Introduction: Metal Rotating Tool Stand

Picture of Metal Rotating Tool Stand

In order to save space in my small garage, I wanted to build a rotating tool stand. Additionally, I wanted to practice welding, so I made it out of metal. I did the welding at the Tech Shop - I enjoyed the opportunity to be a member and will miss having access to the tools and people.

This stand was designed around a drill press and grinder, and has an expanded steel shelf on the bottom to hold bits and other tools. The plywood tool mounts allow for easily swapping the grinder or drill press if I want to attach different tools to the stand in the future. The stand utilizes thumb screws to tighten and fine tune the rotation to account for a lack of precise fabrication. Another important feature is the 2-way (rolling and rotating) locking casters at all four corners.

Step 1: Tools and Supplies

Tools used

  • CAD software like Fusion 360
  • Mig welder, helmet, and gloves
  • Band saw
  • Angle grinder
  • Drill and bits
  • Tape measure and ruler
  • Screw driver
  • Wrenches

Supplies used

  • 1" x 1" x 1/8" square tube, purchased 5 ft
  • 1.5" x 1.5" x 1/8" square tube, purchased 21 ft
  • 1" x 1" x 1/8" angle, purchased 3 ft
  • 1.5" x 12" x 3/32" plate
  • 0.5" x 24" steel rod
  • 24" x 24" expanded steel sheet, 18 gauge
  • 1/2" plywood - 2 pieces at 20" by 11.5"
  • 2 1/2" shaft collars
  • 1/4 - 20 nuts, washers, and bolts (2" and 3" lengths)
  • 1/4 - 20 T-nuts (4 + tool attachment requirements)
  • 1/4 - 20 x 2.5" Thumbscrews
  • 3" two-way locking casters
  • Wood glue
  • Boiled linseed oil
  • Paint and primer

I spent just under $300 on materials to build this stand. I had the plywood, wood glue, and finishing materials on hand, but the rest was purchased.

Step 2: Design the Stand

Picture of Design the Stand

I looked at a variety of tool stands, both rotating and fixed. Here is a great example of a wooden rotating tool stand. The woodworking site, Lumberjocks.com, also provided inspiration for rotating tool stands, here and here. Borrowing from these examples, I generated a basic plan in CAD (I would recommend Fusion 360 if you don't have a solution already). During the design process, I finalized the plan for the rotating and stationary aspects of the tool stand. In order to rotate the following steps are used (see the first picture):

  1. Remove one bolt from the horizontal swing-arms on the left and right.
  2. Allow the swing arms to rotate around the bolt left in place, and hang on the upright.
  3. Rotate the wooden tool surface to the desired tool.
  4. Put the swing-arms back and place and preposition the bolts.
  5. Adjust the thumb-screws to get the wooden tool surface level and remove any free-play.

As I was working on the design, I knew I would have inaccuracies in fabrication (I'm not a machinist or a welder). The thumb-screws in step 5 provided a way to adjust the final position of the wooden surface. The thumb-screws are tightened or loosened to make sure the wooden surface is level with the frame and rigid.

Another consideration for the placement of the drill press is its center of mass. If you look at the placement of the drill press on the wooden surface, you'll see the base is not centered. I didn't do anything too fancy to determine the exact center of mass, instead I held the drill press in my hands at various locations and swung it between my legs until it felt the most natural. The end result is an easily controlled rotation.

Once the basic design was complete, I could generate a cut list and head over to the Tech Shop to cut and weld the frame.

Step 3: Cut the Metal for Frame

Picture of Cut the Metal for Frame

I used a bandsaw to cut the metal to size. Alternatively, an angle grinder or even hack-saw could be used.

To cut the expanded steel I used a pair of tin snips.

Step 4: Weld the Frame and Attach the Casters

Picture of Weld the Frame and Attach the Casters

Use a welder to assemble the bottom frame; I used a MIG welder at the Tech Shop. Grind any welds that will get in the way of mounting the casters.

After the bottom frame is complete, drill the holes for the casters. I wanted the casters to be easily removable, so I used bolts instead of welding them to the frame. I find it comforting to know I can reuse these casters if I move and/or my shop organization changes. In order to get at least three bolts on each caster, I welded a nut to the bottom frame in the corner where the verticals would get in the way. Use a grinder or file to remove the galvanization on the nut, and then hold the nut in place with a sacrificial bolt. Then weld the nut to the frame.

Note, in most of theses pictures and the initial CAD, the vertical frames did not have the angled brackets at the bottom or the support for the expanded steel shelf. After the later steps (casters, grinding, and wood), it was obvious the verticals needed a constraint to keep them from flapping like butterfly wings, and the bottom shelf need more support.

I'm not going to add a lot of detail here about welding, I would recommend checking out the welding class and lots of MIG welding Instructables to learn more about welding.

Step 5: Prepare the Rotating Platform for Tools

Picture of Prepare the Rotating Platform for Tools

Now drill the holes for the rod that will become the axis of rotation. In the first picture, see the note regarding the location of the hole in the frame. On the frame, the location of the hole needs to account for the thickness of the plywood, so the surface of the plywood and frame are even (see the last picture also).

Here I used a shaft collar with a set screw to hold the rod in place. I put a collar on both sides of the tool stand. During the design phase, I wondered if bearing would be required, but for my light duty use, the current setup is fine.

Next, cut the plywood to size and drill the holes for the thumbscrews and the tool mounting requirements. As mentioned before, I used the thumbscrews to fine tune the positioning of the rotating surface, and lock it into place. In the fourth picture you can see the thumbscrew sticking through the wood and a small block. There is a threaded T-nut between the wood and block to engage the thumbscrews. Similarly, use blocks with T-nuts for attaching the tools.

