Welding Table

Ok... I am to that point where I think I need a welding table or two. What do you guys use? I see that cheap one on Northern Tools website, and it
looks ok I suppose, although not very big. I suppose it could be workable if paired with some roller stands or a roller conveyer to work with longer stock.
How about a stainless steel food prep table? I know most have rounded edges, but you can find them pretty big sometimes, and I've bought them in the past for my folks grocery store at auctions pretty cheap. (right place right time).
I've seen a few metal work benches, but almost all of the new ones are wood, and even those few that are metal are pretty thing stamped steel sheet. I can't see welding on that without blowing holes in it eventually.
A local welding shop I looked around at seemed to have 1" steel plate supported on what looks like junk metal left over from other jobs. That is heavy and expensive I bet.
Any other ideas?
I did a bit of work on a plastic table (looks like food prep plastic cutting board material) today, and amazingly I didn't melt the table, but repositioning to not do that certainly cost me some time. It did get me thinking about getting a regular welding table.
I know... just work on the floor. LOL.
How about pouring a concrete table? It would be heavy as all get out, and could not be used as a ground or a heat sink, but it would not melt through either.
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"Bob La Londe" (clip) How about a stainless steel food prep table? (clip) ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Top is thin--when it gets hot it will warp. Your welding table should be thick enough to be rigid, and thin enough to allow C-clamps around the edges. ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ A local welding shop I looked around at seemed to have 1" steel plate

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ That's the right idea, but it doesn't have to be that thick. I use 1/4" steel plate, reenforced on the back with angle iron. ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ How about pouring a concrete table? ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ It also fails the C-clamp requirement. If you do any acetylene welding, the concrete will pop and flake.
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In the welding lab at school, some of the tables were made with 1/4" tops. They were all warped badly (1" variation along a short 2' edge) because the students would allow the front edge of the table to get too hot. That was from stick welding 3/8" steel on the 1/4" tables. People would place the work on the table and weld from the top.
They just recently built new tables of a very different design which also used 1/4" tops, but the new design included 1" x 1/4" bar stock (or something like that) welded to the bottom along the edges and in a radial patterns across the bottom to make them stronger and prevent warping. Time will tell how well that holds up to the students. It should do much better than the old tables which had no extra supports along the edges.
If you want to clamp your work to the table and weld on the part which is next to the table, the table better be thicker than what you are trying to weld. If it's not, you have to take care not to allow the hot work to rest directly on the table. My guess is that a good rule of thumb would be to use a table which was twice as thick as what you wanted to weld on it. If it's not that thick, then you have to take care to prop up the work on scrap to keep the hottest parts of the work from transferring too much heat to the table.
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It all depends on what you're going to be doing. My three tables were all four by ten feet, made of angle. The first one three inch by 3/8". I toned down a bit on the second, and my present one is quarter by two angle. I have the long rails set in one foot and eighteen inches from the side, and that lets me make most configurations of fence. I made clamp hangers underneath as well as screen tool holders. Also mounted a four hole AC box to plug in tools. Drilled a corner for a vise which I put on and take off as needed. One can also mount bending stuff, but then you might need to anchor the legs to the deck. Like I say, it depends on use and space.
I built mine more for ornamental metal work. It still works good, though when I just want to put something up there and have it at a good height to work on. You do have to have space for a larger table. If you want a roll around table, of course it would be smaller, but then you have to watch getting the wheelbase too small and it being top heavy. There is no perfect table, but there are tables that are good for specific purposes. I'd experiment around, and you'll evolve into a workable table. Spend the bucks for good casters, or get some at a salvage house or yard sale if you want it mobile. If it is going to be stationary, make it so that you can level it. I welded half inch by three carriage bolts to the bottom of the legs so I can level it and have it flat to turn out flat work.
Just some thoughts. I'd identify intended uses first, and go from there.
HTH
Steve
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I don't have the space for a dedicated welding table so other things serve temporarily. I shared a shop-made steel plate table with a pro weldor neighbor until his side jobs took off. It was about 2' x 3' and generally good enough. I added 2 wheels high up on the legs to roll it around our back yards on its side like a wheelbarrow, since it was very top-heavy. He assembled his railings and fire escapes on the floor.
My 4' x 5' scaffold frames were set up for welding on level 2X4s in two B&D Workmates. They only have to be level and parallel in one direction and in this case the frames ran down a sloping driveway, but they came out square and unwarped and plug into commercial scaffold smoothly.
I squared up the ~7' sawmill frame the same way, by leveling the ends of the frame on boards. The rungs of its ladder frame were milled square on the ends so they helped instead of hindering alignment when the clamps were tightened. Avoiding warpage was important because the blade has to track on the wheels.
For small things I normally put some sheet metal and a few fire bricks on a plywood table and clamp the pieces into alignment with scrap angle iron, which lets me turn it to do all the welds in the flat position. The fire bricks are from two lots which differ slightly in thickness, but all the bricks from one lot are close enough to make a flat welding surface.
I have a rusty, beat-up platform stacker similar to this;
http://www.wescomfg.com/spl683032.jpg
which makes a good work and welding table for larger and heavier projects. The frame is handy for clamping vertical pieces in place and supporting spatter shields (steel shelves, car ramps, etc.). A hydraulic scissors lift table might be cheaper if you have to buy new and about as good if you could bolt temporary uprights to the sides. Be careful of clamps there because they jam when you lower the table. You could put a larger object on the unobstructed tabletop, but can't raise it as high and hang a frame over it for free access underneath. I'm not good enough to weld all the way around a tubing joint in one pass so I need to reposition the joint upright after tacking it flat.
"Performance Welding" by Richard Finch shows airplane frames being welded on particle board.
Jim Wilkins
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I do not have space for a big welding table. I wish that I did, but I do not.
So I do two things:
1) For small stuff (which makes the majority of my welding), I have a appx. 18x18 inch steel square, with an angle welded on, which I simply hold in a vise when I use it.
2) For bigger stuff, I just weld on concrete. Most welds, if you think about it, are done on tops and sides of things and are not directly touching concrete. The one thing that I do not do is butt welding with parts laying on concrete. Everything else, does not touch concrete.
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Again, available space and needs dictate. A table that is actually a pretty good one is screw jacks mounted on tire rims with two I beams in the 4" size. About four feet long. Receivers in the tops of the masonry support scaffold screw heads. Drill the I beam and drill and weld receiver pins on top of the screw jacks. Fairly easy to set it all out, clamp it up, and have a strong, cheap, flat 4x4 infinitely variable surface that breaks down and stores quickly.
Steve
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SteveB wrote:

