Angle iron is one of the most recognizable types of structural steel, with its characteristic L-shaped profile, and it can be used in hundreds, or thousands, of different projects, from custom bed frames, to ladders, furniture or go-cart frames. It is a versatile material that is both affordable and easy to use, and with enough practice and planning it can be used to build just about anything.
Here are some of the advantages that angle iron can offer your next project:
#1 It is Affordable
Angle iron is a strong, lightweight product. Compared to other types of materials, including other structural steel products, other metals, or the equivalent amount of wood or composite materials to equal the strength of angle iron, it is relatively affordable for its strength and durability. It compares favorably and is a cost-effective replacement for many higher-priced metals, such as aluminum, and is competitive with both wood and certain composites.
It can be used as a structural component in many low-cost projects without exceeding the budget, and is perfect for many smaller projects that require high strength in a small footprint.
#2 It is Versatile
Angle iron can be used in many capacities, from creating the frame for a lawnmower or go-cart, to adding bracing to a heavy-duty trailer. It can act as a structural component, such as a rafter on a lightweight roof or the frame for a door, or it can serve as part of a fame or as bracing for heavier structural elements. It can also be used for purely decorative purposes, such as window frames or art projects.
#3 It is Easy to Work With
To use angle iron efficiently, a bit of experience in welding and fabrication is necessary, as well as some basic tools such as a welder, grinder, torch and chop saw. Though the tools and experience necessary may add complexity to the project, the angle iron itself is easy to work with. It is relatively stiff, allowing for easy shaping with a grinder, it can be cut easily with a torch, grinder or chop saw, and it can be bent with a vise or other appropriate tools for the job. It is easy to weld, even with a low-cost MIG machine, and it is easy to form into complex structures for larger projects. Angle iron can also be drilled and bolted together, though welding produces far better results.
#4 It is Strong
Thanks to the 90-degree bend, angle iron is extremely strong along its length, and resists bending. It can easily support larger loads than similar thicknesses of flat steel and it is much stronger than wood or many composites pound for pound. It can be used as a structural component in many lighter structures, or as bracing for structures that bear larger loads. When multiple pieces are joined together to create a larger structure, competent welding can produce joints that are nearly as strong as the material itself.
#5 It is Light
Compared to other structural steel components, or wood of a similar strength, angle iron is very light and compact. This allows for extremely small structures such as tables, shelves carts or furniture that are strong for their size, as well as larger projects such as low-profile utility trailers that are light and versatile. Angle iron is the perfect product to use wherever weight and strength are a concern.
#6 It Requires Very Little Maintenance
Angle iron and projects made with angle iron will require very little maintenance once they are completed, as long as they are properly sealed or painted after the metal work is done. The main enemy of angle iron is rust or corrosion, and any time bare metal is exposed to the air, rust will occur.
This is especially true in areas that have been recently welded or worked with a grinder. As soon as the project is complete, the surface of the angle iron and any newly-welded areas should be sanded free of any impurities and corrosion, then sealed with a clear coat, paint, or a powder-coating process. This will prevent the surface from rusting, and if the coating is ever scraped or damaged, the area should be re-coated to prevent corrosion. Other than keeping a good coat of paint on angle iron, there is very little maintenance involved.
#7 It is Available in Multiple Sizes
Angle iron is available in multiple thicknesses, widths, depths and lengths, allowing you to find the perfect stock to meet the strength and load-bearing characteristics for your project. Common thicknesses range from 1/8 of an inch to over a full inch thick, with widths and depths ranging from ½ of an inch to more than 9 inches. Angle iron is commonly available in smaller two or three-foot sections for hobbyists, as well as lengths of up to 20 feet and beyond for professional needs or larger projects.
#8 It is Easy to Find
Angle iron can be found just about anywhere, from hardware stores to big home stores, lumberyards or welding shops. This means that if you run out of angle iron in the middle of a project, or need some angle iron for a quick repair, it will be easy to find since it is popular and stocked nearly everywhere. For large supplies of angle iron, it is best to work with a specialty steel supplier, who can provide a larger range of sizes, styles, and products, often at better prices than other retailers.
#9 It is Sustainable
Angle iron is extremely easy to reuse or recycle into new products, making it environmentally-friendly and sustainable. Used angle iron can easily be re-melted, purified and cast into new steel products, eliminating waste and reducing the mining of new materials.
Angle iron is great material to use in any project, and thanks to is strength and versatility, it can be sued in many different ways. It both affordable and easy to work with, making it the perfect material to use for both hobbies and professional projects alike.