Introduction: Welding Table

Picture of Welding Table

This is a welding table that I designed with inspiration from many different tables that I found on a variety of sites. I wanted a table that would be easy and inexpensive to build, have clamp access anywhere on the top, and have a flat working surface. This is what I came up with! It is made from 11 gauge (1/8") rectangular tubing in three sizes: 6" x 2", 3" x 2", and 2" x 2". I decided to use 6" x 2" tube because it was much less expensive and 24 times as stiff as 6" x 2" x 1/2" plate. I bolted the working surface onto the frame to keep it from bending during welding and so I could easily replace them if needed.

The metal cost about $250 and the casters were about $60.

This complete table is available in Google Sketchup.

Step 1: Make the Working Surface Sub-frame

Picture of Make the Working Surface Sub-frame

Spacer plates are cut, drilled, and tapped to 1/2"-13. I used a jig to position the spacers when drilling the holes. I put an "x" in the same corner of each spacer so I could keep them oriented the same way during assembly. This will help minimize production errors.

Check the main sub-frame beams for straightness. If they are bent at all, drill the holes on the side with largest radius (the "outside" of the bend). Drill 3/4" holes where the spacer plate holes will be when welded onto the beam. The over-sized holes in the beam ensure that there will be no material blocking the bolts that go through the spacer plates.

Drill two 1/2" holes in piece of scrap metal 7-1/2" apart. You will use this as a placement guide for the spacer plates. Precisely position the first spacer plate on the beam and tack weld it into place. Thread a 1/2"-13 bolt through one hole in the guide and into the tack welded spacer plate. Position the open hole in the guide over the next hole in the beam. Place a spacer between the beam and guide. Thread another bolt through the guide and into the spacer. Center the spacer on the beam and tack weld into place. Continue this process with the rest of the spacers. Using the guide will ensure that the holes in the spacers are exactly the same distance from each other.

Repeat for the second sub-frame beam.

Step 2: Check Beams for Straightness

Picture of Check Beams for Straightness

Welding the spacers onto the beam will mostly likely cause some bending. Place a straight edge long enough to cover all the spacers on top of the beam. I had about an 1/8" gap in the middle. Using some chain and a hydraulic jack, I bent the beams back to "pretty straight". A hydraulic press would have been easier to use, but I don't have one. You can see in the last picture that there is almost no gap between the spacers when the beams are laid on top of each other. I measured the gap at .018". That's straight enough for me!

Step 3: Prepare and Assemble the Working Surface

Picture of Prepare and Assemble the Working Surface

Cut the working surface pieces to length. Drill 1/2" holes on one side, centered 4" from the ends. Ensure these pieces are flat! If any are bent, discard them (or try to bend them so they are flat). The flatness of the working surface depends on two things: the flatness of the main sub-frame beams, and the flatness of the working surface pieces.

The next part is a little tricky. Using 1" long 1/2"-13 bolts, bolt all the working surface pieces to the sub-frame beams. Ensure everything is square, then snug up the bolts. Ensure everything is square again, and then tack weld in the sub-frame cross braces. If everything is still square and flat, you're good to go!

Step 4: Weld on the Legs and Cross Braces

Picture of Weld on the Legs and Cross Braces

Nothing complicated here. Just make sure everything is square! These are all 2" x 2" square tube. 1" round tube is used for the tool hangars (I used EMT). I positioned the top of the round tube 3-1/2" down from the surface above.

Step 5: Weld in the Shelf

Picture of Weld in the Shelf

I cut the expanded metal shelf about 1" oversized in both directions. I then folded up 1/2" on each side (cut out the corners). Ensure the top of the mesh is flush with the top of the braces and weld into place.

Step 6: Prepare Feet and Attach Casters

Picture of Prepare Feet and Attach Casters

I welded 1/2"-13 nuts onto 2" x 2" x 1/8" plates. Be sure to drill a 5/8" hole in the center of the plates before the nuts are welded on. The plates where then welded onto the legs. Obviously, use nuts that are the same as the threads on your casters. I used 4" stem casters with wheel locks, rated at 350# each.