Got a pic, Steve?
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So it's all angle iron with no top plate? How does that work?
You have two long rails running the 10' direction, and then lots of 4' rails running across the top of that? Is that what you did?
On the cross rails, did you position them flat edge up creating a flat surface with gaps in it to work on? Or did you position them flat edge down giving you a grate like surface to hold your work? Or did you do something else? The idea of a table with open slots to create lots of clamping options sounds very functional.
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Thanks, I'd like to see it. I think I grasp what what you did but a picture would be great.
I only wish I had the space to build myself a nice table.... :)

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As I said, I think the two main elements are available space (or make it a roll around) and intended use. As you can see from my pics, I use mine a lot for junk storage when not welding. I'm still in the process of building a covered or enclosed area. Yeah. Right. When I get the time and money at the same time.
Steve
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Seems to me you need to get the body working correctly first. :)
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Went to my GP today to show him my x rays of the broken back, and have him convert the report to English. Seems I have a 5 cm. descending aortic aneurysm that an echo didn't catch a couple of weeks ago. Tomorrow I go pick up the pics and take them to the cardiologist. It's operable when it reaches 6 cm. I don't know if I want to go through another open heart surgery or just let nature take its course. Then I have a shrink appointment in the afternoon to talk to him about why I feel depressed.
Oy.
Steve
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wrote:

