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Machine Bench on castors

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Mark Whelan16/11/2016 10:43:08
11 forum posts

Hi Guys,

I about to be welding up a new workbench as a home for my new myford/drummond and westbury milling machines, and I was just having a debate with myself about putting the whole table on some castors for flexability in my limited space.

Neither machine is particularly heavy, but it still seems slightly odd in my head.

Anybody else have any horror/success stories?

Paul Lousick16/11/2016 11:07:47
1168 forum posts
496 photos

My 9" Southbend (Hercus) has a workbench on rollers and is still accurate due to the stiffness of the main frame. As I have stated in other posts, the recommended way of mounting the mill in early army workshop manuals to only tighten the hold down bolts at the head end and to leave the tailstock bolts loose. Vertually a 3-point mounting, relying on the lathe for stiffness.


Edited By Paul Lousick on 16/11/2016 11:09:16

Russell Eberhardt16/11/2016 11:10:42
2482 forum posts
85 photos

Just make sure that the castors have brakes!


Hopper16/11/2016 11:42:47
3709 forum posts
73 photos
Posted by Mark Whelan on 16/11/2016 10:43:08:

Hi Guys,

I about to be welding up a new workbench as a home for my new myford/drummond ...

Is that an M-type then? If so, the anvil type bed with no "feet" at the far end of the bed means you don't have to worry about levelling it, or getting it out of level on a wobbly bench etc.

Main concern is that the whole thing can be top heavy and fall over while being rolled about. But if you make the wheelbase long and wide enough, mount the electric motor low rather than high, and fill up the cupboard/shelves under the bench with heavy chucks and accessories etc, probably will be ok.

Do like the motorbike lift tables do and have a screw jack at each corner, basically a piece of allthread with a handle on it that you screw down until it touches the floor and takes the weight off the castors when not wheeling it about. Much more stable. These stick outboard of the castors so (maybe) stop it from tipping over while being wheeled about if they are left almost touching the floor.

John Haine16/11/2016 12:06:44
2608 forum posts
133 photos

See my posts here.

I can recommend the rolling machine base supplied by Warco. This has two braked casters at the front; two no-castering rollers at the back, and you can raise the casters for stability. In my application has a 350 lbs press and base, most of the weight being near the top, about a metre above the floor, yes seems very stable. Suggest you look closely at my photos as I slightly adapted the assemby method.

Ajohnw16/11/2016 17:24:28
3631 forum posts
160 photos

You can make one up with castors yourself. Just put the legs where you would normally put them and castors "on the end". I'd use something like 19mm mdf or ply to sheet in the bottom and to fasten the castors to. I'd suggest you use rather large castors as it will make it easier to move around. They are likely to be pretty large anyway due to the loading,

As you will be pushing it around it will need some bracing. This is the way I do that. It's the reason for the deep shelf supports and back.


It's being used for something that it wasn't intended for at the moment. The legs etc as cheap stud walling. It can be obtained in various sizes. The larger B&Q stores will cut mdf up on a panel saw. I usually get them to cut strips of the required size off 8x4 sheets and cut those to length myself. This is also a very cheap way of making shelving providing you buy the shelving support strips etc from Screwfix.

Lathes do tend to be top heavy so do bear that in mind. Don't make the bench too narrow.I tend to make benches about 800mm high or more. The one shown is about 875mm. I'd guess that with many lathes that height and a width of 600mm would be stable but more width wont hurt. The worst ones for tipping over tend to be the ones with large square cast headstocks.

There is no need to bolt a lathe down hard in fact it's more likely to cause more harm than good. MDF is very flat anyway but I'd probably put rubber washers under the feet and nylocs just slightly tightened to keep the lathe in place. Ideally the top surface needs to resist oil. Formica would be ideal but not easy to find now. Leave that aspect to you. It's sometimes possible to find kitchen worktop off cuts. It makes a good bench but it's best to seal the cut edges carefully as damp will make it fall apart. water proof PVA or exterior grade wood glue will can be used.



Bazyle16/11/2016 17:51:02
4724 forum posts
186 photos

I wouldn't use MDF or chipboard as it can give way suddenly. Individual timber legs are a bit old hat too as kitchen units have shown how a flat sheet side works better to give bracing with equal area cross section to legs.
I have planned a bench for my own Drummond as follows. Good quality 3/4 ply 8x4 sheet. Two sides 3ft x 20" then cut the top 4ft x 21". After then cutting a rather hefty 4ftx3ft back panel there is 19 in spare to make a front lip say 4in and maybe some other cross braces under the weight. I haven't planned for wheels though.

