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Indianer

Welding Table - advice

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Hello all,

I have spent some weeks on designing a welding table and would very much appreciate some advice on it, before I commit to steel. I need it small and modular enough to be able to follow me in whatever apartment I might still move (Yes, apartment, get over it!!). Should be sturdy enough to handle workshop-scaled challenges of course. I need something to do some basic jewellery or leather work on anyway^^

I took inspiration from here and here. The latter video shows the hydraulic presses I´d like to use as well.

This is it. The screws allow me to lower it to 86 cm height. There are some utility bars attached already. These are not definite. Crossbars for the hydraulic car-lifting-thingy included.
ACtC-3dQchLDP-HI3OHw7bM9C-selnIMzEx0qxRs

96cm (38.8''/ 3,15 foot) tops seems much.. but I simulated different heights with a crude setup, and found this to be what I´d like to work on while standing:
ACtC-3eUZCn9lQ6XcXHEw94ogKhrVDl7nIV6Mt-u

"Expanders" pulled out. Strangely looking ends they have, but I can install drawers between the bars. Might still tinker with the height though, to facilitate larger drawers:
ACtC-3f9JfhkUPzIwzyK-42f6K3vP0Pyy1aG-4rT

Legs, Feet and Bottom support for one side. Where there is no screw, there is weld. The tubing is 40x40x3 and 50x50x4. The vendor checked if they can indeed be telescoped. There is an inside weld which bears watching, but it seems to work.
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Top supports. A separate module, just slid over and suspended on a welded-on plate or a thick bolt (visible on top-right leg):
ACtC-3f5e3Y5x2c2mNiWpCsvYygOYuhCHAVtnW7f


Long bars to bear the actual top plate, again just lied in place. To get the legs farther apart, I had to rest the right expander tube on the inside of the leg; hence the undersized crossbar. Those prominent screws are for tightening the expanders firmly in their bearings:
ACtC-3e5iUhO5xXRe2bI6-hQs4kMmGsRSs00CYr1


Of course, I could have put the expander on the outside..which first I did. But then the legs would only have a distance of about 30..something cm on the inside. Making the entire table wider would have solved the problem, but as it is it has already 65cm depth, which is quite enough for an eating table.

The expanders simply slide into the tubing. They could hold a plasma cutting grate, and wood plank with slit, or...whatever I am not thinking of.
ACtC-3doFhyH0WGvE0ybCnOaAbV1m0RvXkyUZPDo


The holes in the top plate (6mm, 1/4'') are layed out in a 10x10cm pattern, threaded M10. Might not do the threading myself though. The short segment of the top plate is planned as Aluminum, to weld stainless steels. This should avoid rust forming due to impurities welded into the seam (just read that this was a thing...I don´t even know if it is  :? ).
ACtC-3fxUXRpvXQZvciv_dKwqfe5qohDdNTdBB8b

So, I have been working on this for weeks. Please, let me know what errors or shortcomings I do not see. There usually are some... Also, what you would consider an upgrade on such a table, please share. Thank you!

Best, Indi

EDIT: If the pictures dn´t show, try this  link.

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Connect the grounding clamp (negative) directly to the table top, and have a grounding cable that can be clamped directly to the work.  This way there is no arc being made through the sliding sections of the table, the vise, table top, etc. to the project during the weld.

All locking swivel wheels will allow the table to easily move in any direction. Make the swivel wheels larger rather than smaller. Make the table size so it can go through the apartment door.  Add several GFI electrical outlets directly to the table.

In an apartment, how are you going to deal with the bad air and debris from welding, grinding, plasma cutting, etc?  How are you going to deal with the sparks and fire hazards?  Grinding can throw sparks 25 feet or more.  A CO2 fire extinguisher is suggested so there is less clean up of the fire retardants after it is used.  Put one on the table, and another at the exit door of the apartment.

Will the building owner approve of the welding activity in the apartment ?