Step 7: Make Wooden Top and Electrical Box

Picture of Make Wooden Top and Electrical Box

I decided to make a removable wooden top so I could use this welding table as a workbench, too! It's 1" plywood with a couple 2" x 4"s attached to it. I used two sheets of 1/2" plywood because that's what I had laying around. I had to plane down the 2" x 4"s a little so they would fit in the gaps of the working surface.

The electrical box is a four-gang box with an extension cord coming out of it. I screwed it onto one of the beams.

That's it! Good luck and let me know if you have any questions!

Happy welding!


mattthegamer463 (author)2017-07-05

Do you find the across the 6" length of the tubing is flat? I want to do this as well but I am worried the tubes are not rectangular but slightly "crowned" which would cause a part to rock side to side if placed on just one tube.

jmpratt (author)mattthegamer4632017-07-05

They are flat. If you're unsure, bring a straight edge down to your metal supplier and check their stock.

mattthegamer463 made it! (author)jmpratt2017-07-26

I found they are not flat, they were all crowned with a high spot in the middle and 1/16" or so lower on either edge. But I built the table anyway and used a straight edge and shims to align all the high spot ridges so the surface is "flat" if you place an object across at least two peaks. I left the front side of the table open so I cna put a welder cart and storage under there easier, and roll it around so I can tuck the table to the wall and pull out when I need to move around it.

I'm happy with it so far, thanks for the inspiration.

fzbw9br (author)mattthegamer4632017-11-19

if you have an hydraulic press, perhaps you could get a 2x4 1/4" thick piece of rectangle tubing, and using your press, gently squeeze in the bow till flat, or "JUST" a hint under. That way the edges would form MORE level points instead of trusting the bows to be all the same.

jmpratt (author)mattthegamer4632017-07-26

That looks great! I like the idea for storing the welding cart underneath.

Timv100 (author)2017-09-28

What is the thickness of the rect stock? I can get it in 3mm and 5 mm

jmpratt (author)Timv1002017-09-28

11 gauge which is close to 1/8".

bianchina3 (author)2017-03-16

I want to do the same thing but I want it even cheaper! I am trying to identify sources for cheap steel and I can't find any. I have a steel supply near me but that is all new material and expensive. Scrap yards will not sell scrap to individuals (unless I buy it by the random pound). The internet has cheaper steel but the freight is incredible! Any suggestions.

JeffW231 (author)bianchina32017-06-01

I have 2 recycling centers near by. I joined as a member and they allow me to take what ever I want. They have a large steel container that contractor throw stuff out in. It is not perfect, but you will be surprised at what people throw out.

jmpratt (author)bianchina32017-03-17

Nope. You hit the main three ways to get it. You can call around to different suppliers. I found one local supplier that is substantially cheaper than the others.

TomB263 (author)2017-03-10

How are the bolts tightened? I don't see either part of the bolt on any open spaces. Did you tighten them from inside of the beams?

jmpratt (author)TomB2632017-03-10

Yes, the bolts are tightened from inside the 2x6 beams.

Jeffo23 (author)2016-01-05

Wow, folding the expanded metal is genius. So clean. And adding the wooden work surface is another great idea. Great table. I'm curious as to why you messed spacers? Couldn't you have just welded the tubes directly to the frame? Why did you need spacers? Again, fabulous table man.

jmpratt (author)Jeffo232016-01-05

i used the spacers because I wanted the top to be easily replaceable. The spacers are an easy way to secure the working surface to frame.

fnirvana (author)jmpratt2017-01-13

Great table and tutorial, I think I will use this for mine too. One question though, so the top is not welded in place at all, just bolted on?

jmpratt (author)fnirvana2017-01-14

Yes, just bolted on. That way I can replace individual pieces as needed.

somaraok (author)2016-12-07

Thanks for the guide.

vladivastok (author)2016-01-13


Me too!

mrafera (author)2016-04-10

Nice! :-)

