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Designing a wood bench for a lathe

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ttabbal

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#1
Obviously, the size of the lathe matters, in my case it's a PM 1127VF-LB. About 600lbs. The manual lists the footprint at 56x26 inches. I would like to include extra space on the sides to use as a general workbench for lathe related operations. I was thinking of mounting a vise and such, but I wonder if hammering on things near the lathe is not such a good idea. I think I'll move that elsewhere. So perhaps 6x3ft?

My initial thinking is to base the design off the stands people build for large aquariums. They are able to hold thousands of pounds of water, and thousands of dollars in livestock. They also have to maintain level, and can't sag or the tank cracks. The basic idea is to keep all the weight on wood, no screws in shear bearing weight etc..

tank-022.jpg


I'm open to suggestions. This concept just seemed simple enough and very sturdy.


The shop floor is poured concrete, not the most level. I'm considering using leveling feet in the posts, perhaps an extra one in the middle on one end to make a triangle leveling setup. Level that way, then run the other feet down for stability. I know the lathe doesn't need to be leveled to the horizon, but it's nice if the parts don't want to roll of the bench too. And if the bench is at least close, the machinist level has a chance of not being pegged to one side when leveling the lathe.

Looking at the lathe and various posts here about benches and leveling, it looks like the weight is mostly in 2 places along the length. The lathe feet. So it makes some sense to build the center posts on that distance to accommodate that, with a board across the posts to mount the lathe to. Perhaps with some form of leveling adjuster under the lathe. I think it was Mikey that posted a pic of some Enco leveling adjusters that looked easy to make that would work well. Then similar boards for the table top to mount to at the ends. Perhaps cut the center posts 4" short and run a piece of 4x4 between them.

I'm 6'4", so I would want it high enough that I'm not leaning over the machine all the time. It would help if I knew the base to center height of the lathe, perhaps someone would measure theirs? I can ask PM as well. Perhaps 3-4ft posts, then 1-2" for the table top. It might be easier to build or buy an adjustable stool though.. :)

I figure I can add shelves/drawers in the bench as well to hold tooling.
 

mikey

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I think it was Mikey that posted a pic of some Enco leveling adjusters that looked easy to make that would work well.
Emco, the Austrian machine tool guys, not the now defunct Enco. But yeah, the arrangement works well and is simple to fab. Much better than shimming, let me assure you.

At your height, you might consider one of those 56" Harbor Freight tool cabinets instead of wood. You will have convenient storage right there and its already on casters should you need to move it. You can mount leveling feet on each end to keep it all stable and take the weight off the casters. The weight of the stuff in the drawers will add stability, too. Pretty sure the frame will handle the weight of the lathe (3400# capacity).

If you do this, I suggest you use two layers of MDF (laminated together and sealed) on top of the cabinet and glue/screw down a 1/8" thick mild steel plate on top of that. This allows you to weld your leveling blocks to the top. You may have to cut slots in the chip pan to allow them to protrude through the pan but you can seal around them if you plan to use coolant.

If I was a long guy like you and Richard, this would be the way I would go. Of course, wood or tubular steel would be cheaper.
 
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ttabbal

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#4
Thanks for the clarification. Avoiding shimming was why I was considering them, and it looks like I could make them out of some mild steel, a few bolts and a tap.

I think I'm going to stick to wood for now, even the HF tool cabinets are a bit pricey for this use, and I can make it any height I wish. I'm also not sure I want to try moving something this heavy on HF casters. :)

So if I keep my wood, is there any reason not to bolt the adjuster to the wood cross bar, through the table top? I understand I might have to mod the chip tray, I'm fine with that. A little quality time with the dremel and some caulk should prevent oil/coolant leaks. Or even just bolt them straight through the chip tray? Then I only have to drill a couple holes, not cut out sections.

Any reason for MDF specifically? I was planning to use ply, maybe 3/4" or 1". Then some kind of finish to make it nicer to work on.