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Hello Glenn,

thank your kindly for the tips! I never would have thought about arcs in the sliding sections until it were too late. Also, I like the circuit breakers. German wall sockets are all secured with rather sensitive breakers, but meh..why not double on it. Adds a factor of curiosity to the build :)

37 minutes ago, Glenn said:

In an apartment, how are you going to deal with the bad air and debris from welding, grinding, plasma cutting, etc?  How are you going to deal with the sparks and fire hazards?  Grinding can throw sparks 25 feet or more. 

I never ever do any grinding, welding or cutting without my trusty mask. Never have. Thus, if the smoke takes a minute to clear the apartement, I´m fine with it. So far I´ve only tried self-shielded FCAW, to forgo the gas bottles and cut down in expenses. I plan to move on to TIG, that seems to be a lot cleaner overall. Debris? Just like my every-other-day-wiping the floor. Should be setup in a suitable corner, sure.

 

37 minutes ago, Glenn said:

Will the building owner approve of the welding activity in the apartment ?

But it´s true. Larger welding operations and using an angle grinder for whatever are impractical and usually impolite in apartments. Now I can rely on a basement to do that. Later...I´ll see.

I am building for the future here, since I do not plan on staying where I am. And I need a workbench for all things one can with no trouble do in living spaces anyway. Once I have a proper, own garage or workshop, I will move all the projects there and only require one work table. So why not build it up to the task right away?

Another note on the table: In the second-to last pic, the bottom view, there are bolts securing the long top bars of the main frame into their sockets. Without these, one could easily pull the leg frames apart. I might have missed structural aspects like this one elsewhere..feel free to mention!

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Glenn, you helped me realize the space to clamp things was limited. I rectified that now and added corner plates to be welded onto the main plates. 

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They are large enough to hold the rotary table for my vise (blue).

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If I start on the problems I see it'll seem like I'm picking on you but a few are important.

You seem to be concerned enough about your air quality, have you considered your neighbors? I doubt the building ventilation provides isolated air handling for each apartment. Smoke in your space will migrate to the neighbors.

Using flux cored welding wire introduces MORE smoke with all the chemicals included in welding fluxes into your air. It also makes welds that require more clean up than GMAW. IF your goal is jewelry you WILL need TIG. 

Another serious perhaps legal issue I see. Is that a hydraulic reservoir you've drawn under the table? Of course things are different in Germany but I find it hard to believe that kind of hydraulics are even legal in a domestic residence let alone apartment complex. By legal you may not have police arresting you but if it's not approved by your insurance carrier, then YOU are in breach of contract law and YOU will be on the hook for any damages, clean up, compensation, etc. 

In general you have so over designed your table as to make it almost unworkable. "Any tool designed to do many things does NO single job well,"  is a very old adage and is as true today as it ever was. 

How about this instead. Build a simple work table with components that clamp or screw to it as needed. Sure telescoping helpers or expanders(?) can be helpful but they are vulnerable, not only to arcs but other debris. Instead of bearings and such, just have them slide into the top rail of the bench. Sure it'd mean only be one side can be enlarge but it they are much more robust. I have them on almost all my forges. 

If you want to weld on aluminum table top just lay a piece of aluminum down and attach the ground to the work. 

I have to stop, I'm getting a headache going back and forth, trying to focus on single things in shadow renderings may look cool but it's a lousy way to present what should be informal blue print type drawings.  

Frosty The Lucky.

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Debris, dust, grinding particles, etc, etc, are airborne and will move and settle all over everything.  You may not notice the first day or two, but give it some use and that debris, dust, grinding particles, will be sucked into any fan and any machine that uses ventilation, such as the computer, computer monitor, inside drawers when they are opened, etc. Move and you stir it up and make it airborne again.  Nothing is safe as it settles on chairs, books, bedding, pillows, and everything in the entire apartment.  

Plan your build to be modular where two or more tables can be bolted together for larger projects.  Use dogs and wedges to level the two table tops to each other (then bolt) when making a larger table.

I did not see a specification for the thickness of the table top.  The thicker the better and more rigid.  

