Saturday, December 04, 2010

Lathe Stand Part 2 – Adjustable Feet and Casters

stand_feetI know that there is someone out there that is wondering: Why start with the feet???

Well, normally I would agree - just build it a little shorter than you need, stick something on there and you’re good.  The problem here was that:

  1. These things are going to support a lot of weight, they have to be sturdy.  Heck, the lathe is right round 400# all the steel going into the stand is going to probably end up a couple of hundred pounds, and eventually I hope to add a chest with tooling to I that will easily go 500-1000lbs
  2. I want casters that are strong enough to not be an issue and the feet to be adjustable so they can get out of the way and still lift the stand off the casters for use.  After I worked everything out I came to the conclusion that I actually needed everything to end up in a 1/8” or so range.  I really didn’t want the feet being more than 3/16” off the ground with them screwed all the way up since I was worried about rigidity with it lifted excessively (the feet “unscrewed”) and if I need more clearance it’s easy enough to completely unscrew and remove the feet.
  3. I didn’t know what (size, shape and function wise) I was going to end up with for the feet since I was using things that I have never tried doing this with before.
  4. Of course, if you’ve been paying attention,you’ll expect that whatever I ended up making will support the full weight of this thing plus a baby elephant on each corner.

OK, so the easy part- the casters.  I looked around online, the big box stores, and Harbor Freight (generally they have a good selection of decent casters), but no one seemed to have just exactly what I was looking for at a price that I was willing to pay (my “cheap gene” gets in the way of me doing a lot of sensible things, in this case I probably wasted more time and money trying to find something that I liked for a decent price than the difference between some of the expensive stuff and what I got), and almost nothing had the load rating that I was looking for.

Finally, I was at one of the bigger local Ace Hardwares in the area (Kendal’s in Clarksville, MD… good place, one of the bigger selections in the area, but a little out of the way and usually more expensive than other places so it’s not always the first place that I look) and found some nice, reasonably wide 3” steel casters rated at 1000# each.


As you can see, while I was there I went digging through the hardware section and found that they had up to 1” in bolts… perfect, I’ll use those for the feet.  I came home with some 2” long, 1” bolts and some matching nuts.

Now, if I was normal I would have just welded the nuts to the bottom of the legs, put the bolts in them and had adjustable feet.

Oh, to be normal… wait, I am normal, the rest of you are broken...  Damned dwarves! (I don’t exactly know what the dwarves did this time but it had to be their fault somehow)

So what did I do?  Do you even have to ask (let me guess, some of you reading this consider yourself “normal,” huh?)?

Well, first I lost 2 sets of bolts and nuts.  How do you lose a couple of pounds of shiny steel?  How do you loose 2 out of the 4 if they’re all in the same bag?  I don’t know.  I did it.  I’m talented.

I got some more at the hardware store, grabbed some washers also.  I took a good look at them and decided “these are going to be some ugly feet.  I have a lathe.  We have the technology, we can make them stronger, and faster…”  Wait, no that was something else, as my brother keeps saying, with the tools that I own by now my house should be capable of time travel.

So I stuck the bolts in the lath, faced the heads and then cut a shoulder in each one that matched the ID of the washers (they were all slightly different, but of course I took the time to match each one exactly).  At that point I also decided that just leaving the nuts looking like nuts would look tacky.  I turned the corners off of it, and then turned a shoulder down that would press into the bottom plate that will get welded into the bottom of the legs:


Yea, that thing on the left started out as a nut before I stuck it in the lathe.

To puck or not to puck… what’s the deal with the hockey puck in the picture?  Well at some point one of the forums or lists suggested that hard rubber, regulation hockey pucks make nice feet for equipment.  They’re hard enough to make steady feet for heavy stuff, but still deaden vibrations some.  At this point I was debating if I was going to add hockey pucks to the feet.  And how to attach them???

So this is how the parts fit together, like I said, they were machined to fit together:


Do I add a hockey puck?


Oh, if you’re wondering why I left the hex on the head end of the bolts if I didn’t on the nut?  I figured when it’s all together, if something gets jammed up having a hex to put a wrench on might help.  Ah, you see? I’m always thinking…

Up next, the plates for the ends of the legs. 

I measured the exact outside and inside dimensions of the 3” box tube that I bought, and decided that the plates should be smaller than the outside, but _just barely_ larger than the inside, so there is room to put a nice bead around them without needing much cleanup or sticking out (you’ll see in a later installment), but so there is still a mechanical register to make sure they’re perfectly flat with the end of the box tube and are supported even without the weld. 

So I threw some 1/4” plate on the 4x6 bandsaw and cut out some blanks, but after cutting them out I figured that I was going to use a boring bar on the mill to size the holes for the threaded nuts anyway, I might as well finish them there also.  I stacked them in the mill vise and milled them within .005” of square… because I could.  Sorry, no pictures of the sawing or machining – I was busy sawing and machining.

Funny how that works.

Anyway, this is how it all fit together:



Sorry, but in the next few shots a lot of things happened at once (again, no pictures of the actual welding and machining, I was welding and machining at the time.  I guess I need to hire a photographer to document things better.  I’m also not a big fan of getting dust, oil and swarf on/in the camera, so unless I’m going to stop and wash my hands… it’s unlikely you’re going to get _actual_ action shots).

I decided to puck them.

I assembled all the pieces, ran a bead on the back side of both the leg plate and the washer, cucked both pieces up on the lathe and faced them, cutting the welds flush with the surface.  I also turned the outside edges of the washers down so they were all the same diameter. 

Finally, I chucked up the hockey pucks and cut a pocket in the top of each one a few thousandths smaller in diameter and a few thousandths deeper than the washers.  They literally press onto the ends of the feet and actually take quite a bit of force to put on, I have no intention of using any glue or anything.



BTW, if you’re wondering about cutting the rubber pucks on the lathe, I ran one of the cheap 1/4” brazed carbide lathe tools from harbor freight a few quick passes over a diamond hone and they sliced off the rubber in big, long ribbons.

Finally, a quick shot of the useful adjustment range for these things:


Yea, they’ll go a big further, but I’m sure of their strength in this range.

OK, after all that I know how tall the legs of the stand need to be, and how big a difference I need between the caster mounting surface and the bottom of the legs.

Tune in next time for something that is starting to look a lot like, well, a lathe stand.  Same bat time, same bat station…


TAWP Tool said...


This is a great blog! Excellent documentation too. I am at the same stage as you - trying to decide on a bench for the 10x22. I'm following your progress closely and can't wait for the next installment.

By the way, I have a form of ARD as well! lol


Mark said...

Heh... that's the first "diagnosis" of ARD, though this post has rewarded me with 2 accusations of OCD.

OTOH, my wife just said "I'm sure you have that..."