Richard, since you have a lathe on legs already, how tall would you want your bench to be? We're similar height, so it might make a good starting point for me.
 

Brnoczech

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#5
I can't seem to figure out how to copy the reference directly to a prior post I made. Its post number 147 under the "Show us your Shop" forum category. My lathe is a Myford Super 7 which is about 1/2 the weight of yours. The picture on my post shows the wooden stand that I made for it. The top is 4 layers of plywood, each screwed and glued to the previous layer. The undercarriage is primarily 2x6's and 2x8's as I recall, again assembled with screws. I made a shelf that is braced from underneath, that you can see in the picture, to store my chucks and other accessories. One thing I did do, that you might want to consider, is having a metal top cut. I went to a large metal supplier (local) with my measurements and they cut it with a huge shear. I then put separate sheet steel pieces under the feet of the lathe at each end, and put mounting bolts with adjustments through the table top. I have found that the top is very durable and it's nice to have something that is metallic so that you can place the occasional magnetic base on it when you want to. It may be that the lathe that you are getting already comes with a metal tray/base, but if not the metal top I had cut works well for me. I have separate adjustors on each of the four legs of the table that I bought locally (Lowe's maybe), so no anti-vibration type feet, but again works well for me.
'
 

mikey

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So if I keep my wood, is there any reason not to bolt the adjuster to the wood cross bar, through the table top? I understand I might have to mod the chip tray, I'm fine with that. A little quality time with the dremel and some caulk should prevent oil/coolant leaks. Or even just bolt them straight through the chip tray? Then I only have to drill a couple holes, not cut out sections.

Any reason for MDF specifically? I was planning to use ply, maybe 3/4" or 1". Then some kind of finish to make it nicer to work on.
Totally understand about the cost.

No reason you can't bolt a block of steel through the chip pan and into the wood below. Just understand that wood will move and I'm not sure how that will affect your lathe leveling. The reason for the MDF is because it won't move with changes in humidity, especially if you seal it first. Plywood may move, as will solid wood.
 

Eddyde

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The reason for the MDF is because it won't move with changes in humidity, especially if you seal it first. Plywood may move, as will solid wood.
I respectfully disagree, MDF can move with changes in humidity. It must be sealed on all surfaces, if laminated with formica it must be on both surfaces, it must not be laminated to a dissimilar material like plywood, otherwise it will bow badly. It is not very strong and will sag if not fully supported. Also, it off gasses a lot of Formaldehyde which may be a concern. I ran a custom cabinet shop for over 20 years and worked extensively with MDF, I'm not a big fan...

I recommend a double thickness of good quality ¾" plywood, but even a single thickness will suffice if brace directly beneath the lathes feet.

The support structure in the picture looks more than adequate.

Sounds well thought out. Please post picture when you are done!
 

mikey

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I respectfully disagree, MDF can move with changes in humidity. It must be sealed on all surfaces, if laminated with formica it must be on both surfaces, it must not be laminated to a dissimilar material like plywood, otherwise it will bow badly. It is not very strong and will sag if not fully supported. Also, it off gasses a lot of Formaldehyde which may be a concern. I ran a custom cabinet shop for over 20 years and worked extensively with MDF, I'm not a big fan...

I recommend a double thickness of good quality ¾" plywood, but even a single thickness will suffice if brace directly beneath the lathes feet.

The support structure in the picture looks more than adequate.

Sounds well thought out. Please post picture when you are done!
Appreciate the correction. I have used MDF for a long time, always sealed on all sides and never had it move on me. I use it because its flat but you're right - has to be well supported.
 

