Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Lathe Stand Part 1 – Introduction

This is another one of those “Yea, I’m getting to it” kinds of posts… actually, the whole project is a “Yea, I’m getting to it” kind of project, I guess for me it’s sometimes hard to get to making stuff for my tools, I really just want to use them.


Along those lines, I got a Grizzly G0602, 10x22 metal working lathe almost exactly a year ago now and I’m more than a bit embarrassed that I’ve taken the packing off, cleaned the packing grease off of it and been using it still mounted to the pallet sitting on a furniture dolly for most of the year:


(I will not show you a current picture of it, just imagine the same picture but surround it with a stack of tooling, boxes and a big pile of swarf and you’ve got it)

After completely and utterly overanalyzing the situation, and then spending some time looking at assorted tool carts, workbenches, and (gasp) even lathe stands I came to the conclusion that nothing was quite right.  I decided that it needed something special.  Or maybe it’s that I’m just too anal retentive to deal with plenty of stuff that would have worked just fine and started yet another project:

  • Height: I’m 6’4” and am prone to back issues, I didn’t want to be hunched over this thing.  Most lathe stands are in the area of 29” tall (damned dwarves…), most work benches and carts are around 34” tall (it’s a conspiracy, the dwarves have taken over).  After asking around I found all sorts of rules of thumb about what works well for a work surface and after pulling out the tape measure, calipers, calculator, and consulting the 2 psychics and the dog I came to the conclusion that I needed something around an inch or 2 over 40”.  Since my adjustable height workbench ended up at 39.75” tall and I’m quite happy working at that on things clamped in the big vice or on a small anvil, both of which roughly simulated the raised work height of the lathe, that became the magic number.  So I’m shooting for 39.75” tall.
  • Overall size: I’m short on shop space (yea, I know, who isn’t), so anything bigger than it has to be is a no go.  Along those lines, I figured that keeping it around 48” wide would give just enough room to put the chip tray on it and allow me to use standard size sheet goods for the top (ended up not making a difference, you’ll see later).  Depth- well, had to be deeper than the chip tray for stability, to give room to open the side cover (which swings back) and eventually I’d like to put a tool cabinet inside and that generally means more than 16”.
  • Structure: I’ve built some nice, sturdy setups out of wood, but there is something to be said for heavy, welded steel.  Nothing to come loose, wiggle, squeak, groan, grunt….  I liked the idea of 3” box uprights and 2” box crosspieces, it just looked right in SketchUp.  I started wanting 1/8” wall, but when I got to the steel yard it turned out that heavier wall was cheaper.
  • Casters?  The machining world says it’s not a good idea to have mobile machining equipment, you’re just asking to knock it out of whack.  My garage says that you need to be able to move this thing because you just don’t have the room.
  • Adjustable feet?  Again, seems to be a conflict here.  Many swear by leveling the machine before you use it.

The end result: the stand is going to be 47” wide, 19” deep, and 38-1/4” tall, with a top that ended up getting made of some left over laminate counter top material from remodeling our kitchen glued to a piece of 3/4” MDF, making it 1-1/2” thick with the dimensions of the top of the stand +3/4” maple banding making it 48-1/2” x 20-1/2”.

WRT the feet, of course I took the most complicated approach, and made/mounted adjustable, vibration isolating feet on the ends of the legs and casters inboard, in a fashion so that the feet can be adjusted to lift the stand off the casters and level it, or you can screw them in (or entirely remove them) and wheel the stand around on steel casters, kind of like they use on engine stands.


The next few installments will have build details and pictures.

1 comment:

BHerbert said...

The casters are a good idea. As my design is much like yours, might need to add some to mine.