Making a craft table with lift for sewing machine

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zannej

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It's me again, Margaret. Heh heh heh.
I have another hairbrained idea of a project to add to my list once I get the essential stuff out of the way.

Once everything is cleaned up better I want to start working on more crafts with my mother and she wanted to have a sewing space. I figured it would be nice to have a sewing table and after watching some Youtube videos, I liked the tables where the sewing machine's sewing area sat flush with the table. But, since machines can change and I might want to move it, I was thinking it would be cool to have an adjustable platform for it that could be moved up and down. Now, the ones designed specifically for that purpose are expensive as hell. Cheapest one I could find was about $180. Most are around $240+. The tables that come with them pre-built were $700+. So, I was searching the internet for ideas when I saw that someone used an automotive scissor jack and attached a little hand crank.
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Because I like to make things complicated (and I hate bending down under desks/tables) I wanted to have the hand crank on the side of the desk/table so I could reach next to it and crank it. That would require a longer shaft. so, I'm trying to figure out the best way to do it. I found two different types of crank attachments on the jacks.

First is the standard one that requires a hook through the loop:
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It's the cheaper version.

Other one has some little levers you can turn by hand but also has a nub that fits in a socket so it can be turned with the ratchet. I watched videos of it in use and sadly the ratchet part didn't work as smoothly as hand-cranking.
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On either one I wold need some sort of rod (either wooden or metal) that extends out past the table on the right. (I don't plan to make it terribly wide).

Once I get the length I want + some sort of stabilizer to keep it straight, I could add a hand crank. I had all sorts of random ideas from trying to re-use the cranks from a fishing pole (probably too small), converting a bike pedal crank (not quite sure how), altering an existing hand crank (I saw a replacement one for a hose stand), or making my own. If I make my own I could have a rod to make it look more like the hose stand's crank, or I could have a wheel. I saw a video on how to make a crank wheel for a router table. I wouldn't even need to drill the decorative holes. Just a hole down the center that attaches to the rod and some sort of bolts inside a drilled out dowel rod for a handle.
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I suppose I could buy one of the pre-made handles like in the images above-- the wheel one looks kinda cool. I'd have to figure out what hardware to use to attach it.

I found some nice building plans at Ana White's website Modern Craft Table | Ana White
I'd leave off the shelves on the right side though and make the table smaller.. I'd have a side panel that the rod/shank would go through to have the wheel. Need to figure out the best way to make sure it could spin freely in the hole but remain stabilized. I think I've seen little wheel thingies with ball bearings or whatever that allow bolts to spin in them.
 

zannej

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Thanks, Soonyb!

Highup (on flooring forum-- I believe his name is Randy but I'm terrible at remembering names) mentioned to me that I would need to have some guides to make sure the platform moves evenly. I looked at the official mechanisms and saw that they were [ shaped with metal rods. I started thinking about old wooden drawer guides and was thinking maybe I could use angle aluminium angle brackets as guides around some parts that stick out and glide through. I'll have to see if I can find rods and figure out how to assemble it. I'm having a hard time finding the right words to describe what I'm visualizing and my attempts to draw it didn't come out well. LOL.
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Looked pretty neat. Perhaps I cold make some sort of block like that out of wood with grooves in it for where the metal parts go. and I could do some stuff with wood-- dowels etc. I could wax them to make them glide easier.

A cylinder shaped handle for a cooking utensil broke off (the plastic inside the cooking utensil came out of the metal). I was thinking I *might* be able to adapt it to fit over the end on the cheaper jack stud. I could put a dowel inside the hollow part for reinforcement. I'll also have a look at any metal stuff I might have leftover from parts for the tractor (if the guy who does yardwork for me didn't take them all).

I'm still trying to consider the best way to make the guides...
Here's my crappy side view sketch
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and back view (cutaway view)
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Snoonyb

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The door guide are an Idea, but I would make them a s U instead of a notch, and pace the, 2 ea, on ea end, instead of across the short dimension.

You can lube with bar soap, like we used to use on the parting bead of rope and weight sash windows.
 

