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Thread: Successful side hustles?

  1. #1
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    Successful side hustles?

    Not sure what opportunities may await me once I finish welding school. At my age, Iím not sure I want to try to follow the ordinary course of finding a career, because until I retire, Iím committed to my current full time work. I have toyed with the idea of trying to do some repair and light fabrication work, maybe even building myself a welding rig trailer, which I could be mobile with.

    What types of work could be reasonably available to a guy who might want to do welding as a side hustle, part timeÖ15-20 hours per week? Iím looking for ideas on what/where to pursue work that might be available. Guys experienced in this field would have a good idea regarding things I might not even know exist.

    Thanks in advance for your input on this!
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    Re: Successful side hustles?

    So you already have a career?
    At what age?
    We have no clue what your capabilities or skill level are, so for a side hustle........who knows.
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    Re: Successful side hustles?

    Quote Originally Posted by Freebirdwelds View Post
    So you already have a career?
    At what age?
    We have no clue what your capabilities or skill level are, so for a side hustle........who knows.
    Many years of working with tools, especially carpentry tools, like saws, drills, sanders etc. I have built a good bit of furniture over the years, some home remodeling/rennovation work, but my full time work is considered “professional” in the sociological/humanities area. I’m well versed in tools and their usage, except for things related to welding, which is why I’m taking the welding courses. I’ve wanted to weld for a number of years, so decided last year to purchase equipment, and this year to pursue the learning. I’ve done a little over the last year, but, realize there is a lot I need to learn, like Oxy/Acetylene cutting, and all processes for welding. I’ve done a little stick, more flux core mig, and have both the desire and tools to get started doing light repairs and light fabrication. I’m 68 and in good health.

    Getting started in welding at this late stage of my life, my questions are to help me narrow down the possibilites to what areas seem to have good promise/prospects, and avoid as much as possible chasing things likely to be unprofitable, or a waste of time. I’m not looking to re-invent the wheel, so drawing upon people with expertise seems a wise thing to do, and I much appreciate the willingness of many here to give such advice.

    I just remembered … over the years, I’ve done a fair amount of mechanic work on my own vehicles, and those of a couple friends & relatives. I’ve built a couple of engines, many other types of repairs, new water pumps, starters, brake jobs etc. I know how to turn a wrench.
    Last edited by RCWelds; 07-31-2022 at 09:18 PM.
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    Re: Successful side hustles?

    Why wouldn’t you stick with what you know as a side hustle? Seems like you have skills with wood already.

    What do you want to do with welding? From Structural Repairs to glue metal to compliment wood working. Pretty difficult for somebody to narrow possibilities for you.

  5. #5
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    Re: Successful side hustles?

    I have been welding for about 15 years, retired from a major corporation in data management about 7 years ago. So I am a few years ahead of you, career-wise.

    I usually have 2-4 custom projects all the time and seldom go a week without something to do. I only take interesting projects and make enough $ to be worthwhile.

    I work with 3 designers and they have one-off projects involving welding and furniture skills.

    The other area I seem to get a lot of business is residential handrails. Friends and people our age realize they need handrails and insurance companies are threatening to cancel policies when homes don’t have rails where required by code. I do not want big jobs requiring lots of space or complex jobs beyond my skill level. Most of these are 3-12’ and I can build in my shop. Over the years I’ve gotten better, quicker, and offer some upgrade options. I have a good guy to powder coat because I don’t like to paint. I rarely do new construction.

    I expect my prices are competitive with local shops but I don’t worry too much about price. My customers are not shopping price. They want someone to do a good job, be trustworthy, clean up the job site, communicate, and do what you say you will do. That probably is how you work too, but lots of contractors do not.

    Hopefully this gives you some ideas and encouragement. I started small and get referrals from past customers. I’m not depending on this for my income but enjoy the extra money!
    Last edited by wb4rt; 07-31-2022 at 09:28 PM.
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    Re: Successful side hustles?

    I’ve certaily thought about combining my woodworking with metal work and fabrication. I have a full compliment of woodworking machinery, and will continue to work with them. I still want to do some repair work and light fabrication as well.
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  9. #7
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    Re: Successful side hustles?

    Iíve certaily thought about combining my woodworking with metal work and fabrication. I have a full compliment of woodworking machinery, and will continue to work with them. I still want to do some repair work and light fabrication as well.
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    Re: Successful side hustles?

    Well you have mechanical ability across the board and it is all pertinent.
    I also am in my 60's but have been building repairing pretty much my whole life. Even built my own house. Your going to have to find a knitch and go for it.
    Maybe combine wood and steel. Kick *** bed frames and headboards with canopies.
    I prefer heavy steel myself, big equipment. The heavier the better. it's easier for me so I stick with it.
    You should know if find a part of it you enjoy doing and then you'll have fun doing it. As far as all processes. Hey if you have the cash to throw at it.
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    Re: Successful side hustles?

