Introduction: Portable Welding Table / Kit

Picture of Portable Welding Table / Kit

A different approach to the "welding table" problem.

As I see it, one of the primary advantages of the little (~100 A) arc welders is their portability, due to small footprint and 120 V input. However, the standard welding table is rather ungainly, heavy, and has no (or inadequate) storage capability, and so tends to hinder the rapid and convenient deployment of such a welder.

Here is a welding table / storage kit which fixes these issues. Features of note:

  • Breaks down into four parts, none of which are too large, too poorly shaped, or too heavy to carry easily.
  • 12"x24"x5/16" table surface - reasonable size for small projects, not ridiculously heavy, and a common size of commercially available material.
  • Adjustable height with steps at (about) 13", 16", 19", 22", 28", 31" and 34".
    (Where L = Lower box, T = Top box, and S(0/3/6) is the spacer, which can provide a height of 0.5", 3.25", or 6.25", those heights, respectively, are made by stacking LS0, LS3 or TS0, LS6 or TS3, TS6, LTS0, LTS3, LTS6)
  • Allows a vertical welding table surface at some heights.
  • Affords a welding-tool resting shelf at many heights.
  • Ample (covered!) storage for cables and accessories.
  • Easily access to current-setting view port.
  • Affords correct stackups; that is, it discourages unstable ways of stacking the boxes. (Though they can always make a better fool, so it certainly isn't foolproof.)
  • Low cost (material costs of about 15$ + table surface = 65$)

This is mostly a woodworking project; you'll need a:

  • Panel saw, circular saw, or large table saw
  • Jigsaw or alternative
  • Pneumatic stapler, small nailer, or similar
  • Screwdriver
  • Drill

Please note that my manual indicates that the welder is to be situated at least 8" from walls. Because my welder has a thermal protective circuit, doesn't even get very warm during my typical use, and any fires it would start would be small and easily contained, I am not concerned... but note that by making this project, you are taking your life and property into your own hands.

Step 1: Basic Woodworking Assembly

Picture of Basic Woodworking Assembly

I made my plywood boxes out of 1/2" sheeting-grade plywood to have interior dimensions of 15"x15"x12" and 15"x15"x15". For those specs, here's the cut list:
Bottom box (holds the welder):

  • 15.0" x 15.0" - bottom
  • 12.5" x 15.0" (x2) - sides
  • 3.0" x 16.0" - front bottom
  • 7.5" x 16.0" - front top
  • 2.5" x 16.0" - rear bottom
  • 8.0" x 16.0" - rear top

Top box (holds accessories):

  • 15.0" x 15.0" - bottom
  • 15.5" x 15.0" (x2) - sides
  • 15.5" x 16.0" (x2) -front/back

Spacer (enables height adjustment, keeps slag out of the other boxes):

  • 16.2" x 16.5" - bottom
  • 9.0" x 16.5" - sides
  • 5.75" x 16.2" - back

Incidentally, if you are using a circular saw, you'll save a BUNCH of time (or at least get better cuts) if you make one of these circular saw guides. Seriously. They should put a poster in the hardware store next to where they sell the things.

Once the rectangular panels are laid out, you'll need to cut some notches for the vents, welder access ports, and lower box legs; a jigsaw works really well.

Assembly is pretty much "typical plywood box"; using staples and glue, we attach the side panels to the bottom, and each other, keeping everything arranged correctly by pressing them against the table top, or a spacer, or a square. There's some notes on the photos for further assistance.

Step 2: Handles, Hooks, and Stops

Picture of Handles, Hooks, and Stops

Some finishing touches are in order, to make everything easier to use:

The top box, when put on top of the bottom box, blocks our view of the current setting indicator. The obvious solution is to slide it off to one side, and to make this easy to do correctly - to move it enough to see in, but not so much that it makes the stack unstable - some stops are in order. I used 1"x1" blocks, spaced in from the edges of the bottom panel by 1/8", and put a 9/8" gap between them, which means that the top box moves over 2.75" (1/2" + 1/8" + 1" + 9/8"), leaving a 2.25" viewing window.

Similar locating stops, this time consisting of 1.25" #8 screws driven into pilot holes until about 1/8" from flush, make it easy to center the table surface on the spacer.