Eddie_T

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How about using Ana White's pull-out shelf idea but with the shelf installed vertically with the sewing machine table mounted to the front of the shelf? I am not sure if ball bearing slides would handle the cantilevered weight or not.
 

zannej

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I was thinking of installing the angle stock (I meant stock, not brackets) so they formed a U channel but I didn't draw that well. LOL.
Here's a picture of the angle stock
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Or I could get an aluminum U channel
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Maybe I can use the angle or channel stock on the back of the platform base so it can fit over a wood key piece. I could even sandwich the wood in angle stock if necessary and add some grease or something to make it slide better. They had a squared off piece of metal but it wasn't the right size to fit in the groove.

Another idea I just thought of would be to extend the underside of the platform and drill a hole or two and use metal rods that anchor to the bottom straight down and the holes on top pass over the rods.
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I could see if I could find washers with openings large enough to reinforce the holes on the wood. Or see if there is something specifically made for that purpose.

I'm nixing the grease idea as that could get on the fabric, but maybe some wax?

Also, cold rolled steel rod is longer and cheaper than the aluminium. Aluminum one I linked is too short I think.
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I saw something called a Woodruff key but it's far too short and not the right size to fit in the U-channel-- at least I think it won't fit. I suppose if I put it on the back of the platform and mounted the channel behind, the key might slide inside.
 
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zannej

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Eddie, I forgot to respond: I will have to look up which plan that is of Ana's. Drawer glides can be expensive and be a pain to line up. I'm thinking the rods might be easier to do. I could be wrong though.

I'm still trying to figure out the term for the holes that the rods pass through. I know there are thick metal circles for that purpose (I could have sworn I've seen them) but I can't remember the name for them.
 

Eddie_T

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Ana makes it easy by installing drawer slides to the frame first then measuring for drawer width and aligning the finished drawer w/o tedious measurements. I did a similar thing for my horizontal router table but used T-slots.
 

Eddie_T

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I was going to suggest a large wheel on the shaft but the position of the wheel would get in the way as it moves L- R with scissoring.
 

zannej

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Oh yeah, I remember watching her video on how she did her drawer installs. It was pretty cool.
I found a nice solution although it's more expensive than what I had hoped, but when I priced out parts, it's actually not bad and it's specifically designed to be a sliding system. It's $39 for two 1000mm long rods with mounting plates AND four slides. It's long enough I could cut the rods in half and do side mounts for additional stability. I can use scrap wood as stop blocks at the bottom and underside of table will stop the upward movement. I can attach small pieces of thin scrap wood to the backs of the ball bearing sliding parts to make mounting brackets for the moving shelf.
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Next thing I need to figure out is how to do the drop-in leaf parts. I will have two of them. One that fits around the sewing machine snugly and another that fits over the machine to create a flat surface when the machine is down.

The sewing machines I'm looking at are around 12" high and the jack I'm looking at can raise things about 14".

I can visualize in my mind how I want things to connect in terms of the lift. I'll have to figure out best height to mount the lift itself and adjust table height accordingly. I plan to have a chair that can go up and down. So long as the table isn't too high for the max height of the chair, it should be good.

Still trying to think of the best solution for the hand crank. There's no rule that says the jack has to be at the back like in the inspiration photo. It could be off to one side turned sideways so the crank could be easier to reach. If I build the side shelf thingies like in Ana's plans, I could mount the jack on the right side shelf. So long as the platform is well supported it should work. If I put a glide on the opposite side it can help stabilize it and worst case I can get a stick or something to shove under the left side of the platform to make sure it can't drop. LOL.

Any more ideas on the hand crank part? a small wheel one might not be bad if I can figure out how to attach it.
 
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Eddie_T

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Those slides and bearings are neat, I noticed rods used for a router lift.

Screenshot 2021-06-06 5.04.26 PM.png
 

zannej

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I think the slides & bearings will be easier for installation, creation, and use than what I saw in this video, but the video is still cool and I like the adjustable legs. It did have a diy handle. I need to figure out the best way to attach a handle. My late elderly friend made a bunch of wooden paper towel holders that looked like this:
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The one we have broke so I have the round part with the depression in the middle. I could either use it or duplicate it and then add another piece to the edge for hand-cranking. Can't be too large obviously.
Question is, how do I attach the circle to the jack and what's the best configuration for a handle, lever? I also need to figure out the best attachment point for the crank handle. I'll have to check the broken thing and see if it already has a spot for the side rod, but I don't think that one had it. I do have the center dowel with the little cap. I wonder if that could somehow be fashioned in to a handle....
 