Paul Lousick16/11/2016 20:46:10
1168 forum posts
496 photos

My lathe bench/trolley has  the base wider than the top for stability. It also has a shelf at the bottom which is loaded with heavy tools, spare lathe chucks, etc to get the centre of gravity down low.

Edited By Paul Lousick on 16/11/2016 20:50:39

Ajohnw16/11/2016 21:08:28
3631 forum posts
160 photos

MDF suddenly give way Bazyle ? Me thinks you have never used it. The only problem I am aware of is that for 8ft long shelves with plenty on them they need 4 supports to prevent bending. I can only get the nominal 3/4 inch stuff. It's still stiffer than the same thickness of ply.

Legs - take a look at some racking units with well over 100kg per shelf loadings. Really well over in some cases. Pure compression so not much is needed - just 048 thick steel angle. Rather than trying to cut sheet precisely it's much simpler to sheet over the sort of construction I posted which also has the advantage that the only thing that is critical is the leg length. If incorrect the bench will rock.

It's easy to prevent it bending on something like a bench top - screw and glue some strips of it underneath. It glues extremely well but the smooth finish is best roughed over a bit. Cut edges glue very well indeed. The deep rear section I added is part there to resist bending. I've stood on it - not a good idea. I've some taller steps now.

I need a mk2 small bench for my "new" workshop. There isn't room for the one I posted as it's 44" long. I've part taken up the space for something bigger with more racking. The 300mm deep racking is very useful in a workshop. The deeper stuff tends to hide things at the back as it gets loaded up with more bits and pieces. It's best to buy an extra rack unit to gain shelves. I have high ceilings and have used part of the spare rack to extend the height.


I have plenty of very heavy stuff low down but the sections can be clipped to the wall. I currently have a mini lathe in the wide gap. It's on a steel tray. With some thought It would be equally possible to add a deep bench to one of the shelves to carry a lathe if needed.

The only problem with these racks is the height taken up by the shelf supports. Some are thinner and the chip board shelves are inset rather than just sitting on top. The supports are also thinner. They do cost significantly more than the type shown though, This is an example. Other heights are available but 2.4m is just about right for me.




Phil H116/11/2016 21:16:34
183 forum posts
27 photos

MDF. My experience is that ply (even cheap stuff) is far superior to MDF of the same thickness.

Ajohnw16/11/2016 23:28:27
3631 forum posts
160 photos
Posted by Phil Hale 1 on 16/11/2016 21:16:34:

MDF. My experience is that ply (even cheap stuff) is far superior to MDF of the same thickness.

I''m curious as have used both and OSB for several things so in what way is it worse?



colin hawes17/11/2016 09:19:40
501 forum posts
18 photos

Any load carrying board made of random bonded chips is likely to take a permanent sag over time. Plywood generally does not. Colin

Ajohnw17/11/2016 10:53:47
3631 forum posts
160 photos

I think a lot of this sort of thing is opinion rather than fact. I have a Ryobi radial arm site saw. Extremely precise and very very noisy. It come with a chip board table - a material that is often used for load bearing flat surfaces. I wanted the table to be a bit wider so cut one up out of different materials. Neither 19mm ply or 19mm MDF were stiff enough. The MDF was stiffer. There was too much overhang for both. If I could have bought smaller sheets 25mm MDF would probably do it. I have a huge work mate made of that.

MDF iis made up of fibres not chips. OSB is another material made of chips. It's used to make structural beams these days with very wide spans.

I think age comes into this area - new so mistrust it. My father used to use block board for all sorts of things and didn't like ply at all. The real reason for his dislike though was that he hadn't used it and didn't like the surface material generally used on ply. Block board also tends to be stiffer but can fail suddenly under load but that doesn't matter for cabinet work etc. Ply on the other hand will flex more.

blushI now have a Dewalt radial arm saw. The noise and dust of the Ryobi was too much. The table is made of MDF. Wish I had bought it when Elu made them. You should see what B&D they have done to the table.

cryingIf anyone makes something out of OSB painting it doesn't seem to be a good idea - it just keeps soaking it up.



