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How-To: Making and Using a T-Bar Dolly with Special '79

 

Here's a tech tip from Jay at Special '79 to help fellow Cultists hone their metal butchering chops. Making your own T-dolly will help you build a variety of fabricating skills and add a useful tool to your garage. T-dollies can be used for many hammering/bending scenarios, but Jay uses his T-dolly to create small, uniform radii along the edge of sheetmetal.

There isn’t much to the anatomy of this useful tool: just a piece of solid steel rod and some thick steel bar. For this exercise, I used the following materials and tools:

ChopCult metal tech: Making a t-dolly and putting a peak in sheetmetal
Here’s a little tech to help you fellow cultists sharpen your metal butching chops.  Making you own t-dolly will help work on a variety of tool handling skills and add a useful tool to your garage.
T-dollies can be used for many hammering/bending scenarios but I often find myself using them to create a small, uniform radius along the edge of sheetmetal.  There isn’t much to the anatomy of this useful tool, just a piece of solid steel rod and some thick steel bar.  For this exercise, I choose to use the following materials and tools.
Materials;
-10” long piece of  7/8” diameter mild steel solid rod
-2 ½” x 6” x ½”mild steel bar
Tools:
-metal files
-4 ½” angle grinder with cut-off, grinding, and flap wheels
-mig welder
First step is to clean up the ends of  the 7/8” solid rod a bit.  You can choose to just take the hard edge off or go wild and round them off nicely.  I used my lathe to shape the ends but it’s pretty easy to tackle the job with the angle grinder and assorted wheels.  Once you have them done, it’s time to prep the piece of 2 ½”x 6” x ½” bar.  I cut my piece out of some ½” plate that I had using the angle grinder, a cut-off disc, and some patience.  Clean up the sharp edges and do some extra chamfering along the edges  you’re going to weld to the solid rod.  I use a simple 110v mig welder to tack the bar to the rod on each end and then lay some beads all the way around.  On something like this, I crank the mig up to the max amp level to ensure plenty of weld penetration.  You can choose to leave the weld as is or practice blending the weld with a flap wheel and angle grinder.  Now you have a t-dolly in your tool box.
For a simple t-dolly exercise we’re going to flare two pieces of 16ga sheetmetal to create a peak to weld. Start by cleaning up two edges of the sheetmetal so they fit together nice and straight.  Clamp your new t-dolly in a sturdy vice and place the first piece of sheetmetal long the top of the t-dolly with the edge hanging over the dollt a bit (as pictured).  Using a body hammer with a smooth, flat face start hammering the metal from one end to the other, moving it down against the radius of the t-dolly.  Visually check the radius and hammer where needed to smooth out the entire length.  Do the same to the 2nd piece of sheetmetal.
After both pieces are hammered to your liking, lay them on a flat surface to check the fit  making sure there are no gaps present.  I use a tig welder on the sheetmetal, but you can do this exercise with a mig welder turned down to the lower amp setting.  Tack the peak in the center first and then close to the ends of the seam.  Weld up the entire seam  and let cool.  Practice more with the flap wheel/angle grinder combo by first smoothing the top of the weld bead, then each side to create a nice even finish.   Practice this with more welded peaks to really get the hang of the whole process.   This concludes this little nugget of  tool making and metal forming knowledge. 
Keep on butchin’

Materials: 10” long piece of  7/8” diameter mild steel solid rod; 2-½” x 6” x ½” thick mild steel bar

Tools: Metal files, 4-½” angle grinder with cut-off, grinding, and flap wheels; MIG welder

First step is to clean up the ends of  the 7/8” solid rod a bit. You can choose to just take the hard edge off or go wild and round them off nicely. I used my lathe to shape the ends but it’s pretty easy to tackle the job with the angle grinder and assorted wheels. Once you have them done, it’s time to prep the piece of 2-½”x 6” x ½” bar. I cut my piece out of some ½” plate that I had using the angle grinder, a cut-off disc, and some patience. Clean up the sharp edges and do some extra chamfering along the edges you’re going to weld to the solid rod. I use a simple 110v MIG welder to tack the bar to the rod on each end and then lay some beads all the way around. On something like this, I crank the MIG up to the max amp level to ensure plenty of weld penetration. You can choose to leave the weld as is or practice blending the weld with a flap wheel and angle grinder. Now you have a T-dolly in your tool box.

