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Welding/Plasma Tables - Home shop sized


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Need to make a welding/plasma table for my shop and looking for some input.  I know there are ALL sorts of ideas floating around on the web, but I'm looking for some input that is first hand do or don't do.  What material is best for the table?  I see some made out of 3x3, 4x4, C channel, loads of smaller square tubing.... OMG!  Way too many pictures to look at and decide what is realistic and what works.

Looking for a table about 3'x4' as of now, needs to be moveable (castors of some sort) since I will need to move it out of the way when not in use so can get Cubs in and out of garage. It will be used mostly for welding on as of now.  Leaning towards purchasing a plasma cutter in the future, so it will become dual purpose then.  I have a vice on my wall bench currently, so not sure if I would mount one on the table or it will be a PIA when trying to move stuff around during welding??  Don't plan on keeping machines on it, already have a stainless cart on wheels for welder.  Pretty sure plasma cutter would fit on there as well so the two of them would travel together.  I see different tables with holes all over it for clamping (some WAY more than others), do the holes ever work, are they ever in the correct location?  Is a solid top better than a slatted top to weld on (flatter, unbroken surface area)?  I see a lot of plasma tables with a funnel type bottom to direct the sparks towards a steel pail vs letting them blow out all over the shop - do they actually work and cut down on the sparks and stuff flying everywhere or do they just look good?

Is there a design that you guys have went with and found out that it was a waste of time and steel?  Is there a better castor to use given the working conditions they will be in (hard plastic vs steel, vs ???)?

Any constructive input would be welcomed!

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I will get pictures of the one I made with my cousins input for his tracing torch. I would suggest that you make it with provision to slide a pallet jack under it for moving. That way it's rigid when you want it to be while working on it but still moveable. We have two pallet jacks, my cousin got one at a yard sale for $10 . The funnel catches 90+ percent of the mess associated with torching in our case .

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The 1/4"x3" slats are replaceable by just lifting out on our torch table. Torch table is 4x6 but could be scaled back

Welding table is 4x5 and is 1" plate . We have tacked something on the table and removed it later . 

Both tables we have adjustable feet to keep them from rocking on uneven concrete and we can level it up so gravity doesn't effect the torch  feet are just 1/2" plate hole cut outs welded to 3/4" threaded rod. Nut welded in the table leg 

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I personally think if you do alot of cutting that you need 2, the burn tables IMO are about useless for welding layout................For welding you need a thick piece of flat steel that allows for easy clamping.  If you don't have room for both, just build a welding table and lay any cut parts off the edge.  Let the slag hit the floor and clean it up with a broom later.  

Interesting this topic came up, I am actually working on my final welding table(I hope) when I have free time(Which isn't much these days with my wife working a ton and the little guy with me all day), Modifying a design I used when I worked at a lift truck repair company, they took a 2 stage mast, used the inner stage for the table, outer stage for the legs, covered half with a thick piece of plate, other half had a removeable piece of grate to cut on if need, if you need to clamp to the mast rails, it came out.  I am doing the same, but using a 3 stage mast, the first stage is cut in half for the legs, the 2nd/3rd stage are the table, I often work on some long parts and rebuild big hydraulic cylinders, so the ability to slide the 3rd stage ouf of the second for those is what I am after.  I got 1" plate to cover some of the second stage, along with cutting some others with some drill and tapped holes that I can put on the rest of the 2nd, and on the 3rd so the height is the same across it.  I do cutting laid off the side, so I don't worry about any slag.  Mainly I am after a flat surface that has a ton of steel in it for weight.    

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Here is the first one I made, it has a 3/8” top which is a bit light, I think it is 4x10, I used channel and square tubing for the frame, I mounted the vise later on one corner so it can sit parallel with the long or short side and at 45 degrees also just with bolt hole selection and pivoting on the back hole

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This was one they were getting rid of at work and quite insistent that I take it, it is on casters which is a blessing but more a curse, it has a 3/4” top about 4x5 or 6 and the cutting end with bin, I would have changed the cutting end to hang over the free end or flipped it around and not welded the flat iron in and had it sit loose for flipping over and replacement but beggars can’t be choosers 

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1 hour ago, bitty said:

 

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Bitty, I like the idea of the vise being lower than the main table. Otherwise it would seem like either the vice is too high or the table too low. How do you like it? Any regrets? Suggestions? I am concerned that the table will be in the way at times. 

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2 hours ago, hardtail said:

This was one they were getting rid of at work and quite insistent that I take it, it is on casters which is a blessing but more a curse, it has a 3/4” top about 4x5 or 6 and the cutting end with bin, I would have changed the cutting end to hang over the free end or flipped it around and not welded the flat iron in and had it sit loose for flipping over and replacement but beggars can’t be choosers 

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This sort of what I was thinking, only to scale to fit in my garage.  Is there a specific reason why some guys have pails under the cone - a solid bottom would work too?  Just have to scoop out crap at some point and time?  

Great ideas guys, keep them coming!  I too like the vice set down from table top.  Good thinking.

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I want to build a new welding table this winter, will be 4x10' with a top made out of 1x4" solid bars spaced 2" apart, they will be spaced off the frame with 2" long pieces of 2.5x2.5x.25" seamless steel tube.  That will give the ability to put a clamp almost anywhere on the table, if I want to make the table longer I can slide 2" square tube through the spacers and to make it wider 2x2" tube could sit crossways between the slats with a 1.5" spacer to make them flush with the top of the slats.

