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04-21-2009, 12:05 AM #1
Building a new weld/fab table..how would you do it?
So the time has come for me to finally (after 10 years) build a real welding/fab table. I have a small shop with room for a 4' x 6' table. I am going to use 1/2" plate for the top, 1 1/2" .120 wall square tubing for the framework (your thoughts?) and it will be on locking casters. I can't have a larger table but I am open to ideas and suggestions for the framework and the like. Should I make the framework the same size (4'x6') so it comes to the edge, or bring it inward a few inches on each end? How much bracing should I use? I generally make gates and railings, odds and ends. Nothing heavier than I can lift with 2 guys. It's a one man shop (me) and a chain hoist. When I have something too heavy, I have a helper come over...So thanks for your help! I really appreciate all the ideas that come from this site! It's great!
04-21-2009, 12:17 AM #2
Leave edges to clamp to. 4" should be good.
04-21-2009, 12:42 AM #3
i like to have one open side to pull a stool up and have leg room to tig weld sitting. and also i put a bar across two legs to hang c-clamps on and a hook for the tig torch (if you have one). matt
04-21-2009, 12:43 AM #4
What do you intend to make on the table?
Having built one out of channel with 1" slots that allow clamping anywhere on the surface with regular c-clamps; I don't think I'd consider a plate table larger than 2' ever again (some things still lend themselves to a smooth uninterrupted surface).
The wheels were temporary, as I used the 1200# table as a mobile base for a crane to erect my bridge crane runway beams.
It's also arguably flatter than a plate table would be:
Building railings is a breeze on this thing. Just lay the parts down and clamp them where they need to be. No grinding, no tacks, no problem making changes. Plus I can make fixtures that clamp to the table and then remove them when not needed (for repeating jobs). It eliminates needing a rigid frame within jigs as the table frame fills that need.
04-21-2009, 12:52 AM #5
04-21-2009, 12:57 AM #6
great table right there . ill take 2
04-21-2009, 01:09 AM #7
The slats are all bolted in, so I can accommodate odd shaped work that passes through the plane of the work surface with the removal of 6 bolts. I can also replace worn/damaged sections as needed.
I can still weld to it too - I just haven't needed to yet.
The idea wasn't originally mine. I saw something similar made by an Australian outfit called Forster (the links I had are dead) which used grey iron slats and a funky clamping mechanism to attach them to the frame. Not wanting to have to mill slots down the weak axis of bar stock (like the forster design) just to clamp the slats below the surface, it dawned on me the same concept could be had with fewer frame rails (the forster used 3, where mine is plenty rigid with 2) by using something with a more rigid form such as channel.
It's basically a "cheap bastard's" acorn table.
04-21-2009, 01:20 AM #8
04-21-2009, 01:30 AM #9
That's brilliant! I assume that you have those channels tack welded to the main frame? What size are those? I don't use much channel but I believe they are sized by weight?
Nice fixture at the end to hold your grinder too... I can see using something similar to mount a seat for welding (like another member mentioned) but you could do that at either end for versatility. How about adding a hydralic lift cylinders to raise and lower? I'm 6'3" so I like it a bit higher but lifting heavy items can be a real pain..literally. Mostly I am making railings, gates and the like...
Thanks for the great idea!!
Hold on...just understood what you meant when you said they are bolted on.....can you post a picture of how you did that?
Last edited by jimmysgarage; 04-21-2009 at 01:36 AM. Reason: more text
04-21-2009, 05:40 AM #10
A mag drill would've come in handy.
A simple drill jig makes quick work of this stuff. Too bad the 5/8" holes make quick work of destroying your shins with the drill handle.
I marked this one because it was a little kittywampus coming off the mill when I shaved the legs to be even height.
I made sure the end slats were parallel and offset the same amount on either side, then filled in the rest and checked for parallelism as I went along tack welding in 4 spots then when it was all tacked I came back through and finish welded the whole thing in overhead. Get some leathers before you start.
Then you just clamp your straight edge through the table and trim up the edges.
