Can A Welding Table be Wood? What Material to Use?
So you’re planning to make a wooden welding table? Or you have a wooden table lying in your garage and you’re thinking of using it as a welding table?
BUT how practical is a wooden welding table?
A welding table cannot be wood. Wood can easily catch fire during welding. It is also a poor conductor of electricity and will not let you ground your welding table. Wood is also not durable enough for welding work.
Let’s get into more details about the downsides of using wood to make your welding table and the materials you should use instead.
Why your welding table can’t be wood?
The chances of a wooden table catching fire during welding are quite high! Wood is highly flammable and any spatter or slag that falls on the wood surface will catch fire almost immediately! No amount of anti spatter spray chemicals can help you with wood. That’s the last thing you want to happen in your garage. Its not like maintaining general spatter in welding.
You might use your wooden table severally without causing serious fire hazards. But in the end, it will look burned and might even break down. Also, it’s not worth the risk as you don’t know when a serious fire outbreak will take shape in your garage and cause you costly damages.
Another reason why you can’t use wood for welding tables revolves around the issue of durability. Wood will not stand up to the abuse that comes with welding such as hammering, accommodating heavy items, and so on.
Since wood is a poor conductor of electricity, you’ll also have a hard time grounding your table if you decide to use a wooden welding table.
However, there are exceptions where you can use wood to make a welding table:
If you’re just starting and don’t have the budget for a metal table, or want a simple table for your hobby welding, you might consider using a wooden table.
One way you can safely use a wooden table for welding is by putting a metal sheet on top of it (steel will do). This will ensure you don’t directly weld onto a wooden surface, reducing the chances of a fire hazard in your shop.
The metal piece will also give you something to ground your welding table to complete your welding circuit and creating an arch.
Just make sure you put on a thick piece of steel as welding can become very hot to the point of easily burning through thin metal sheets. We suggest using something like 3/8"-1/2" steel plating onto the table.
Can a welding table have wood legs?
Your welding table can have wood legs, but make sure the legs are strong and stable. Legs play a major role in keeping the welding table stable when holding heavy working equipment and workpiece.
We would advise you to use your welding table with wooden legs for light to medium-duty tasks. For heavy-duty duty tasks, consider metal legs for the best stability and peace of mind when welding.
Does a welding table have to be metal?
The most common metals used for making welding tables are cast iron and steel. Both metals tick ALL the boxes for the perfect metal for the welding table. Steel comes at a cheaper pricing cast iron which makes it more preferable by most people.
Aluminum is less common but is also used to make welding tables.
Below are the THREE main reasons why welders use metal tables:
1. Sturdiness and durability
A welding table is one of those workbenches that undergoes a lot of abuse regularly. Think of the hammer treatments, grinding, etc., that a table undergoes as welders in busy shops work on various projects!
With this in mind, it's essential that a welding metal be made with a durable metal that can withstand this regular abuse without showing signs of weakness. A steel table, for instance, is known to endure abuse and serve you for years and years.
2. Excellent heat absorption/dissipation
Metal is also preferred for welding tables because it withstands heat absorption and dissipation. The welding and grinding operations in the welding environment produce tons of heat at extremely high temperatures.
Again, metals like steel and cast iron can easily absorb this heat without catching fire in your shop. If they become too hot, you can just give them a break to let them cool off and they’ll be ready for use again.
3. Metals conduct electricity
Grounding your welding table before welding is an essential step that helps keep you safe and prevents damage to your welding machine and other nearby equipment.
That said, metals are a good conductor of electricity and are best suited to make a workbench intended to be grounded to the earth.
Can you use cast iron for a welding table?
Absolutely! You can use cast iron to make a welding table. This material is incredibly strong and durable and offers excellent heat dissipation. it is also a good conductor of electricity and will enable you to ground your welding table.
Cast iron, especially the gray cast iron, is the crème de la crème of welding tables. It makes tables that are thick and heavy for superior strength and durability. The metal also has excellent heat dissipation and won’t have to deal with drawing and warping due to exposure to high heat.
You can also make necessary welding table holes into a cast iron metal table to make it easily adaptable to your welding accessories such as jigs, clamps, bench dogs, and so on. However, cast iron lies on the higher end of the price spectrum.
Can a welding table be made of aluminum?
A welding table can be made of aluminum because it is a good conductor of electricity, so it will let you ground your welding table. It is also lightweight and can make a table that you can easily move around. Against the general intuition aluminum is difficult to weld. That's why you are not going to burn your table.
Aluminum is also a good conductor of heat. It will excellently absorb and disparate the heat resulting from the grinding and welding action on your welding table. The good heat conductivity makes it warplress, another desirable feature for a metal used for making a welding table.
