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Stand-alone Precision Workbench Project 
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So I've often admired and wanted a steel topped table to do work on. Work like welding and gearbox or engine assembly stuff. Stuff that a wooden bench isn't ideal for. Something that can be oily and not soak in. Something conductive. Something very hard and very very flat. Enter this project.

My plan, feedback and discussion more than welcome:

1) 2mm zinc plated steel surface.
2) 18mm or thicker MDF or HDF second layer to support the steel and help it be robust to impacts and loads and not distort/stay very very flat
3) Similar thickness sheet of decent plywood as MDF sags and ply does not. Possibly laminated on.
4) Dimensions to be full sheet, possibly minus edge foldings. 2400x1200 table.
5) Possibly involve a sheet metal shop and get the edges folded down to protect the MDF and ply from a hard life.
6) Steel frame underneath welded together and supporting the ply and MDF as much as possible/reasonable.
7) Because this would weigh a tonne, one end will have a pair of wheels and, if legally required, suspension, the other will have a folding draw bar setup. IE, it'll be movable as a trailer behind a vehicle, or with a jack at the other end!
8) Underneath will have shelves and/or compartments for storage of whatever i feel like.

This table is on the cards because: My new place has a sweet spot for a workbench and workshop.

Initial work plans for this table are: RX7 vs ute gearbox interbreeding for the truck :-D I should be able to spread gearbox parts all over it and spill oils and so forth and it should be fun and glorious.

Again, all thoughts welcome! :-D

Fred.

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Tue Dec 23, 2014 9:21 am
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No suspension required, fixed axles it will be. They could easily bolt on and off so that it just needs jacking up and them fitting before towing/moving. Mud guards will be required too.

http://www.nzta.govt.nz/resources/roadc ... ments.html

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Tue Dec 23, 2014 9:24 am
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Fred wrote:
No suspension required, fixed axles it will be. They could easily bolt on and off so that it just needs jacking up and them fitting before towing/moving. Mud guards will be required too.

http://www.nzta.govt.nz/resources/roadc ... ments.html



No suspension is required for any workbench :lol2:


Mon Jan 05, 2015 10:11 am
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So to follow up on this, I've just put up a thread about shelves that must precede this project, and updated the A-frame thread. Why? Well...

Aside from bolting stub-axles and guards on the rear corner, for the draw bar, I plan to re-use my A-frame and simply add a strap or latch or something half way along it to attach to the front of the table structure. And, of course, some tabs underneath to attach the a-frame bar to, too. viewtopic.php?f=15&t=2558

Aside from that, someone pointed out that variable height is hugely useful. Thus I plan to make the verticals telescopic and lockable, which will have a few benefits. More stable towing being one of them, working on tall things on top being another. If lowering it, things stored underneath will have to be moved out of the way, however underneath will be in two sections. Half way up will be a shelf that can take a number of large bins for things like lights, power leads, jack stands, power tools, etc. Big things that you want handy all the time.

I'll try to draw up a plan at some point after the shelving is complete for further critique.

Fred.

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Sun Jul 05, 2015 11:53 am
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Plans and cutting list!

No plan, straight to bed. Or something like that.

Top platform, upon which the sheets will be secured, needs to be stiff up and down, but no need to be stiff horizontally, especially once fastened to the sheets. Thus 50x25x3 box is likely a good choice. Full length sides, cross beams at ends, middle, and some intermediates of 300-600, likely 600 or maybe 400. Cutting list will be something like 2 @ 2400 , 5 or 7 @ 1200-50, both possibly shorter to allow for folded down sides/ends of the steel top. If using a proper table saw, this could be done with deft precision, too. Then I wouldn't mind. Not keen to rip it up with a skilly, though. Might go 50x50x3 for sides to allow for easier vertical attachment underneath.

Mid platform, no need to be as stiff, so lighter/cheaper materials can be used, and definitely teed into the side, not full length. Possible vertical stays at the half way mark, to stiffen it up while saving on materials. Could go down to 25x3 box like the shelves. Could run another up the middle to give it longitudinal stiffness without a brace. The shelves run a full 2400 and don't flex much fully loaded with gear. The type of gear I'd like to put on the work table shelf are:

  • Box of power extension leads and flood lights, etc
  • Box of heavy hitting stuff, drifts, press fittings, crowbars, etc
  • Possibly TIG welding equipment
  • Possibly jack stands and blocks of wood

Vertical sections need to be hollow and matching for telescope use with holes drilled for height setting pins and/or locking bolts.