04-21-2009, 12:42 PM #11
I really want to Thank You for taking the time posting and explaining this project. I will be making one for myself when the current project is finished. I can tell this will be my best and LAST fab table! What is the size of the channel and I-beam. Can't really tell from the pictures, I would guess 5"?
One question though...when you mentioned drilling all those holes with a hand drill, why didn't you take a bit more time and set it up in your mill? Maybe take a bit longer, but you have power feed, right?
Thanks once again for the great post!!
04-21-2009, 01:28 PM #12
It's 6" s beam, but you could use pretty much anything. I didn't want the bottom flange to get in the way of clamping, and the height works well for tightening the bolts.
I was working alone when I made it, and my mill was in a bad spot to deal with the long work with no means to relocate it at the time. I'd also have to have built an outboard support stand, but made the executive decision to abuse my shins and get the table done rather than make another item that wouldn't likely ever be needed again (I don't deal with machining long heavy stock).
The channel is 6" as well. It works out to be perfect for C clamps as no point on the table is over 3" from an edge.
In the time it would've taken to make a stand - I had the holes drilled to size. The only difficult part of drilling is when the uneven side of the flange catches and smashes the side handle into your shin (gotta love milwaukee hole shooters torque). I need a mag drill about once a year, but that's not enough to justify the acquisition cost. Renting one would've taken the same amount of time as drilling manually, so there again I didn't lose anything but some bruising. lol My shins are fine now. Been enjoying the table for over a year.
Now that my bridge crane (also shop built) is up and functional, things would be much different. I could support the floating end with the hoist and have no need for a stand. It's amazing how often that crane comes in handy. It's also why there's no wheels on the fab table anymore - I just pick it up and move it as necessary (just like everything but my cnc lathe).
04-22-2009, 09:22 PM #13
Well, it looks like your plan is it! Anyone else have ideas/plans? Jim Shaper, if you have the time, I sure would like to see the pics of the crane as well... I need to do the same in the future, as I actually planned for one when I built my shop. Just been too busy ever since to get it done... Need to plan for that project, because I'm sure I would use it...
04-22-2009, 09:53 PM #14
The last one we built at the Indy car team I worked for was a 1" thick 5' x 12' top, 6 6"x6" x 5/16 wall legs, 3 8" I beams to stiffen the top. We drilled and tapped 1/2 13 holes on a 10" grid on the top. Very handy, 2 sets of step block milling machine hold down clamps bolted on one of the I beams and ready to use. I don't have pix but can get some if you want....
04-22-2009, 10:29 PM #15
Liability precludes me from going into detail about my crane (I'll never write about it specifically online). The structure is tied into my building for rigidity, so it would be negligent to advise you to build one like it. By tying it in, I got away with using lighter upright supports because their span and the associated leverage applied to them was reduced by attaching them to the walls. If I was to do it again, I would've had the uprights set in the foundation and enclosed within the walls.
My advice is to look at what's out there commercially and replicate it. I took several months examining what engineers had deemed safe before embarking on mine, and even then still consulted with ME's along the way.
Search the forum for Coffing's i beam strength and span chart. I posted it about a year ago but don't have the link on this computer. That chart is pretty good and includes the needed safety factor for the spans and load given.
Just remember that when you have a bridge crane, your load isn't always equally spread between the two runway beams. You need to size them appropriately to accommodate the load and the weight of the bridge at center span when the load is close to the runways. You can't just divide the rated load in half and split it between both runways.
Moonlight, I bet that cost more than 500 bucks.
You also can't cut things on your table without damaging it like I can.
A massively rigid table like that has it's place, for sure. Mine was a compromise between expense, functionality, and ease of construction. Without the crane, I couldn't move the plate you used for a top. Without the table, I couldn't raise my crane. Horse before the cart.
04-23-2009, 07:11 AM #16
Could you put a couple pictures of your welding bench in as thumbnail attachments please? I can't see any of the pics you put in, but I can always click the thumbnails and open them. I have yet to figure out why, must be a network security thing.
I would greatly appreciate it, as I am about to embark on a new bench too.
