View Full Version : General Metalworking New Workbench Build

Jefferey Scott
02-17-2014, 9:10 AM
Hi folks, I've been a woodworker for over 20 years and recently caught the bug of metalworking. I've got a MIG welder and Plasma cutter now and decided it was time to build a decent welding table/fabrication table. I though I'd share my progress so far in pictures.

Here I'm starting the top of the frame jigging up a corner:


Here's the top tack welded together. The frame is made from 3x2 11 Ga. rectangular tubing A36 steel.


Here's a leg jigged up with 2-90 degree fixtures to insure plumb.


Casters I'm using. 1000 lbs capacity per caster. They roll very nicely.


Finished frame. It's 1/16 out of square measured diagonally on the top. I'll take that accuracy especially being a novice welder. The top will be a 48x76 piece of 1/2" plate with a 3" overhang on the sides and 5" on the ends and the shelf below will be a sheet of 11 ga for tool storage, etc. It's height will be 36" and will have screw down feet on each corner.


For woodworking I'm going to keep a sheet of 1/2 cabinet ply to put on top of the steel top to protect the wood. It's going to truly be a multipurpose bench and the last one I should have to build. As far as finishing, I'm going to leave the frame natural and just wax it to keep corrosion from setting in. I though about painting it, but it would get nicked here and there and start looking bad after a while.

Opinions on this table? Should I do anything else to make it better?

Lornie McCullough
02-17-2014, 7:26 PM
Very nice table.... I like it.


Scott T Smith
02-17-2014, 8:18 PM
Jeff, that's a great looking table! As far as making it better, if you ever get into TIG welding you may find that it's easier to weld sitting down as opposed to standing. If your table has a foot or so overhang along one side that will allow you to scoot a chair / bench underneath it - similar to the way that a desk chair slides under a desk. I've found that my back aches less when I can scoot up as opposed to bending over.

When plasma cutting, it's nice to do so with an open grate under the work instead of a solid top - that way your slag doesn't bounce back up at you. You might want to take one end of the tabletop and instead of covering the top with plate instead inset (but don't weld in place) some bar grating that is level with the top of the steel plate. You can cut directly over the bar grating and then replace it when it gets too cut up. Said differently, install a steel plate that is 48" x 48" with a 48" x 28" piece of bar grating next to it. Thus the overall top remains 48 x 76. Or, do a 48" wide x 60" top to allow a 12" overhang on the sides (for TIG work), with a 28" x 60" piece of bar grating next to it.

A nice vintage vise would be an excellent addition on one corner of the 1/2" plate.

All in all a great looking table!

Jefferey Scott
02-18-2014, 1:55 PM
Thanks for the good words guys. And Scott, you have some very useful advice. I've always thought TIG welding created some really nice looking welds. I've still got a long way to go with my MIG setup.

What do you guys think about finishing the frame? I was either going to shoot automotive clear coat which I have on hand or apply paste wax after warming up the metal with a torch, which I've read about, but never done. I just want a finish that will keep corrosion away and preserve the look of it as it is.

Thanks again.


Mac McQuinn
02-18-2014, 2:40 PM
Nice job. A coat of wax will help although the weld areas might surface rust a bit. Perhaps a trip to the powder coating facility and get it cleared.....? What type of Mig and Plasma arc are you using?

Jefferey Scott
02-18-2014, 4:17 PM
Hey Mac, I've got a Hobart Handler 187 Mig and a Longevity 50D plasma cutter. Love the Hobart, been a good welder. Powder coating would be awesome, but it's not in the budget unfortunately.

Mac McQuinn
02-18-2014, 8:50 PM
I've heard great things about the Hobart line. I'm not familiar with the Longevity line, Are you happy with it? If on a budget, perhaps just a rattle can of good quality clear with touch ups when needed.

Hey Mac, I've got a Hobart Handler 187 Mig and a Longevity 50D plasma cutter. Love the Hobart, been a good welder. Powder coating would be awesome, but it's not in the budget unfortunately.

Jefferey Scott
02-19-2014, 7:57 AM
The Longevity line is much like other Chinese no-name cutters that I've looked at. It works pretty well for what I've used it for which is mostly cutting 11 ga sheet. It's build quality is not up to Hobart standards, but that's all I have to compare it to. It's the only plasma I've ever owned so I know no different to be fair.

Good idea on the rattle can, I may get some Rustoleum clear and have at it, but I'm still thinking about waxing it too.

Keith Outten
02-19-2014, 10:00 AM

Add some 2" receiver tubing to each corner. These can be used for a metal vise, woodworking vise, benders and to add uprights or extensions when you are working on an odd shaped piece or frame. Some install both vertical and horizontal receivers.

I'm right behind you building my first dedicated welding table. I have most of the material and I'm waiting for Spring weather so I can build mine outside. I have been researching table designs at several welding sites looking for great features that I can add to mine. My table will remain outside so I will be using 1/2" thick by 6" flat bar for the top leaving a gap between each bar for clamping purposes. On one end I will probably install a custom grate area for plasma work and make an aluminum water filled catch pan for the slag. The end pieces will be 2" receiver tubing for horizontal use and my legs will all be 2" receiver tubing for vertical use. I purchased a 20 foot piece of 2.125" ID heavy wall tubing last year so I can make my own receivers rather than purchasing the factory made ones. I recently cut two pieces to weld to the 6" pipe columns in my shop.

