View Full Version : Surface plate cart

08-23-2009, 07:24 PM
I finished the 1st part of my surface plate cart today. Deceptively simple little devil it was. Hah! Nothing is ever simple in my world.

I wanted the top, which will be capped with a 3/4" wood panel with a buffer/polisher motor mounted on it, to be flush with the top surface of my main workbench. I wanted the 4 legs to be "splayed" out about 8 degrees to give a wider base for stability. After drawing in the casters, the top & bottom frames, the surface plate and it's mounts all to scale I thought the length of the 4 vertical members would be a simple dimensioning task. I had drawn it in 2D CAD since 3D would have slowed me down...I just ain't there yet with 3D.

It then dawned on me that a dimension taken from the side or end view would be wrong (short). I finally wrestled out a fairly accurate dimension using the SWAG method and cut the pipes with the appropriate angles at the ends.

The next huge problem was trying to jig the thing up enough to get a few spot welds in place. What a hassle! I should'a took a pic of all the clamps, straps, bungees, visegrips and magnets I used to get the thing into a semi-close enough position to start tacking. Like friggen house of cards!

Here's a pic showing the hi-tech 3 point (hopefully calculated correct Airy points) mount system using 3/8" thick slices from a Yellow Tail Merlot synthetic cork. It seems to me to be the correct blend of firm cushioning to support the 75 lb chunk of granite. The material bonds perfectly with superglue as well.


I made the top frame a bit oversize so the s/plate could be wedged into place with chunks of closed cell foam in the 4 corners. It worked a treat!


I put a sturdy shelf in the bottom for storage of some heavy tooling and metal stock to give it more stability.

Now I need to make the wood cap and mount the buffer and it'll be finished.:)

08-23-2009, 07:42 PM
Looks good,it's in one piece and hasn't tipped over,you have a career waiting on you in structural welding:D

08-23-2009, 08:20 PM
Nice job, is that black pipe for the legs? It shouldn't tip the way you built it. Are those plastic rollers under it and will they hold the weight?

Doc Nickel
08-24-2009, 12:20 AM
Not bad at all.

For the odd-angle legs, best thing to do is weld up a jig of sorts out of scrap. Basically a little tripod- something that holds the leg and two of the crossbeams in a fixed position.

I had to do something like that recently for an oddball piece that had curved and flared-out sides. Nothing was square, but once it was welded, it had to be square to itself. Lotsa fun. :D

Now, the next thing you need to do is add at least two, if not three shelves in the dead space underneath. Or better yet, two shelves and a drawer directly under the rock.

Then enclose the two short sides, either with sections of plywood to which you can screw hooks or racks, or with sections of pegboard. Then use the sides to store light, thin stuff- extension cords, carpenter's squares, hacksaws- and some frequently-used tools like screwdrivers or socket wrenches.

You can never have too much storage. :D


08-24-2009, 08:39 AM
Darin I don't think it'd be safe to live or work inside any structures I welded.;)

Carl the legs are 1/2" schedule 40 pipe. It's what I had on hand and seemed to machine & weld fine. The casters are from HF with solid nylon wheels on 1/4" axles. They're rated for 125 lbs each and I think will do fine unless I push it around too fast and the nylon melts to the axles.;)

Doc, jigging that mess into position was a real test of patience. It wasn't helped any by my not having a decent welding/fab table to work with. All my permanent workbench tops are wood or formica. For welding I only have the folding rig with 2 1/2' x 3' sheet metal top you see in the the pics. I made that a few yrs. ago to weld on when needed and folds up for storage in a corner.

Man, I really like your pegboard on the short sides idea! The original sketch shows another set of 1/2" pipe braces with a shelf about halfway up but I just plain ran outta gumption yesterday. Maybe next weekend.:)

08-24-2009, 08:49 AM

Try using the 'free' particle boards you can pick up from dumpsters.

Best is the most dense. Old desks or computer tables work well.

Just keep a spray bottle of water near by. Don't ask how I know.

Easy to use drywall screws and scrap wood to make jigs to hold
shapes etc.

Cheap too. When done, stand up on edge out of the way.