My trailer hitch materials would work well for this. IIRC I used 50x5 box for the outer, and 40x4 box for the inner (will check and update this sentence). To make them fit, I previously clearanced the inside of the 50x50 and removed the seam, which won't be possible. So instead of that, I can cut a matching groove into the inner piece, instead.

At the bottom will be flat plates of dual purpose: 1) Spread the load over more ground area in case of carpet or other non-concrete use 2) Attach wheels to for moving it around the workshop with ease.

Fully retracted the height will be the sum of (bottom up):

  • Wheels ~80-150mm
  • Flat plate 5 or 6mm
  • Weld bead or first notch/setting, maybe 5-15mm
  • Lower shelf framework, 25 or 50mm or something in between.
  • Gap for stuff, 300-600mm, not sure, yet, need to think/measure/brainstorm
  • Upper frame, 50mm for sure
  • Plywood and/or MDF, max of 50mm combined
  • 2mm steel sheet top

To be pinned down further, later.

Plates or tabs for mounting towing wheels would be welded to the outers of the verticals in a way that minimally intrudes into access room.

A-frame attachment points will need to be vertically stiff/strong. So perhaps the lower shelf can't be entirely lightened up after all. Sides and centre cross member will need to be strong, as will front cross member, and rear one, to support wheel forces. In between can be lighter stuff like 20x20x3 angle or whatever. The pickup points can be above the bottom of the shelf as the A-frame has angled attachment points. The front aspect could be a plate that is bolted to both so as not to protrude from either in alternate use modes.

Accessory stuff like tail lights, number plate holder, power strips, welding grounds for the top, etc can be afterthoughts with minimal impact. The main fore-aft top beams will be open ended and could be used to route cables for such things.

More musings and/or nailings down, another day. Today I must finish the other shelf!

Fred.

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Sat Aug 15, 2015 1:26 am
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Wheel options, roughly:

127 for 100mm wheels
150 for 125mm wheels
95 for 75mm wheels

Call it 130 worst case.

Another consideration for the height is that the range of extension, and therefore maximum possible stable/safe height, is determined by length of upper outer section minus minimum overlap, say 100mm. so for example, if the storage height is 500mm, and the lower shelf is 50mm, and the overlap is 100mm, then the extension is max of 450mm, over and above minimum height, whatever that is. Looking above, roughly 100 + 500 + 50 + 20 + 130 = 800 and with only 450 extension, that's a mere 1250 max work height. Adding 50 to the shelf area and base height adds 100 to the max height.

Range could be increased by taking the verticals all the way to the wood, and not running the main beams to the end. That'd add 50mm of range and extra max height without increasing min height.

I need to think about how low I want to be able to get it, and how high I want to be able to get it, and see where the compromises will lay.

Fred.

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Sat Aug 15, 2015 3:09 am
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A quick survey of furniture and house with tape measure resulted in the following list:

  • My height 1850
  • My eye height 1750
  • My under arm height 1500
  • Volvo roof height as is 1400
  • My under elbow height arms bent and down like a fork lift 1200
  • Comfortable leaning height top of set of drawers 1150
  • BBQ cook height 970
  • Work bench height 960
  • BBQ side benches 920
  • Kitchen bench 920
  • Bathroom sink bench 740
  • Big main desk 720
  • Dinner table 720
  • Ute deck height as is 700
  • PC desk lower 700
  • Lip of bath edge 470
  • Coffee table 400

Which we can categorise into:

  • Low outliers 400-470
  • Sitting work surfaces 700-720
  • Standing work surfaces 920-970
  • Min usable eye-level work height 1100
  • Max usable eye-level work height 1200
  • High outliers 1400-1850

So then, it'd be nice if it could go as low as 700, but not necessary as it won't be possible to sit at it with legs underneath anyway, or will it? A removable section for pulling up a chair and TIG welding could be REALLY nice to have, and not that hard to achieve, either.

And at the other end of the scale, 1200 seems like the practical maximum height I would want to be able to use it at.

