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Machine levelling on a concrete bench?

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  • Machine levelling on a concrete bench?

    Moving day is getting closer and once there I will be making a concrete bench for my machines, lathe, drill press, cold saw, bandsaw, shaper and the yet unbought mill.

    I will probably build the supports on site and buy a slab for the top. The supports will be concrete blocks filled and reinforced, the top slab will be bolted to the supports with a bedding of concrete.

    How to level machines such as the lathe? My idea at this time is to set threads in the slab and sticking up so that the lathe will be about 1" above the slab. There will be a small wooden frame around the mounting area to be filled with concrete to make a little upstand under the lathe.

    The idea for levelling is to put thin wall steel tubes over the threads so that when the lathe is put in place it will be supported by these tubes.

    The frames to be filled with wet concrete and the lathe lowered into place then the nuts put on and tightened down to level the lathe while crushing the steel tubes and squeezing out excess concrete.

    Does this sound like a good plan? Will the concrete change dimensions at all as it sets? Remember, the wet concrete will only be the 1" or so thick pad under the lathe 'feet'.

  • #2
    I think I would bolt it down with some steel shims to help level it.The concrete will really be a mess to get off the lathe and bench if you need to move it or make some changes.

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    • #3
      If your set on adding the 1" pad.... use a none shrink grout. And coat the bottom of the lathe with oil else you'll be chipping away at it if you have a need to move it later. But a better way would be to use sets of nuts and washers in an under over configuration on fine threaded studs embedded in the top. Then bed the machine if you like ... after coating and collaring the lower nuts. This will allow you to fine tune the bed later down the road if needed.
      Wow... where did the time go. I could of swore I was only out there for an hour.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Tinkerer
        If your set on adding the 1" pad.... use a none shrink grout. And coat the bottom of the lathe with oil else you'll be chipping away at it if you have a need to move it later. But a better way would be to use sets of nuts and washers in an under over configuration on fine threaded studs embedded in the top. Then bed the machine if you like ... after coating and collaring the lower nuts. This will allow you to fine tune the bed later down the road if needed.
        Is standing the lathe on threaded studs as rigid as pulling it down onto the groute?

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        • #5
          concrete moves and can take years to fully cure so you still need a way to adjust it. A bigger consideration imo is moving things around. I've had countless layouts over the years....moving them is tough enough without having to get the jack hammer going
          .

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Mcgyver
            concrete moves and can take years to fully cure so you still need a way to adjust it. A bigger consideration imo is moving things around. I've had countless layouts over the years....moving them is tough enough without having to get the jack hammer going
            Jack hammer will not be needed as although heavy this bench will not be bonded to the floor.

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            • #7
              take lots of pics.....my prediction: you will either hate it or will have kicked a new shop must have
              .

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              • #8
                Originally posted by The Artful Bodger
                Is standing the lathe on threaded studs as rigid as pulling it down onto the groute?
                In a nut shell yes if your studs are sized appropriately and make suitable bar washers. But if you like as mentioned after leveling the lathe you add the grout under the base to fill the gap between base and bench... just leave the area around the adjusting nuts clear. So in the future when you did need to re-adjust it you can... and bag some thin set to fill the gab.
                Wow... where did the time go. I could of swore I was only out there for an hour.

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                • #9
                  Let me echo the question: Why not just use steel shims (full coverage of course)? That's how we mount giant machine tools here at work. Wet concrete seems like a lot of work with no means of future adjustment.

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                  • #10
                    Machine Bench

                    Don't forget to make a space for your feet to go under and put the machines as near to the edge as is safe. That will make it so you can stand up straighter and save your back. Leaning over for hours a day to run equipment can ruin a back.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Toolguy
                      Don't forget to make a space for your feet to go under and put the machines as near to the edge as is safe. That will make it so you can stand up straighter and save your back. Leaning over for hours a day to run equipment can ruin a back.
                      Thanks, good point. I am determined to make two significant changes in my new shop. One will be toe space at all work positions and the other is to totally ban trolleys, stands etc and anything where dust, chips and crud can collect at floor level!
                      Last edited by The Artful Bodger; 01-05-2011, 03:30 PM.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by garagemark
                        Let me echo the question: Why not just use steel shims (full coverage of course)? That's how we mount giant machine tools here at work. Wet concrete seems like a lot of work with no means of future adjustment.
                        Eight shims to adjust seems like a bit of a hassle, as an alternative how about 2 squares of 1" plate drilled loose fit for the bolts so that I can shim them?


                        P.S. I need the feet of the lathe to be above the bench level so I can get some fall in the chip tray for coolant etc.

                        P.P.S. I thought the crush tubes were a brilliant idea to ease the initial adjustment!
                        Last edited by The Artful Bodger; 01-05-2011, 03:27 PM.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Mcgyver
                          take lots of pics.....my prediction: you will either hate it or will have kicked a new shop must have
                          Camera will be on hand!

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                          • #14
                            You probably thought I had abandoned this project but I am almost ready to go ahead with it now and have been talking to our local concrete pre-cast folks.

                            They can make the bench the required size, 1200x1600mm, 100mm thick top and cast in one piece including the base. It will weigh about a ton so moving it into position with garage jacks will not be too much of a challenge.

                            The top will be as flat and level as possible with a gutter cast around the edges to catch the coolant etc. I have not exactly decided how to mount and adjust the level of the lathe.

                            Although this is much smaller than originally contemplated it will be big enough for the lathe and a couple of other machines including my small shaper.

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                            • #15
                              Look before you leap. You are literally casting yourself in concrete. I don't know about you but everytime I made an irrevokable change something came along to make that change the worst mistake I ever made. I suggest you made your stand, benches etc from stout wood or strongly designed steel so you can move them around for oversize work, make room for new or replacement equipment or just because there's another arrangement that's handier.

                              A couple of time I loaded up my 3500 lb lathe on a flat bed truck to move it aboard a dredge to facilitate making new shafts for the winches, pins and bushings, face flanges for the valves and steam engines. I was younger and stronger (dumber actually) then but I was glad the lathe was portable as it was. I made a lot of money on that venture. Their little 13" SB plain wouldn't take the scale of the work but their Cincy mill was first rate.

                              YMMV but think again about concrete shop furniture.

                              Here's something else. Concrete, as you move around, it, clean it, place things on it, is constantly evolving a small amount of dust and that dust is mineral, sharp, and abrasive.
                              Last edited by Forrest Addy; 07-01-2011, 08:20 AM.

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