Published: Jul 1, 2010
Review: Harbor Freight 1000-lb Hydraulic Scissor Table Cart (#93116)
A great all-around helper
Price on sale + 20% coupon: $160. Normal price is $269 from Harbor Freight. There is another, less expensive model (#94822) but the capacity is only 500 pounds.
One of the fundamental tenets in the woodworking life is that we frequently rearrange our shops. Add in the fact that we tend to have equipment that weighs hundreds of pounds and life can be difficult. That's why mobile bases are such a hot topic.
However, some tools don't lend themselves to mobile bases. My Powermatic 3520b lathe is a good example. When turning a out-of-round blank, it needs to be seated firmly on the floor and mobile bases generally don't set the equipment all that well. The ones that do are very expensive. And at 700 pounds, it's not a tool that's easily moved.
However, Harbor Freight sells a hydraulic scissor table cart that works perfectly to lift the fully assembled 3520b and effortlessly move it around the shop. It also makes it super simple to move the lathe a foot or two for the occasional good cleaning in that area.
Since the 3520b's bed isn't perfectly flat on the bottom, you need to lay a couple boards on the table before lifting. But other than that, nothing special, you don't even have to move the headstock to the center, just line the cart up off-center towards the left. The cast-iron legs more than counterbalance the headstock, so the lathe is very stable on the cart. A few pumps on the foot pedal and the lathe will be completely off the floor.
I suppose you could build a stable mobile base for the 3520, but its hard to imagine any mobile base that's easier to use or less expensive. While the cart is normally $269, it constantly goes on sale for only $199. And Harbor Freight frequently publishes coupons in wordworking magazines for 20% off any single item, so the price drops all the way down to $160, which is what I paid for it.
When you factor in that the cart/table is a very useful in many other ways (like loading/unloading from a truck, moving heavy items on/off the workbench, etc) it's a real bargain even if you don't own a ridiculously heavy lathe!
The only issue I've had with the table is the assembly instructions. The directions for the hydraulic cylinder are either completely wrong or I completely misunderstood them. As I read them, it tells you to run the table up to full height, then completely fill the cylinder with hydraulic fluid. However, this results in the table not being able to drop back down. The procedure ran counter to everything I knew about hydraulics, but I thought maybe this cylinder had some kind of hidden reservoir I couldn't see. Nope, I ended up having to drain all that fluid back out. When you get the cart, if it works leave it alone. If it won't run all the way up, then put in a little at a time until it works. Unfortunately, the fill plug is not accessable when the table is down, so you'll have to sneak up on it a little at a time. Or overfill it and then drop it down with the plug removed. Messy, but it works.