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Welding Table - On A Budget - Sorta

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  • Welding Table - On A Budget - Sorta

    I have a couple projects to do, and I am just getting tired of welding on the floor. So, the latest project was to setup a welding table. I had some 1/8" wall 2" square tube left over from another project and I made a plan... well sort of. Then I gave my son a list of pieces and lengths to hack out on the bandsaw. Then I had him tack up the entire assembly for the legs cross pieces, and braces. We took turns welding it out. I've already used the frame for a couple small projects, but I wanted a top.

    My local metal vendor gave me some prices on sheet. I think they give me ok prices, but it was a lot for a table top. I priced 1/4, 3/8, and 1/2. 4x8 piece. Yes the structure will support it. It was 9 legs and they all rest on the floor. I would have really liked 1/2, but I'm realistic. I knew it would probably be more than I wanted to spend.

    I search the usual places. Craigslist, Facebook for sale groups and Market Place, and finally EBAY. I found a guy about 300 miles away with 4'x8'x1/4" A36 plate for $110 less than my local vendor. Now that's hardly worth it in reality. I would cost more than that in just diesel fuel to go get it and a day on the road. I contacted the guy anyway, and he said he'd sell one piece at asking price, and every additional piece at another $35 less. I did the math, and ten sheets would max out my little utility trailer so I agreed to buy ten sheets and headed off across the state. I figured at that price I'd have steel plate for many projects. In fact I have already thought of uses for almost all of it, and wish I could have hauled more.

    Anyway, getting back to the project. I'd like a grid of holes on the table top, but I am struggling with how to lay that out and drill them accurately. I've got a couple small and mid size CNC mills, and my best guess is to make a template / drill guide and use pins to shift the template across the sheet along a straight edge. I'm not to worried about a few thousandths from hole to hole. That would be silly. I'd more like to keep it fairly close "on average" across the entire sheet. I'd like to avoid cumulative drift of the holes. Any suggestions on how to tackle that.

    I know I could use squares and just keep the table top pristine clamping everything up to the squares, but It would be so much faster to be able to use a grid on the table to insert stops and square up pieces.

  • #2
    Weldtables.com

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    • #3
      Originally posted by des537 View Post
      Weldtables.com
      Thank you, but for my own reasons I do not plan to buy a weld table from them or anybody else. My reasons are my own and I do not choose to debate them, but thank you for making your tangential suggestion,. It might have been the right answer for somebody else.

      Do you by any chance have any working suggestions for what I actually asked about?

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      • #4
        Sorry, no suggestions on how you want to build your table ? All I was trying to say is it would save a lot of work and time to get a top that has all the holes in it to mount on your base frame, that's all.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Bob La Londe View Post


          Anyway, getting back to the project. I'd like a grid of holes on the table top, but I am struggling with how to lay that out and drill them accurately. I've got a couple small and mid size CNC mills, and my best guess is to make a template / drill guide and use pins to shift the template across the sheet along a straight edge. I'm not to worried about a few thousandths from hole to hole. That would be silly. I'd more like to keep it fairly close "on average" across the entire sheet. I'd like to avoid cumulative drift of the holes. Any suggestions on how to tackle that.
          Yup I do know how to lay out the holes. Take a length of flatbar the length of your table. 1/8" or 1/4" and lay out the hole spacing on the flatbar for one row of holes. Centerpunch real good and drill a 5/32 hole at each punch mark. Then use a 5/32 pin punch ground to a point to transfer the holes to the top. Then slide the flatbar across the table and punch it. Now if you have a transfer punch set use it. I have layed out a million holes like that over the last 40 years. I do my shop presses like that to keep the holes perfect for all 4 sides. Drill them however you can. But if i had lots of big holes i would use a slugger drill. Hope this helps. The pic was my wall of patterns when I worked. We got a new plant mgr and he had them scrapped because they looked like clutter. Then he wondered out why the projects took longer and most of the parts I made were the same and I did have the patterns. Smart kids these days....Bob
          Bob Wright

          Spool Gun conversion. How To Do It. Below.
          http://www.millerwelds.com/resources...php?albumid=48

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by des537 View Post
            Sorry, no suggestions on how you want to build your table ? All I was trying to say is it would save a lot of work and time to get a top that has all the holes in it to mount on your base frame, that's all.
            Sorry, didn't mean to sound snotty. I just get frustrated sometimes.

            Originally posted by aametalmaster View Post
            Yup I do know how to lay out the holes. Take a length of flatbar the length of your table. 1/8" or 1/4" and lay out the hole spacing on the flatbar for one row of holes. Centerpunch real good and drill a 5/32 hole at each punch mark. Then use a 5/32 pin punch ground to a point to transfer the holes to the top. Then slide the flatbar across the table and punch it. Now if you have a transfer punch set use it. I have layed out a million holes like that over the last 40 years. I do my shop presses like that to keep the holes perfect for all 4 sides. Drill them however you can. But if i had lots of big holes i would use a slugger drill. Hope this helps. The pic was my wall of patterns when I worked. We got a new plant mgr and he had them scrapped because they looked like clutter. Then he wondered out why the projects took longer and most of the parts I made were the same and I did have the patterns. Smart kids these days....Bob
            Thanks, That's much simpler than my moving jig and pin idea, and the holes will be as straight and square as my reference edge. I've got a piece of 3/8x3 flat bar laying out back that I only used about a foot of so it should do the trick. I can still lay it out on the mill. (I do know how to accurately machine things bigger than the mill envelope.)