Edited By Ajohnw on 17/11/2016 11:16:20

Ian S C17/11/2016 12:05:49
7447 forum posts
230 photos

Here's a sketch plan of my lathe bench. If I was building it today most of the 50 x 50 x 6 mm angle iron would be replaced with 50 mm x 5 mm square tube.   The area under the headstock is covered in sheet  steel, and has a door on it.  The lathe sits on an oil tray.   Ian S Clathe bench.jpg

Edited By Ian S C on 17/11/2016 12:09:12

Edited By Ian S C on 17/11/2016 12:11:57

David Standing 117/11/2016 12:45:51
1276 forum posts
45 photos

Noting all this talk about MDF, OSB, chipboard and ply, it will be fascinating to see how the OP gets on with that, given his first post states he is 'welding up a new workbench'! wink

David Standing 117/11/2016 12:49:50
1276 forum posts
45 photos
Posted by Mark Whelan on 16/11/2016 10:43:08:

Hi Guys,

I about to be welding up a new workbench as a home for my new myford/drummond and westbury milling machines, and I was just having a debate with myself about putting the whole table on some castors for flexability in my limited space.

Neither machine is particularly heavy, but it still seems slightly odd in my head.

Anybody else have any horror/success stories?


I saw a steel bench pictured on here recently, where the person had built it with castors so it could be moved, but next to the castors on each corner he had also fitted a bolt and locknut, which could be screwed down to lift the castors off the ground, in order to locate the bench securely. You could also no doubt use these for machine levelling, if required. Seems like a logical solution.

Ajohnw17/11/2016 13:17:31
3631 forum posts
160 photos

My ME10 sits on an old kitchen cabinet. They weigh well over 100kg. It's at the usual kitchen work surface height of about 950mm give or take depending on make. They units are circa 600mm deep front to back. It's against a wall but even if it wasn't i'd wish people luck trying to tip it over. On the other hand the Raglan manufacturer's base is 360mm wide and the lathe sits at work surface height. Even with the motor well down that could tip but it would take more effort than people might think. I kept the lathe on broom stales so that I could move it around. Manufacturers cabinet stands are often rather narrow.

As I am 6'2" I prefer the extra height gained by using the usual kitchen work surface height for the bases. Same with benches.

Slight criticism of Ian's design. It will resist tipping in one direction but not the other. A better idea would be based round it being 635mm square at the end. Really it could be made of the rolled angle that come with periodic holes and corner brackets etc for fixing it together. Not the super thin stiff but it's a fact that that will take 1 tonne on the legs and way more than people might think on a distributed load surface. Welded up 1/8" 2" black steel angle would be way over the top but much cheaper than the stuff with the holes. 1/8" is pretty easy to stick weld too.

Seeing a post on  castors the ones with locks really do lock. Levelling crops up too often for me to comment again. Best read Harold's site to see what it really means. The hard wheels really are hard too but rubber would be fine.

Edited By Ajohnw on 17/11/2016 13:20:25

Ian S C18/11/2016 10:11:51
7447 forum posts
230 photos

The lathe bench in the sketch is very stable (it's been through a couple of earthquakes), the weight of the motor hanging off the back puts the C of G toward the back, the center G is about center on the base line.

I did inquire on the price of Dexion angle steel (perforated steel for rack shelving), the plain steel angle was the cheapest. At the price of the Dexion 20 years ago, I think they payed someone to drill all the holes with a hand drill.

Wheels on a stand for a lathe if I fitted them would either be retractable or removable. My lathe is bolted to the floor with Dyna Bolts, so it ain't going anywhere.

Ian S Cdsc00996 (640x480).jpg

Ajohnw18/11/2016 12:49:57
3631 forum posts
160 photos

blush Heavier lathe than I expected Ian. Sorry about that. We get tremors in B'ham now and again but nothing like the ones you have. My worst experience of one was while lying on my bed in my parents house while builders were removing a load bearing wall downstairs that was supporting the wall directly behind my bed. It gave me a few worrying moments,

The dexion has always been a bit pricey. The bigdug place I linked to has a hidden "offer" on at the moment. After some thought because I have far too much to do I've ordered one of his 2.4m tall 305mm racks. 5 shelves isn't enough for what I keep on them so I order the special offer low ones of the same size too. 3 extra shelves at much less than his usual £25 each.. The 1.2m wide one I have bought at this height seems to have a total load capacity of 1 tonne. I've been assured that the shelves will be the same - hope that is correct. My son uses loads of it in his office but has always bought complete units and extra shelves separately.

It should all be arriving later today so I can check.



MW18/11/2016 13:16:48
2050 forum posts
51 photos

big heavy loads on rolly wheels? Ice skating anyone?

No really, i'll stop taking the mick, i put a computer i have on a base with castors that i made, i often chop and change components in it and it should be very heavy but the castors make light work of it. I wouldn't recommend using castors on a shelving unit, it's just an accident in waiting if you're not careful.

Michael W

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