You can make money in handrails and other ornamental and decorative ironwork, but get ready to have the squirrels fall out of the trees. I do them but don't count on them for anything nor do I really consider them profitable. I have yet to sell anyone on aluminum or stainless once they find out both cost considerably more than steel. I let my partner handle the rails. If they can handle the cost I do the artsy stuff, but it is never cheap. Surprisingly in the last year I have had maybe 10 calls for aluminum (none handrails) and zero for stainless and I live in New Orleans, lol.
I don't build trailers. I just modify them, and repair them. There is no way that I can compete with the manufacturers. I would sell decorative steel security doors, but even my supplier can't compete with the cheap crap from China that Lowes and Home Depot sell, and that is mostly all anyone around here wants. I don't mess with the iron fencing anymore. I just fix the messes these guys who don't use levels and squares make. Incidentally, they mostly don't speak english either.
Learn all of the processes on all materials, and get good at them. Putting all of your eggs in one basket is always a bad idea. I know how to Tig aluminum as well as stainless, steel, cast iron, copper, titanium, monel, inconel, get the picture, and mostly never even get approached for them. Learn to use a Mig, yes it works well on aluminum and is much faster than Tig. Speed makes the customer happy. The faster you can do it the cheaper you can do it.
Learn to use sticks. Simply because there are many many things that Tig is not well suited for, and the same goes for Mig. If you plan on making welding a career the more versatile you are the better off you are.
Give the customer excellent work and they will always use you, and most will wait until you can get to them. I have 6 weeks of work lined up right now from one customer, simply because of the quality of work I give and knowing more about what I do than anyone around.
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11-03-2007, 08:17 PM #18Senior Member
Lincoln: Eagle 10,000, Weld-Pak HD, Weld-Pak 155, AC-225, LN-25 wirefeeder
- Join Date
- Aug 2007
- New Orleans, LA
Miller: Syncrowave 250DX Tigrunner
Westinghouse: 400+ amp AC
ThermalArc Handy wirefeeder
1 Harris, 3 Victor O/A rigs
Too many other power toys to list.
Do it right, do it once. And in all things ya get what ya pay for.