The first project that I wanted to tackle on my week off was to buy some steel since most steel yards are not opened on the weekend.
I remembered a place that my dad and I went one time when he was still around but for the life of me I couldn’t remember the name. Then one day while searching on the web the name just came to me and I was able to find out where Willbanks was. The funny thing was one weekend I vaguely remembered where it was even though I couldn’t remember their name so I drove into Fort Worth, went north on North Main Street to North East 28th Street and headed West. I thought I remembered it was on 28th Street. I drove around for a while but I just couldn’t find it. The funny part is that once I remember their name and was able to search for it, they ended up being east of North Main Street on 28th Street instead of West.
So I rented a trailer and headed over and bought a load of steel.
After unloading it and organizing it I started working on building the framing table. I’m using plans that I bought off EBay from Desert Hybrids.
After cutting the main rails at 14’ feet and a few of the cross pieces I realized I should have figured out my cut lists first because I ended up with scraps that were too short. So I had to make another trip to the steel yard.
After the second load I started laying out the main rails. Part of the plans call for using 2 x 3 rectangular tubing. I kept these at their 20’ length. Since they were strong enough to hold the main rails they made an excellent level platform for building the framing table.
After measuring the spacing for the cross braces and tacking one side to the main rail, I measured the spacing and marked the second rail. Before I tacked the cross pieces to the second main rail I remembered the rule about a square versus a parallelogram. So I checked the diagonal dimensions to ensure the table frame was square.
Once this was all tacked together I started working on the legs. First thing up was I needed to cut 4 pieces of 4 1/4 flat bar at 5 1/2 inches long. So out came the plasma torch to make quick work of this job. These pieces are used to bolt the legs to the frame top.
I had to drill 3/8 holes in the flat bar to allow the legs to be bolted to the top. I didn’t read the plans well and what it called for was to drill and tap the holes for a 3/8 bolt. Since I already drilled the holes with a 3/8 through hole I’ll have to come up with another way to bolt the legs to the top. I’ll figure this problem out later.
Next up was the diagonal braces for the legs. This called for some 2 inch flat bar that would be welded to a 1 1/2 square tubing.
Corresponding holes needed to be drilled and tapped into the table top. This time I read ahead and was prepared for the job. A quick run to home depot to buy a drill and tap for making 1/4 inch holes I was back.
I didn’t get a picture of how I centered punched the holes from the flat bar or the jig I made on my small drill press to make the holes as consistent as possible, but here’s what it looked like when I was through.
Then I started working on the legs. I need to make sure they were plumb (or vertical) to the table so I used my machinist square to line it up and some c-clamps to keep it in place while I centered punched the holes in the 4 x 1/4 plate.
After doing the other pair of legs and building the cross brace for the legs I chamfered the bottoms of the legs so I could butt weld the leveling pads to.
The leveling pads called for 3/4 inch bolts but my drill press couldn’t drill the 3/4 inch holes, so I reduced it down to a 1/2 inch bolt. Welded 1/2 nuts to the top side of the leveling pads.
Once the pads were welded to the bottom of the legs I was ready to flip the table over and finish welding all joints. Out came the hoist and I took my time turning the table over. As I younger man I would have tried to man handle it over but this table is heavy and I decided to work smarter not harder. Glad I did.
This is how level the table was after I flipped it over. Hadn’t even used the leveling bolts yet to really dial in the table.