    Quote Originally Posted by wb4rt View Post
    I have been welding for about 15 years, retired from a major corporation in data management about 7 years ago. So I am a few years ahead of you, career-wise.

    I usually have 2-4 custom projects all the time and seldom go a week without something to do. I only take interesting projects and make enough $ to be worthwhile.

    I work with 3 designers and they have one-off projects involving welding and furniture skills.

    The other area I seem to get a lot of business is residential handrails. Friends and people our age realize they need handrails and insurance companies are threatening to cancel policies when homes donít have rails where required by code. I do not want big jobs requiring lots of space or complex jobs beyond my skill level. Most of these are 3-12í and I can build in my shop. Over the years Iíve gotten better, quicker, and offer some upgrade options. I have a good guy to powder coat because I donít like to paint. I rarely do new construction.

    I expect my prices are competitive with local shops but I donít worry too much about price. My customers are not shopping price. They want someone to do a good job, be trustworthy, clean up the job site, communicate, and do what you say you will do. That probably is how you work too, but lots of contractors do not.

    Hopefully this gives you some ideas and encouragement. I started small and get referrals from past customers. Iím not depending on this for my income but enjoy the extra money!
    what a great story.

    great to hear you are happy doing something creative and rewarding on YOUR terms
    :

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  13. #10
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    Re: Successful side hustles?

    Most of the welding is not all that big a deal until it is. The real professional isnt always a perfect welder especially on old repairs but he is good in hard places where it has to be. Seal weld, structural weld, pressure weld in some upside down butthole with oil running and rust popping. If it was easy,,, the last guy tried and he might have been ok flat and new but overhead with the buzzer filling a crack has to hold a timber jack he aint. Customer says, just cobble it up to get it home so the last guy fix it can try again. I tell him, not going to do that and for another couple hrs we gonna have it repaired when we leave, I cant have someone asking,,, wtf cause I try to weld over some ill fit goobers.
    So,,, whats the point, its babble except that this kind of guy doesnt need to start from scratch so to speak, we had some smarty pants on the Miller forum start a small shop and he is at the top of his game and makes it look like he invented tig, in his market area he is great. Like the artists, they aint gotta be the worlds greatest welders. Lots of fabrication is that way. Guys fair welders but great fabricators and designers, way over my head.

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    Re: Successful side hustles?

    To the OP, I have a side business making metal art. I do not combine wood and metal but that is just me. I can work with wood, but limit it due to potential fire hazards in my shop.
    The easy answer is to look on Pinterest or Etsy for projects you like or are within your skill set.
    The hard part is figuring out how much to charge and/or where to sell.
    Bert gave a great answer above and is fortunate to have developed a relationship with designers.
    Do you have the extra storage space to accommodate items you make but haven't sold? Do you have a way to transport and install the items? A while ago we had someone asking the same questions but he was not able to drive so that is why I ask.
    One thought might be to work on some of the items you like to develop a portfolio to show to designers, galleries, art shows, etc.

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    Re: Successful side hustles?

    I always enjoy and appreciate psa’s threads. He shows you another side for side hustles but he is very artistic and creative. Also I believe he makes things to go to market.

    I tried a few things like that but I prefer building for Customers. The handrails are a good fit because big shops generally do bigger jobs, new construction, or commercial. A homeowner wanting a simple 6’ rail doesn’t fit their business and in fact a couple of “real” shops send me business they don’t really want.

    And psa pointed out developing relationships with designers is very profitable. They want unique projects and especially if you are working in their client’s home, they want a neat appearance and a trustworthy person to represent them.
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  17. #13
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    Re: Successful side hustles?

    More things for the OP to think about.
    How do you want to set up this side business?
    As an sole proprietor, LLC, etc?
    How good are you at the business side of the house? Do you track every penny? How do you want to do your taxes for this? Do you just want to use this to write off your welding hobby?
    In this day of electronic payments, it is potentially easy for the Govt to track money.
    Be wary of establishing your business relationships and whether you need to 1099.

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    Re: Successful side hustles?

    also....

    over and above your welding gear "investment", are you DEPENDING on having to make money or thinking the extra cash would be nice?

    perhaps these are personal issues you would not rather disclose but nonetheless you will need to have this clear in your mind before you know how to proceed.
    :

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    Re: Successful side hustles?

