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  • Show Your Surface Plate Stands

    I have a 9"x12"x2" surface plate that sits on my desk for the little height gauge. Moving that one is no problem. I got a good deal on a 18" height gauge and somehow that lead to buying a bigger surface plate. The one I purchased locally is a 12"x18"x3" and it is extremely heavy. I'm not going to be putting this one under the desk when it's not needed. It is going in the house so I want a compact stand for it. ENCO sells the stands for something like $250 but the next size up is only $96? I'm thinking of building a stand out of oak to match the height of my desk, something like a small end table. Need some brain food so if you could please post some pics of any open, cabinet or custom stands that would be great. Construction material does not matter. On a plate that size would 1"-1.5" x 4" wide oak slats hold it correctly with the outter edges supported and a slat in the center.

  • #2
    I don't think oak should even be considered. When you consider the amount of time and effort it takes to level a surface plate, why would you want to use a material for the stand that will swell and contract with varying humidity levels? Or do you have a perfectly controlled environmental room? For really high precision metrology, climate controlled rooms (ala the Moore Co.) or releveling/calibrating before every use would be mandatory.

    You should consider a stand made out of steel angle iron. While most home built ones I've seen were welded together, they can also be bolted, While even steel will move with temperature, it's far more dimensionally stable than any type of wood. In the long run you will save yourself a lot of grief by avoiding wood. Also, don't forget that the plate should touch the stand in only three points - this is usually accomplished by using small discs of of leather to raise the underside of the plate above crossbearers on the stand. There is a formula to calculate their placement, but it escapes me at the moment. I be surprised if a search on this forum wouldn't turn it up.

    Brian
    Taxachusetts

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    • #3
      i made a huge heavy duty drawer for it ..that slips under one of my work benches .....i doesnt take up that extra space you need then. mines 18 x 24 ..by about 6 inches deep.

      more space equals more machines

      all the best.markj
      Last edited by aboard_epsilon; 05-01-2012, 10:00 PM.

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      • #4
        Here's mine...still working good.

        http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net/sho...ht=AIRY+POINTS
        Milton

        "Accuracy is the sum total of your compensating mistakes."

        "The thing I hate about an argument is that it always interrupts a discussion." G. K. Chesterton

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        • #5
          Originally posted by H8Allegheny
          I don't think oak should even be considered. When you consider the amount of time and effort it takes to level a surface plate, why would you want to use a material for the stand that will swell and contract with varying humidity levels?
          Ive always considered leveling a surface plate an optional task, much like leveling a mill. Considering the amount of guys Ive seen with them in the top drawer of a roll around box, I would say Im not alone.

          Not to say having a level plate is not nice or useful for some operations, but if you rarely need it and send your surface plate out for regular calibrations, its probably worth the effort simply to level it as you need it.

          Mine simply sits on top of the bench in its wooden case. I like the case, as the beautiful wood makes me think twice about setting/leaving things on top of the case much less the plate itself.
          Last edited by justanengineer; 05-01-2012, 10:26 PM.
          "I am, and ever will be, a white-socks, pocket-protector, nerdy engineer -- born under the second law of thermodynamics, steeped in the steam tables, in love with free-body diagrams, transformed by Laplace, and propelled by compressible flow."

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          • #6
            +1

            If you need a really flat surface the surface plate is the way to go.

            It is not all that often that a flat and level plate is needed for most tasks.

            If a level plate is required, seat the plate on three machinists jacks and level or re-level the plate with an an accurate level. It only takes a few minutes.

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            • #7
              I have the bigger one of mine in a cheap HF 2 shelf rolling table.

              Never bothered to level it, see no need at present. Anything close is fine.
              1601

              Keep eye on ball.
              Hashim Khan

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              • #8
                i think my drawer was best for me ..as explained above ..

                also, if i have any flat surface, it quickly gets used as a shelf ..or some place to dump stuff on .

                so be warned .

                all the best.markj

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by aboard_epsilon
                  i
                  also, if i have any flat surface, it quickly gets used as a shelf ..or some place to dump stuff on .
                  right. Its not whats under it (sits on three points) but whats on it.....no matter how fancy you want to be with what it sits on the, the most important bit you'll make is a piece of plywood to sit on top of it protects and increases available surface area
                  .

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Mcgyver
                    right. Its not whats under it (sits on three points) but whats on it.....no matter how fancy you want to be with what it sits on the, the most important bit you'll make is a piece of plywood to sit on top of it protects and increases available surface area
                    Even the plywood would be used to plonk things on top of with me ..that's what i meant.

                    all the best.markj

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by aboard_epsilon
                      Even the plywood would be used to plonk things on top of with me ..that's what i meant.

                      all the best.markj
                      I'm a regular surface plate plonker when the plywood is on top. I'm not forging, but it gets all many or things plonked on top of the plywood; laptop, parts, hand tools, whatever is in hand that needs a surface. i can't see how that is that bad; putting things on top of the plywood cover?
                      .

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Mcgyver
                        I'm a regular surface plate plonker when the plywood is on top. I'm not forging, but it gets all many or things plonked on top of the plywood; laptop, parts, hand tools, whatever is in hand that needs a surface. i can't see how that is that bad; putting things on top of the plywood cover?
                        because in my case it would get so much on top of it .........that when the time came to use it ..there would be a huge sigh....followed by mmmmmmmmm tomorrow.

                        all the best.markj

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                        • #13
                          I use one of the Starrett padded nylon covers -- it's nice because it covers the sides too. But like Mike says, you use it a lot more for a storage surface than you do for layout and spotting, so it tends to collect stuff
                          "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did."

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                          • #14
                            Here is my surface plate stand. I made it high enough so that I could work on it without stooping down - much more comfortable in my opinion. The plate is supported on three jacks which are in the correct position for the plate. There are snubber bolts at the sides to make sure that it can't move sideways, but they don't actually touch the edges of the plate. Underneath there are a couple of extra wooden blocks which will stop the plate from rocking if I put something heavy on one edge (three supports...). These do not touch the underside of the plate in normal use. The frame is made to fit a standard kitchen unit, which gives you a cheap set of three drawers, perfect for micrometers etc. I am a pretty poor welder so don't look too close.



                            And yes, it has a plywood top - essential for putting things on.
                            Bill

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                            • #15
                              Both of my plates have the top of the plywood crate they came in on top of them.

                              Storing stuff on them will do no harm not will dropping stuff on them (with the plywood top in place!!!).

                              The smaller one sits on the base of the crate it came in and the plywood top gets a lot of use as a "handy flat surface" - and does the plate no harm. It gets used as a surface plate too (sitting on a steel roller storage cabinet with castors) with the plywood base under it - and that is how it is used unless it needs to be horizontal (rarely) in which case it gets carried to the mill table (~20KG ~ 44 pounds) in which case I put it on three machinist's jacks on the mill table and level it with a very good level (few minutes) and when its finished with it goes back to it plywood house.

                              A surface plate - no matter how or where it is sited - is only a very flat surface that needs to be horizontal once in a while.

                              As I recall, Starrett says that the plates (supported at the three nominated points) will stand a load of 50 pounds per square foot and still be within the accuracy required for the plate's Grade and size.

                              So they are quite durable and strong/robust and not fragile by any means - and all they need is a bit of "looking after" and not subject to outright abuse.

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