Introduction: Workshop Hovercraft

The idea behind this craft is to more easily move heavy objects, like machinery, across a workshop floor with ease. It is especially useful in a small workshop and need to move machinery frequently when you're by yourself, and don't have anyone to help you move them. You can make one platform for each piece of machinery and leave it in place, and connect the leaf blower when the machinery is to be moved. It is also fairly inexpensive, provided you already own a leaf-blower, and some large plywood scrap, and its a pretty fun thing to make with your dad :).

Stuff you're going to need:

  • Large (e.g., 3'x3') plywood sheet (3/4 inch thickness)
  • Jigsaw
  • Drill (with bits to screw in screws and drill holes)
  • Staple gun
  • Duck tape
  • Leaf-blower
  • Water-proof tarp
  • Silicon (bathroom) Sealant
  • Screws, 1 1/4 inch and 1 3/4 inch
  • Bathroom PVC flange with seal (large enough to snugly fit inside your leaf-blowers arm)
  • Marker and string
  • Measuring tape

Step 1: Drawing the Platform

Start by finding the middle of the large plywood sheet. Put a nail in there, and using a string and a marker, draw a large circle. In this case we drew a circle with a diameter of about 3 feet, so its small enough to move around in the workshop and big enough for the target machinery, this case a drill press. The size would depend on the size of the machinery.

Step 2: Draw a Smaller Circle

Using some more plywood, or if you have enough space on the same sheet, draw a smaller circle, roughly a third or less in diameter than the larger circle, in our case it was about 10 inches in diameter.

Step 3: Cut Out the Smaller Circle

Using a jigsaw, trace around the smaller circle you drew and cut it out. It doesn't need to be perfect.

Step 4: Cut Out the Larger Circle

Using a jigsaw, do the same as the previous step for the larger piece. This circle should be a little better so go back and correct any mistakes you made, and cut outside the traced line just in case you make a mistake, you can always trim it later. You should now have two circles.

Step 5: Trace the Interior of the Bathroom Flange

Trace out the smaller interior of the bathroom flange onto the larger circle, allowing the outside ring of the flange, with the screw holes, to be in contact with the wood. Having the flange attached to the leaf blower arm is not necessary at this step, but to make sure that the arm is flexible enough to reach down onto the spot while on the platform is pertinent. Make sure to place the the tracing off to the side of the platform, the larger circle, you're going to want to make enough room to put things on the platform.

Step 6: Cut Out the Hole

First, drill a hole into the side of traced outline of the circle, large enough to fit the jigsaw blade into the hole. Then, put the jigsaw into said hole, and cut out the circle, this again doesn't need to be perfect, but make sure to leave enough space for the flange outer ring so you can screw it on.

Step 7: Seal the Bathroom Flange Over the Hole

Using bathroom sealant, trace along the surface of the flange facing the plywood and then place carefully over the hole. Then, screw the flange down, using 1 1/4 inch screws.

Step 8: Flip Over the Platform

If you had the leaf-blower arm on the flange, now would be a good time to take it off. Flip over the entire thing and expose the underside.

Step 9: Cut a Circle Out of the Tarp

Using a string again, draw a giant circle in the tarp, roughly a foot large in diameter than the platform of the hovercraft. Cut it out, and remember a little bit bigger is better than a little smaller here.

Step 10: Place the Cut Out Tarp Circle on the Bottom Side of the Platform

Make sure the tarp is centered over the platform, so the excess is roughly even over the edge of the platform.

Step 11: Secure the Smaller Circle

Place the smaller circle over the center of the tarp, and the platform. Put 3-4 screws into it to secure it. Use 1 1/2 inch screws. If the screws poke through to the other side on the platform, file down the tips.

Step 12: Draw Circles Around the Smaller Wooden Circle.

In even radial intervals on the tarp, draw 6 circles, 2 inches in diameter or a little less, around the smaller wooden circle.

Step 13: Cut Out the Circles

Cut out the circles, using a box cutter or whatever is available to you. These don't have to be perfect either. As an optional step, if you are going to leave the base under the machinery, you might want to put plywood spacers around the base's periphery between the plywood and the tarp. These will help stabilize the machinery if the smaller round piece is not wide enough. Here, the 10 inch round plywood piece is wide enough for the drill press to sit on top of it.

Step 14: Flip the Platform Over Again

Flip over the platform again, making sure that the tarp edges are exposed. The leaf-blower doesn't have to be attached to the flange at this point, despite the picture.

Step 15: Staple the Tarp Edge Over the Edge of the Platform

Make sure theres about 2 inches of tarp onto the edge of the platform, and using a staple gun secure it to the platform. Use a hammer to secure any staples that may be loose. Staple frequently, and use more than you think you need.

Step 16: Duck Tape Down the Sides

Use lots of duck tape to help seal the tarp to the plywood base. At least 2-3 layers of it. If your hovercraft doesn't float, you should probably return to this step and use more duck tape, and more staples to secure the tarp. Remember to nail the staples down again if you need to do so.

Step 17: Secure the Leaf-blower Arm on the Flange

Remember to keep the rubber seal on the flange, inside the leaf-blower arm to allow the air to flow through more efficiently. Duck tape the outside of the arm down onto the flange if there is a lot of air leakage when the leaf blower is operating, be liberal in the usage of duck tape as well here. Remember, if you need your leaf-blower again you can always pull the duck tape off. If your hovercraft is still having some trouble floating, and you have already secured the edge of the tarp onto the platform very well, perhaps go back to this step and use more duck tape, or check to see if you remembered to put the seal on the flange.

Step 18: Hovercraft in Action

When working, the hovercraft doesn't float very high but you'll find it glides the machinery across the floor. Just turn off the leaf blower when in position, and the machinery will settle into place until the next time you use it. The leaf blower is available for other uses and other hovercraft bases under different machinery. In essence, because it is mostly made out of scrap a shop would have lying around an a leaf blower you have for other purposes, it acts as an inexpensive alternative to a mobile base with retractable wheels.