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Anyone built a platen table???

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Looking to build a 5'x5' platen style table.  I have two tables now. One is a welding table 5'x10' tube frame table with 1/4" plate top. The other is more heavy duty I use for straightening bars and bending jigs, but it's just getting worn out and it's not designed well and on top of that is pretty loud for banging on. I found a supplier nearby where I can get some real cheap 1' plate that has been ground flat and would make a great table top. I was wondering if anyone has designed/built a table like I'm talking about??

these are the things im trying to achieve with this table:

• needs to hold up to straightening bars up to 1"

• I want to figure out a good hole pattern that works well for 1" round hold fast

• possibly a vice mounted on one corner of the table?

• figure out the best way to dampen the sound of the table for setting rivets and straightening and what not.

• the best table leg solution? I currently have 2-20' lengths of 4"x4" tube that is 1/4" wall thickness I'd like to use for the legs or frame cause it's on hand. But maybe there is something better?


there seems to be a lot of innovative thinking people on here. Maybe you have experience in making this table and know of good solutions or things you would of done different?? I'm looking to do this whole table for $1000 or less. The cheapest 5'x5' platen I have come across is $1600 used not including trucking or stands so if I could make something that will hold up as well and have a quick clamp system with the hold fasts I would be pretty happy. The steel 5'x5' steel plate is .35 cents a pound including surface grind.

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45 minutes ago, Bmallen77 said:

I'm looking to do this whole table for $1000 or less. The cheapest 5'x5' platen I have come across is $1600 used not including trucking or stands

possibly a vice mounted on one corner of the table?

You are going to have to build a stand either way so it cancels out. The difference between you build and a professional product would now be only $600 and trucking.

Make the vise attachment plate to FIT THE HOLES. That way the vise can me used anywhere on the table. You can either use wedges, bolts, or a hold fast to hold it in place.

A wise man once told me to make everything in the shop mobile. He had his platen on a axle and wheels with a detachable tongue. Just back the truck up, hook up, and go. I have seen large heavy tables with jacks on the legs that can be lowered to raise and move the table. When in position raise the jack, lowering the table to the floor. This allowed several tables to be put together for larger projects.

There are several different brands of platens. You may want to ask welding suppliers, large shops, or even check industrial auctions for platens.

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Great idea on vice mounting with the holes makes a lot more sense.  I also really like the idea of mounting a platen on an axel so it could be moved easily. Or an solid jacks. 

I see what your saying about getting a professional product that is proven for only $600 more. Makes sense to buy once for quality than to keep rebuilding and scaling up. My only issue is the availability of them. Not a lot of them come up in my kneck of the woods anymore, and when they do guys jump all over them or really drive the prices up. My other issue is, with a used platen table if your buying sight unseen you could end up with something that the holes in the table aren't all sized cleanly, or they are really rough and then your hunting for a hole to fit the shanks you have mounted all your tools on and can't get two that line up properly or any number of variations. I worked in a shop 5 years ago for a guy that had two old 5'x5' platens and they were nice for straightening and clamping but that was it. None of the square holes were clean enough to mount a square shank into. Finally we ended up using a bandfile and cleaning some of them up so we had a few good holes to use, but definitely not worth the $5,000 he paid for the pair.

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If you were to fab from a ground plate, how do you intend to make the holes? 

Murphy's on Johnson in El Cajon has some bomb cart wheels I have on my list for a #600 iron table I have. I will pick those up and share the particulars.

Robert Taylor, Alpine

Edited by Anachronist58
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1 hour ago, Bmallen77 said:

two old 5'x5' platens and they were nice for straightening and clamping but that was it. None of the square holes were clean enough to mount a square shank into.

You could sleeve the holes with tubing, weld the tubing into the holes to make new clean, although smaller holes. But then you would have enough time, labor, materials, and welding rod invested to have bought a new table.

A BRAND NEW table is only $5,700 with stand, used in good condition but no stand is $3000. Think of this as a one time investment in equipment that should last a lifetime or more. Not much more than a NEW anvil when you think about the price. (GRIN)


Want another way to look at the price? Buy it new and put a $20 bill into a kitty every time you use the table. Think of it as rent. Yes it is expensive rent at first, then it is your go to tool and $20 becomes reasonable. Only need to use the table 285 times and it is paid for, yours to keep and enjoy rent free, the rest of your life.

Rent the table at $20 a day and it is paid for in less than a year. Actually 9-1/5 months if you work weekends.

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Another word to search on is Acorn table.  They do come up in your area pretty regularly so patience might be a virtue here.  I see there is one (top) listed on ebay in NoCal for a grand right now.  Many others at all prices but they seem to be farther from your location.

One thing to remember:  A commercial acorn top doesn't really lose it's value much over time so you aren't paying a grand for it--you are just banking that cash at zero interest for another day.

The problem is these are HEAVY so you need the ability to handle that weight.

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Here was my solution when I could not find a used one. The base is made from square tubing and I-beam and the top is made from 4" C-Channel. The top is spaced 1 inch apart and each piece is bolted on so it can be easily replaced. Each piece has been shimmed to get the top as level as possible.


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I've got a 5' x 10' x 5'' thick platten table that weighs 5,600#. It's out in the open with no obstructions , so I can work long bars on it without hindrance.  It forms the third leg of the  work triangle between the biggest gas forge and the biggest power hammer.

The table is unknown brand  from a scrap yard with 2'' square holes. I had to weld a piece of 2'' x 2'' x 3/8'' angle to the stems of the standard Acorn 1 5/8''  bending pegs to make them fit. I used nickel rod. This makes the pegs offset so that they are actually more versatile in how  they can be arranged for spacing. The standard Acorn clamps work without modification.