    The OP isnt a beginner so that is a huge difference and different than a 20 something in the construction biz. From the sounds of it the equipment isnt a deal breaker and he is not on thin ice. If I was headed in this and I even made a post about it would become a salvage expert and recover materials, design from appliance sheet and shapes and maybe get a finger brake. That stuff is well painted, scuff and color, free, free and free or cheap and with a little practice can get 4 nice panels from washer and dryer in a few minutes. I think I would design, build shelves and furniture. Some wood would be great along with this. Along with the welding would set up some kind of paint booth, color to your work sells. My jobs look different than a coup[le welding competitors, their work is all rusty and peoiple rave over mine cause,,, its glossy and really as much a restorer so to speak as a welder. The other guy welds fine but doesnt buy a couple cans spray company colors.
    Last edited by Sberry; 08-01-2022 at 06:20 PM.

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    Re: Successful side hustles?

    Quote Originally Posted by psacustomcreations View Post
    More things for the OP to think about.
    How do you want to set up this side business?
    As an sole proprietor, LLC, etc?
    How good are you at the business side of the house? Do you track every penny? How do you want to do your taxes for this? Do you just want to use this to write off your welding hobby?
    In this day of electronic payments, it is potentially easy for the Govt to track money.
    Be wary of establishing your business relationships and whether you need to 1099.

    Sent from my SM-G996U using Tapatalk
    I already have a business and pay taxes, have a CPA, and such, related to my wood working. I also have many years experience running a nonprofit organization. I’m not concerned about the business side, but want to understand where in the welding universe is the ability to make money, and not go in a hole financially. I’m a pretty good money manager, no debt, and pay for what I get when purchasing tools, and only buy when it makes real sense…I only purchase what makes me money.
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  23. #17
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    Re: Successful side hustles?

    That is a thing about repairs, often not much in material tied up. Bad news, it broke, good, 3 hrs and 10$ in materials and we are running again. So even when contracting often the worst case scenerio is you dont make as much money as you wanted but are not holding their materials either.

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    Re: Successful side hustles?

    I am 31 and have been a fabricator and welder for 10 years. I myself have started a small side hustle along with co-owning a supply business for the oil and gas industry. I fabricate tool chest/workbench on casters, trailer modifications or repairs, firewood racks, and soon much more. I have always been an industrial fitter/welder and mostly for vessel shops or tank cars for the railroad. I have never really built anything smaller than sand trap vessels until now. Your niche will be what you enjoy and make money with I have learned. I have under bid most my jobs because of not knowing how to rate a job and know how long it would take me. it was a bit frustrating but I made a tad over the what I put into consumables. I currently use a Hobart Handler 140 FMAW and MIG welding. If I am welding in my garage I will buy the 0.035" dual shielded flux core for strength and appearance depending on the work piece thickness and usage. I am not very good at wood working but I am slowly working at it. You having that much knowledge on said tools and running your own business, you shouldn't have a problem finding work. Some of your clients you already have may need something fabricated out of both wood and metal. I you don't mind me asking, what equipment are you using and buying for welding?

  26. #19
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    Re: Successful side hustles?

    Quote Originally Posted by RCWelds View Post
    I already have a business and pay taxes, have a CPA, and such, related to my wood working. I also have many years experience running a nonprofit organization. I’m not concerned about the business side, but want to understand where in the welding universe is the ability to make money, and not go in a hole financially. I’m a pretty good money manager, no debt, and pay for what I get when purchasing tools, and only buy when it makes real sense…I only purchase what makes me money.
    That is very good news and you are much further ahead than some others who have asked the same questions.
    Which part of Virginia are you in? I am near Fredericksburg and there are several others here scattered around the state.
    In regards to figuring out what to make, it might also be a function of your location. If you are in NOVA, Richmond, Norfolk, etc, you might think about things like bike racks, railings, security bars for windows, etc. In some of the more rural areas, sberry has it right and certain repairs might be profitable.
    I won't weld on anything that a customer will drive on the road such as vehicle or trailers. Again, that is just me and what I choose to accept liability for.
    Have you stopped by any local welding shops and asked them about the jobs they are turning down? A few shops in my area do not like the one off mower repair, home owner small item repairs, etc. You can develop relationships with local welding shops and they can steer small jobs or business your way once you show you are not their competition. Pretty much what Burt is doing.
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    Re: Successful side hustles?

