sorry - I misunderstood. I thought I saw that you were using 12ga (.080). 16ga is still overkill, and yes, the strength will come from having the finished shape. The trick will be to make sure you are evenly planished to make sure that you have aligned all the grain and gotten the material as uniform as possible.
I know you're not there yet, but when it comes to welding on the tabs, remember that that this will be the weakest point of the structure from a vibration and cracking perspective. You will most likely need to form a "dissapation zone" on the mount areas. meaning, slightly thicker stock welding over the tabbed area, (usually 2-3 times the tab surface) to have the tab attached to that, then the plate to the material.
I am sure you will source a quality welder, but make sure that you discuss heat treatment of the base material around the welded zones "if" they are in load baring areas.
Do you have a stick or basic mig? I could show you how to make some basic tucking tools that will save you a ton of time if you do, out of drum brake tools. my other recommendation is to get a bag and hammer assortment for plannishing and forming, simple but effective.
I'll go back to my hole now. Oh, and not only is steel "real", but it's easier too! lol
Originally Posted by 8ninety8