Session 5 – Metal and Wood Coffee Table

Session 5 - Project WEST

Project WEST – Weld Experience Support Training

Session 5 - Project WEST

I’ve got that sinking feeling. You know the one right down in your gut. This post is Session 5 – Metal and Wood Coffee Table but first I have to talk about this other thing…

My husband got an amazing job offer we can’t pass up and we will be moving cities. I mean we are beyond excited for a new chapter in our lives. My sinking feeling is to do with this project. Change is always great, but I would hate to leave this city without finishing this Project WEST build. To leave and not follow through on something I started; something I SAID I would do.

Somehow I have to find the time to make this happen.

Luckily JUST in time, our daycare is opened back up after COVID-19 closures. TRU is not open yet and Ryan is not back to welding school for another week. PERFECT. This is the window of opportunity we have been needing to clear some time and get to work.

Session 5 – Metal and Wood Coffee Table

Finish assembling the table base.

Ryan welding coffee table - Session 5

Session 4 we plumbed and tacked the longer side pieces in place. Not ideal to leave those unsupported or not tied into the rest of the shape. It’s just where we got to and had time for. Ideally tying all pieces together creates a strong finished fabricated piece and is a better practice, so here we are the very next day making it happen.

Attach the other large rectangle on top of the plumbed sides.

We are talking about how welds affect squareness as they shrink and how sometimes using that shrinkage strategically to achieve a perfectly square base is possible. And something to keep in mind. Distortion control techniques are always important. Tacking or clamping a project down is my usual technique. But that is not possible on a cement garage floor.

I admit I do not know how to use weld shrinkage techniques well because I have no idea how to calculate for it. I am sure there IS a formula and a way to figure that out but I also think its a bit of a feeling that comes from experience and doing.

Coffee Table base welding - Session 5

Ryan asked if we could just try it as an experiment, “after all, that’s what this whole project is all about, right?”

He’s right.

So we did. Our base is now tacked together and we are ready to weld a few joints. We both talked through what we thought would happen. We welded and found that reality was exactly the opposite of what we thought would happen. That’s the experience part I mentioned earlier.

We measure large top rectangle and decide to weld 2 opposite inner corner joints in the hopes that it would shrink and pull the longer diagonal measurement together, back into square.

We measure again after those welds. It actually ‘grew’ in dimension. Out 1/2″

Ryan coffee table welding - Session 5

Oh no, that sinking stomach feeling again. Im now feeling VERY worried I have just led Ryan into making a project that was so terribly constructed it would be embarrassing for BOTH of us. And putting some terrible work into the world that everyone will see, judge or be obligated to promote…. okay, I’m spiralling into a worst-case scenario there.

Its an experiment. And at this point, I didn’t really have a choice but to carry on and try the ‘opposite’ idea.

Welding the ‘opposite welds’ of what we anticipate actually brought the squareness back to where we started and brought back a little confidence in myself.

Coffee Table Build

Continuing that “opposite than what we think” system, we were able to weld these joints and bring the whole base back to within 3/16”. FEWF! A relief but also a little disappointing when I’ve been going on to Ryan about being picky to end up ‘within an eighth’.

We went ahead and made things easier on ourselves by flipping the whole frame to complete each weld after the whole base was all tacked together. I’m not that mean. He is a beginner. I’m not gonna make him do it all the welds out-of-position.

Session 5 - Coffee Table base weld out

Session 5 – Metal and Wood Coffee Table

I’m feeling a sense of pride in Ryans’ welds and that is taking me by surprise. What a strange, incredible feeling! This feeling must be what teachers of all kinds feel. This could get addicting.

Below is one of his first welds – the tiny little 1″ weld I got this feeling from. They are very hard to take good pictures of but there are points I am proud of here.

Can I geek out talking about his weld beads for a minute?

It’s a pretty even thickness all the way along the 1″. The ripples of the bead are nice and even. Both top and bottom edge are fused nicely to the parent material if a little wavy. His start is not a huge bulb. It is free of porosity bubbles and even wraps down that starting corner nicely to tie into the next weld. If I squint I can see 3 tiny spatter balls, but I will make him clean his welds and chip those off. His bead end is not a massive crater void. It is nice and full and even. Overall the colour is that lovely ‘blue steel’ which shows it was properly shielded during welding.

Okay. Geek out over.

Session 5 - Result. Coffee Table base assembled and weld out started

Again we are using my Miller Maxstar machine) with 3/32” 7018 Rod and about 90 Amps and 50% arc force. *Keep in mind settings are approximate and will vary depending on machine and welder.

Session 5 Takeaways

The more I think about moving and watching the results of this project from afar, the more I actually like it. I chose the daycare my son attends as the recipient of this project and now, that he won’t be going there anymore, it makes that donation feel even better.

This Project WEST build won’t benefit him directly. But it will benefit some of his little friends and their parents (our friends) in a community we no longer live in – and that is just so perfectly what I hope this model will continue to do.

I can live with 3/16″.

Stay Awesome,


Session 5 - Project WEST

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