My advise is build a heavy fabricated stand that is bolted to the floor or it's own footings. Get it dead level  with the top  at anvil height. Build a heavy shelf on the bottom as well as some bars to hang an array of clamps. Electrical outlets at the corners are handy as well as a solid secure mount for a welding ground cable.

Mount a couple of heavy duty vises next to the table near the corners on their own steel pedestals bolted to the floor and to the stand. Keep the top clear except for the job in progress

Mount some good lights above it , high enough to be out of harms way. If you have, or are planning a jib crane or overhead hoist in the shop , locate the table so that the crane has access to all parts of the surface and beyond.

I also made two other tables , 42'' x 10'' from 1'' plate that are dead flat and level . They have accurate  square corners, useful as a quick reference for layout.

Two tables at the same height with about a 2'-3' gap between them is really useful for big projects that need access into the middle of the piece. The second table can be smaller and lighter than the main table, but it is most useful if it is exactly in plane and the same height and is mounted solidly to stay that way.

I love my heavy tables and simply could not work effectively or efficiently without them.

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It sounds like your heart is set on a platten table but you might consider a simpler and cheaper alternative.

My mild steel plate bench top is around 2250mm (8') x 1250mm (4') x 40mm (1.5") It weighs almost exactly 1 tonne.

I went to my local profile shop and went through the plate they had in stock with a straight edge to find the flattest one. It has less than a 1.6mm (1/16") crown over the 2250mm length.

It sits on trestles and has occasionally been lifted off and used at floor level as the need arises. It works fine for straightening heavy material hot and most things cold.

I have drilled and tapped it for various projects and welded blocks to it for others. Shortish lengths of hollow section welded on the pressure face inside withstand tonnes of leverage in shear but can easily be removed by tapping with a hammer in the opposite direction. Makes for simple, precise and quick bending jigs which have the advantage of no position restriction by dint of whatever pattern of holes your platten happens to have.

I do have a 3,000mm (10') x 900mm (3') cast table with round holes in but have never found it much use. The top is only just over an inch thick and the edges of the holes crumble if you use hold downs on it so it is virtually a flattish broad and perforated trestle. The plain steel plate I find far more versatile.


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Magnetic drill press would get you round holes, much like a wooden bench, round works well, either with holdfasts or fixtures. If you don't like hold casts a pipe tap and 3/4" pipe clamp fittings are an alternative I would just stick with 1" holes. 1" shafting with key way. The key way allows the use of wedges, but more importantly their are a lot of fittings that clamp to shafting 

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If you have your heart set on making a platen table it's not difficult but you have to know how to weld and I don't mean just running beads, controlling pull (warping) is serious business.

Buy 1"x4-6" steel bar cut to length. Buy 1" sq and cut to 4-6" lengths and scarf the edges considerably. The 1"x4" strap makes your stringers, the 1" sq. are the spacers, tack it up and get to welding. You will need a good FLAT and STRONG table and run skip welds to keep it flat and straight. The scarfs need to be deep enough the beads don't intrude on the sq. stake pockets.

It's a big job of work but you don't need to worry about milling or broaching the holes sq. Maybe clean up the sloppy bead here and there.

Frosty The Lucky.

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Hm, 13 C-Channels - that table almost always rips a hole in my shirt if I'm not wearing a leather apron, I guess I know why now.

Yes T-Nuts are on my to do list as well as clamping and other tooling. However if you use the a C-Clamp upside down or a step over type clamp you can clamp anywhere on the table.

One thing I like about this design as opposed to a steel plate is if any of the C-Channels gets to warped or damaged it can easily be replaced. Too many of the plate top tables I have scene get warped from tacking pieces to them and eventually the whole top has to be replaced. I have not found a way to keep welding spatter from sticking to steel table top and I have to use an angle grinder to get the worst globs off. I think a ground steel top is eventually going to loose it's accuracy if you use it a lot.

I still want to get a 4'x4' Weldsale but this table is pretty flat and stiff.

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I use platens every day and there is not substitute for a real platen, they are flat, heavy, and very versatile. They are worth every penny, buy 6x8 if you can find them, square holes are best but round holes seem to be more robust. Put leveling feet on the legs so you can work with a level.

I am hopping to get another 4 in the next 2 years.


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The most scarred up abused platten table would be better than any hand made one....cast iron is far stiffer than steel.

A ground plate will not be flat after ANY welding to it, especially endless holes cut welded and ground.

Make a nice frame from the stock you have, four feet x four feet.

Bolt the five foot square on top.

This gives you a 6" overhang all around to clamp to.

Make "gozintas" (Frosty) in each corner.

I make mine from 2" trailer hitch receiver stock.  I cut a 2" square hole in the plate with a torch the file it clean.

Drill corner holes first to make the torch work easy.

In addition to vises and all manner of tools you can make "old men" to clamp in the middle of the table.

You will never out grow this table and even when you do get a platten table it will still be useful.

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 Correction, the plate tables I built and referred to in the post upstream are 42'' x 10 feet x 1'' thick , not 10 inches.

A  heavy plate table is nice to have in that you can draw out the whole project full size with soapstone and make all the pieces to size and assemble a project right to the drawing.

It's also possible to do the same thing on a platten ,but you have to work around the holes.

Before I got my platten table I built one from a bunch of 4'' wide flange beams spaced 2'' apart,  shimmed and bolted to a heavy welded frame.

The parallel flanges of the WF section makes it easy to clamp very securely all around the edges and anywhere in the middle of the table.

This seems a much better steel section to use for the purpose than a channel.

This was a  really solid and useful tool but no substitute for a real cast iron platten.

I traded the  some of steel from that table to the boom truck driver that delivered and set my 5,600# platten on the base . The rest of the steel went into various projects ,

so nothing was wasted. 

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