Introduction: Steel Washer/Dryer Stand With Adjustable Legs

Picture of Steel Washer/Dryer Stand With Adjustable Legs

First a little background:

When I bought my washer and dryer a couple years ago, I couldn't justify the extra $400 for the stands to raise them up to a comfortable height for loading and unloading.  I decided to build my own stand out of wood and was able to put together a real sturdy setup.  The only problem was that my washer and dryer were located in a part of the basement that had a sloping concrete floor.  I shimmed my heart out trying to get the platform level, but it still walks all over the place and I have had the dryer slide off the edge a couple times.

Time for an upgrade.  I decided to build a new stand out of steel. I haven't found any information online on how to build your own out of steel, nor with adjustable feet, so I will be designing and building the project.  Ever since I got my new wire-feed welder I have been looking for projects and this one fits the bill properly.

Step 1: Design

Picture of Design

I wanted the new washer dryer stand to be stout, but easily moved so I decided to make 1 stand for each machine so I could adjust them independent of each other and I would be able to get them into the basement easier than one large stand.  The only measurements I really needed were the distances between the feet front to back and side to side.  The stand doesn't need to be any bigger than the footprint of the machines, so I designed mine that the feet set directly on the corners of each stand, above the stand's legs (it will make more sense as the project progresses).  I also designed the top of the stand with an 8" overhang so when the stand is all the way against the wall, there is still room for the dryer hose and water hoses to make their bends without kinking or folding over.

Step 2: Procure Materials

Picture of Procure Materials

I was lucky to find myself cleaning out a well-lived in home and I came across this scrap angle.  Actually, half of that material is a bed frame which is perfect for this project.  I pulled out what I could find before the truck left for the scrapyard.

For the legs, I bought a 10-foot length of galvanized unistrut (not pictured).  The unistrut measures 1-5/8" x 1-5/8"

For the adjustable feet, I bought 3/4" bolts, nuts and washers.  I wanted to use 7/8" because the nuts fit perfectly inside the unistrut legs, but the 7/8" bolts cost over 10x as much as the 3/4" bolts, so I decided to work around the smaller hardware (which will be explained later).

Step 3: Tools Needed

Picture of Tools Needed

I'm sure I am forgetting some of the tools I have used.  I will try to list everything here:

- Flux core wire feed welder.  Mine is the cheapest available at Harbor Freight and yes, it is a little messy, but it works like a dream.
- Wire brush
- Vise grips
- Magnet square clamps
- Squares of all sizes
- Welding pliers
- Grinders, the more the merrier
- An assortment of grinding, cutting, wire, and sanding wheels for the grinders
- Tape measure

Let's not forget safety!

- Safety glasses
- Welding mask (another cheap Harbor Freight purchase that continues to work great)
- Long-sleeved cotton shirt and long denim or duck pants
- Leather shoes
- Work gloves
- Welding gloves

Step 4: Preparing and Cutting the Steel

Picture of Preparing and Cutting the Steel

I start by salvaging the most usable angle off the bed frame as I possibly can.  I had to cut off rivets and hooks, but was able to get probably 10 feet of good steel out of it.

I use my workhorse as a clamp and I measure and cut, measure and cut.  It is a lot quicker and safer to use a cut-off saw, but alas, I do not have one.  I get to do it the hard way with a cutting wheel on a grinder.  I mark the length, use the square to make my cut line, cut the side first and then the top. Do not bind the wheel!  It will blow apart into tiny bits of shrapnel that can easily find their way inside your body.

I cut all the pieces of the frame and the legs at once.  Then I used a sanding wheel on the bed frame parts to strip the paint off of the area to be welded.  It is possible to weld through the paint, but the bead will be inconsistent and therefore weak.  If you take a little extra time to prepare the material your finished product should last forever.


Step 5: Welding the Frame

Picture of Welding the Frame

I find these magnetic squares to be indispensable.  I always double-check with a big ol' rafter square to make sure the corners are dead-on.  This won't be a guide on how to weld.  There are tons out there.  Just check out the pictures and try not to make fun of my rudimentary welding skills.  I did both top frames first, making sure everything is square by using my rafter square and measuring corner to corner as well.

