There was a moment this afternoon that I regret not immortalizing with a photograph. I don’t have much experience working with metal, but I had drilled holes in a hefty chunk of steel plate to attach casters. After I had bolted on the second caster I stepped back and realized that I had put the second wheel on the wrong side of the plate, so that there was a wheel on each side. Not going to roll very far like that! I didn’t appreciate at the moment how funny that was.
In the workshop, everything will have to be on wheels. The tools are large, and need space around them to operate, and half a garage just isn’t enough space to allocate a permanent place to each tool. So, they will have to be on wheels to roll into the spotlight when it is their time. With leveling casters, I can get the tool into position, then lower the feet on the casters that lift the wheels off the ground and also allow me to adjust for irregularities in the floor. I can get the tool where I need it, level it, and then execute my project.
Getting the tool positioned just so and perfectly level is a nice exercise as well, a reminder before anything is cut that half of craftsmanship is simply patience. It’s a time to quiet the mind set the pace for the project.
Today I was using the floor-standing drill press to drill holes in steel plate to make the new rolling platform for the floor-stranding drill press. As I worked there was a tiny wobble in the press, because the floor isn’t quite perfect, and I was happy to know that these would be the last holes I drilled before I would be able to level the tool perfectly.
I was wrong, it turns out. I made a mistake less silly than bolting a wheel to the wrong side of the plate. I didn’t account for the way the base of the drill press tapers and it runs into the nuts sticking up from the wheel mounts. I need to drill again, new holes to adjust the position of the wheels.
To be honest, this never would have happened if I trusted the steel more. I could have positioned the wheels closer to the edge of the steel plate from the get-go, and not had this problem, but I wanted the wheels to be directly under the load-bearing corners of the drill press’s foot. Like 3/16-inch steel plate would buckle if the load was offset an inch. Circumstances are forcing me to put the casters where I should have put them in the first place — out at the edge of the plate, for maximum stability and easier access to the leveling screws.
I have to say, I never could have drilled holes in steel plate like this before I had the drill press, but then again the only reason I have had to drill holes in steel plate is to make the drill press more useful. But I have done that now (and will sixteen more times to relocate the wheels), and it feels… good. It feels good to make something, and it feels good to see the shop coming together.
I will share pictures in the future, I promise. Especially of the silly mistakes. But tonight I just want to celebrate something in me that has long been dormant. I build things with my brain all the time, but sometimes it’s nice to build something people can touch.