Shop-made mobile platforms
Last update: May 25, 2011
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Good mobile bases are hard to find. And when you do, they're expensive. I don't need to move my machinery all that often, so I don't want to spend a fortune on something that rarely gets used and makes my machines unstable to boot.
So I've dispensed with mobile bases altogether and instead I build small platforms which I can then grab/move using a pallet jack. I also like the way they raise the working surfaces of the tools by 3-4 inches, it really helps my back!
After some experience with this concept, I've decided that a full-size pallet jack is too large and un-maneuverable. I just got one of these Grizzly mini pallet jacks, it's almost half as wide and 30% shorter. I got lucky and caught it on sale at 40% off. I'm currently building new versions for my tablesaw and bandsaw to fit this new pallet jack.
My first version was overkill. I milled/glued solid wood blocks to go under the platform, which I've found is really not necessary. The adjustable feet are necessary because I had some really second-rate guys doing the concrete work. I got them from WoodCraft, they're wonderful! (the feet, not the concrete guys). I'm completing a new version to use with the mini-pallet jack, as you can see it's a little narrower and about two inches taller, I really like having the work surfaces up at elbow height. The leveling feet will go on the outside instead of the front/back.
After some experience with fine-tuning the position of the tablesaw, I think a good idea would be to build in tunnels from both directions, so you can pick up and move it left-right as well as front-back.
The bandsaw is a little different. Since the base is so small, I decided to just use small wings to set on the forks instead of building a large platform with tunnels. I think the larger sides would have gotten in the way of my feet. However, with some experience I think having the platform to rest my foot on would be nice. When I re-do it for the mini-jack I'm going to make it larger.
The most challenging aspect was bolting the bandsaw to the platform. They went through right where the sides of the platform box go, so I had to counterbore the holes so the bolt heads would be trapped. With the new mini-jack the legs will go right under the bolts, so I'll have to put a double-layer there so I can counterbore for the heads.
If you build something like this, be very carefull moving it! The bandsaw is very narrow and top-heavy, any rapid sideways moves may cause it to topple. I've found it's most stable if you keep the bandsaw over the front wheels. If it starts to fall, just get out of the way!!! Don't try to catch it, it's not worth the danger of getting trapped under a very heavy chunk of cast iron.
Same idea, but it's not working nearly as well because the DP is so top heavy and the pivot point is all the way at the back, it's not nearly as stable as the other tools. Once I definitely decide on a spot for it, I'm planning a small brace that will lock to the wall when the DP drops into position.