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Project Lab: Can this tool be saved? MIG welding a broken shovel

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Tool lovers often fall back on the principles of DIY economics when justifying new purchases.

“But if we buy this tool for $X, we’ll save at least three times $X by doing it ourselves!” one might say to a skeptical significant other.

Often, the math turns out to be flimsy. This is not the end of the world when you’re talking about, say, a $50 tool. But the pressure starts to rise when the price tag is north of $600.

Such is the case with my MIG welding setup. The Eastwood MIG 135 is about $300. It costs another $300 to buy a 70/30 CO2/argon shielding gas tank to run the thing. This is no small chunk of change. Yet it sincerely is a great machine that opens so many possibilities for DIYing. It feels like one of those foundation-level tools, like an anvil or a grinder, that would get you closer to being able to do everything you’d ever need to in the workshop.

First impressions of the Eastwood MIG 135 welding machine. Four words: This thing is awesome.

With that in mind, I’d like to introduce Project 600. My plan is to document how long it takes to do enough work to cover the price of this MIG welding set up. The first undertaking? A broken shovel I got for free from my brother.

Though rusty, the shovel still looks fine at first glance. But on closer inspection, a crack is revealed in the socket of the metal shovel piece. I avoided using the tool out of fear that the metal would rip the rest of the way, sending me and the handle shooting off into space. Yet it still is in better shape than the rest of my round-point shovels, so I could really use it if it was fixed up.

Broken shovel

The tear.

The MIG does well with sheet metal. But would it be practical for welding a curved fracture like this? We’ll save $25 over buying a new shovel if we can make this fix work. Let’s give it a try.

See the full results in the video above.

Wisconsinite Andy Reuter writes and shoots video about whatever DIY project is holding his attention at the time. For more, follow him on Instagram, find him on Twitter, or subscribe to his channel on YouTube.

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