Use Your Noodle
I had no real idea where to begin this journey. I decided to begin with weldment design………..Just what are you gonna build?????????
You see something that’s pretty cool, you need something that’s not already available….or available for a price you can afford, or you just plain figure you can do a better job making something for your own use.
Think about it, and come up with the best idea in your mind. Then go beyond your mind, and see what’s out there.
If it’s something readily available, go and LOOK at one that’s already built. Visit a dealers lot, look at a catalog, visit an equipment dealer. If it’s something popular, chances are that there a million of them out there, already built, and pre-engineered. It’s no sin to copy a successful design (be aware of patents), and add a bit of your own imagination to the mix. Pick, choose, and sift all the available examples……then come up with your own interpretation. THIS COSTS NOTHING. Poor design can cost EVERYTHING.
If it’s a one-off, then look at something similar. Look at the mass, the design, the joint design, the material dimensions (weight, thickness, etc.). Then use your intuition, and some available tools.
If you can find it, get a good book that covers what you’re interested in.
If you can’t find a book that specifically covers the thing you need to make, then look at some simple engineering tools.
SIMPLE BEAM DESIGN: BEAM BOY free download (I just grabbed this link, I’m assuming it’s safe, I forgot where I actually downloaded my copy) A great program for simple load analysis. Use with caution, and apply safety factors. This program assumes static loads. Static loads vary from live loads. And like everything else………make sure you have a comfortable safety factor. Don’t use values that are close to your maximum anticipated loads, add a safety factor. Plug in a heavier load than you anticipate, or make the load a “point” load even if you know it will be a distributed load. USE YOUR COMMON SENSE, AND LOOK AT SOMETHING THAT’S LIKE WHAT YOU’RE BUILDING…….COMPARE WHAT YOU SEE WITH THE RESULTS FROM THE SOFTWARE.
I use this software, and I’ve been very pleased with it. But I use it with common sense in light of my past experience with welding/designing, and with caution.
Have questions???????????? It’s what the comments box is for. I do answer comments. SEE COMMENTS POLICY
The Expensive Stuff
You’ve seen them. The fancy software programs………draw it (CAD), and test it. Lottsa bucks. Worth it if you’re an engineer who actually understands what you’re looking at. Not worth it for the average doood/doooodette. Chances are…..you’re not building the Eiffel Tower, or the Space Shuttle. If you ARE building another Space Shuttle……it’s a good bet…….you’re not reading this 😀 . Personally, I’d stay away from this stuff, but that’s just me.
Buy a sketch pad, and an architects ruler. Whether you use a pen, or a pencil is up to you 🙂 . This stuff doesn’t need updating, there are no newer versions, and they can’t be hacked 🙂 . I really like the large artists sketch pads, they allow you to draw in a larger scale, and do the drawing to closer specs.
How do you use the stupid thing???
Buy a good size you’re comfortable with. They’re available in different lengths. I like something that matches the dimensions of the paper I’m using. Larger rulers also allow for longer continuous lines.
The Scales: The ruler is divided up into 12 different scales. These are a few.In the above- 3 inches will = 1 foot, and 3/4 inch will = 1 foot.In the above – 1 inch will = 1 foot, and 1/4 inch will = 1 foot.
It’s simple to determine the length of line you want to draw by using the small scale at the end of the ruler.
When using 1 inch to the foot, you’ll notice that the small scale is divided into 12 major sections (3″, 6″, 9″, 12″). There are further subdivisions to increase the range you can choose.Other scales are used in a similar mannerA wide variety of scales allows for drawings to fit on the paper. Use the larger scale for detailed views of critical areas.
Some time back, I built a tandem axle flatbed trailer. Scale drawing helped me determine the correct bend point in the main side rails. It also helped determine the angle of the bend.I was also able to determine the angle which the fishplate had to be bent, in conjunction with a precision dial indicator style protractor used directly on the steel as built. I was off about 1 degree from the plans, not bad really.
A ruler, and pencil, is a powerful set of tools.
Where To Find Good Books
The James F. Lincoln Arc Welding Foundation is an excellent source of educational material. Check it out……………
There’s other stuff out there, don’t hesitate to look for it. The internet has some valuable information (as well as a lot of trash 🙂 )