            By slugger do you mean something like a MAG drill with an annular cutter or are you referring to some other tool?

            I could setup spacing on that flat bar for two or three different hole patterns if I wanted to, so that might not be its only use.

            Yes, I have a set of transfer punches.

            Last edited by Bob La Londe; 08-26-2018, 10:26 AM.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Bob La Londe View Post

              Sorry, didn't mean to sound snotty. I just get frustrated sometimes.




              By slugger do you mean something like a MAG drill with an annular cutter or are you referring to some other tool?


              That is correct. I don't know your hole sizes and a bunch of hole saws could work also...Bob
              Bob Wright

              Spool Gun conversion. How To Do It. Below.
              http://www.millerwelds.com/resources...php?albumid=48

              Comment


              • #8
                I see upon looking around some mag drills are called sluggers, but I have also seen slug busters called sluggers. I happen to have a hydraulic slug buster, but I doubt it would punch 1/4" plate. It barely punches red metal perlings and channel in metal buildings, which is of course what I bought it for. I also have a bunch of hole saws, but I'm not sure my forearms and shoulders are up for hole sawing 253 holes. LOL. I guess a mag drill is going to be in my future.

                P.S. My experience with hole saws in steel is that they do not cut great holes. I've cut a lot of holes in steel with holes saws. I spent 23 years as a licensed communications contractor. I punch a lot of holes in things over the years. Most of them on purpose. LOL.
                Last edited by Bob La Londe; 08-26-2018, 12:02 PM.

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                • #9
                  P.P.S. Your suggestions leads me to what I will probably do. I like your drill guides, but I wanted a tool that will have multiple applications. I'm probably going to make a 50" T square with a brace so it doesn't loose square easily like a cheap drywall square does. Then I'll drill it on 1" centers for transfer punching. This tool will be useful for many more jobs than just this one. My first thought was I could easily get off by a hole and mark and drill every hole in a row an inch off after that, but if I mark the holes I will be using for any given project with a metal marking pen that should reduce the likelihood of that mistake. Thanks for your help and feedback.

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                  • #10
                    I was at my local Canadian Tire store and notice drawer liner with a 1" square grid pattern. Removeable adhesive backed pattern. They also had other square sizes available. Anyone with a vinyl printer could supply a similar product and alter the layout before printing.

                    Having grown in an age where a days work is a days work, I've drilled lots of holes. Pin punch, center punch, pilot hole and progressive bits. A quality cutting fluid. Quality bits will last along time drilling a lot of holes if used properly and the cutting edge kept sharp if kept cool and lubricated.

                    I find with a small handful of 1/8" bits and using an air drill for high speed, you can push through a lot of holes in short order. Did a lot or horizontal 5/8" holes in truck frames moving suspensions with a 1/2" drill and a chain to tighten for increased push. It's do able and you don't have to beat your self up doing it.

                    And marking, blue the surface and scribe. Not saying you can't sharpie, or soap stone, although a sliver streak would be in a consistent thin line. Cumulative error is what your trying to avoid. As the sharpie flattens, soap stone dulls, you lose accuracy.

                    Templates and a transfer set will work. If your only building one table, you have to think what's your time worth to build the template and a roll or three of drawer liner costs?

                    But wait...253 holes. By hand. How long should it take? I'm going to say if it's laid out, punched ready to start drilling, 1/2' holes - 4 1/2 hours with clean up. Just think...I gave to something to shoot for. 2 minutes a hole. I do expect you'll take a break now and again, don't push it. Just work steady. And remember, what doesn't get done today can be finished tomorrow and the world won't end as a result. Good luck with that, it's a lot of holes.

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                    • #11
                      Since I can make the template on one of the CNC mills it won't take that long to make the template. The most tedious part will be having to re-index it a couple times. I am already thinking of a way to make it a little more versatile tool so it won't be used on one job and forgotten.

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                      • #12
                        I can make lots of 1/2" holes pretty quick for about $1.25 a hole ….Bob
                        Bob Wright

                        Spool Gun conversion. How To Do It. Below.
                        http://www.millerwelds.com/resources...php?albumid=48

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                        • #13
                          Well, that is cheaper than a new mag drill. LOL.

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                          • #14
                            I did something similar a few months back on a monster bbq pit. Inside the pit are tuning plates. Those plates are a grid of holes and each plate gets holes progressively larger. I took my time, laid out the first plate...layout fluid, a scribe and a center punch. Once I had my first holes, I used a transfer punch to mark the other plates. So pretty much like bob said. I used an old mag base drill and cut the larger holes with annular cutters instead of twist drills. What you're making sounds really cool and wildly useful, but it's still not a piano. You'll be able to make those hole positions just fine with a template and some patience. But bob's offer to punch those holes sound like more fun.

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                            • #15
                              I just have to remind myself that welded assemblies (atleast with my skill level) must have a much larger acceptable tolerance than machined parts.

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