Here are some of the projects that I've used to test out equipment, figure out how things work and try out tips and techniques that I've only read about. You can't be timid, diving in and getting your hands dirty is the only way to learn. I'm finding it takes patience and tons of practice to grasp these skills.
After getting tired of practicing welding different angels on scrap metal so I came up with the idea of building a cube out of quarter inch plate steel. I forced myself to make all the welds with the cube in place (without rotating it to an easier angle). Some of the verticals were a real challange for me. Had to play around with the amperage and weld speed before I found the right combo. I ended up giving the grinder a real workout. Had to build up and grind down many area to get a "perfect cube" with sharp edges.
A view of my shop (the wife calls it our garage). The major tools are a Victor oxyacetylene setup, Hobart stick welder, Hobart plasma cutter, Dewalt chop saw and Ingersoll Rand air compressor. I built the tables and racks from scratch. The third table/rack with the bender on it is still in works. I plan on using it hold all my scrap material in the lower half and have the top free for a vise and the light material bender. I'm going to have to devise a way to have drop-down legs secure it from rolling around while bending or prying.