Tag Line

"Built Dam Strong!"

04 January 2012

I'm not just a welder . . . I play a machinist on TV, too!

What happened when you combine an nearly obsessive boss, a compulsion to satisfy just about ever "what if?" situation imaginable, a shipping container full of metal of all sorts  metal and a need to build welding tables that won't fall apart (ever)? You make something big. And by big I really mean effing HUUUUUUUUUGE!

Project Atlas Tables. (Atlas, you know, from Greek Mythology, the guy who held up the word?) 

Step one: Build adjustable table feets for leveling. Out of 4" round stock. Why? Because overkill. 

In the preceding photo, I had probably 7 hours of work getting the material out of our storage container, set up on the band saw and cut into lengths. I had 8 legs and collars to make for two tables that were being built concurrently. (The tables got finished first.) Anyway . . . Look at the pretty chips! I love it when you get your tooling ground perfectly, the lathe speed (almost) perfect and the chips just litereally roll off the stock. It's magic!

Here's one of the collars that is just about done: 

As you may be able to imagine, there was a loooooot of boring going on. Then I had to grind my own threading tool to fit in the boring bar, which had to match the tool that I made for cutting the external threads perfectly so things would actually fit together correctly. All while holding tolerances to under .002" because my boss is obsessive like that. (If you EVER have had a machinist as a boss, you'll know what I am talking about. As annoying as it is, it made me much more conscious of how precise things need to be, and that carries over to my welding fitup today, so it really was a benefit.)

Anti-climactically, here are two of the feet after being threaded:

Checking for fit: 

 I cross checked ALL the legs with ALL the collars to make sure that in case the sets got mixed up everything would still fit. A careful observer will not that the collar is technically backwards of how it would be installed, but that was done intentionally so all the work done on the collar could be finished without taking the collar off. Efficient machining is all about minimizing redundancy. When you have to make 400+ parts by hand in less than a week, you learn as you go to make things as fast as possible with the least amount of positioning and tooling changes. 

And here they are being used:

Those tables are rock solid. The legs are very thick walled pipe. The rest of the frame is made from 2x4 3/8" sidewall tube. The top was 3/8" thick with a very good clamping surface all the way around. I love the design, but am not sure if I will ever need a table that monstrous. You HAVE to move that with a fork lift. A pair of those could easily hold up an up-armored Humvee, though I am glad we didn't have to test that. heh heh heh 

Oh, and this was the first time I ever did threading, too. It was an intense project for me. I loved it. I learned a lot. It's all good stuff!