Joel Harman took some welding classes at his local community college because when he’s not farming, he likes to build things. As with most farms, there’s quite a bit of repair work to do in the field with a portable welder – fixing grain bins, augers and such.

Jaynes lynn
Emeritus Editor
Lynn Jaynes retired as an editor in 2023.

Harman had normally loaded his welder into the back of a pickup with a forklift as it sat on a wooden pallet. Then he threw in his welding rods, tanks and all the paraphernalia that went with it into a nice chaotic pile. But it bugged him, and it was clumsy to work with. Harman wanted to organize that mess and make it handier to use.

Harman says, “I’ve always got some project going – working on or building something in our shop.” Yet, at the same time, he always tries to find ways to be more organized and efficient. So he decided to tackle a portable welding skid that would load quickly and keep all the welding accessories organized with the welding unit.

In his farm shop near Trivoli, Illinois, Harman took some steel rectangular tubing and square tubing, and built a portable welding skid. He found used reels at farm auctions for the welding cable reel and torch reel. The main frame was built from 2-by-4-inch rectangular tubing.

lifting portable welding skid

He used smaller tubing (1 ¼-inch) to build supports for the oxygen and acetylene tanks and a toolbox. He welded 6-by-4-inch rectangular tubing into the main frame to use as slides for the forklift teeth. He arranged the 6-by-4-inch tubing such that it would allow a forklift to lift the frame from either end and either side, so that it could easily be set into a pickup bed or trailer from any direction, depending on what the situation called for.


With the frame complete, Harman used expanded metal to make a platform to set the portable wire feeder on. This gives him the flexibility to use flux core wire on jobs where he repairs grain bins and augers, and builds transitions to go from the auger to the conveyor from sheet metal. The wire welder allows him to create welds on thinner material, as opposed to using the stick MIG welder.

Harman attached ratchet straps to the vertical frame, which pulls the bottles tightly against a piece of steel bent in a “V” shape.

Harman says, “I left enough extra length in the straps that I can loosen them and just flip them off over the bottles when I need to change them out.”

welding skid in truck bed

Harman regularly carries a portable air compressor and portable fuel tank in the front of his pickup bed, so he only had about 5 feet of space left over in the truck bed to accommodate the welder. He manufactured his welding frame 4-feet wide so it would easily slide between the fender wells of his pickup (and yes, the tailgate will still close). He notes that the design would allow for a 5-foot frame to accommodate mounting a portable air compressor on the skid as well, if a person needed that.

Harman says, “It works great. I built this so that I could try to be organized and ready to go whenever I have to do any field repair work.”

He says his four-day project (which could easily be accomplished in a day if a person wasn’t interrupted or working on other projects simultaneously) didn’t cost him much because he had the tubing on hand and he found the used reels on auction. Other than that, it only took a few welding rods and some labor.

Harman says, “Setting this welder in the back of my pickup on a wood pallet and all my other tools was unorganized. I wanted to get organized, so things were ready to go whenever I needed to go.”

Harman is pleased enough with the functionality of the welding skid that he says he’d be willing to produce them for others who might be interested. He’s also willing to answer questions or talk to others about the construction. He can be contacted through email. PD

Joel Harman of Trivoli, Illinois, combined ingenuity with welding skills to streamline field repairs and organize his welding equipment with his homemade welding skid. Photos by Joel Harman.