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Welding

Fronius TIG welder helps online personality Kyle Voss build a YouTube platform

By Rhonda Zatezalo

Above: Kyle Voss uses a Fronius TransSteel 2700 to finesse thin sheet metal.

November 2018 - Online personality and fabricator Kyle Voss has made a name for himself and his brand, The Fab Forums, by building custom fabrications and sharing the process. Interested in motor sports “of one type or another” from a young age, he became active in popular online automotive forums in the early 2000s. Enthusiasts would share custom builds, document them through photographs posted to forums specific to a particular aspect of automotive customization, such as a favorite make and model of car. Voss created several custom items, including his own turbo setup, and posted them in these forums.

While Voss enjoyed the conversation and ideas that flowed from the platform, he was frustrated by the limited forum subjects. Voss’ search for a wider range of interests led him to a more general fabrication fanbase, but ultimately impelled him to create his own online space where any hobbyist working in their garage could be inspired by what they found, just as he used to be. Voss created The Fab Forums, an organized collection where all builds were welcome. Understanding his audience, and current technology, it didn’t take long for him to transition from static photos to dynamic videos.

FFJ 1118 welding image1

Heather Voss, Kyle Voss’ wife, sits in an unfinished Bibbster at the Ponies in the Smokies event.

Voss doesn’t view himself as a “professional fabricator,” that is, someone who works for customers, as most of his builds are for his own custom fleet. “Whatever my imagination came up with, I wanted to build it,” he says. “So I made a platform where I could make a living doing that. I want to encourage people to just get started and learn along the way,” he says.

The starting line

Imagination has led Voss to build everything from go-karts as a boy to the custom carbon-fiber intake manifold that was the launch project for The Fab Forums. He designed the manifold himself, and built everything from scratch, including making the molds from steel. This was the type of project where he could show a variety of interests and skills, and still appeal to a larger automotive fanbase.

As The Fab Forums grew, social media and videos for YouTube became the best medium for reaching his audience. The YouTube channel allowed people to see the work involved using a trial-and-error process.

Voss created the KillFab merchandise brand, which offers T-shirts, hats and tool holders to motor sports and fabrication enthusiasts who “live, sleep and eat this culture.”

Voss’ brand caught the attention of welding equipment manufacturer Fronius. The company invited Voss to a meeting at its Portage, Indiana, facility.

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Voss TIG welds 15⁄8-in. grade 4130 chrome-molybdenum tubes for a Bibbster chassis with a Fronius MagicWave 230i.

An artist’s touch

After a site visit in April 2018, Voss felt comfortable with Fronius’ tightknit culture. “Little things can make all the difference,” says Voss. Accepting a sponsorship seemed a natural fit and he appreciated Fronius’ attention to detail, such as the torch-mounted controls for changing amperage and switching from standard to pulse welding.

“Working around automotive frames, you can get into some pretty tight places,” Voss says. “I weld mostly TIG and I love the fact that I can make adjustments right on the torch without having to crawl out of whatever pretzel position I’d gotten into.”

Voss uses the MagicWave 230i, a compact TIG focused machine designed for the less-than-pristine environment of the everyday welder’s garage. It has a foot pedal with toe hook, integrated water cooler that eliminates the need for external water lines, and an easy-to-navigate menu. “It’s so easy, it feels like you have used it before.”

Typically he welds mild steel, and parts less than 1⁄4 in. thick. “The tack feature works beautifully and the amazing arc stability of this machine makes my job so much easier,” says Voss.

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Bibbster front tubular A-arms welded from 11⁄2-in.-thick chrome moly on a CertiFlat Table and approved for display in the raw.

In addition to welding, Voss uses a variety of fabrication skills including sheet metal bead rolling. His current project is building his vision of a modern day take on a 1932 Hot Rod coupe. Based on the Ford Fox Body Mustang, the finished build will be completely bare metal, with no paint and every weld visible. Per his design, Voss chopped the top by 4 in. and narrowed it by almost 8 in. to achieve the iconic Hot Rod look. He plans to hand form all the body panels and take his time to make it right.

Voss says he isn’t loyal to a specific automotive genre or brand. “I just like stuff that’s rad and try to show off the artistic side of what I build.”    

The Fab Forums channel on YouTube surpassed the 200,000-subscriber mark, gaining the prized “silver play button.” With increasing channel subscriptions, Voss plans to grow the KillFab brand, and is now building a larger, customized fabrication shop stocked with more equipment.

He notes that he wants to help other fabricators build their platforms and extend their own reach. “There are really good welders and fabricators out there who should be getting the recognition and audience they deserve,” says Voss. “I want to help them do that.” FFJ

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