Welcome back to my shop. Today I’m putting together a welding table, which has been on my list of things to add to my shop for a long time.
I have the sawmill bed, which is a very nice welding platform. It gets you up off the ground and it’s 6×16 feet long. It’s fantastic for large projects, but it is lacking when you get to smaller projects.
So for small stuff, I’ve been relegated to welding on the floor, which is not very efficient for your body or for being able to clamp and jig and fixture things.
So weldtables.com had a Thanksgiving sale, including 10% off the tables. I ordered a table that was around $1,000. Plus I bought a set of legs, some clamps, additional riser blocks, and fixturing accessories. All told, I spent around $2,000 on the table.
I went with the FabBlock, and that is a thicker, beefier version of their welding table. The ribs are six inches thick, so the table top thickness is six inches, which makes it a bit more rigid. The hole spacing is all two-inches, and the holes extend off the side of the table too, so you can fixture and clamp things to the side as well as the top of the table. So if you’re a woodworker like me, it’s kinda like a Roubo workbench, where the front face of the whole bench is a clamping surface.
If you’re not familiar with how these tables go together, they are essentially a torsion box. So you have the skin, which is the top of the table, and you have all of these webbing pieces, which are ribs. Those ribs make this table very stable, so it won’t warp or distort.
This whole product is all laser cut, and it’s all tab and slot, so everything should sort of just fit together. I did look to see if the skin has any natural inclination for dishing, and currently it’s a little cupped. Right now I have it oriented so the bowl of the cup is in the middle, dipping down, so when we suck the center in, the outsides will stay nice and tight.
I’m putting these U bolts on to make sure the ribs are fully seated into the top.
Next up, I’m going to tack all of the web pieces together at all of the intersections.
Taking a look with the straight edge, it looks like there is still a bit of a curve length-wise. Width-wise, there is negligible deviation, and the diagonal also has some deviation. But for the stuff I’m doing, and the fact that I’m used to welding on the ground… I’m not really worried that much about this deviation. Plus the sides aren’t on yet, and they may help bring the perimeter up a bit and get rid of the dip.
So, I’ll get those sides on, and then tack them. After getting them in place, it didn’t look like it made much of a difference in the flatness.
Next up, I’ll attach the leg mounts and then fully weld them.
I’m going to quickly weld this together, because it is currently -7 degrees Fahrenheit. With the tab welding, I don’t want to go too ridiculous on those; you want just enough weld to hold everything together, but not so much that it causes distortion to the table. You also don’t want to go over crazy with the fill, because you don’t want to mound the tab slot area with weld. If that happens, you have to grind that back flush with the tabletop, and you’ll probably end up with a dish in that spot. So ideally, the weld would be just below the surface, filled up, and not overly hot.
Ok, time to build the base. We have two different mounting plates. One is the corner mount and the other is the castor mount.
The tubes are laser cut with some tabs again, so everything nests and locks together.
These cross-beams just slip right between the legs, which is really slick.
After getting the legs loosely clamped and making sure everything is square, I’m going to tack all of these pieces together.
Next the castor mounts get put here, and then I’ll do a little weld and those will be attached as well.
So here is the table, just about ready to go. I do have to grind back or touch up some of these welds, but I’m not too worried about that for right now.
I’m really excited to finally have an actual workspace for the messier things that I do. Having this thing be able to go outside and come back in is going to be fantastic and super convenient.
So this is a welding table, but it is also a fixture table. A fixture table is a welding table, but a welding table is not necessarily a fixture table. I thought I’d just share a little bit about what a fixture table is for those of you who haven’t seen a table with a bunch of holes in it before.
Let’s say you need to make a lot of this exact part. You have specific dimensions you want it to be, and you want them to be all perfectly identical. You can get fences and stop blocks that all have the index pins in them that allow you to utilize the grid pattern on the table to make super precise and super repeatable parts. (I don’t have any of those things yet because I wasn’t sure what I will need). But pretend this wood block has a bunch of index pins in it. You could drop this little fence piece up top, and that would be a stop that allows you to hold this piece in exactly the right position. You could have a stop for the side, again, utilizing those pins that can be clamped there. It’s kind of a fun system, and it allows you to really set up and fixture your work pieces to get very accurate and repeatable parts.
So that is a new welding table, fixture table, work table, whatever you want to call it! Very excited to have this finally. That’s going to do it for this one. Thank you as always for joining, I greatly appreciate it. If you have any questions or comments on the welding table or anything here in the shop, please feel free to leave me a comment. As always, I’d be happy to answer any questions you might have. Until next time, happy woodworking!