Introduction: Homemade Jack Stands

My car requires a maintenance procedure that makes it necessary to raise the car off of the floor, but also to keep it level. A set of ramps supports the front wheels. I made a set of jack stands to support the rear of the car at just the right height for the car to be level. The floor jack in the photo was used only to place the jack stands.

Step 1: Take a Reading With a Level

I opened the door and took a reading with a level to note the position of the bubble.

Step 2: Raise and Level the Car

I raised the front of the car with ramps. I raised the rear of the car with the floor jack seen in the Introduction photo until the bubble on the level rested in the same place as in Step 1. I measured from the factory designated jack point to the floor to determine the height my jack stands needed to be.

Most jack stands are adjustable for height. I need my jack stands for a specific purpose and decided to simplify making them by making them a fixed height with no adjustment.

Step 3: Prepare Tubing

I bought some 3 1/2 inch steel tubing at a junk yard. It is at least 3/16 of an inch thick, so it is very sturdy. I marked and made three slits around the circumference of the tubes. The slits are equa-distant from one another to divide the circumference in thirds. Each slit is a little longer than the leg portion of the finished jack stand. Because the tubes had been cut with a cutting torch at the junk yard, I would need to do some trimming and needed a little extra length for that.

Step 4: Heat for Bending

I used my 220 volt welder and my homemade carbon arc torch to heat 1/3 of a tube for a bend. (See: https://www.instructables.com/id/Make_a_carbon_arc_torch_for_your_220_volt_stick_we/ ) I heated the steel until it was very nicely red. I heated and bent each leg on both stands.

Step 5: Pull the Leg

I actually did this project about eight years ago. The braces between the legs seen in this photo were not yet in place. I grabbed the end of the tube for the leg I had heated and pulled with a gloved hand. I expected I would have to reheat some of the legs to get the same amount of pulled angle on each, but did not. I grabbed the end of the heated section and pulled until it would not pull more. Each leg was at very nearly the same angle when I finished heating and pulling them one at a time.

Again, the ends of my tubes were ragged from a cutting torch. Next I marked where to cut so all three ends would be quite even with one another and I cut them with an angle head grinder fitted with a cutting disc. These jack stands have three legs. Even if one leg is slightly longer than another, the jack stand will still be stable. But, do try to get them as even as possible so the weight of the car is shared equally by each leg.

Step 6: Add Braces for Strength and Safety

I had some strap iron about 1 1/2 inches wide and almost 3/16 inch thick. I marked and cut pieces to weld between the legs for bracing.

Step 7: Finish

I stood both jack stands on the floor and measured to the desired height I wanted, which was 19 3/8 inch. I cut excess from the top so the stands were both at my desired height.

The jack points on my car are covered with finished automotive sheet metal and paint. I did not want to make a mess of the finish, so I made a fiberboard interface for my jack stands. I made two plywood discs equal in size to the inside diameter of the steel tubing. then I attached a piece of fiberboard. The disc is offset so I can push the jack stands under the car as far as possible until they rest against a seam in the body sheet metal.

I feel very safe under my car when it is supported by my ramps and my homemade jackstands.

Comments

author
TinKicker (author)2010-10-04

Does ANYBODY still sell the metal ramps like you have? I've got a set from years ago, but I'd like to find another. Good job on the stands!

author
Phil B (author)TinKicker2010-10-04

The ramps in the photo are nearly 35 years old.  But, as you indicate, I have not seen ramps in the places that usually sell them for quite a while.  Perhaps it is because cars are lower and longer at the front than before.  The ramps shown do not allow me to drive onto them.  I have to jack the wheels and slide the ramps under the wheels.  Finally I made my own longer and lower ramps.  See:

https://www.instructables.com/id/Ramps-for-a-Low-Car/

author
georion (author)2009-08-02

i just use 4 concrete blocks-2 on each side

author
Phil B (author)georion2009-08-02

See my comment to unaffiliatedperson. There are some safety concerns with concrete blocks.

author
unaffiliatedperson (author)2009-05-24

are cinder bloxs ok?

author

A site on jack safety says never to use cement or cinder blocks because they can shatter under load. The site is at: http://ohioline.osu.edu/aex-fact/192/pdf/0192_1_63.pdf There may be other helpful sites, too. But, I remember leaning somewhere not to use cinder blocks.

author
Bardouv (author)2009-05-23

interesting. I showed this to my father and to my surprise, he ran down to the basement and pulled out a pair of jack stands he made 20 years ago. His were adjustable though.