As for suggestions, I have a few neat features I have seen.
Put two large, rigid casters on one end, rigid legs and a 1 7/8" trailer hitch on the other. Now your first project will have to be building a hand truck with a set of wheels and a 1 7/8" trailer ball on it. This way the bench is rock solid, until you pick the end up with the small trailer hitch and roll your bench around. You also get a nice hand truck for moving trailers around the yard.
Put several 2" recievers around the bench (both horizontal and vertical), then mount all your vices, etc to 2" tubing. Now you can move them around, and as an added bonus, you can stick them in the back of your pickup outside if you need to.
A place to hang C-clamps and a set of Milling machine clamps is critical. These things must be handy or else (if you are anything like me) you will try to hold and tack things together, and its just not the same.
Another nice thing I have seen is to have one end of the bench built very square with the top and flush to the edge so you can clamp one piece to the end, and one piece to the top and have it square. Very handy for big heavy stuff. Eliminates using big angle plates and having large pieces ppointing up in the air so they can flip over and get you.
04-23-2009, 05:19 PM #17
Thanks for that, I understand that issue. I have 6 engineered glue-lam beams in my shop that are 8"w x 16"t that span the width of the shop, which is 20'. It was my intention to run a "I" beam down the center, then have a simple trolley to roll the length. Even if I mount a manual chain hoist to it, I am sure it would be a huge help. If I find a electic unit, I may get it. I have an engineer friend that should be able to spec it for me, but the bench comes first! Say, do you use that metal circular saw quite a bit? I have a slow-RPM Milwaukee chop saw... I only used it for 1 job....paid $550 for it, now it's been sitting for 3 years. Is yours a Milwaukee too? Seems that it is pretty handy unit, especially for straight cuts....much better choice than using my plasma...
Just went to the steel yard today for a few items for my current project. Started to get prices for the "C" channel...Getting excited Say, what size "I" beam did you use again?
04-23-2009, 08:19 PM #18
6" s beam which sits nicely on 4" square tubing for legs.
I'll gladly help ya where I can with the crane, but I'm not about to publish any sort of instructions. I use mine all the time and even having busted a couple toes in the erection of it (had the hook slip off my beam clamp as I was rolling a beam over), I still have no regrets with the expense.
My little metal cutting circular saw is a milwaukee. I use it a lot for cleaning up edges on flame cut stock (like the pic), and it's invaluable for plate of all thicknesses.
Slufkin, I'll pm ya some thumbs of the project later tonight or tomorrow.
04-23-2009, 08:43 PM #19
Doggone it! Just when I was getting comfortable you obsoleted my fab table. :-) Today I used my flat table to fixture 3 different assemblies. Each required tacking a dozen or more clips to the table and cleaning them off when done.
I need a longer table anyway so I may steal some of your design.
I am thinking maybe narrowing up the "slots" and raising the top channels a little higher off the beam so that I could slide fabricated t-nuts in from the sides. What do you think?
Another advantage to your table is easy squaring. You have so many square reference points. Brilliant! As for the rare need for a continuous top, nothing stops you from throwing a sheet of 1/4" plate up there for a special job.
What kind of clamps are you using with that table?
04-23-2009, 10:09 PM #20
I went with the gap I did, because it provides space for c clamps to be dropped through. I use 4-6" clamps and don't have any issues with them. It also allows 1" square stock for fixtures (with a little wiggle room). I chose not to have the slots fit the stock tightly because it eliminates any compensation ability if there is any angular error between slats.
At some point I'll be making t-nuts specifically for the gap, but I haven't gotten there yet. I intended to do that with my horizontal mill, but that has yet to be so much as plugged in (due to a lack of transformer; which I now have).
Something to keep in mind, you can't put a c-clamp on the edge from above, as there's nothing for it to grab on aside from the flange of the channel. So those need to be clamped from below on mine. It's not a problem though, since you can easily reach the middle of the table from the edges. I also have always intended on making the strap clamps so it's something I've lived with for the past year. If this was an issue, you could always weld angle to the sides of the channel to create a shelf for the clamp to purchase.