Handles make everything easier to carry, so we put some on the boxes - about 6" down from the top, to clear the spacer - and on the table surface.

Comments

buck2217 (author)2015-07-01

That is a neat little storage idea

podarok (author)2015-04-02

I'm using another type of table for welding - the book kind


It costs something like 30$ and can be easily closed to small space saving shape.
Also I'm planing to add surface cover for it for convenient welding


something like on a picture above.

podarok (author)podarok2015-04-02

here is a table and plate.
Buggy editor, can't attach images via clipboard

juanpablorodriguez (author)2015-02-27

hay que tomar en cuenta, creo! que es una opcion para trabajos pequeños en casa y ocasionales.

Pero bien la propuesta, podría ser útil.

zxkn (author)2015-02-17

I agree with the comments made below! My first thought when I saw this was that wood in a welding table is just bad juju. Even if you manage to avoid catching it on fire, molten metal spatter from the arc welding (especially arc, stick is the worst for that) WILL mark up, pit, and otherwise make a mess of that wood substructre. At the least, I would look into cladding the outside surfaces with some thin metal sheet to protect from sparks and spatter.

BoilingLeadBath (author)zxkn2015-02-18

> The sparks will make a mess of the wood structure.

This is true, though most of the damage will be restricted to the spacer, which is the cheapest (like $3) and easiest to build of the components.
I felt that this lack of durability was an acceptable trade-off, given that I don't use the welder a whole bunch and using only wood saved a lot of money and effort.

outlawamps (author)2015-02-17

Great idea, except that wood and airborne molten metal and sparks don't make for a great combination. Might want to mount a fire extinguisher on it as well.

Why not take your good design, throw a few more bucks at it, and build the structure out of some thin aluminum deck plate? It would be strong, aesthetically pleasing, and no fire hazard. Just a thought.

Seth of choas (author)outlawamps2015-02-17

the aluminum would also act as a massive heat sink, wouldn't it?

outlawamps (author)Seth of choas2015-02-17

I imagine it would transfer some heat from the steel deck, but it would also cool quickly enough that it would never reach the lower compartments. I'm just talking about using the thin (0.80" - 0.100" thick) and some aluminum angle. I'd be more comfortable with heat transferring to another metal, than to wood... My biggest concern is the sparks and wood though.

The highest average heat transfer power of the welder is about 420 W at 40A (60% duty cycle), which is enough to heat the table surface to about 400K (in a 300K, windless environment).

That's hot enough to burn you if you touch it, but not nearly hot enough to start a fire.

> A few more bucks
The aluminum plate alone for such a project would cost me about $140 USD - admittedly, $85 before shipping. Plus, of course, the cost of the aluminum angle, and either a welder which can weld Al or a a bunch of bolts. It may be a good upgrade, but it isn't a cheap one.

> I'm concerned that the sparks will set the wood structure on fire.
This table is an upgrade from my old wooden one... yes, wood. As in "clamp the metal directly to the plywood to keep it in location and then weld it".
THAT would occasionally catch fire... but, well, it's almost impossible to get a single piece of plywood to keep burning; IMO, the risk of a welding spark starting a fire on the wooden parts of this table is low enough to be acceptable.

charles543 (author)2015-02-17

What did you use for the table surface?

5/16" x 12" x 24" mild steel plate - A36, IIRC.
With a bit of 5/16" mild steel rod as a handle.

outlawamps (author)2015-02-17

Missed a zero... should have been 0.080", not 0.80"

biobob (author)2015-02-17

Wow, how is your homeowners insurance?

toadboy65 (author)2015-02-17

I think it is a good design, but it would be cool if you had used aluminum instead of wood, for fire issues.

emilyvanleemput (author)2015-02-14

I'd say this is the perfect combination of space efficiency, craftmanship and a great looking end result :)

Chitlange Sahas (author)2015-02-11

You just missed the wood contest. wonderful idea...

paganwonder (author)2015-02-10

Perfect for limited storage/shop space and occasional use...thanks for sharing!

seamster (author)2015-02-09

This looks pretty simple, but quite handy! Thanks for sharing this design.

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