DHarris

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The structure in the first post looks plenty strong for your lathe (the old engineer in me just can't help but to add a "butt"), but, I would also add a couple of diagonal braces (front to back) between at least 2 of the uprights and a couple across the "back" . These will help with any fore/aft or front back movement in the structure from outside forces / vibrations. Prob. overkill, but 600 lbs is still a significant weight.
 

richl

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#11
To add a suggestion to Dave's point on cross bracing. Think construction adhesive when putting together the cabinet, all joints. Plywood to fit between the upper and lower section on the vertical back, glued and screwed. On each of the vertical 4x4 member sections, plywood, glued and screwed. Place a piece of plywood on the floor of each of the three sections and you now have 3 compartments to store fixtures, chucks, faceplate and anything else too big for smaller storage. Added benefit, that cabinet if built with care and braced with plywood will never move:encourage:
 

ttabbal

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Just working on visualizing it.. https://cad.onshape.com/documents/2...37c916d641efbf6d59/e/ec1a32c25dc9ef73eaa94221

Wood in the diagram is 4x4 and 2x6.

3x6 foot, main posts are 3ft, so the tabletop would be about 3.5ft depending on the wood used for the surface. The middle legs would be adjusted based on the lathe's mounting feet to ensure they land right on the added supports. I would also box in the supports with the 2x6s like the original pic, this was mostly so I could have something to look at.

I had been considering using ordinary wood glue on all the joints, screws to clamp and provide extra support. For braces, are you thinking just the enclosure covered with plywood or structural braces with 2x4 or similar? Both?

I'd also likely seal and maybe paint it. Humidity is pretty rare here in Utah, but we do have temperature from about -10 to 110F. I fully expect to need to adjust lathe leveling a few times a year to account for that.
 

DHarris

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+1 to what richl said above. if you do as he suggested, you won't need the 2x4 cross braces (I was just being cheap!).
 

ezduzit

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It appears that the frame in the photo is poorly designed for your purpose. The horizontal members should be let into the vertical members to take shear loads off the fasteners. Also the lower horizontal members seem inappropriately low and will cause the frame to rock on the floor's high spots, if no adjustable feet are added.
 

ttabbal

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The plan is to use adjustable leveling feet, so the lower parts won't be on the floor.

The onshape design shows more of what I have in mind. There are 4x4 beams across the vertical beams. The idea is to put the load across those and down the 4x4 beams. The 2x6 is intended primarily to help hold everything square and perhaps provide convenient areas for covering material to make it look better if I decide to. I might use 2x4 material for those, as they are not used for any load bearing.

I agree with your points on the pic in the first post. Do you think the modifications I proposed in the text and CAD address them?
 

ezduzit

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Then it should be OK, as long as you skin the back and sides with plywood to resist wracking.
 

Glenn Brooks

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Yep, a vote to seal and paint everything, including extra attention to the ends of plywood and endgrain. Iam not a big fan of paint on work benches, as often it lifts off or discolor, due to oil penetration. Instead I use Australian Deck Oil, and sometimes varnish over the top - sometimes up to 8 coats for flat surfaces under the lathe. Tung oil if the wood construction is furniture grade work. This seals the wood to keep way oil and lubricants from penetrating into the surface. Also multiple coats , with a light sanding with 300 grit emery cloth after 3 or 4 coats produces a brilliant, long lasting shine.
 

ttabbal

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#18
Random thought, probably too expensive anyway, but what about the epoxy coating made for garage floors?

My first thought was a few coats of polyurethane, but I'm open to ideas.
 

ezduzit

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I would use one of the Pro-line epoxy paints commonly used in boat engine rooms. They have excellent gloss, for an epoxy paint, and are extremely durable. I have used it inside my own boat.
 

Glenn Brooks

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+1 on Marine epoxy and polyurethane. Both are excellent coatings. Plywood and open grain wood require the usual extensive preparation - sealer coat, couple of coats of undercoat, two coats top coat will last for many years. I used to seal the end grain on marine plywood on my boat with common marine epoxy, then launch into the undercoating/topcoating routine. Lots of good options if you include marine paints in your choice. Being in Utah, you might need to order on line. Interlux is a good product line, available on the west coast. Some brands seem to be more common than others, depending on where you live.

Glenn
 

richl

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#21
West systems
Mas
Are 2 good brands to look for, they come in all kinds of types for drying time and hardness, depending on your skills, size of work and the temps in the shop.
 
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