 

 

For a simple t-dolly exercise we’re going to flare two pieces of 16ga sheetmetal to create a peak to weld. Start by cleaning up two edges of the sheetmetal so they fit together nice and straight.  Clamp your new t-dolly in a sturdy vise and place the first piece of sheetmetal long the top of the T-dolly with the edge hanging over the dolly a bit (see photo). Using a body hammer with a smooth, flat face. start hammering the metal from one end to the other, moving it down against the radius of the T-dolly. Visually check the radius and hammer where needed to smooth out the entire length.  Do the same to the second piece of sheetmetal.

 

After both pieces are hammered to your liking, lay them on a flat surface to check the fit, making sure there are no gaps present. I use a TIG welder on the sheetmetal, but you can do this exercise with a MIG welder turned down to the lower amp setting. Tack the peak in the center first and then close to the ends of the seam. Weld up the entire seam and let cool. Practice more with the flap wheel/angle grinder combo by first smoothing the top of the weld bead, then each side to create a nice even finish. Practice this with more welded peaks to really get the hang of the whole process. This concludes this little nugget of tool making and metal forming knowledge. 

Keep on butcherin’  

See more of Jay's work at Special '79


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Comment with Chopcult (27)

Commented on 11-1-2010 At 01:36 pm
 

cool. I gotta stash this article away for a project to do this winter.

Commented on 11-1-2010 At 01:59 pm
 

Great tip Jay!!

Commented on 11-1-2010 At 02:05 pm
 

handy tool!!

Good job Jay

Commented on 11-1-2010 At 03:12 pm
 

Very nice info. I think I've seen every youtube video that Jay has put together to help the garage fabricator.

Commented on 11-1-2010 At 03:30 pm
 

i like it! im going home to make one.

Commented on 11-1-2010 At 04:40 pm
 

I'm always down for some home-made tools to stash in the tool box. Nice tip!

Commented on 11-1-2010 At 06:14 pm
 

Great stuff. More please.

Commented on 11-1-2010 At 07:16 pm
 

thats pritty dam cool!

Commented on 11-1-2010 At 07:40 pm
 

very nice tech article-very useful,thanks

Commented on 11-1-2010 At 08:11 pm
 

I didn't even know what T-bar Dolly was, and now I need to build one.

Commented on 11-1-2010 At 10:40 pm
 

Will a vice always work or should we build tight fit rig onto our table edge? Cool, thanks

Commented on 11-2-2010 At 12:57 am
 

sweet! i think adding tech tips like this is a good addition

Commented on 11-2-2010 At 01:33 am
 

fokk...now I'm gonna be up all night

Commented on 11-2-2010 At 02:03 am
 

thats awesome. MORE!!!!

Commented on 11-2-2010 At 03:16 am
 

Love these DIY tech tips!

Commented on 11-2-2010 At 03:24 am
 

sweet write up man, i need more of these... keep"m coming

Commented on 11-2-2010 At 08:26 am
 

Jay, nice documentation as usual, everybody loves to see this kinda stuff.
thanks, ALp

Commented on 11-2-2010 At 09:10 am
 

great article. i'm going to make one for my shop!

Commented on 11-2-2010 At 04:18 pm
 

Suggestion: If you think tech tips of this nature are a good addition to the site, feel free to write and illustrate your very own in the main forum. The most popular ones will be moved to the Greatest Hits forum, and the best written and illustrated ones might be turned into news features on the CC home page.

Thanks again, Jason, for sharing your time and talent with CC readers.

Commented on 11-2-2010 At 04:18 pm
 

Suggestion: If you think tech tips of this nature are a good addition to the site, feel free to write and illustrate your very own in the main forum. The most popular ones will be moved to the Greatest Hits forum, and the best written and illustrated ones might be turned into news features on the CC home page.

Thanks again, Jason, for sharing your time and talent with CC readers.

Commented on 11-2-2010 At 07:32 pm
 

Killer! Definitely a great writeup!

Commented on 11-2-2010 At 08:48 pm
 

I can really get into featured tech articles. Especially by someone as talented as Jay. More in the future please.

Commented on 11-3-2010 At 05:31 pm
 

I built one and tried it out last night! Thank you! Looking forward to trying it out on something! I think I'll try it out on tank this winter!

Commented on 11-10-2010 At 05:56 pm
 

jay is a total bad ass! i use a T dolly all the time. also if you have a tube bender try building a t dolly with a 90 degree bend on one side that way you can radius a corner. really clean write up jason.

Commented on 1-21-2011 At 05:53 am
 

Easy enough. might come in handy

Commented on 1-30-2011 At 01:02 am
 

awesome tip can't wait to use it!

Commented on 9-25-2011 At 11:39 pm
 

At home solutions. Plus every man could always use another - I'll never say I have enough tools

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