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I’m Building Another 80/20 Machine Stand

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I need a new machine stand, and so I turned to 80/20 t-slot extrusions.

80/20 aluminum profiles are strong, versatile, and I’m familiar with the system.

After checking the prices for new extrusions, I turned to my supply cabinet and pulled out extrusions that were used in past builds.

I cut 6x 1.5″ x 3″ extrusions down from 36″ to 24″ for legs, and made a huge mess in the process. I found extrusions that were kind of the right sizes for cross members.

ToolGuyd 8020 Machine Stand Parts Leveling Feet

Here’s the plan – leveling casters at the outer 4 legs, and leveling feet under the 2 middle legs. I say “middle,” but the build isn’t symmetric.

I might have to source longer threaded studs for the leveling feet, or machine an extension block.

The leveling casters, which allow for the machine to rest on wheels for mobility or feet for stability, will have a height of 4″ to 4.6″. The machinery leveling mounts have a base thickness of 1″ and “usable bolt length” of 4″. At say a 4.5″ leveling caster height, the threaded stud might only have 1/2″ of engagement in the 3/4″ foot mounting plates.

This means I could live with less adjustment height of the leveling casters, or add a spacer block to the middle feet. I’ll figure this out another time. The added feet aren’t essential, but should help with stability.

This is all for a 10×22 benchtop lathe. The factory stand – which is backordered – has a height of 30-5/8″ or so. Rather than order one, I decided to build my own.

The spindle center is 12″ above the lathe base. My elbow reaches a height of around 41″. So, I calculated that maybe 29″ would be a good machine stand height. Factor in shoes and maybe an anti-fatigue mat, and what looks to be a typical stand height of ~30″, I went with a 30.5″ machine stand height. I can always shorten the legs a little more.

So that would be 4.5″ for the leveling casters with foot pads extended, 0.75″ for the mounting feet, 24″ for the 1.5″ x 3″ legs, 1.125″ for an IKEA butcher block table top, and 0.12″ for the chip tray or maybe a sheet to go over the wood top.

That gives me a 30.5″ working height for the machine to be placed on. The 30-5/8″ height could take into account the chip tray lip. So, I was aiming for 30″ with a little extra room to experiment.

This will allow me to go with say a 4.25″ leveling caster height without the machine base dropping below 30″. I could always add risers if needed.

ToolGuyd 8020 Machine Stand T-Nuts

I’m going to want a couple of drawers, so I added some 10-32 t-nuts into the leg extrusions – enough for 2 banks of 4 drawers.

ToolGuyd 8020 Machine Stand Assembled on its Side

Here’s the machine stand with the legs cut and everything assembled. You can see one of the 80/20 cut-offs on the bottom of the Craftsman stool, and also the bottoms of the leveling casters.

I went with double anchor fasteners because I already had 1.5″ x 1.5″ extrusions with the ends prepped from a prior workbench build.

The stand is still on its side – I need to move some stuff out of the way before I’ll put it down.

The depth will be 3″ + 16.625″ + 3″ = 22-5/8. The 16-5/8″ part allows the holes of bottom-mount drawer slides to perfectly line up with the leg extrusions’ slots, which were each pre-loaded with the 10-32 t-nuts.

The rear cross-members are attached to the inner slot so as to give some rear clearance for power cables or similar. I did that with my workbench and it seemed like a good idea to do here too.

The length will be 1.5″ + 16″ + 1.5″ + 26″ + 1.5″ = 46.5″.

I’ll have a 48″ wood benchtop potentially covered with a thin layer of stainless steel.

John Boos Workbench Maple Top

Thinking a thicker top might help with rigidity or dampening, I ordered a John Boos 1.75″ thick 24″ x 48″ maple butcher block top from McMaster Carr.

I’m not a fan of the construction, which looks like it was built with cut-offs.

Tekton has work tops for their mobile tool storage cabinets at around the same price but with full-length boards. The Boos work top was disappointing.

John Boos Workbench Maple Top Back Side

On the back side, I was annoyed as to how much filler there was, compensating for knots and defects.

John Boos Workbench Maple Top Back Side Void Closeup

Not all of the voids were filled in.

I sent the John Boos workbench top back to McMaster Carr and will make due with an older IKEA countertop.

I didn’t want to use the IKEA countertop at first, because they warp a bit over time, and it’s been standing in a corner of my workshop for a few years (If I recall correctly I bought 6 of them at clearance pricing).

I still need to cut the countertop to size, mount it to the stand, and then decide if and how to secure a steel sheet on top. Then I’ll drill holes using the chip tray as a guide, and then lift and position the lathe before bolting it down.

I added 6 brackets for the wood top.

I haven’t worked with leveling casters before, but I’ve been meaning to. Even if I end up reworking this machine stand build, the casters will be used.

The lathe arrived and I didn’t want to waste too much time. That’s one of the best parts of working with 80/20 – I know it well and can throw something together pretty quickly.

I wish I could share a good 3D CAD model with you, but… I designed the machine stand in my head, with some scrap paper helping at times.

As an aside, I have been looking into new CAD software options – either a maker version of Solidworks, or Fusion 360. I’ve been looking for something that can better handle multi-part assemblies.

I reminded myself for the umpteenth time that a chip tray is mounting over the bench and under the lathe.

Instead of a steel sheet, maybe I’ll go with 1/2″ thick steel plates just under the lathe mounting feet, if I can source large-enough plates at low cost. That would allow for leveling shims to make up for any warping of the butcher block top.

I also have a 12″ x 36″ sheet of 7075 aluminum that I bought for a steal a few months ago. I can maybe cut off two strips, but I’d rather save it all for project use.

An 80/20 machine stand with 6 feet, leveling casters, machine mounts, and a wood top are easy.

I’m still working on the rest of it.

I will likely just mount the lathe directly to the wood top for now, and figure something out if it needs leveling shims.

The lathe weighs around 350 pounds, and if I recall correctly, the footprint is 16″ x 44″.

I am tempted to go with 46.5″ as the overall length, but 48″ seems like a safer bet, especially if I plan to add panels to the outer sides of the legs.

95% of the stand was easy to design. The final 5% is constantly changing and still isn’t finalized.

The tricky part is that the wood top will likely warp a little, and I’m not sure that shimming between cast iron and wood is going to work as well as shimming between cast iron and steel.

Then again, the steel chip tray will be between the lathe and wood top. It seems best to install the lathe and chip tray to the 1-1/8″ IKEA butcher block top, and worry about adding steel risers, load spreaders, or other improvements later. There could also be other considerations I’m not yet thinking about.

Drawers can come later, and side panels too. I added t-nuts for the drawers so that I can add them without having to take anything apart. Side panels can be bolted to the outer sides, or if the top is off they can be cut and inserted through the leg slots.

I can try to cut, finish, and install side panels before the top goes on, but it’ll delay everything by a long time. I don’t have the space right now to break down a full sheet indoors, and I can’t take things outside due to the sub-zero temps and ice. I can always bolt on side panels and then reprocess them for recessed installation when I have a chance.

You’ll see what I mean in the follow-up.