Jefferey Scott
02-20-2014, 8:11 AM
All great ideas Keith. I ordered some 12" receiver tubes from Northern tool for 10 bucks a piece yesterday so I should have them soon. I've seen quite a few tables built like you are going to do yours and it seems like it would work great. Good luck with your table and post up some pics when you get going with it, I'd like to see it.

I ordered my plate from my metal supplier yesterday so I hope to have it today and attach it this Saturday. I'll post an update when I get it finished or close to it.

Keith Outten
02-20-2014, 9:56 AM

I have two metal tables in my workshop that have 2' by 4' stainless steel tops. Last year I welded two 24" receiver tubes on one of the tables under the long rails. I made up two 36" square tubes and mounted small woodworking vises on each tube. Because the tubes can slide I can quickly setup an extension for large sheets or clamp long boards in both vises. The tubes can be rotated for vertical clamping as well.

I have receivers mounted everywhere, my van obviously, my lawn mower, golf cart, trailer, workbench, etc. If I need to bend a long piece I can mount my bender in the receiver on my trailer or I can use my trailer as an on site work platform. All of the tools I have mounted on receiver tubes are used in multiple locations. I have an old machinists vise I am in the process of cleaning and painting that I will soon add to my square tubing list of tools. I find these work well for welding projects too, not to mention holding panels and other woodworking projects for routing and glue ups. I recently found a heavy duty lazy suzan bearing that I will be attaching to an aluminum plate and a square tube so I can use it for odd jobs like edge routing. If I feed a vacuum hose through the center of the plate I can use it to quick clamp and rotate sign projects for routing, painting, etc.

You might consider building a small plasma table that attaches to your welding table via the receiver tube or tubes.

Jefferey Scott
02-20-2014, 9:40 PM
Plasma table addition may be in my future. Here's the top I picked up today. Not perfectly flat but I think I can pull it out when I weld it.

Keith Outten
02-20-2014, 10:42 PM
That's a good size piece of plate, how do you plan to lift it?

Jefferey Scott
02-21-2014, 8:28 AM
I'm going to weld the frame on, inverted right in the trailer. Then 4 guys will tip it off the back of the trailer onto its legs (I'll take the casters off for this). My oldest boy and I stood it up on edge last night to sweep under it where the forklift deposited some gravel. It's heavy, around 520 lbs I calculate so 4 guys should be able to do it no problem. The plate needs a little bit of surfacing to clean it up. I was thinking a flap disk on my grinder. Anyone have any other suggestions on cleaning it up?

Jefferey Scott
02-24-2014, 12:59 PM
Well I got my top attached and on its feet and have pictures to share. I will be adding receiver tubes when I get them in, but it is for the most part complete. The top is not as clean as I'd like, in fact it had a 1/4" crown in it that I was able to take out. It's now flat to within 1/32" over its length and width. It also had some pitting in it that I thought was unusual for "new steel". How's it look to you guys? Here's the pics:

Attaching the base upside down on the top:

Tilting it off the trailer on to it's end:

And down onto it's feet with 4 people total helping:

After some clean up:

Another view:

Mac McQuinn
02-25-2014, 4:52 PM
Nice job, looks like it'll outlast a few welders.....Looking at it in it's finished form, I'd give everything except the top a coat of HD equipment gray and put 3 or 4 coats of wax on the top. I'm an equipment gray guy, tend to get crazy with the stuff although it's durable, easy to touch up and looks good over your welds if you don't grind. You could clean up the top when needed with a DA sander w/ heavy 3M pad. Put some more wax on and enjoy.
What's next?

Jefferey Scott
02-26-2014, 9:31 AM
I keep going back and forth on whether to slap some paint on it. I know it would look good. I think I would paint everything except the shelf and top. I'm waiting on some receiver tubes to ship from Northern Tool so I can mount a couple vises I have so any finish will wait until I can get those welded on. One thing that's bugging me about the top is purely cosmetic, but some of the scale has worn off where some rust was. I got rid of the rust but the missing scale is still there. I tried to take the scale off with some pure muriatic acid on a small part of the top, but it's too tough and wouldn't dissolve it. I guess I should just leave it alone, but I'm a stickler for consistency and I want a consistent surface. Whew ok I need to get over it! :)

First project I'm building on the new table is a steel frame desk for my son. I'll post up when I get going on that project.


Mikail Khan
03-03-2014, 9:28 PM
Your table looks good. I think you should paint it. Primer and flat black paint.


Keith Outten
03-03-2014, 10:12 PM

Your new steel table looks great. I don't know why but I have always preferred a steel bench over wood. Probably because I work in both mediums and a wooden bench is not the best choice for welding projects.

I doubt you will have any machine in your shop as valuable or as versatile as your new steel table. BTW after you have ground off a thousand tack welds you won't be concerned with the pitting in the top :)

Brian W Smith
03-06-2014, 7:12 AM
I noticed you saying WW top(plywood cvr?).....gotta say,first thing that popped into my pea brain looking at your really nice table was,"can I get a FF clamp with that"?And FF(face frame)here,isn't limited to...well, FF's.We use it as a generic term for any large,repeatable XY clamping station.Usually,but not limited to pneumatic clamping systems.We also use custom(tig weldor here)fabricated,"cam locks" on the horizontal as an adjunct to the air cyls.