How to install a mobile base on a heavy shop tool
October 1, 2011
The problem with a small workshop is moving the stationary tools around to make space for others or to handle long stock. Up till now the other tools made way for the old Poitras B2800 shaper, but I needed to make a bannister to replace the temporary one I screwed to the stairway in the house three years ago, so I would need 16′ of clearance at either end of the machine.
Short of cutting a hole in the wall, this would involve wheeling the shaper around, so I bought the heaviest mobile base I could find (700 lb rating) and ordered it online through Busy Bee Machine Tools. Familiar with the routine from installing one on the Unisaw, I ripped through the assembly process with the help of a 13 mm socket and the 3/8″ impact wrench.
But the shaper weighs 380 pounds, plus motor. Plus fence. Plus power feeder. The cast iron base sits flat on the concrete floor. It has enough flex that it doesn’t wobble. Getting the assembled base under the shaper would be a challenge.
So I assembled the corners, then the side rails, leaving me with two opposing units. Tipping the thing a bit was quite easy. It’s top-heavy and I used the mast of the power feeder for leverage. The back rail unit was in place. Then the fun began. I decided to drive small oak wedges into place to raise the front. Nope. The cast base flexed enough I feared cracking it. The tiniest of wedges pulverized, rather than lifting the base. The next size couldn’t get into the narrow opening I managed to create with the first.
The pry bar was still on the roof from the most recent incomplete project. While looking around for a suitable implement I happened upon the shingle shovel. It looked strong and designed to pry. Perfect. In it went and up came the shaper, without effort. I had clearance enough with it in place to insert the end bars into the two halves of the base unit, and start tapping them together with a rubber mallet. Then it just became a matter of figuring out where to place the thing at the ends of the shaper to enable me gradually to wiggle the side unit fully into place. A quick walk around the unit with the impact wrench and the job was done.
When a new tool comes to the farm you never quite know what role it will find for itself. Tom Stutzman’s shingle shovel has proven a handy machinery jack.