part of a rocker and the dog leg on a wheel arch). I'd also to practice on with cut pieces welded to itself.

So what am I looking for as far as material? I'd guess 16 or 18 GA. Is the stuff in the hardware store rack ok to use?

I'm guessing anything I buy will need to be degreased and sanded before doing anything with it. But I figured, I'd find the right stuff before I begin.

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Old 04-09-2013, 01:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 777funk View Post
I'm going to be learning to weld sheet metal and would like to buy some material to weld a few small spots (part of a rocker and the dog leg on a wheel arch). I'd also to practice on with cut pieces welded to itself.

So what am I looking for as far as material? I'd guess 16 or 18 GA. Is the stuff in the hardware store rack ok to use?

I'm guessing anything I buy will need to be degreased and sanded before doing anything with it. But I figured, I'd find the right stuff before I begin.
18 Gauge cold rolled steel. Can buy sheets at a metal place and have them cut it into squares for you.
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Old 04-09-2013, 03:51 PM
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Yes, clean up the metal before you start practicing, wipe it down to de-grease it and run a DA with 80 grit over the surface to have the metal in the same condition as it would be on a car when doing a repair. 18 gauge would also be an excellent gauge to use when your learning your mig, it's a fairly heavy gauge and perfect to learn on. When you get more polished at welding it may be a good idea to move to a thinner gauge. Welding on thick metal is easier than welding on thin metal and the metal on most cars today (and please, feel free to correct me if I'm wrong) is about 22 or 24 gauge which is quite a bit thinner than what cars used to made of. Thinner metal will warp easier than thicker metal, that is where the set up on your welder is important. You want to be in one spot long enough to get good penetration with your weld but not so long that you get to much heat and cause damage by warping the metal.

I have seen some people that really know what they're doing weld two pieces of metal together that almost as thin as a piece of paper (well, really thin metal anyway)...I've done a fair amount of welding but am no where near being in that league.

Ray
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Old 04-09-2013, 05:59 PM
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Newer cars have thinner skins as mentioned in the 22 to 24 gage range. I think they used 18 in the 1930s at least on the classics of that era. The 50s, 60s, and at least early 70s used 20 gage but the roofs and rocker panels were 19 gage. Best to use dial or digital caliper to check what you have.
Sheet Metal Gage Thickness -- Technical Notes
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Old 04-09-2013, 06:33 PM
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I used to get 20 ga paint grip. It had a silver coating on it that kept it from rusting ( stored inside) without a greasey coating or black mill scale. No problem welding right through the coating. I had no problem finding this when I lived in mid Mo. but now that I live deeper in the Ozarks they look at me like I'm asking for unobtanium when I try to get it.
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Old 04-09-2013, 06:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Chevymon View Post
Newer cars have thinner skins as mentioned in the 22 to 24 gage range. I think they used 18 in the 1930s at least on the classics of that era. The 50s, 60s, and at least early 70s used 20 gage but the roofs and rocker panels were 19 gage. Best to use dial or digital caliper to check what you have.
Sheet Metal Gage Thickness -- Technical Notes
You are correct, 18 gauge is what they used in the early cars, Ford for sure, I've done several of that vintage of Ford and it was 18 gauge for all my replacement metal. Welding that gauge is a dream when you compare it to some of the metal on cars today.

Ray
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Old 04-10-2013, 08:19 AM
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its pretty expensive at Home depot and lowes compared to a big sheet from a metal supplier.
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Old 04-10-2013, 07:52 PM
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I just had a crazy thought. What about cutting up an old 5 Gal lacquer thinner can? I don't know the thickness but I'd guess the side material is around 0.030" or so. Can't imagine welding that though. I think the top and bottom are a little thicker. Most of us have plenty of those laying around.
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Old 04-10-2013, 08:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 777funk View Post
I just had a crazy thought. What about cutting up an old 5 Gal lacquer thinner can? I don't know the thickness but I'd guess the side material is around 0.030" or so. Can't imagine welding that though. I think the top and bottom are a little thicker. Most of us have plenty of those laying around.
As much as the idea is great, it may not be that safe. Fumes can hang around those cans for years, even if they've been opened. It's similar to welding a gas tank...unless it's filled with either an inert gas or filled with water, welding on an empty gas tank is dangerous. It would be a little difficult to cut open an old thinner can with water in it but, without water, those grinder sparks or whatever you use to cut it apart, if it makes sparks... it could be dangerous.

For the cost of 1/2 sheet of 18 gauge or 22 to 24 gauge that may be the route to take. A 4 X 8 sheet of 18 gauge cold rolled or satin coat steel should run no more than $60 to $80 dollars tops. I know I paid less than that but, regardless 1/2 a 4 X 8 sheet for under $50... a lot safer and possibly cheaper in the long run.

Sorry my friend, I wouldn't do it.

Ray
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Old 04-10-2013, 08:40 PM
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As much as the idea is great, it may not be that safe. Fumes can hang around those cans for years, even if they've been opened. It's similar to welding a gas tank...unless it's filled with either an inert gas or filled with water, welding on an empty gas tank is dangerous. It would be a little difficult to cut open an old thinner can with water in it but, without water, those grinder sparks or whatever you use to cut it apart, if it makes sparks... it could be dangerous.