Kevanf1 (author)2016-01-13

Nice, I like it. Ok, I've read the issues raised about the bearings fusing due to earth arcing. Easily overcome with some plastic spacers and a different fixing method. I know that you can get plastic bolts but I wonder if they would be strong enough? Doubtful... Anyway, I have another idea that I may try myself. I passed my welding exam last night at evening class so this is very much at the forefront of my mind at the moment. I'm thinking that I have a couple of Black and Decker portable work benches. I'm sure you have them in the US? A folding steel work bench with two adjustable jaws made of about 3/4 inch thick plywood. I'm going to look at changing those plywood jaws for steel rectangular hollow section similar to what you have used for the top of your bench. Ok, it will not have the weight capacity of your project but it should be fine for me. Great Instructable, I am inspired.

ndr1968 (author)Kevanf12016-01-18

I have a couple of those B&D clamp tables. They are great for wood projects (mostly holding 2x4's for cut off). It sounds like a great idea except just thinking about bending over them for most welding projects makes my back hurt! They are too low for most welding in my opinion. I got the Nomad fold away table. It's just the right height and has worked for almost 90% of everything I've welded so far. Now, I think there's a Harbor Freight clone of this table for very little money. Less than a hundred bucks I think.

Kevanf1 (author)ndr19682016-01-18

Mine are the dual height B&D Workmates :) So they are about 12 inches higher than the standard single height models. Still a tad low I suppose but I can always put them on top of some blocks I use for putting engines/gearboxes on :)

Marsh made it! (author)2016-01-16

I used scrap steel, but I'm happy with the result.

Mark 42 (author)2016-01-13

It's nice - but I just use an old gas barbeque with cast iron grills.
Someday I'll make a frame for a bunch of cast iron BBQ grills - when I have a shop to work in again (sad situation, living in the city)

Peppervictoria (author)2016-01-12

I tried rubber molded casters. The front wheels off a couple of shopping carts (I'm the King of scrounging for parts) metal casters, rubber casters same issue. If there's bearings in the casters, they will eventually break down to where you'll see what's left of the shiny babbet bearings. Those little gaps between the bearings are enough to create an arc. After that 1st bearing wears down enough, it's over. Another alternative is building your table out of mortised 4x4's and top it with a piece of sheet iron. Leave a couple inch over hang on each side to clamp your gnd. Or tack on a piece of angle iron somewhere. I like your table it's well built. This small modification with prolong it lifespan.

Peppervictoria (author)2016-01-12

I've made similar welding tables in the past. With room for my arc welder stored underneath and a removable post with a sliding shelf for welding smaller objects. Of the 3 tables I've built for myself and friends, the biggest issue I've had is the casters. Whether hard rubber, nylon reinforced or steel, they all have 1 problem. They have bearings in them. It doesn't matter if your arc welding or wire welding, the problem lies in the ground. Grounding your work to the table creates small arcs in the caster bearings which will cause them to fail eventually. It's just a matter of time. My best fix for this was to build a dolly out of wood to attach the casters and table too in order to prevent the tiny arcs from your ground cable eating away at those bearings. Hope this helps?

jmpratt (author)Peppervictoria2016-01-12

Thanks for the comment. How is there a voltage potential between the inner and outer bearing races when the ground clamp is attached to the working surface?

Peppervictoria (author)jmpratt2016-01-12

If you're using your ground clamp connected to the table, or even to your work piece, there's always small ground arcs all over the table. It depends on how much you use it, but sooner or later you'll be rolling it around the shop and you'll notice the casters start to seize up. I made mine using steel 4" casters off some old railroad push carts. Actually, a friend of mine helped me figure it out one night while welding on a motorcycle frame. It was just dark enough for him to see the small arcs in the wheels every time I started to run a bead. It's best to set your table on a non-conductive cart. I finally made the legs on my last welding table using 3" pipe for legs. Then made my cart out of 4x4's and drilled holes in the corners to fit the legs, then pinned them in place. Make the table 4-6" lower to make up the difference for the cart and give yourself a decent working height. That was 8yrs ago at a shop I worked at. I went by there last summer to say Hay, and saw that they were still using it. So it's tried and true. Lol. Hopefully my trial and error saves you some time. Btw, I go by the name of Pete.

jmpratt (author)Peppervictoria2016-01-12

I think metal wheels in contact with the ground would be the worse case.