Looking at the last post again, as is, I get 800/1300 for my min/max. It'd be good to bring the min down 100mm and we can afford losing 100mm from the top, but I'd like to keep the shelving area as large as possible. Possible savings:

  • Thinner or only one top layer of wood, either MDF or ply, but not both, or laminated/thinner each or some such. Could save 25mm.
  • Lower shelf beams etc, from 50 to 25, however concerns about tow attachment points and flex are present. Could save 25mm.
  • Smaller wheels than 100mm, possibly as small as 50mm, if strong enough small ones available. Could save 50mm.
  • Tighter tolerance at the low end of the lower verticals, 5mm of weld only instead of 20mm of weld and gap. Could save 10mm.
  • Gap for stuff, could go down from 500 to as low as 300, but preferably not below 400, This limits usefulness. Could save 100-200mm.

Drawbacks/benefits analysis:

  • Less stiff, less costly, have to choose which to use, probably overkill with both...
  • Towing stiffness could be an issue, possible mitigation by vertical braces between top and shelf.
  • Unsure if they can be strong enough, would prefer smaller anyway. Smaller don't roll over bumps as well, but cost less.
  • No downside, make it happen. Could get another 5mm by bevel pre weld + clean up with grinder to allow full travel.
  • Less stuff fits! Forgot to include 11mm plywood in this dimension, too.

Additionally, taking the wheels off saves at least 75mm, up to 130mm, but would be a pain in the arse.

Will investigate under-steel materials, wheel availability, and carefully consider towing stresses on lower shelves.

Fred.

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Sat Aug 15, 2015 4:06 am
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Cliff notes:

  • Dimensions approximate
  • Pink thing is A-frame draw-bar from ute (black in lower part)
  • Blue dots under it are fixing points
  • Blue line up to top is bracing
  • Small grey circles are castor wheels in extended/retracted positions
  • Large black circle is towing wheel on stub axle
  • Solid grey is fixed shelf area
  • White section is cut out/removable shelf/full height for sitting under with a chair
  • White section should be at the front, not the back, otherwise the stub axles will be weakly attached
  • White section could be shorter and/or full width, giving the opportunity to store taller things such as MIG trolley under it

Image



I'm such an awesome artist, I'm going to give up coding and do that for cash/starve.

Fred.

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Wed Aug 19, 2015 11:15 am
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Wonder if I'll ever find time/funding for this project... It's been pushed back again and again by various things. The things that will drive it forward are:

  • Volvo differential swap tasks.
  • Ute LSD rebuild/reinstall tasks.
  • Ute upgraded ratio gearbox build.
  • Volvo 16 valve engine builds.
  • Mazda V6 clean up/recondition.
  • EDIT: Blacktop 20v builds.
  • EDIT: RB30DET build.
  • EDIT: Aisin 6 speed mods.

Most of those are fairly distant right now, though. So glad I documented all of my thoughts and design hints, though. A lot of time and effort in the posts above.

Just occurred to me that for the purposes of welding and really stiff/flat surfaces, I could lay a sheet of thick steel on top of this and clamp it in two places and I'd be in business. That would keep both me and the naysayers happy, I think.

What made me think about and bump this thread? Was thinking about how I haven't done it the other day, and also about how many ratchet/kick straps/tie downs I now have, and how they'd be a prime suspect for the storage bins on the shelf under this table.

Fred.

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Sat Feb 06, 2016 8:16 am
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Not sure if this is mentioned above, or not, but the biggest thing I could get into the store room is:

  • 2525 long - from biggest sticky outy thing on end wall to outer edge of shelves
  • 700 or 740 (by taking the door off) wide
  • 1830 high (as per shelving thread)

So we're OK length and width (of the table) wise, is 700 a workable figure in terms of the telescopic leg arrangement? Let me scroll up a little...

I state that I want it 700 high with wheels on, however getting it through the gap does not have to include the wheels, so I should be well under the door gap with the table height the way I want it / it ends up, anyway.

Perfect, if I can ever afford to do this, then my store room layout with these dimensions:

3110 wide
2400 + 2525 = 4925 long
1750x350 alcove near front on left

Will look like this:

Image




As exported from this life size DXF: http://stuff.fredcooke.com/FredsStoreRo ... dTable.dxf

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Thu Jun 30, 2016 3:43 am
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