Other properties that make aluminum great material for welding tables include excellent corrosion resistance and great aesthetics.
However, this material has a few downsides that make it less ideal for making welding tables. One such issue is that it’s a softer material. It is less durable than steel and not capable of withstanding heavy loads and resists abuse that comes with various welding projects.
As we have already said before, welding involves and grinding which creates a lot of heat and high temperatures. This means that a table material with a high melting point is more suited to withstand these temperatures. Aluminum’s low melting point means it can’t withstand these high tempera rues and might end up getting ruined!
Despite these shortcomings, some people still prefer aluminum for making welding tables because it’s relatively light and is easy to move from place to place, and doesn’t rust. And cleaning rust from welding table can be very hard.
How to make a nice metal welding table at home?
Now that we have seen that wood isn’t perfect for making a welding table, why not consider coming up with a quality steel welding table as your first welding project? This is a cheaper way to get a good welding table if you don't have the best welding table reviews. Plus, this is a simple project for a beginner welder to handle.
In this part, we have outlined the basics steps you can follow to come up with a sturdy and fully functional steel welding table at your home.
Materials you’ll need:
You’ll need to gather the necessary metals needed to make the table. For the tabletop, consider using a steel metal plate with at least 3/8 inches thick. For the legs, you should use u-channel, angle iron, pipe, or square tubing.
Tools you’ll need:
You’ll just need the basic tools lying around your welding space like the grinder, hammer, square, level, and a band saw. You’ll also need a welding machine and a metal cutter to cut the metal pieces to be welded.
Step 1. Determine the size of your table
You should start by determining the size of the table you need. This will depend on the amount of space available and the type of welding projects you’ll be handling. Having the exact dimensions of your ideal welding table will make the rest of the process easier for you.
Step 2. Cut the top part
Now that you have the dimensions with you, you should start by cutting the top metal sheet. Draw the cuts on the metal sheet and be sure to add an allowance of 1/8-inch on length and width for the grinding and finish part. Now use a metal cutter to cut out the top from the metal plate.
Step 3. Smoothen then top
After you have finished cutting, use a hammer to remove any slug that might have been made. simply hitting the cut ends of your tabletop with a hammer will effortlessly break off any slag present.
With all the slag gone, remember to grind the edges to smooth the rough areas on the top plate.
Step 4. Cut the legs
For this part, you ought to determine the number of support legs your table needs. This will depend on the size of your table and how thick the top is.
Since you’re using a 3/8-inch thick top in this case, you should ensure the distance between the support legs doesn’t exceed 6 feet.
Still at it, you’ll also need to cut the legs at a comfortable working height for your welding table. If you’re tall, setting the legs too high will be a problem for you.
Also, you don’t want to set the welding table height too low that you end up straining your back during welding.
Finally, make sure both sides of the legs you cut are square to ensure a level welding table. The square and level will come in handy at this step.
Step 5. Weld the legs to the top
The last step involves laying out the legs on your worktop in their proper locations and welding them into place.
You might want to use some support pieces to connect these legs somewhere below the table to act as braces for keeping your legs square. You can also permanently weld these metal pieces to the legs to offer additional strength and support.
If you want to, you can also customize your welding table with a variety of other accessories such as a shelf for keeping your welding tools, casters for easy maneuverability, and so on.
Checklist for a good DIY welding table:
As we have said many times in this post, welding tables suffer a lot of abuse and you should always ensure you use quality materials like steel or cast iron to give them the ultimate strength and sturdiness they need to hold up to these abuses. Make sure you use uniform material for your entire metal structure to avoid compromising its strength.
One of the aspects of a good welding table is the perfect worktop thickness. Thicker tops can absorb heat better. They can also hold up to the daily grinding and hammering abuse. The top-rated steel welding tables are made with tops featuring a thickness of not less than 14-gauge. But don’t use a tabletop that’s too thick that it becomes super-heavy and you can’t move it when you need to.
Perfect table size
You’ll also need to ensure that your table comes in the right size for the amount of space you have in your garage. The size will also be dictated by the size of projects you plan to handle.
A welding table that you can easily move around when the need arises is also worth considering. Attaching locking wheels to your DIY table is the surest way to make your table portable.
Wood will never make good material for making welding tables. It’s highly capable of causing a fire hazard and is a poor electricity conductor. If you’re planning to build a welding table, you should consider more dependable materials like steel and cast iron for your project.
Coming up with your own table should be pretty easy for you. Our general guide above will show you how to make a nice welding table that’s customized for your specific welding needs and at a more affordable price than the store-bought models.