Make a mounting plate for your vise so it drops into the holes on the table.  This means you can then use the vise anywhere on the entire table, including the middle of the table, which is great for hold odd shapes in place at odd angles.

You may wish to replace the hydraulic jack with automobile scissors jacks. They are expected to lift the weight of a vehicle.  

Unless you make the table in sections (legs, top, shelf etc) that can be moved and then bolted together to form the main table, you will need a crane to lift the thing due to the weight.  

As Frosty said, "Any tool designed to do many things does NO single job well."  Design for what you need.

 

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Frosty, I asked for advise and criticism and am thankful that you took the time for that - it´s alright. I am sorry the pictures are so hard to read. They have been photographed from the same interface I use to work on them...although I can rotate and zoom. I have no clue how to transform that into blueprints.. :(

 

8 hours ago, Frosty said:

You seem to be concerned enough about your air quality, have you considered your neighbors? I doubt the building ventilation provides isolated air handling for each apartment. Smoke in your space will migrate to the neighbors.

It´s been a while since I had to think of that. Indeed I didn´t here. Well, let´s just say I´ll keep welding down as soon as anyone else might be affected.

 

8 hours ago, Frosty said:

Using flux cored welding wire introduces MORE smoke [...]. It also makes welds that require more clean up than GMAW. IF your goal is jewelry you WILL need TIG.

Exactly, the cleanup is nasty. Plus, things I weld are usually small, like single screws or the like. At least for now. If the first tack weld doesn´t take, the brushing around it will usually break the wee weld...flux core is clearly more useful for larger stock.

 

8 hours ago, Frosty said:

Another serious perhaps legal issue I see. Is that a hydraulic reservoir you've drawn under the table?

8 hours ago, Glenn said:

You may wish to replace the hydraulic jack with automobile scissors jacks. They are expected to lift the weight of a vehicle. 

The blue box? Nah, that´s just the outline of my welder. Wanted to see how it fits. The hydraulic presses are not shown, I had bottle jacks in mind (the 2t variant). The site is German, but perhaps you know these things. I´ve never seen one before and only began searching for that because the dude in the video used them to lift the table. I am not aware of any legal issues here, they seem like typical home-tools for guys that like to change tires themselves?

I will have another look at the scissors jacks. I assume, you mean a things like these? They seemed like a nice solution to the same problem, only much slower and bulkier in action. But..I don´t know either of them personally :unsure:

 

8 hours ago, Frosty said:

In general you have so over designed your table as to make it almost unworkable. "Any tool designed to do many things does NO single job well,"  is a very old adage and is as true today as it ever was.

How about this instead. Build a simple work table with components that clamp or screw to it as needed. Sure telescoping helpers or expanders(?) can be helpful but they are vulnerable, not only to arcs but other debris. Instead of bearings and such, just have them slide into the top rail of the bench. Sure it'd mean only be one side can be enlarge but it they are much more robust. I have them on almost all my forges.

"Expanders"- I just did not know what to call them :huh: I can see your point here. It is a complex structure, and each connection that I do not want to weld so I can disassemble it all into carriable parts leave wiggle room that concerns me a bit. This would be especially true for the helpers/"Expanders".

In defense of the telescopic system: Since the telescoping parts can simply be pulled out of the tubes under the table, cleaning is made easy. There remains a 2 mm gap between the larger tubes (50x50x4mm) and the smaller ones (40x40x3). That gap distributes to both sides, so, if the inner tube were centered, 1mm space to each side inside the telescoping tubes. All tubes have an inside welding seam, which reduces wiggle room a bit. The vendor tested it, they can still be telescoped though.

That said, I will try to down-engineer the bearings without sacrificing modularity... that will take some time.

 

8 hours ago, Glenn said:

Debris, dust, grinding particles, etc, etc, are airborne and will move and settle all over everything.  You may not notice the first day or two, but give it some use and that debris, dust, grinding particles, will be sucked into any fan and any machine that uses ventilation, such as the computer...

