Monday, December 14, 2009

Plasma Cutting Table

Plasma Cutting Table

Maintaining my blistering pace of a posting every month or so, here is another project write-up along the metal working lines. I recently bought a Gianttech plasma cutter from the good people at (which I will post about shortly). It became obvious pretty quickly that just cutting things on the edge of the welding table wouldn't work very well - and risked damaging my beautiful 3/16 steel top for the welding table. So, the answer was to build a simple plasma cutting table.

At it's most basic, a plasma cutting table is just a set of steel slats turned on their end that conduct electricity to the workpiece, but won't interfere with the cutting action because of their thin profile. I decided that the most reasonable design was to go for 1 1/5" slats of 1/8" thick mild steel. I also figured that the grating part of the table would take a lot of abuse from cutting so it would be good to make it so it could be easily turned over and eventually replaced. The basic idea then was to build the grate as one unit, then have it be able to be set onto the base frame to make the completed table. The base frame is made from good ol' 1 1/2" x 1/8" angle iron. The table surface area is 2' x 2'.

The first parts that I made (which I didn't take pictures of) were two angle iron squares. One makes up the top frame and the other is the cross brace for the legs.

Here is the construction process for the grate - I just used corner clamps to keep adding in more and more slats. They are positioned just slightly over 1 1/2" apart so they space out evenly:

When it was done - and with a bit of grinding and fitting - the grate fit perfectly into the top frame:

Here are the grate, squares and legs waiting for assembly:

...and here is the completed unit:

Ah, the astute observer will notice, why isn't the grate nestled neatly in the top frame the way it was designed? Because i managed to weld it together upside down! Arrgghh! Another lesson that WELDING IS PERMANENT! Double check everything before reaching for the welding gun. However, I was able to weld some extra angle iron onto the top frame to hold the grate. So, it ends up being an inch or so higher than I might have liked, but otherwise is very usable and the top is still easily replaceable:

It's all stores up nice and compact and when I need to work, I can just swing the welder and cutter out on their trolley.

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