I’ve yet to attain that next-level, DIY version of the old “Penthouse Letters” that pops up with infuriating frequency on garagejournal.com: “I never thought in my wildest dreams that this would happen to me, but I was sitting on the can one day surfing Craigslist when I came across a perfectly restored vintage South Bend lathe – for FREE! Needless to say, I pulled my pants up, jumped in the truck and sprinted over to the owner’s house. Turned out the owner was the nicest elderly gentleman who restored it but didn’t have a use for it! I offered him some dough as we loaded it up, but he would only say, ‘I cannot take your money, but I can setup a trust so that when your 2 children reach college age, it will pay their tuition!’ Man, today was my lucky day. Read ’em and weep, fuckers!”

However, the above photo did show up on my phone with a statement along the lines of it not being used, and the owner would be glad to reclaim the space in his garage. I had been pondering the heavy square tubing with plate steel top table that doubles as a bomb shelter, but the two years or so that this idea was kicking about told me to forget about it and jump on this offer. With the mahogany top and the steel frame, it would more than do for 90% of the time.

Fast forward past the three weeks it was kicking around the back of my truck, and it was sitting in my garage. While much better than the bench it was replacing, it turned out the legs were made of stamped steel, and the table had a pronounced and unsettling wobble. Forcing aside thoughts of an extensive rebuilding that I would never complete, I set about the yard to see what she would offer up beef up this frame. Sure enough, behind the shed (another unfinished project) lay some rusting 1×2 steel tubing which, even at 17 ga thickness, would shore things up nicely, and provide a perch atop some heavy-duty locking casters.

Can’t remember what project this steel was for, but it probably wasn’t as useful as it will be now.

After a cleanup, cutting and welding into a rectangle, it was time to remove the existing bottom shelf, now redundant and not as big as its replacement. Unable to find plywood for the bottom shelf, I grabbed a stack of bed slats destined for the garbage and formed a shelf from them. Time for some MIG practice: welding the casters to the new frame and, after notching the feet to accept it, welding the frame to the bottom of the table. This stiffened the legs way up, so that now there is no movement when sitting on the table.

The new structure was a simple matter of notching the legs with a grinder, and fitting the frame. Leftover pieces of 1×2 in the corners formed the base for the casters.
A piece of plywood would have been ideal here, but freeing up the floor space under this pile of scrap was a win.
Loaded up and ready for work for now. reinforcing the legs with some tubing, and running a bar across the length toward the top for some drawer space would be a nice upgrade in the future.

Next furious distractions from this God-awful time: sorting out a free el-cheapo tablesaw and ripping that sheet of plywood, and others like it, into a desk and shelves for Daughter.

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