Got me. I have probably underestimated that also. Not yet a reason though to abandon a quality workbench that can serve as welding table.

 

8 hours ago, Glenn said:

I did not see a specification for the thickness of the table top.  The thicker the better and more rigid. 

6mm, 1/4''. I figured if I chose it much thicker it´d become uncarriable. The larger top plate segment is in it´s current state 29x23'' (74x59 cm) - not too large. That´s another reason I planned 2 segments - to cut down on individual weight. Choosing one in Alu was also more of a weight consideration. I have no clue how heavy that layout would be in the end, just figured it´d be plenty for an ambitioned hobbyist. I´ll learn about the weight when I assemble the shopping list for steel tubing. What´d you say? Still forgo the aluminum for a main plate due to reasons of practicability?

 

8 hours ago, Glenn said:

Unless you make the table in sections (legs, top, shelf etc) that can be moved and then bolted together to form the main table, you will need a crane to lift the thing due to the weight.

That´s the plan. This would be the leg segment - one for each side. Only the green parts are welded. They grey bars on the bottom have to slide, but are welded to each other.

Regardless of any changes I might still make to down-engineer it, the crossbars and bearings on the top would be another segment - simply slid onto the legs and rested on a bolt

Alright. I´ll ponder some changes now Thanks so far guys!

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The table top thickness of 1/4 inch may be a little thin for hold down clamps.  A work around would be to drill a usable hole in the table top and weld a heavy nut over the each hole on the bottom side. The depth of the plate plus the nut may give the depth needed for the hold down.  It would also allow a bolt to be placed directly in the hole to bolt down all manner of things.  

As to the legs on that table, make the legs tube within a tube and drill a hole in both tubes NS on one side then EW on the other 90 degree side.  The holes can be lines up at the proper height and a bolt inserted into the hole in order to hold that height.  It helps to index or mark every 5 or so bolt holes so you can quickly adjust all the legs to the same height.  

My comments are sometimes aimed at a heavier table than you need for light duty.  Being a blacksmith, we tend to over design and over build things.  

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20 hours ago, Indianer said:

Exactly, the cleanup is nasty. Plus, things I weld are usually small, like single screws or the like. At least for now. If the first tack weld doesn´t take, the brushing around it will usually break the wee weld...flux core is clearly more useful for larger stock.

If welds are that small you might just use your hydox (Hydrogen Oxygen) torch and gas weld or braze. You'll need one to do jewelry regardless and you can crack your own fuel electrically. Torch exhaust is as clean as steam from the shower. 

20 hours ago, Indianer said:

The blue box? Nah, that´s just the outline of my welder.

Good, had me concerned for a minute. Bottle jacks aren't an issue, they seep around the ram seal if they leak, clean up is a paper towel or shop rag job. You'll want to keep that rag separate from other oily rags, some hydraulic fluids are trans dermals and can enter your blood stream through your skin. It's not a casual issue but prolonged contact causes issues. The oil rag is good for  wiping tools down that want a thin oil film to prevent rust. Just avoid hydraulic, oily, hands.

20 hours ago, Indianer said:

In defense of the telescopic system:

No need to defend the system, it's your implementation that needs work. I have telescoping components on all but one propane forge to hand tongs and support long pieces while they heat. A table requires a sub-frame directly under the top. Built from square or rectangular tubing it is a natural track for your expanders. Unfortunately one direction will be displaced lower by the thickness of the tubing. One direction will be table sub-frame height and I prefer it to be the wide direction. Say the table is 3' x 4' I like the expansion on the 4' side potentially making a 4' x 6' area. Make sense? That's contingent on what you propose to use it for, were that long projects then extending the 3' side makes more sense making a 3' x 8' table. Yes? This would effect which direction I made the sub-frame height table top. 