Finally, drill holes through the plywood and the rotating metal tubes. I used 1/4-20 bolts to keep the two surfaces and metal frames together.

Then finish the wood and metal. I used boiled linseed oil for the plywood and a rattle spray can on the metal.

Step 6: Attach the Bench Tools to the Stand

Picture of Attach the Bench Tools to the Stand

Now attach the bench top tools to the stand one at a time (sorry, no pictures of this process). Rotate the surface to its horizontal position and lock it into place with the swing arms and thumbscrews. Then, the presence of the T-nuts makes attaching the tools straight forward, without having to reach the nuts.

Comments

wcmiller5 (author)2017-12-11

Great project. I have been welding for several years now and was told recently by my doctor that I should stop welding unless i can come up with a good ventilating system. It looks like you are using something like that in some of the pictures. Can you share what it is and where you got it.

I too am working out of my garage and every space saving idea allows me to keep my cars in the garage at night. Especially my wifes car. She somehow connects Good Dinners to Warm parking space for her car.

Merry Christmas and happy New Years

ablank (author)wcmiller52017-12-13

Too bad about the doctor's orders. The exhaust system was a Lincoln setup, and really nice to use. Unfortunately, it was part of the Tech Shop welding facility so right now nobody is using it...

Eh Lie Us! made it! (author)wcmiller52017-12-11

I'm there with you, man. My wife gave me similar terms. I maximize every corner of that place. Mower on pulleys. Blower and weedwacker too. Power cords come down from the rafters, my compressor hose is next. I have 2 flip carts and one 3-sided cart that I got on Craigslist. I put a picture of what they look like. I also had to get my spray paint cans under control and came up with this. Not the prettiest thing but it works. I need to make a vacuum/ventilation system of some sort. I've breathed in so much MDF and spray paint that I could cough up my own completed bird houses! Cheers and keep building because there's a lot of stuff that needs to get fixed.

jdmorse (author)2017-12-02

Good plan for limited shop space! My only criticism is if my drill bit is dull and it needs sharpening I have to change the whole setup, then change it back again. Maybe a different pair of tools?

drmarkr (author)jdmorse2017-12-10

Drill Doctor .... :-)

jdmorse (author)drmarkr2017-12-10

Since I've been hand sharpening my drill bits for 40+ years, I don't see me switching to an extra tool that does an inferior job. The bench grinder needs to be more readily accessible.

PeterM363 (author)jdmorse2017-12-10

Why not have the Bench Grinder on a sliding rack that can come out either side & slide back when finished. You could even have it swing out & up if you didn't want to bend over to use it.

Eh Lie Us! (author)PeterM3632017-12-11

that's a clever idea. thanks for sharing!

PeterM363 (author)Eh Lie Us!2017-12-11

Of coarse you would need to balance it some way. I could also just be a smaller frame with a couple wheels on the side that extends out but still attached to the Bench drill frame.

charlessenf-gm (author)jdmorse2017-12-10

"...if my drill bit is dull and it needs sharpening..."

Well, the solution would be to replace the drill press, of course ;)

jdmorse (author)charlessenf-gm2017-12-10

Brilliant! Why didn't I think of that? All these years of hand sharpening drill bits wasted when there is such an obvious solution!

TonyM235 (author)2017-12-11

Hi there,

A very commendable construction, but I could not recommend it for the following reasons:

1. Does not save that much space to warrant the construction time & cost

2. Inconvenient to change from one operational mode to another

3. Potential safety risk when changing mode

So unless space is really, extremely tight would not consider this as an option. Easier to mount the grinder on a shelf below the drillpress and sit on a low (eg fishing) stool when using it.

1) it cost almost nothing. I think I've spent less than 10 bucks for mine. Took me something like 4-5 hours to build so it really isn't that much time either.

2)takes about 5 second to switch from one side to the other, I used to have to lift my tools and secure them to my workbench, which took way more time and was way more exhausting

3)I agree with this if you place a super heavy, giant drill press on top of it. It is better suited for lightweight tools, unless you have some kind of counterweight system.

I don't know how big your workshop is, but In my tiny garage it actually makes a huge difference in terms of saved space and conveniency :)

jwzumwalt (author)TonyM2352017-12-11

If I were in my old shop (20x40 two car garage), I would have agreed with you. But now that I am working out of a single car garage (12x18), this is a necessity!!!

Eh Lie Us! (author)jwzumwalt2017-12-11

Amen, brother. Limits in space just make us work smarter. Good luck.

EdM63 (author)2017-12-11

Great idea and great design! My drill press is pretty heavy, I'd be worried that it would be too heavy to lift or lower. Any plans to add a counter weight on the grinder side to make switching easier?

Dui ni shuo de dui made it! (author)2017-12-10

Made it this weekend! Thanks for the inspiration, it's an easy to do project and it saves a lot of space in the shop!

dumb_and_dumber (author)2017-12-10

Not bad! Your hands are growing from right place! ;-)

But I disagree with saving space. You must have empty spaces on the left and right to rotate drilling stand. I don't sure in that saving space.

5thwheel (author)2017-12-10

I suggest that the base with casters be larger than the tool mounting surface for better tip over resistance. 6 inches maybe.

IDTrojan (author)2017-12-10

Very nice work, creative solutions too! I was thinking of building a two shelf moveable cart about this size with my bench grinder on top and my flux welder below. This gives me some more ideas!!!

MillennialDIYer (author)2017-11-30

This is awesome! Though it gives me awful thoughts about what could happen if someone careless plays around with it. The mass of the drill press left swinging must be something fierce.

ablank (author)MillennialDIYer2017-11-30

Thanks. Yes, rotating the tools around shouldn't be taken lightly. I breathe a sigh of relief when I'm done. The metal base is quite heavy, so the overall setup is stable.

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