Step 6: Making the Adjustable Legs

Picture of Making the Adjustable Legs

I used a bench grinder to take the zinc plating off the surface of the washers as well as the bottom edge of the nuts.  I will come to find later that, with the right amount of current, you can actually weld through the zinc plating to the steel underneath.

I started by welding the nut to the washer, trying to keep it as centered as possible.  The vise grips are very useful here.  I just put one spot weld on each side of the nut, so 6 spot welds per nut/washer combo.

Next I cleaned up the outer perimeter of the washer to prepare it for welding.

The nut/washer assembly is inserted into the end of the unistrut leg, nut side up.  Weld the base of the leg to the washer.  

Thread another nut all the way down on the 7/8" bolt.  This nut will serve as the locknut.  Therad the bolt/nut assembly into the nut/washer assembly (clear as mud, right?) and that completes the adjustable foot mechanism!  Be sure to check the pictures if this step isn't very clear.


Step 7: Final Assembly

Picture of Final Assembly

Time to weld the legs to the upper frame.  With the help of the magnet clamps, I was able to square everything up and hold the leg in place long enough to get a couple tack welds on it.  Then I would come back finish the weld on the leg.  I probably overkilled it a bit, but I welded every seam a had access to.

The cross braces are next.  I just cut them all the same length and used my handy magnetic clamp to hold the piece at a 45-degree angle while I applied the vise grips.  Tack, weld, and move on to the next one.  For two stands, I had 16 of these braces to weld.  I'm not even sure they were necessary!  When in doubt, I always overkill it a bit.

Step 8: Retainer Cleats

Picture of Retainer Cleats

At this point I knew I wanted to add something to work as a last resort in case the washer/dryer still tried to vibrate or walk off of the stand.  What I ended up doing is cutting small pieces of angle to wrap around the front corners of the stands.  For the back of the stand, I had to fabricate the pieces shown in the pictures in order to accommodate the way the top frame extended past the back legs.  Cut, prep, and weld them on.  I don't expect I will need them, but I feel it is better to have and not need than need and not have, right?

Step 9: Cleaning Up and Painting

Picture of Cleaning Up and Painting

Time to clean up the welds, prep for paint, and paint the stands.  Use the wire cup wheel on the grinder to knock off any welding spatter left on the stands.  I really only focused on the outside of the stand since no one will see the inside of the stand once it is in place.  
Use the sanding wheel to clean up and sloppy welds or high spots on the stands.

Paint selection is really up to you.  I went cheap and bought the 98-cent paint and primer at Wal-Mart.  The primer was great.  It went on smooth and was very consistent between cans.  The paint on the other hand, was terrible.  It was very inconsistent and runny.  I had one can that was literally like white paint thinner, so use at your own risk.  Remember, this will have a washer and dryer sitting on it tucked away in a basement or a closet.  The paint job shouldn't matter that much.

When the painting is done, you can insert the adjustable feet.  Start by threading the locknut all the way down on the bolt.  Next screw the bolt all the way into the end of the leg.

Since my stands are going onto a concrete floor, I decided to add some rubber feet to increase the friction a little.  Just a little insurance to make sure the stands have no reason at all to scoot across the floor.

Step 10: Completed Project

Picture of Completed Project

Time to install the stands. Place them where you want them. Level them front to back and side to side. Lock down the adjustable feet with the locknuts before you place your appliances on top.  I would suggest placing the washer first.  Make sure it is level on the stand. Next the dryer.  Hook everything back up and you should be good to go.  I ran an unbalanced load on purpose to get the maximum vibration out of my washing machine and it just sat there solid as a rock.  I am excited to share my experience with all of you. Please leave any comments or suggestions below and happy building!

