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I Forge Iron

Gasser on a folding table?


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Hey all, I need some design/safety advice and a sanity check.

I know the title sounds a little sketchy, so let me explain. I mooch shop space off my landlord. He's cool so long as I don't get in the way. I have a rail anvil on rectractable casters and a wire shelf on casters. My gas forge lives on the shelf on a bed of hard refractory bricks. The shelf is starting to get in the way and I want to move it into storage before it becomes an issue. For me, storage is up an outdoor spiral staircase. I weigh about 140. Point is, if I want to do away with the shelf I need to be able to move the new work surface up a spiral staircase in the dark. I'm planning to build a smaller gas forge out of a 50cal ammo box to accommodate that. I just need a work surface.

Ideally, I'd like a 3' x 3' all steel folding table, but I doubt that exists on the consumer market and if I fabricate it I doubt it'll fold nicely (I forsee many pieces of sheet metal banana'd by my lack of welding skills). Next best thing would be one of those steel framed, synthetic material topped 3' x 3' tables, rip out the synthetic top and rivet or tack sheet metal on top (or perforated sheet for weight savings). The issue I see is safety. One good hip check and the forge and burner go all free willy. Even if I fasten the forge to the table top, the folding legs could still fail on being bumped. Do you have any suggestions here? Is there a better way?

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That's a large table and steel will be heavy even if it's not strong enough to serve light smithy duties. We have a couple sturdy folding tables IIRC about 24" x 36" but don't quote me or I'll explain the dents in my head and my memory. I've used them at demos by laying sheet rock over them on 1/2" spacers. The air gap under the spacers keeps the plastic from getting hot enough to warp. I don't actually work on them, they hold display tools, product, etc. though I have used one to hold the forge but it needed thicker spacers or maybe double the heat shield. 

You can carry two at a time without much trouble, whatever you used for a heat shield work surface could make another trip. You'll be making multiple trips of course. 

I have seen folding stainless steel tables and they appeared to be pretty robust. Check with a Catering / restaurant supply. 

My current forge is on a steel serving cart I got as part of a take it all or leave it all yard sale buy. I only wanted the hammers and the guy just wanted to close up and go have dinner so I brought it all home. Anyway, the steel cart is perfect for the forge. I put the forge on 3 firebricks to keep from warping the cart and there's room to lay tongs, stock and a few other things I want close to the fire. It'd be awkward but a stout youngster like you could carry it up a few measly flights of stairs.

Another option would be a break down table. Plywood top with a steel skin. Legs in connected pairs with a spreader to connect the pairs to keep it from being wobbly. 

If you want 3' x 3' the legs can be the rest of the sheet of plywood cut in 1/3s and trimmed for height. The three sections are connected with a piano hinge with a long gate hook to make the 4th side. You work it by opening it up into a U latching the inside with the hook. The 3' square top has small, say 1/2" square trim wood screwed to the underside to form pockets for the stand. You lay the top on the plywood stand and you have your table.

Take it apart and carry it upstairs, the whole table will only weigh a little more than the original sheet of plywood not counting a steel table cover.

Make sense?

Frosty The Lucky. 

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Thanks Frosty! That helps a bunch

Actually, 24" x 36" was the dimensions I was hoping for I just didn't know they were made in that size. I've only seen the 3' squares before.

I hear you on the serving carts, but I've lugged awkward stuff up those stairs and nearly wiped out on ice a few times. I was thinking folding tables because with a handle they can be a one handed lift and that lets me hold a railing.

I'll keep an eye out for one of those stainless folding tables with the local restaurants.

The breakdown table sounds pretty appealing, but a folding table would be easier to store.

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Thanks for all the great ideas. I found a bunch of plywood sawdrops in my landlord's trash bin, benefits of sharing space. Once I get the green light from him I'm thinking of using the two sawhorses or sawhorse-like frames like Thomas was saying with a hinged tabletop like frosty was saying.

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Up in Loveland there's a place called "Uncle Benny's" that re-sells construction materials.  It's an eclectic mix in there but I've bought steel folding sawhorses for $20.00 there.  They fold up and nest inside of each other to take less storage room.  Commercial electrical contractors are constantly removing old electrical panels.  The "tub" of the panel is bent sheet metal with welded corners. 

General Electric Panel board Tub, AB37B A-Series II, NEW ...

Since it's pretty rare for anything to come out of the back side of an electrical panel, the tubs are mostly flat and hole free on the back.  If you set the open side down on two sawhorses, the sides of the panel tub would make the entire thing far more rigid with little weight.  Panel tubs come in several lengths which might allow you to support your forge and any stock sticking out of it.  I've used panel tubs for sand filled side-blast forges for years.  



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I got some building materials from a reuse place around here and finished the breakdown table. I threw on a garden rake head for a tongs rack (thanks Thomas!). I have some sheet metal and hard firebricks for insulating, airgaps, etc to go under the forge. New forge just needs a little more refractory to stiffen it up and some itc-100. Almost there.

It's surprisingly sturdy when assembled. The sides alone can hold my weight. The back frame was a little fragile with only pocket screws so I added some wood gussets after these photos. Not very pretty but I think it'll be quite useful.



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