Another thing I try to plan into helpers is a handle. I've had a portable tool box for demos in the drawing stage for some time. I've lost access to a useful cad program I think is worth spit. I'm an old school draftsman by schooling and practice. Rendered images are for the office guys marketing a project, not the guys building it. Anyway, my concept was a steamer trunk type hinged box that stands on end. When open I have access to tools in drawers, tongs and hammers in racks with a modest amount of stock. When open the drawers and racks are on the outside of a square and a sheet of steel slips up from the outside that is normally on the ground when laid flat. The sheet with angle iron edges lays across the open box to form a light duty table. Well part of the structure is a telescoping handle to make moving the closed trunk the same as using a hand truck. The built in wheels are off the ground when standing up on end. 

Sorry for the long ramble but telescoping components are valuable. 

Here's a thought for making your table more easily portable. First larger wheels. Secondly. You extend one of the expanders without a top on it. Using the expander tip the table on it's side, slip the set of legs on top out of the sockets in the sub-frame. This set of legs has a bracket on the inside just above the wheels. Lean the legs against the table top and using the expander (handle) tip it up enough the brackets on the legs slip under the top and let it down, then tip it up and remove the other legs. The brackets on this set of legs hangs from the underside of the table top and you simply roll the table where you need it. This would be the main table and modules, make it so it tips with any drawers held closed by gravity of course or just pull them. 

Does that make sense? A text description is always more complicated and harder to understand than drawings. Sorry about that. 

A good vacuum cleaner with Hepa filters can be modified to remove dust and fine debris at or near the source. 

Frosty The Lucky.

 

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1 hour ago, Frosty said:

Bottle jacks aren't an issue, they seep around the ram seal if they leak, clean up is a paper towel or shop rag job. 

Glad to hear, and good to know - thx for the warning!

 

I am trying to wrap my head around your suggestions. I seem to hit to limits of my foreign language aptitude though...

14 hours ago, Glenn said:

As to the legs on that table, make the legs tube within a tube and drill a hole in both tubes NS on one side then EW on the other 90 degree side.  The holes can be lines up at the proper height and a bolt inserted into the hole in order to hold that height.  It helps to index or mark every 5 or so bolt holes so you can quickly adjust all the legs to the same height. 

Starting with this:

1) What is NS and EW?

2) Basically they already are tubes within a tube. Do you mean I should let the outer tubes hit the ground, instead of the wheels, and dispense with the screws? If so, I´d probably still need a jack to lift the table, unless I get you wrong. 

3) If supporting the inner tubes via bolts through the outer tubes: I do not think even my supplier can drill precise enough to get them exactly level on all 4 legs. That means, the table would wobble without screws to adjust for tiny height differences to the ground. Even if they were level, as soon as the ground is not I´d need the screws again, or another means to equal out the air space beneath the feet.

If feel like I´m not getting something here, sorry about that :/

 

1 hour ago, Frosty said:

Does that make sense? A text description is always more complicated and harder to understand than drawings. Sorry about that. 

Maybe. I have an idea that seems to get close. Will read it another few times later. First: You are suggesting a way to make the table foldable, are you? And I´d end up with the table top pretty much hovering above the ground?

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Okay, I'll dig out my graph paper and see if I can make a few drawings that make more sense. I"m using the term "drawing" loosely, not as a draftsman. In my shop I'd think of them as concept sketches OR working drawings used to build the thing in question. 

Sorry, I"mm over explaining again, I tend to do that a lot. 

Frosty The Lucky.

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North South and East West---trying to get a + with the holes would be my interpretation.

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What is NS and EW?    I use compass directions to help explain things  North South and East West.

Drill holes in both inside and outside tubes along one side. Rotate the tubes 90 degrees and drill holes but in between the distance of the first set of holes.  A bolt through the holes will hold the height adjustment in place.

You may still need a bolt at the bottom of each leg for fine adjustment .

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Around these parts road signs are often held up by Square tubing with regularly drilled holes on all sides.  I scrounge it from the scrapyard when a good piece shows up---most have car induced curves however.

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I haven't forgotten the discussion. I started making sketches and am exploring that rabbit hole trying not to get too carried away designing the thing. A couple snags are bugging me though. :huh:

I'll get back before long. 

Frosty The Lucky.

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