    I do walk ins so to speak but they are really from other business. I dont encourage the mower deck crowd, I do them or will do them if there is a break and for people I know but wood stoves and such always come with,,,,,,, but,,,, it was free,,, but I only paid 10 or 50$ and I dont wanna put much in, etc.
    I do something risky and it comes with a disclaimer,,,, I often do "extra work" and simply add it with good explanation and even say,,, you can pay if,,, and they do but leave it for thanks later,,,, I do this on equipment and I know I see a couple of those guys on TV eat some estimates but,,,, I rather fight that than leave it half azzed and its aleways better than what they expected when I do that. I often fix the "real" problem as much as the symptom and it will work.
    I am not the low price guy in this, I am the expensive,,,, but good guy.
    I should have took a pic,,, but the other day something come in unexpected,,, it was done on time, after the repair it came for was done I fixed some blades he told me he couldnt find and were expensive then I clean the rust and put some paint on it,,, one of the things he said when he brought it was he wanted it to last, was a littls shocked with the price but impressed with the repair and isnt going to have to try to source some expensive obsolete blades and its painted for what its for.

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    Re: Successful side hustles?

    When I do that,,, I make sure the value is there, I make sure it shows and often off set it with parts cost as in the blades. In other words,,,, he was headed to the store for parts after he was done with me,,, a trip he doesnt need to make now. I quoted the repair,,, I did it for that but I added and the added made all the difference in the finished work.

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    Re: Successful side hustles?

    You also need to think about lining up some other shops to help you. I have a good powder coating guy and a good shop that does water jet cutting and stainless steel fabrication. Too expensive for me to get set up and learn stainless welding.

    I use another shop for bending pieces bigger than my equipment.

    Do what you are good at and leverage other shopsí abilities.

    Also play nice with other shops where you can pick up drops of odd pieces or dumpster dive. I try not to buy full lengths if it is something I donít routinely use. I have a steel supplier that sells half sticks at almost same price/ft as full sticks. That helps on one-offs.
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  31. #23
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    Re: Successful side hustles?

    I was going to mention stock and one off also. Steel can be a problem at times and I agree about the drops. There is a house or 2 charged full for the drops but the upside is you dont have to buy the full piece. I have went to auctions, I saw a neighbor. When he build new shop 40 yrs ago one of the things was a new big steel rack for new steel. He bought stock,,, when he died some of the same pieces it seemed like a good idea to have were still on the bottom of the shelf and few longs and shorts everywhere. I was a little over that last time I built and I can stack some 20 if I have to but usually use new when I get it and stock I chop in 1/2 mostly simple strip and small angle.
    Part of my thing is I have big scrap/drop shelves and I collect it so I dont have to go to get a piece of small plate for every job and seem to be able to find a fit. Lots of bills dont even think to add materials if not looking to extend line items,,, same for paint. If I am looking fort items a grinding wheel, some steel or paint added but its all stuff laying around and some we collect, the secretary scored some equipment enamel from the liq store for 10$ a gallon, jeeze, I bet I added 10$ for paint to a dozen bills with that gallon, its not a lot to real active biz but covers a little tape and thinner.

  32. #24
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    Re: Successful side hustles?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sberry View Post
    I was going to mention stock and one off also. Steel can be a problem at times and I agree about the drops. There is a house or 2 charged full for the drops but the upside is you dont have to buy the full piece. I have went to auctions, I saw a neighbor. When he build new shop 40 yrs ago one of the things was a new big steel rack for new steel. He bought stock,,, when he died some of the same pieces it seemed like a good idea to have were still on the bottom of the shelf and few longs and shorts everywhere. I was a little over that last time I built and I can stack some 20 if I have to but usually use new when I get it and stock I chop in 1/2 mostly simple strip and small angle.
    Part of my thing is I have big scrap/drop shelves and I collect it so I dont have to go to get a piece of small plate for every job and seem to be able to find a fit. Lots of bills dont even think to add materials if not looking to extend line items,,, same for paint. If I am looking fort items a grinding wheel, some steel or paint added but its all stuff laying around and some we collect, the secretary scored some equipment enamel from the liq store for 10$ a gallon, jeeze, I bet I added 10$ for paint to a dozen bills with that gallon, its not a lot to real active biz but covers a little tape and thinner.
    I found this pic on the internet. It must be the back of Sherryís shop. I think I recognize that grapple that he uses on his COE Mack crane truck.




    Sorry Sberry, I couldnít resist
    :

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  34. #25
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    Re: Successful side hustles?

    SBerry makes a good point. When I price a job, I add all materials (even if I keep drops), outside shops like powder coating, what I want/need for my time and any helpers, sometimes mileage, AND a shop fee to cover utilities, blades, wire, gas, paint, tape, screws/bolts, sandpaper, etc. That stuff will rob all your profit if you ignore it. Most jobs I add $40-80 just for that.

    I think it would be interesting to track this shop income against purchases that are not allocated to a specific job. I probably am not charging enough.
    Burt
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