author
Phil B (author)Bardouv2009-05-23

I like your father already. I have a welding projects book that includes plans for adjustable jack stands. But, it and others I have seen call for a 5/8 inch pin with holes to match. Coincidentally I priced a 5/8 inch twist drill bit today. It was just under $14 US. I just do not drill that many holes 5/8 inch in diameter. Thanks for your interest in my project.

author
l8nite (author)2009-05-21

Nice project! While you can buy stands cheaply theres something rewarding about making it yourself. I have a similar pair of ramps that the truck rolled forward and off while jacking the rear of the truck up. I bolted on a piece of 2x8, grain end up for strength, on the end giving an additional 3" of lip, it also makes it easier to ramp the car or truck by yourself w/o driving off! did that to = (

author
Phil B (author)l8nite2009-05-21

Thank you. Most of the factory made stands I have seen are a lot lighter than these I made. I also like it that I could make them exactly the height I wanted. I have not put a truck on my ramps. The car tires I have had on them always stayed put. I was always concerned that I would accidentally drive off of the front end while putting the car on them. My current car is so low to the ground that I cannot drive my car onto the ramps. I need to jack the front wheels up one at a time and slide the ramps under the wheels. That solves one problem and creates a new problem.

author
lemonie (author)2009-05-19

Nice work, these look just like the commercial thing (painting excepted). L

author
Phil B (author)lemonie2009-05-19

Thanks. I meant to include a better photo of one standing. Oddly, step 5 gives a pretty good side view of one. They are much more sturdy than some I have seen for sale in stores. But, some from China have appeared in stores and are made from some cast parts and some welded parts. The price is so low that I am not sure I would make my own now. Still, it was a good welding project.

author
lemonie (author)Phil B2009-05-19

If it breaks, you have the chain of accountability. Although you couldn't litigate against yourself...

L

author
Phil B (author)lemonie2009-05-19

You are assuming I would survive the falling car and be able to crawl out from under it. In regard to your previous comment, paint has always had a low priority with me, even though painted things do look nice.

author
lemonie (author)Phil B2009-05-19

Paint is for appearance, not at all necessary, and it can be used to disguise dodgy-welds. All I meant was apart from the paint finish this is the real thing structurally. (and for myself that's all I'd be concerned with) L

author
Phil B (author)lemonie2009-05-19

Thank you. I have plenty of dodgy-welds to hide. After making these I was surprised by the light gage metal in some commercial stands. I really should give more attention to paint, though. That is a bigger thing to my wife and she sometimes rushes in to paint something I made, whether they need paint or not. I say the rust and dirt are a long way from its heart and it will never be hurt by them.

author
lemonie (author)Phil B2009-05-19

It made me think of an old TV series called "Casualty" (aka Emergency Room). While the ladies of the house were watching this "horrible-injuries-with-a-story" type of thing I'm trying to guess how someone gets injured (like murder mystery whodunnits) - collapsing axle-stands was one. And one of those, "you should have / shouldn't have things" - TV drama eh...? L

author
Phil B (author)lemonie2009-05-19

Pray that in the UK you are never afflicted with some of the "reality" programs we endure and avoid in the US. What you describe sounds positively scintillating by comparison! Even here on Instructables I get comments on some of my projects that say, "That is so dangerous it should not be allowed on Instructables." These comments are always by people who have posted no Instructables of their own. They are of the variety of people who so accident phobic that they likely hire everything done for them. Actually, I do not submit things unless I am confident they are safe. It is a strange feeling to know that people on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean have now seen the inside of my garage, the place where I relax and get really filthy from grease and dirt.

author
lemonie (author)Phil B2009-05-19

I noticed that you've got the front wheels on other stands. But you can't apply the handbrake to the front. TV drama contrives to have heavy-pulling (crash/crush!) but it's based on real accidents. I think it's also known for hydraulic jacks to let them selves down - should have used axle-stands - type entrapment.

L

author
Phil B (author)lemonie2009-05-20

The ramps I used on the front wheels have a valley where the wheels rest. It would be very difficult to rock the wheels out of those. I already had those on-hand, so it made sense to utilize them and match their height with my homemade jack stands. This automobile is also front wheel drive model. With the transmission in "Park" the front wheels are further locked. In the US one of our major broadcast networks gained notoriety a couple of decades back when they wanted to highlight the fire danger of the gasoline tank in a certain Chevrolet truck. The tank would not ignite as easily or dramatically on camera as the producers desired, so they added hidden incendiary flares to get the results they wanted. I appreciate your interest and your comments. Thank you.

author
lemonie (author)Phil B2009-05-20

(thanks for the extra) L

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Bio: I miss the days when magazines like Popular Mechanics had all sorts of DIY projects for making and repairing just about everything. I am enjoying ... More »
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