Sunday, January 15, 2017

Workshop furnishings

Twenty years of working in the shop prior to the 2015 remodel gave plenty of time to form a list of needs and wants. The prior two posts had to do with the shop itself- addressing realistically working area, lighting, ceiling height, access and dust management.
Work surfaces and tool storage were as important as the space itself. I was also less frugal there as they were not fixed assets. It's commonly accepted that work benches are as important a tool as anything else in the shop. My ideal workbench was stable, movable and height adjustable. The Festool Domino joiner, Kapex saw and track saw and made me a fan of that system of tools. Thus ordered a MFT table and readily appreciated how well it worked with the track saw. I was working with a lot of sheet goods during the shop and shed projects and for a one man shop, this was an efficient and safe way of doing the work. Thus worth it in terms of value and risk management.
So I purchased another table which was less expensive as I did not need another set of accessories.
As purchased, however, they were not stable or height adjustable. Also the swiss cheese table top was irritating when assembling parts. It was love at first sight when I came across a Vintage Industrial table but wrote it off due to weight, shipping difficulties and, most of all, cost.
Hure Crank Base
As the idea for this kind of base persisted and became more of a need than a want, I began to research screw jacks as that was the key component to the design. The rest of the table base could be done with wood rather than metal and pipe clamps could serve as additional support. The American brand screw jacks were out of my budget however. But in researching screw jacks I came across a Chinese supplier- Jacton Industries who were just great to do business with. I knew nothing about the requirements/specifications/nomenclature of the screw jack mechanism. My only communications were by email. Their service rep- Mr. Warren Lee was as they say affable, able and available.  Every time I sent off an e-mail, there was a response within several hours. I provided him with the size of the table, anticipated weight and desired travel range. The only area where I needed to be precise was the center to center distance between the jacks. This was due to the MFT's top design-an aluminum frame holds a replaceable MDF surface. the part of the base supporting the top needed to be fitted to the aluminum frame to securely hold it

He  provided  scaled drawings of the jacks along with a polite recommendation to build the base first. Once that was done, then I would be able to provide a precise center to center distance for the connecting components between the jacks. I could have saved a significant amount by using shipping by sea rather than air with door to door, but chose the latter as there was less opportunity for stuff to go wrong.
The rest was a snap.
Now the two tables really are multifunctional. While the top can be precisely fitted to the base, it easy to remove. If I need a work table outside the workshop the original legs are easy to re-install and I can use a different top and retain much of the base's utility in the shop. Most of the time, the tables are set up as a miter saw station.

I can also place my drill press between the tables or raise one table while leaving the rest of the arrangement alone.

They also come in handy as outfeed tables for table saw, planer, support for unwieldy plank shaping with a bandsaw and as a dovetail jig.