When used up --- pitch.

09-13-2009, 12:51 PM
Here's some pics of the cart after some more work on it. Getting close now.

I used the "chopsaw tube joining" method for the 1st time and it works a treat!


Found a couple of neat little wood crates for the bottom shelf and pitched in part of the scrap pile for easier pickin's. Flats in one, round stuff in the other.


Made a wood cap to mount the buffer. With all the mass in the cart, the buffer is VERY steady. The surface gage package fits onto the 2nd shelf. Now I gotta come up with a shield for the buffer end to keep the mung out of the crates and fit a piece of pegboard on the other end for more storage.


Your Old Dog
09-13-2009, 01:41 PM
pretty slick idea. came out great!

05-01-2012, 09:54 PM
I posted brfore about buying 4-3'x3'-6" Black plates from a closed optics lab. These things are beutiful & were monted into work benches that I didn't get. I think they were supported on the edge all the way around sitting on a rubber like seal but I could be wrong. They have threaded holes in the sides for special bolts to lift by as they are close to 1/2 ton each. I need only 2 & will give 2 away to whoever builds 2 proper stands for my 2. They are marked .000013 to .000015 for accuracy & Bertha 1 thru Bertha 4. Ever hear that country song "what was I thinking?" I was thinking wish he had Berths 5 thru Bertha 10. LOL! My truck was thinking " why didn't he leave me with that Wisconsin farmer?" When I buy things in Indiana I alway stop the McDonalds in Edwardburg Mi to check the load, straps,etc. I bet they wonder as my wife does "What in the h*ll is this guy hauling now" as I stumble to the door on my 4 legged cane to get my 55 cent senior coffee grinning from ear to ear about the latest find of a Mill, Lathe,etc,etc. Life is good! :D

05-01-2012, 09:54 PM
I have two surface plates - a 12" x 16" and a 24" x 24".

The smaller one is lives on top of one of my mobile storage units and has the top part of the wooden create in came in over it. I usually use it "as is" and "where is" as in most cases if it isn't level it doesn't matter. If I need it level I put it on my mill table on three machinists jacks. Levelling takes only a few minutes.

The larger one sits on two 2" x 1 1/2" rectangular hollow section tubes each of which sits on a bit of 1 1/2" square plate under each end of each RHS. The RHS's are stable and will not rock. The surface plate sits on three machinists jacks on the RHS's and is level - and can be checked and re-set if necesary in a few minutes. It is all on a steel bench top. The surface plate has a lifting point/cleat on each side and is easily lifted with my shop engine crane (I can get to most points in the shop with the crane). I have never had a need to move or re-position the surface plate.

The point here is that I have not lost any floor space and having a lighter surface plate to put on the mill table is a real bonus.

I did not want another stand or tool in a floor space if I could dodge it as I'd be tripping over it.

05-02-2012, 08:19 AM
This thread was almost 3 years old.

Harvey Melvin Richards
05-02-2012, 11:41 AM
This thread was almost 3 years old.
And your point is? Are 3 year old surface plate stands now obsolete?

05-02-2012, 12:27 PM
And your point is? Are 3 year old surface plate stands now obsolete?

It's called a Zombie Thread or Necro-Bumping (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bump_(Internet)#Necrobumps) and is generally considered bad etiquette on Internet Forums. Unless you have something meaningful to add to the original topic, you're better off posting a new thread.

In this case, I've read Flylo's post several times and as far as I can tell, he's trying to solicit someone to build stands for his surface plates? :)

05-02-2012, 01:04 PM
No I just have more than I need & thought someone local could use them. I am capable of building what I need thank you. I was really trying to share as these are very high quality & price. Any offer withdrawn & I didn't open the thread or mean to step on your toes. :p

05-02-2012, 01:52 PM
You're not stepping on any toes, but you'll get a lot more responses if you post a new thread :)

I'd help you build the stands if you were closer!

05-02-2012, 04:05 PM
Simple,find me a nice small house with a big workshop across from a nice airport & I'll bring the plates. I am looking for a winter retreat & think Texas is the place.