For the cost of 1/2 sheet of 18 gauge or 22 to 24 gauge that may be the route to take. A 4 X 8 sheet of 18 gauge cold rolled or satin coat steel should run no more than $60 to $80 dollars tops. I know I paid less than that but, regardless 1/2 a 4 X 8 sheet for under $50... a lot safer and possibly cheaper in the long run.

Sorry my friend, I wouldn't do it.

Ray
Yeah, more just a convenience thing than anything else. I've cut those cans before to make pieces to work with for this or that. I don't remember how I did it but I'd think I had it in mind about the sparks. I proabably used a tin snips once I had a cut of some sort started.
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Old 04-10-2013, 08:48 PM
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Tin snips would work but it is real thick metal as you said...how about going to a wrecking yard and getting a hood to cut up...if you get one with damage, I'm sure you could pick it up for $5 or $10. Even if you went to a body shop, they have scrap fenders and hoods that if you had to pay a $5 bill would cover it and give you the pick of the scrap.

Just a thought.

Ray
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Old 04-10-2013, 09:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tresi View Post
I used to get 20 ga paint grip. It had a silver coating on it that kept it from rusting ( stored inside) without a greasey coating or black mill scale. No problem welding right through the coating. I had no problem finding this when I lived in mid Mo. but now that I live deeper in the Ozarks they look at me like I'm asking for unobtanium when I try to get it.
The best way to learn is always with a project ,after all nesessaty is the mother of invention.
You can buy scrapes of paint grip at your local sheet metal shop ,(a place that makes heat and air ducts for instance.they are also great for having them put bends in the metal because they have all the tools like brakes and they'll most likly bend a couple for free if you talk about your projects and just shoot the bull for a few minutes.
I never buy full sheets ,a cut off of say 3'x 4' will just be put aside with a bunch of others collecting dust they'll be more than happy to sell you some for a couple bucks (bring a 20 and see what they give you).and they'll put a few bends in them for you too, so you can make door bottoms and stuff.having a 90 degree bend thats a 1/2" wide is very usefull....if you have the extra cash to blow thats the way to do it.
if you want some free metal go the your local collision shop ,hoods, door skins,van sides are aslo great and FREE whats really nice is using this stuff for patcning your cars because it has epoxy on both sides so you save lots of money and time not having to prime anything first and its easy to see a mark from your sharpie marker AND easier to clean than bare metal,(lots of advantages here,I still save and use my big panels for patches...
ok,I've never tried welding a lacquer can because I never had to weld anything that thin.start out with the gauge you NEED to weld (like that rust hole in the daikly driver) or just make a box or something if you cant find anything around that needs welding...
most guys wont have an empty 5 gallon lacquer can but a gallon can almost everyone will have.although soldering would be a better choice if you want to play with one, opening one is easy but use tin snips not a grinder just start cutting the top off by following the bottom of the seam the snips will follow the seam and make a perfectly straight cut ,I do this all the time because I save all my gallon cans of reducer ,thinner, clear or whatever to mix paint for overall paint jobs .even with the top on theres no cause to worry about an exploision while welding a thinner can as long as the top (cap) is off. you can only get an explosion if its sealed tight...and if your really worried throw a match in the can first, the most it'll do is make a quick poof and thats only if it hasnt sat with the top off so the solvents can evaporate.... A auto gas tank or drum is a totaly different story they're much bigger so that little poof multiplied 55 times could turn into anything from cinging your eyebrows off to a trip to the burn unit....
I can sum it all up with a story.....LOL...
20 or so years ago I went to the flea market and there was a guy there selling special welding rods (a kit really) for welding aluminum.he was demonstrating them by welding (high temp soldering really) beer cans... I was so impressed I bought the kit ...took it to the shop to show the shop guru and he said thats pretty cool......next time I need to weld two beer can together I keep it in mind....

Last edited by deadbodyman; 04-10-2013 at 09:39 PM.
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Old 04-10-2013, 09:58 PM
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Hey Mike, I saw a thinner can in Northern Alberta with the sides blown right out of it...a shop owner got POed at all the cigarette butts on the floor every night so he gave the boys a real big ash tray...I don't know if there was thinner still in it or what but you can guess what happened. The can let go at the seams and when I saw it the top with all the ears holding it on was gone. I've cut the tops off of reducer cans to use as paint mixing cans to but I always run hot water through them before I cut the top off.

Ray
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Old 04-11-2013, 06:16 AM
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on a side note

u didn't say what your welding the patch on.. but if its a new veh with a computer, its a good idea to disconnect the neg side of battery before welding.. don't need to play around with the computer sys = $$$$$$$$
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Old 04-11-2013, 06:36 AM
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well it wouldnt be the first time I was wrong..was it thinner or something like acitone with vapors heavier than air? It seems like there would have to be quite a bit in there.
I havent used a grinder to remove a cans top in years, I kinda like my eye brows,but I'd NEVER throw one out until I reused it, tin snips are a lot quicker and cleaner.wrap masking tape around the edge as soon as you get the top off ,It bites
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