Monday, July 30, 2012

Steel Tables

I'm getting pretty close to popping for a chunk of steel for my main welding table. I have wanted to make this the last welding table I ever build so I have been playing around with designs. Over the years I have worked on loads of welding tables. Some good, and some downright crappy so I'm pretty fussy about the design being just what I want. My master plan includes a smaller forming table. This is a table specifically designed for doing forming, forging and hammering on. It sits lower to the floor and has purpose designed cutouts and features like a blacksmiths swage block. In the sheet metal shop at work they have something similar that I borrowed some features from to add to my version of a heavy duty forming table.
Take a close look at the picture. The railroad track is extendable for working sheet metal cylinders over or other hollow shapes. This one is a tank with a two inch thick top. It has tapered stake holes in it to accept the standard sheet metal stakes like you used in high school.
I decided to make the smaller forming table first. There were a few things I tried differently on this table. First I chose I-beam for the legs for a couple of reasons. For the same weight in material you get a larger overall cross section and footprint. If you think about table legs they are really only loaded in compression. My standard legs have been square tubing for years. The larger cross section of the I-beam makes the legs look more proportioned to the thick table top. Secondly it gives a natural place to clamp the ground clamp when welding.
I really like the way the legs look on this table from a neat blacksmith shop in Montana. Hollowell
So I played around with the design for a while and finally ordered the plate from Nowell Steel out in Antioch. I have worked with Ted and Chris for years and they did a great job as usual. If you have ever tried to cut thick plate by hand then you really appreciate machine cut edges.
The dimensions are three feet by four feet and an inch and a half thick. Using a magnetic Bux drill I drilled and tapped 1/2-13 mounting holes through to attach the I beam legs. Flipping it over was an interesting operation. I don't have a forklift yet so its all done with the Egyptian method around my shop.
Getting it to this point wasn't too bad I managed with a floor jack and a old Buda toe jack I have. The hard part was the final controlled tip over. I ended up putting a choker around one of the columns in the shop and using a come along to lower in to the floor. The wood under the feet is to keep those legs from sliding on the smooth concrete floor as I lowered it.
 The finished table in position. I still want to add a section of extendable rail like the table in the sheet metal shop at work. Finding a decent chunk of rail in the smaller gage size and the right price is hard. Maselli's up in Petaluma has a section but they want more than I'm willing to pay for it, at least right now.
Now I just need a big fat propane forge to go with it.


  1. Wow, your steel welding table looks pretty though! And you clearly put a lot of effort into making it. It’s amazing how you created it from your old table so that it would fit your work. Anyway, being a welding table, I’m pretty sure it’s fabricated to withstand the harsh effects of the job.

    @Salvatore Aguilar

  2. Hi Salvatore,

    Thanks for the comment. The forming table has been working out pretty well. I've found some uses for some of the openings in the top. It took a while but I finally got a section of railroad track to complete the job.

    Kind regards,

    Tom Lipton

  3. Well, you can proudly say to everyone that you’re the only person in the whole world who has this welding table. Man, it’s truly one of a kind! You really poured out all your skills and expertise in this table, huh? It was awesome, Tom!

    Alphonse Daigle

  4. Hi Alphonse,

    Its already come in handy for a few jobs. As it turns out I really like having two heavy steel tables in the shop. One with holes and cutout and one with a solid flat surface.

    Thanks for the kind words.

    Tom Lipton