Eddie_T

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I was going to suggest this then realized you're dealing with a socket rather than a nut. However, the technique can be used just make a hole to fit whatever the jack has on the shaft. It looks like the lumberjocks guy pinned his crank handle on.

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View attachment 25947
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Eddie_T

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Just thinking . . . I wonder if a broomstick or piece of PVC pipe might work to extend the crank to outside the cabinet.
 

zannej

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PVC Is too brittle, IMO. But, maybe I can attach a thick dowel or block around the loop thingy on the jack. I could cut a notch for it and then secure it with a bolt trough the loop. I can see if the guy who did my yard work left any of my tractor parts for attaching things. I might have something small enough to fit in terms of bolts. I think I saw someone use a carriage bolt for some of the handle stuff. If I put a block/dowel on the jack's loop then attach the wheel/round part to that & cut a hole that will fit the carriage bolt on the backside of the wheel and then put another wood dowel secured with a locknut on the bolt so it can pivot but not slide off.
 

Eddie_T

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For the jack shaft extension don't sell PVC short, it's pretty tough plus the jack shaft won't have much strain on it. I have never has any break plus with a heat gun you might be able to mold the end to fit the jack thingy. Also a steel broom or mop handle might have some possibility.

For the drop in leaf inserts use an old countertop maker's trick. Once all else is finished and the machine is in place make a template using manila file folders. The trick is to use the factory edges where ever possible taping the overlapped folders and segments together with masking tape. You may need to use some scrap wood or cardboard to support the folder stock while fitting. When you're through you'll have a template just the size of the insert you need with no measurement required. You can flip it over and tape some of the overlap the bottom to keep it from being too floppy.Then just put it over your insert stock and trace the edges.
 
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zannej

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I"m a monkey and I've broken metal handles before. LOL. I did have an idea though. The metal handle that broke off of a silicone serving spoon (silicone insert came out) fits over the thick dowel that was in the center of the paper towel holder. It fits loosely enough that it can spin easily over the wood. I could use bar soap as soony suggested to lubricate it. I could then add some sort of grip tape to the handle. It will have to be cut shorter obviously, but I can do that with the chop saw. It already has a wooden nub as a stop at the end.

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When I first read the leaf info my brain wasn't working. Now it makes sense. If I'm going to use cardboard at all, it would be better to just use cardboard to begin with instead of manila folders. (I don't have any manila folders but I have a ton of cardboard).

Now I need to figure out how to incorporate this baby in to the mix. I will need a cover for it to make sure the cats don't screw with the threads if they ever get in. It's not quite as big as it looks compared to other sergers. It's a "compact" version and is not too heavy. I will probably put it away when not in use but I don't need a 2nd lift for it- although I might get some sort of tray with handles to make it easier to pick up. Too bad those rev-a-shelf things where she shelf sort of swings out and then under are so expensive (over $460). Photo courtesy of Melba from the FB listing.
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zannej

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Since I want the platform to be stable and have the weight supported well, I'm going to use some 11.8"x7.5" shelf brackets that have a diagonal bar for support. The longer end will be horizontal. I picked that size because I found decent ones for cheap. On the left side of the desk I can have scrap wood blocks attached with hex-head bolts in such a way that they can pivot sideways so they can go under the platform to act as sort of a lock and extra support (Barring just getting sticks or something of different lengths to just prop under there. I can have 1 for each level (planning on 3 height levels). A woodworking magazine recommended using a plastic tube cut up in to bushings to keep the metal from rubbing the wood.
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Rouch sketch of desk:
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I sort of wonder if I could have one long threaded rod that goes from lowest shelf to highest point that would allow me to adjust the exact height of multiple blocks. Here's my sketch of it.
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What do you think? If I anchor the rod properly do you think that could work?
 

Eddie_T

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I am concerned that the lift is too far away from the CG.
 

68bucks

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Could you just use a linear actuator instead of the jack? Might be more expensive but you could just push a button instead of messing with a jack/handle situation.
 
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