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I guess it depends on what kind of work and fabrication you envision, I remember this one being posted on home shop machinist I think, guy got a loading dock, added the top and then put it on a big slew ring that he could turn or lock, raise and lower, pretty much perfection in my mind😍

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This was put in the scrap pile at work at my old job, figured it was much to good to be crushed so brought it home for a welding table canopy, miss that place some days😢

 

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I started many years ago with a 4' X8' 3/8" thick. It lasted about a year and was bent and twisted beyond repair. Then went to 1/2" and it lasted a couple of years. Now have a 4' X6' X 3/4". Have hold down holes all over it and 2" receiver tube welded under each corner with a 5/8" Allen lock screw in the center of them. Vises both jaw and pipe and tube notcher and other things are mounted on 2"X1/4" square tubing. Have castors on it so we can move it around.

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Got one at work with the holes in it for drop in clamps. Don't know what your looking to do but for tacking up weldments it's pretty sweet. 

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58 minutes ago, 1466fan said:

Got one at work with the holes in it for drop in clamps. Don't know what your looking to do but for tacking up weldments it's pretty sweet. 

Acorn table?   Thems are sweet!  Sure wish I could find some chunks of that for the one I am building.  The one I am making will also double for hydraulic cylinder repair table, which is alot of the reason I need an extension on it for excavator cylinders.  I currently clamp them to my big knee mill for dissassembly, but one of these days if I keep doing that I will break something.  Acorn holes would make it alot easier to clamp those in, but will drill holes for my big toe clamps in my plates and that will work too.

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I know some holes in the flat, solid portion would be very handy.  Something like the top picture, that's realistic (for my purposes) but the 2nd picture - what the heck would you do with something like that for?!!   Looks like someone was trying out their new shot gun!  Guess they are welding WAY different stuff than I'd ever think of working on!

These are the types of clamps I use, besides a 3/4" pipe bar clamp when needed.

As far as movability, seen one video a guy did up a table but used a cheap bottle jack to raise and lower his wheels/castors to move the table around the shop.  Otherwise it was sitting on adjustable feet like Bitty posted above which looked to make it nice and ridged.  The slats for the plasma/cutting end I agree should be removeable to change them in the future.  Whether it be just flipping them or needing to replace.  I think welding them in would be such a waste and a mess to have to replace in the future.

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All the holes let you clamp and pull stuff into place before welding..............Acorn tables are similar to that one, but usually are very, very thick.  I often use angle plates, 1-2-3 blocks, and even my mill vises in weld setup, all the holes let you bolt things in place quickly and it stays there for repetative parts, which is harder to do using clamps alone off the edges especially if the table is solid.  A work around is to weld things to the table to clamp off of, but bolting is definitely nicer IMO.

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there are soo many options.
 

As for a cutting table, my only suggestion is do not place the bars/plates across squarely. You will run a cut down them one day and not get the results you want.  Best tables have a wave to the plates, like the were to long and pushed in.  
 

for welding get the thickest top you can afford and plan on it being replaced. I like to drill 13/16 holes and use dogs made from 3/4 round stock. Drill a simple pattern and add more later.  A vice clamped to a leg so it’s lower than the table but can be lowerEd and raised when a reason comes up (or removed) , and 2” receivers like Finny said to mount attachments.  Plan on making it he11 for stout and then order heavier steel. My opinion is you make it with adjustable legs so it is or can be dead on level.  
 

Building my table

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dogs

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making my rear blade

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let us know how it goes

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13 hours ago, TP from Central PA said:

Acorn table?   Thems are sweet!  Sure wish I could find some chunks of that for the one I am building.  The one I am making will also double for hydraulic cylinder repair table, which is alot of the reason I need an extension on it for excavator cylinders.  I currently clamp them to my big knee mill for dissassembly, but one of these days if I keep doing that I will break something.  Acorn holes would make it alot easier to clamp those in, but will drill holes for my big toe clamps in my plates and that will work too.

Oh how I lust after an Acorn table!!

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Went to a auction a few years ago and they had a 6'X10' acorn table with tooling. Didn't bid on it as we could not figure out how to move it. Old guy that worked there said  he thought it weighed close to 9,000lbs.

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2 minutes ago, Finney said:

Went to a auction a few years ago and they had a 6'X10' acorn table with tooling. Didn't bid on it as we could not figure out how to move it. Old guy that worked there said  he thought it weighed close to 9,000lbs.

They are heavy, but that is the beauty of them.  It probably didn't bring much money for that reason.

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18 minutes ago, Finney said:

Went to a auction a few years ago and they had a 6'X10' acorn table with tooling. Didn't bid on it as we could not figure out how to move it. Old guy that worked there said  he thought it weighed close to 9,000lbs.

...thats exactly what you need...when you start messing with any rams on bigger excavators......The old torque multiplier  certainly tightens up those 'piston' nuts....some are so tight it is easier to spin them off in a big lathe..

Mike

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29 minutes ago, mike newman said:

...thats exactly what you need...when you start messing with any rams on bigger excavators......The old torque multiplier  certainly tightens up those 'piston' nuts....some are so tight it is easier to spin them off in a big lathe..

Mike

It isn't so much getting them loose, its trying to keep everything still while doing it:lol:  I certainly have used some "Kustom" setups in the past to do it.

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