Oy indeed.
But that aneurysm is easily fixed. They probably wont even need to put you on the heart lung machine.
They may not even need to crack your chest, go in up under the sternum and patch it up, but probably will.
Considering what happens if that goes POP......shrug
Btw...the ex had one in the same place, fixed a number of years ago. After her bypass.
Gunner
The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in times of great moral crisis maintain their neutrality", John F. Kennedy.
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After reading all this stuff, and looking at the pictures, I have decided how I am going to build my NEXT welding table. The open gridwork, make of welded up angle iron is good, but I also like to have a closed flat area where I can line up and assemble small parts. So I will have a plate, maybe 1' x 2' that I can drop in when I want. I may even have another drop-in plate with a straightedge backstop for quickly aligning stuff. Could also have a plate with a length of angle iron welded to it, with the Vee pointed up, for but welding pipe and tubing.
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wrote:

Mine is 5' x 5'x 1/2" top out of a plant salvage sale. Clamping could be better. The I-beam frame is too close to the edge for convenient clamping on the front, although I can make it work. I have tacked studs to it for clamping, then just broke them off and ground flush.
The best I've seen was the 4'x4' Acorn table with clamps my coworker won at the same auction for the same price as mine, $100. I'm still jealous.
Concrete likely would spall. I wouldn't go there.
Pete Keillor
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Bob La Londe wrote:

I get by fine with a 30x30x3/8" piece of plate on a stand. When I have longer stuff I use an outrigger which consists of a metal sawhorse with spacers on top (usually a piece of 1/4" thick flat bar). I also have a 4'x4' table out in the driveway which I use sometimes, and when I do long railings I've sometimes taken the little table out and set it about ten feet from the big table. Doing large square work like a trailer frame, I use two metal sawhorses with long square tube tacked to the tops. Get both sawhorses level (the long way) and it doesn't matter if the floor isn't quite level.
I setup that was cheap and worked for me for many years was a small piece of plate steel and a 55-gallon drum, all stored outside. The drum I used as a stand, of course. When not in use, I turned the drum upside down and I leaned the plate up against the wall. Every so often I knocked the rust off with a wire brush and wiped on some boiled linseed oil. After awhile it just quit rusting.
You can go to great lengths building a welding table. Ernie recommends large pieces of MDF on sawhorses, says you can apply quite a bit of heat before that stuff burns, and it's dirt cheap compared to steel these days.
I'd start by looking locally for some used plate, or else build up a framework out of angle iron. Those are the two schools of thought on welding tables: flat surface, or open framework with lots of clamp access. And start watching for sales of welding clamps. I use Vise-Grips 6R and 11R and a motley bunch of C-clamps.
Grant
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I've got a sears workbench with 1 1/2" MDF top. I've just ordered some 16 gauge metal to cover it (top and edges), as well as cover the back to keep sparks etc from falling behind the table when I do grinding and cutting. It won't be a real welding table, but it should work nicely for small welding projects and give me a better table to do basic cutting and grinding work on. Putting the 16 ga cover on the workbench is far more affordable than building a real welding table. This is in my garage, and I'll just use the floor of the garage for the larger projects.
The legs are strong for a workbench, but would not be strong enough to put a real top on it (even 1/4" plate would be more weight than I would trust for this bench).

Yeah, very expensive. And if you want a quality table, you can easily go thicker than that.

The Miller site has plans for a good sized table just to give you ideas of what could be done. It uses a 3/8" plate for the top.
http://www.millerwelds.com/interests/projects/welding-table/
They also have a small folding table design there.
And here's some interesting welding table ideas from a miller forum:
http://www.millerwelds.com/resources/communities/mboard/showthread.php?p 4529

I think it was iggy who said he used small plate with angle iron welded to the back, and held in a vise as his "welding table". That's just another interesting idea for how small and simple you can go and still have a functional work surface to deal with.

Of course, the real point of a true welding table is to give you an accurate flat surface you can clamp to that will keep your work from warping as you weld it. So the size and strength table you need is a function of the work you expect to do. Ideally, you want a table which is larger and stronger than what you are trying to weld. I'd love to have a 4' by 10' table with 1" top to work on these self units, but it ain't going to happen. I'll just have to make do with the floor of my garage. :)
But, the secondary point of a welding table is to give you a conductive surface to act as a ground and to make the work easier by giving you a raised surface to work from. My simple sheet metal covering wood will do that - I'll just have to be careful never to let the table get too hot.
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