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post #1 of (permalink) Old 02-09-2007, 09:16 PM Thread Starter
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How do you become a better fabricator?

I've been at the rig building game for around 6 years slowly learning how to do it. I can usually cut decent with a torch and lay a decent bead with a mig on a bench, overheads and virticles are 50/50 good/ bad, and get things kinda square/within in spec. I'm to the point now that things turn out decent when i'm patient and focus but I know i'm not making things perfect/ pro grade. I know practice is a biggie but any other tips to becomming a better fabricator?
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 02-09-2007, 09:54 PM
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Re: How do you become a better fabricator?

Measure twice, cut once.
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post #3 of (permalink) Old 02-09-2007, 10:28 PM
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Re: How do you become a better fabricator?

It's tough to learn on your own, sure practice helps but nothings beats learning from a pro whether it's golf, poker or welding. Maybe a night class?
Good luck
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post #4 of (permalink) Old 02-09-2007, 10:51 PM
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Re: How do you become a better fabricator?

Practice, have a plan of what you want to achieve and final goal, be patient, try to learn new things, learn the point at which you stop trying to fix a problem and start over, some things are easier/ quicker to buy than re-invent the wheel, learn from others mistakes, those are the few I can think of quickly.
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post #5 of (permalink) Old 02-10-2007, 07:17 AM
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Re: How do you become a better fabricator?

Fabricating and learning to fabricate are not the same. If you're in a learning mode you must throw time and material considerations out the window. As you work on something, if you see a better way to do it, or something isn't behaving exactly the way you want, you must stop and think. Figure out what to do differently. Then try again, starting over if necessary.

If you're in the fabricating mode you should always be on the lookout for better ways, of course, but you don't need to back up for a do-better if what you have is good enough.

Working with other people will accelerate the learning. Even if they don't know more than you, encourage them to share ideas, and then try them out.

If you can't learn from someone with more experience, practice is the only teacher.

Don't you wish those "building things" shows would show how they build things? I used to get so irritated at Americah Chopper that I'd yell at the TV, but I learned to not even turn it on. Phooey!
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post #6 of (permalink) Old 02-10-2007, 08:35 AM
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Re: How do you become a better fabricator?

From what I've seen of you Andy, you are a decent fabricator. And you're becoming a better one with maturity and practice. You've been planning, researching, and asking questions before you start a project. That couldn't have been said a few years ago. IMHO, you've made marked progress. You're already getting pretty good with the tool side of the craft. That's only one side of the fabrication equation.

The next step is to start understanding metals, alloys, their characteristics and chemistry. How do you lighten a part without making it weaker? How do you join two parts and make the whole stronger. How far do you want to go? Do you want a whole machine shop at your disposal like Jim_Lou? Then you'll be in a lifetime loop of learning.

So in short, plan your work and then work your plan. You're doing well... [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif[/img]
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post #7 of (permalink) Old 02-10-2007, 06:39 PM
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Re: How do you become a better fabricator?

Measure with a micrometer
Mark with chalk
Cut with an axe

A beer or two helps me hehe

In seriousness I started welding for a frame shop in the evenings. The guys who worked there had welded for years and he got massive headaches from doing it. So he taught me to weld and any time that he needed some welding done on his rig or one of his friends rigs he had me do it. He still welded on the customers stuff. Learning how to fabricate from a dude that could glue a car back together at an angle was a great benefit. You can get experience on your own but having someone who has been there and done that can greatly speed up your ability to learn and save you some costly mistakes. I also strongly suggest stealing any ideas that you like and use them for yourself. It is cool to be different and try different stuff if you have the cash. If you don't I have found I save alot of money when I go with what is known to work and and put my own spin on it.
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post #8 of (permalink) Old 02-10-2007, 07:24 PM
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Re: How do you become a better fabricator?

I learned mostly by working for others. Nice part of that is they pay for your mistakes. Of course in my situation I was only as good as time/ supervision allowed. When I went to work for myself, found I was missing the high priced machinery. So I learned how to do something with nothing. so seeing both sides of it rounded me out. I can build about anything with little of nothing,, but one thing I know for sure is that there ar manny better than I.
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post #9 of (permalink) Old 02-11-2007, 07:11 PM Thread Starter
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Re: How do you become a better fabricator?

Ok, yeah i've been planning a lot more, i'm working on building a crossmember right now for long arms for one of my buddy's xj. I probably have 3-4 hours into it and i havn't really even started the actual "fabrication" yet, lots of scribles and measurments on paper and i've cut 4 pieces of metal to visualize things but that's it. I'm slowly working though it and taking my time.

I really don't have any good "fabrication mentors" up here and there really arn't any 4 wheel drive fab shops around to hang out and learn at. Most of my buddy's fab work isn't great which doesn't help, were usually a bunch of hacks. I took a welding class at my college which was allright but I spent time working on my buggy project instead of in the lab practicing. I do plan on going back in to get better with a stick welder incase I have to teach kids how to weld. Anyone want to hire an "intern" for the summer?
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post #10 of (permalink) Old 02-11-2007, 07:45 PM
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Re: How do you become a better fabricator?

Something I do when creating something is cut cardboard to shape. Use duct tape for the welds and covering mistakes. You can crawl underneath and make a model with scissors.

Once it's right, take it apart and use it as a pattern for cutting it out.

And - get old factory fabbed things - like roll cages. Cut apart the joints to see how good their welds penetrated. Most of the "bars" and "cages" I've done that with are "DOWNRIGHT SCARY!"

An old guy once told me "make the parts mechanically solid, use the welds to simply hold them in place." He hated the words "weld dependent."

It took me years to fully understand his words of wisdom.

And - always think: "If this breaks, then -----."
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