Introduction: 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
- CAD software like Fusion 360
- Mig welder, helmet, and gloves
- Band saw
- Angle grinder
- Drill and bits
- Tape measure and ruler
- Screw driver
- 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
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):
- Remove one bolt from the horizontal swing-arms on the left and right.
- Allow the swing arms to rotate around the bolt left in place, and hang on the upright.
- Rotate the wooden tool surface to the desired tool.
- Put the swing-arms back and place and preposition the bolts.
- 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
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
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.
Step 5: 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
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.