Sunday, April 29, 2012

My Platen Table

I was looking to make or buy a good solid work table for the studio when I learned about acorn tables.  I saw a 5’ x 5” table in a well outfitted blacksmith shop and thought it looked ideal.  As I did the research I soon found they were not easy to come by used and they could be really expensive when purchased new.  I thought I might have to settle for a smaller one.  At that time I was going to quite a few blacksmith meetings and I made it my regular practice to enquire about any such tables that may be for sale.  A couple of years passed before I found a fellow who said he knew someone who had one he wanted to sell.  I gave him my contact information and about a week later I got a call from the man who owned the table.
I asked how big ti was and he said 5’ x 10’.  I had never heard of one that big so I was concerned we might not be talking about the same thing.  The conversation went back and fourth and I finally felt sure he was describing the table I was looking for but much larger.  I was pretty sure I couldn’t come up with what he would want for it but I asked what he was asking.  He said, ‘I’d have to get such and such dollars.  The figure was about 70% less than I was imaging so my mind started grinding - maybe he  doesn’t actually have an acorn table, or... and there was an awkward silence as I tried to frame my next verifying question.  But before I could say anything he said, “OK, and I’ll deliver it to you for that.” I didn’t see a way I could go wrong so I took the deal.
The table was composed of a heavy base, and two 5‘ x 5’ platens, each weighing a ton or more.  I didn’t have any equipment for such heavy lifting and moving so we made arrangements to deliver it to an engineering company where I did business.  Several weeks later a friend loaded it and a fork lift onto a trailer and brought it to my studio.  Getting it from outside the garage door into position in the assembly room was a complicated affair which took a whole day, the chain hoist, six auto wheel dollys, a dozen railroad ties, more chain and a borrowed skid loader.  It’s a story in itself.
The surface has square holes in straight rows, not staggered.   Each hole is  2” x 2”,  with 13 holes in each direction on each 5’ x 5’ platen spaced on 4.5” centers.  The platens are about 5” thick on the edges and 3” thick in the area with holes.  The working height is about 30”.  It had seen a lot of use but didn’t take much work to get the surface polished.  Platens are made from grey cast iron so welding doesn’t stick to it.  
After getting it installed, I made some posts and hold downs and eventually an overhead frame with an electric hoist on a trolly.  It has been really handy for building things like bifold fireplace glass doors and frames of various kinds, heavy furniture legs and some signs.  When I need level, plumb and square, it is hard to beat.  I don’t know the manufacturer of my table.  There wasn’t an obvious label.  I think Acorn brand tables all have 1 3/4" square holes spaced on 3 1/2" centers, so it’s some other brand.  I won’t have any trouble getting my money back when I sell it.  I have two standing offers already.

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