Sparkysparty (author)2016-01-12

With the arcing of the wheels, maybe a wooden/nylon spacer between the castor wheels and welding table should solve the problem. don't forget that the bolts holding the wheels on will also need to be isolated so they don't connect the two.

Peppervictoria (author)2016-01-12

I forgot to add that the arc you mentioned between the inner and outer bearing races is from the bearing contact. I'm sure you've been welding long enough the see your ground clamp arc when your strike a bead. Everything runs to gnd. Lol. C-ya

schabanow (author)2016-01-12

Functional, laconic, versatile, good looking design. Brilliant. Love things like this.

BiscuitMaker (author)2016-01-06

Where did you buy the steel?

jmpratt (author)BiscuitMaker2016-01-07

Ackerman Steel in Cincinnati. Any local metal distributor should have it.

Bosun Rick (author)jmpratt2016-01-12

most larger cities should have steel/metal recycling yards which usually sell surplus & scrap metal for a much lower price. In my city we have several such dealers. they buy & sell scrap by the pound, and if you're shopping for metal, and they haven't bundled or sorted it, you pay what they gave for it (no markup)

JamesK100 (author)2016-01-12

If you split the wooden top, and hinge it to the sides, it'll be able to swing out to the sides.

or you can extend pins on the sides and drill the top to hang on the sides...

I'll be building this... when I have the money for materials :-) !

grumpysheila (author)2016-01-06

This looks great - I'm inspired to get back into my own workshop. And, ever since I saw your welding handywork I've been mad about spaghetti. Thanks for sharing.

jmpratt (author)grumpysheila2016-01-06

Thanks! The table will let me keep busy during the winter so I don't get the snow snity blues!

bg_sa (author)2016-01-05

I agree with Jeffo23, the expanded metal shelf is one of those "why didn't I think of that" ideas. It would work as drawer bottoms on woodworking benches too, less trapped sawdust.

You might get around the spacers by using channel instead of tubing for the frame top rails, the open side would allow access for bolts and you wouldn't lose any stiffness. Plus, plenty of places to clamp the ground along the length of the channel flange. Nice work.

jmpratt (author)bg_sa2016-01-06

I considered C-channel, but rectangular tubing is stiffer and cheaper. Also, I wanted a flat, uniform surface on the underside to make clamping really easy. However, I would use C-channel instead of flat plate.

Just4Fun Media (author)2016-01-06

That looks extremely well built! How long did it take to build?

Have a great day! :-)

jmpratt (author)Just4Fun Media2016-01-06

I had the metal cut by the supplier, so all I had to do was assemble everything. I think it took about 8 hours. A big chunk of that time was bending the beams back to straight.

bhavik zure (author)2016-01-05

nice one, i am sure gonna make it, i will add height adjustable legs.

removable wooden top is awesome concept.

cdays_01 (author)2016-01-05

Wow, that's a really good idea. The table itself is pretty awesome but adding the wooden addition on top is a great bonus

bob3030 (author)2016-01-05

Nice. I especially like the removable wood top!

jmpratt (author)bob30302016-01-05

Thanks. That was an "add-on" at the end.

jmwells (author)2016-01-04

Great looking project. My onl suggestion is to add a lug somewhere under the sun-top to clamp your welder's ground to. It will keep it out of the way when you are working.

jmpratt (author)jmwells2016-01-05

Thanks! Right now I just attached the ground to one of the 6" x 2" tubes, but a grounding tab would work nicely, too!

nasota (author)2016-01-04

amazing desing! very simple and ussefull. Greetings from Argentina

About This Instructable




More by jmpratt:Welding TableHow to turn an air-conditioner into a heat pump (on a 1969 Airstream Trailer)
Add instructable to: