- Arts and Design
28 Metalworking Projects and Ideas!
Easy, Exciting, and Profitable Project Ideas:
Working with metal is a rewarding experience because you get to create amazing things from your garage or small workshop. You can create all kinds of handy metalwork or works of art from jewelry to large sheet metal projects. If smaller projects interest you then you'll want to read my article (or Squidoo Lens) on small metalworking ideas, so stay tuned for that.
If you want to make metalwork projects to sell there is good news! In this terrible economy making custom products like some of the ones I am going to suggest below can be sold for nice profit. Custom metal work is a good route to take since your quality work cannot be sourced to China and your projects will be much better quality, and that's what people pay for.
However, working with metal is a wonderful hobby. Most people who work with metal do so with the intention of building or fixing things for their home, farm, or shop. Or, they like to work on small projects from jewelry, hanging wall art, garden art, and much more.
Now lets go through my list of other excellent and simple metalworking project ideas for you to consider.
Outdoor Fireplace Project!
Fire Pit or Outdoor Fireplace: There are all types of fire pit designs you can find online. Some are free, others you will pay for. You can also create your own design. But if you are new to metalwork it's best to follow a set of plans.
This fire pit project is ideal for easy because the video provides you with the plans and step by step directions, making it super easy for you to follow. The design of this fireplace is very good in my opinion. This would make a great first time project!
Weld Up A Fireplace!
This is a older book but it's loaded with projects. And the cool thing about this book is that each project teaches something that helps you complete the next harder project until you literally become able to build anything with metal.
Metalworking Projects For Beginners:
- Table: You can make a metal table for your home or office, or you can make a welding table for metalwork projects. There are some really good plans and designs with directions on how to build them (along with excellent metalwork advice) for end tables, decorative tables, a quality welding table and much more in Welding Complete.
- Headache Rack: A headache rack is a metal 'barrier' that is installed behind a trucks cab or a tractors cab which shields the driver and occupants in the cab from any material from crushing the window and injuring the occupants. These racks are often ornamental to ad more aesthetics to the truck or tractor. They are really easy to make and very desirable in the trucking niche.
- Plant Stand: A plant stand can be as simple as a steel rod with a simple hook attachment at the top (and a base), or it can be a very artistic multi-plant stand that requires lots of work. They are generally simple to make and homeowners buy them frequently, especially sturdy well made ones.
- Animal Garden Art:While we are discussing garden stakes, which are the most popular forms of garden art, the second most popular form of garden art are animals that you make from scrap metal, or you can buy materials from your local supplier.
You can make anything from a cute little pig, to a horse or even something more exotic like a tiger, giraffe, or a horse (how about a unicorn?).
- Tool Rack: Every shop or homeowner needs to organize their tools and have easy access to them. A simple rack for your tools is a dead simple project. It could be a good first project for you, and the materials are very inexpensive.
- Storage Rack: This is also a very handy project that can be very easy to complete, however the materials cost will be higher than something like a tool rack. It's still a good first time project, and the materials aren't that expensive. It'll cost you more to buy one that you have to put together, and yours will be much better and last a lifetime.
- Garden Stakes: I like garden stakes because they are super easy to make, and they can be fun to make as well. But what's even more fun is that people love them and you can sell them for three to four times your materials cost depending one what you make.
- Garden Bench: One of my favorite projects is the construction of a metal or wood and metal garden bench. They are fairly easy to make, they look great, and people want to buy them.
- Small Hanging Wall Art:Using sheet metal you can trace a simple design and cut it out with a plasma torch, acetylene torch, sheers, or even a grinder. It depends on the shape. Start with a simple shape if you are just staring out. Maybe a sun, and then affix a wall hanging fixture on the back or weld one on the top for hanging.
You can also create a basic coat rack, key rack, a shelf, or a mirror. These are all simple and desirable metalwork projects that people will buy.
Barbecue Grill Metalwork Project:
Grill: A barbecue is always a winning metalworking project because it'll get used, and when you have people over you can show off your metalwork skills.
This is pretty much a must do project and you don't need to be a master metalworker because there are many simple designs you can find online, or you can buy them.
You can also make a good one out of a 55 gallon drum (see below).
Welding and Metalwork Book Suggestion:
This is my top 1 or 2 books on welding because not only does it have project blueprints, it has step by step directions on what parts to get first, second, third, etc. and when to put each of them together to ultimately complete each project fairly easily.
Intermediate Metalworking Projects:
- Garden Trellis: A garden trellis is not difficult to make, so you may want to consider it as a first time project. However, they are highly sought after by homeowners and business owners so it would be a good money making project if that is your thing. But if you are doing it as a hobby you should make one for your home because your wife or husband will be really impressed by your accomplishment. Not to mention it will make your garden look amazing. Who knows, maybe your kids or friends will get married under it?
- Coal or Wood Burning Stove (Hexagon):Since we are discussing grills and barbecues (above), we must discuss the building of a coal or wood burning stove.
Building a wood burning or coal stove is not an easy project but it will be a very rewarding one. You'll want a set of plans for sure.
The design pictured here is a hexagonal stove and it is really gorgeous, and it does not take up much room. It's great for just about any room, garage, or shop. If this interests you let me know.
- Decorative Gate: A well made decorative gate is can be a challenge for some metalworkers because bending metal to make ornamental scrolls can be difficult if you don't know how to make a jig for your scroll-work. But you'll need to make a jig sooner or later so why not start by making an ornamental gate for your home. Once you make a nice one, take a picture and post it on Facebook and see if you get any work as a result of it. You might be surprised by your results.
- Sandbox Backhoe: Switching gears to something for the kids...a solid backhoe toy is something all the kids will love. So if you have more than one child you may want to build two. You can create your own design or use the image here for inspiration. This will be a fun project for you, and even more fun for your kids.
- Wheelbarrow:The easiest route to take when making a wheel barrow is to build a wheel barrow without any bends in the sheet metal like the one shown here. This was built by Toshi in India with minimal tools and resources.
However, if you have the tools then have at it. Otherwise a wheelbarrow makes a handy project and it can be quite simple. Especially like the one shown here. It was built with minimal tools.
- Large Hanging Metal Wall Art:You can make larger wall hanging artwork that are as large or larger than you couch. This requires you to use sheet metal in most cases because it's easy to work with. For example, if you want to create a Western Scene with a field and horses you can easily sketch the scene on the sheet metal and then cut it out. If you want a brushed metal look you can achieve this using your tools like a grinder.
You can use a plasma torch or an acetylene torch to cut the shapes or scenes. But this will require an artists steady hand. So practice before you waste your sheet metal. Try making smaller projects first.
Some metalworkers have a Plasma Cam that cuts the exact scene out on the sheet metal. This is an ideal way to get artwork done fast and efficiently. You simply upload a picture, tell the machine to cut the picture out, and it's done in a few minutes or a few seconds depending on how complicated it is.
Decorative Metal Projects (Scrollwork):
There are all kinds of projects you can create from metal scrollwork. And making the scrollwork is fun to do. In order to create scrolls you need to build a simple jig on your welding or woodworking table, and then make the bends by hand. You can also buy jigs for around $80 - $200 or more which will save you time.
Scrollwork projects include common projects like gates or fences. You can also trun ordinary metalwork projects like garden benches, tables, and chairs into beautiful works of art. But the most uncommon ones are the ones you come up with yourself.
Pictured here is a beautiful plant stand made by metal artist Gary Horky.
Advanced Metalworking Projects:
- Trailer:There are all kinds of trailers you can build, but the best first build should be one that you yourself can use, otherwise it will just sit in your driveway, unless you want to sell it of course. And there is a large market for well made trailers.
Utility trailers are probably the most popular. Eight foot or sixteen foot should be the sizes you should build. However, you can also build motorcycle trailers, small utility trailers for ATV's, or even a bicycle trailer.
If you find that these sell well, then you'll want to build a jig for the design that sells so you can pop them out fast.
- Motorcycle Frame:You would be surprised out how rewarding a good chopper frame can be to make. All you need is some welding skills, a jig for the frame, frame plans, and you are off.
Be very careful with your welds because your life depends on how well you build your frame. I suggest building a hardtail frame first because it's easier to build than a softail. You may want to build the jig as well because buying a completed jig (that is not guaranteed to be well made) will save you some money.
- Motorcycle Gas Tank: You can buy all kinds of motorcycle gas tanks for your scooter but making one is a very rewarding project. If you make a good one you'll find that there is a market for it. And if you can airbrush you will be selling them like hot cakes!
- Hot Rod Chassis: If have the room, consider building a hot rod chassis. If you can build a motorcycle frame, you can build a hot rod chassis. You'll need a jig, plans, materials, tools, and room to make it. Just be prepared to build for a long time because not only will you build the chassis, you'll need to get the rod completed. But it can be done, even at home.
- Go Kart: A go kart is an ideal project that can be a good first step into building a motorcycle frame or hot rod chassis. Building a go kart might be considered more of an intermediate project, however it's not easy. But it is fun.
Scrap Metal and Recycled Metalworking Projects:
- Bed Frames: What can you build from bed frames? I know of two guys who built a backyard gate from an old bed frame, and another guy built a Potting Stand and Table.
- Bear Keg: You can build a little grill out of a beer keg. It won't be pretty but it will be cool, not to mention you will be saving it from the landfill or dumped on the side of a road. What can you build out of an old beer keg?
- Horseshoes:How many horseshoes can you find this weekend? I bet you can find quite a few if you have a farm or a ranch nearby. I am also sure they would love to get rid of their old ones. If not, you can buy them on eBay or even Amazon.com.
There are many projects you can make from horseshoes. For example, you can make a really cool wine rack in about 20 minutes. Another idea is to make a coat rack or a hat rack...
How to make horseshoe hooks: take 3 horse shoes and a rasp and weld them together. It's really easy and a neat decoration for your home or office.
- 55 Gallon Barrel: There's tons of these barrels around. You can make a nice barbecue, a smoker, or you can even make a compost barrel. Make sure you choose a barrel that is not dangerous to work with because if it contained toxic chemicals or liquids, or the metal was treated you will be in for trouble. Fortunately many are safe to work with. But just do your due diligence.
- Railroad Spikes:You can find railroad spikes near railroads, in scrap yards, and you can buy them on eBay. You can look on Craigslist.org as well. With railroad spikes you can make such things as knives, hatchets, or even a plant hanger. These projects require blacksmithing skills.
There's tons of recyclable material to use in your metalwork projects. The ones above are easy to to source and fairly simple to make. Post some ideas or your projects. I would love to see and read about them.
A Good Welder Is What You Need Now!
You'll need several types of tools to get started working with metal, and a good welder will be one of your most used tools because you need to join metal together. Below are two welders that I highly recommend.
Use Your Imagination!
Metalwork is truly a fun and rewarding hobby and profession. But the best part of building metalwork projects for fun or profit is that you don't necessarily need a lot of tools and experience, unless you are building things that peoples lives depend upon (like motorcycle or car frames as described above).
And you can create and shape metal with tools that are not very expensive or might be available through a friend or neighbor.
Once you start bending and welding you'll be hooked. And soon you'll be thinking of what your next project or work of art will be. For example, do you see this tree house pictured here? How cool is that? Building something amazing and worthwhile is right in front of you. Get started and post your ideas or questions here (below).
This article covered larger projects that don't require tons of skill or artistic ability, although some are challenging and you can tweak them as you see fit. If you want ideas on smaller metalwork ideas you should stay tuned because I have a new article that covers over fifteen small metalwork projects that you will love!