Comments

wrsexton (author)2014-02-06

A good addition to this would be to add rubber vibration isolating feet like this:

https://www.instructables.com/id/Heavy-Duty-Levelin...

tnlightle (author)wrsexton2014-02-06

Ha, I ended up doing the exact same thing, minus the glue. I don't plan on moving my washer/dryer around like that guy will need to with his table saw. The original pads kept slipping off the bottoms of the bolts, so on my search for something better I found those exact rubber pads and the head of the bolt fit perfectly inside them. Since then, maybe 4 months ago, my washer hasn't moved a millimeter from its original location!

tnlightle (author)tnlightle2014-02-06

Here's a picture of what I was talking about. Thanks for the comment!

knife141 (author)2013-06-28

I really like what you've done here. It still amazes me that stores charge $400-$500 for metal boxes to raise these machines to a workable height. Way to go!

tnlightle (author)knife1412013-06-28

That's right. Sticking it to the man, one project at a time!

GarageGuru (author)2013-06-28

Big, big fan of the unistrut! From the pictures I saw, were the bolts you used non-graded? If so I think I would swap them out for some grade 8 bolts. Grade 5 bolts might do, but like you mentioned, "when in doubt, I always overkill it a bit." I thought the extensions of the platform to the wall was a brilliant idea. But with unbalanced loads over time I would worry about the metal chiseling into the basement wall. I'd put some rubber pads in between the metal extensions and the wall to eliminate that possibility. Other than that, great post!

tnlightle (author)GarageGuru2013-06-28

Great suggestions all around. Thank you. I did consider grade 5 or grade 8, but went for price over strength in that area. Since I am only dealing with a few hundred pounds distributed over 4 legs, I think the bolts will be fine. To be honest, I think my inconsistent welds will break before the bolts would strip. I will update if any of that happens. I also considered padding the extensions, but now with everything level, nothing moves. The washer vibrates a little because that's what front loaders do when spinning a 3,000 rpm or whatever it is they spin at, but the platform had no movement at all. Regardless, it is still a great suggestion to make sure your walls are protected.

djr1 (author)2014-04-02

Yes, you can definitely weld zinc......problem is, the fumes are poisonous. Grinding the coating off can give you some degree of safety, as long as you're wearing a decent respirator while your grinding. I prefer to weld on an end cap then drill/tap threads into it. Just my 2 cents.

crackinjack (author)2013-08-15

when you level your washer make sure to have a load in and running at high speed, for the best results each foot must have 25% of the weight distributed or the unit will not balance and it will want to walk.

Artorius3691 (author)2013-06-28

Do not use any galvanized material when welding whatsoever! The Cadmium plating creates a poisonous gas when it burns during the welding process. it is extremely toxic!

tnlightle (author)Artorius36912013-06-28

Thanks for the warning. Just to be clear: this is zinc plating and not galvanized. Not sure about the cadmium you mention, but welding through zinc plating in a well ventilated area has little to no effect whatsoever - especiall if you use MIG or wire-feed. It does release zinc oxide fumes which can make you sick in large quantities. Here is what I referenced when preparing for this project: http://www.nakedwhiz.com/weldinggalvanized.pdf
"The first line of defense in dealing with zinc oxide fumes is welder training. Welders should be taught -- even when welding uncoated materials -- to keep their heads out of the fume plume and to position themselves relative to the air flow around themselves so fumes and dust do not collect inside their welding shields. If a welder finds white dust inside his welding shield when welding galvanized products, he is not positioning himself properly. When welding galvanized products that have thin, uniform coatings and the process is gas-shielded MIG or flux core, the fumes generated are sparse and the shielding gas blows them away from the welder; this is frequently sufficient to avoid metal fume fever without further action."

Regardless, this project is so small that the exposure is minimal even if no safety was taken into consideration.

HollyMann (author)2013-06-28

Great job!

billbillt (author)2013-06-28

great idea

caarntedd (author)2013-06-28

Nice work, very professional. (but I secretly like the old shims).

fungus amungus (author)2013-06-27

This is really good, thanks for writing it up

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Bio: I have an insatiable drive to build, so I will share my experiences with everyone.
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