In this weekly video, I am fabricating a belt guard for an air compressor.
Normally, I don’t sweat things if my air compressor goes out.
That’s because I have several electric grinders. 4 and 4 1/2″ 90 grinders, straight grinders, Dewalt, Milwaukee, Ryobi, Makita, and even a Harbor Freight straight grinder that will hurt you if you are not extra careful.
But my welding shop is inside a machine shop with CNC equipment. And when the air goes down in a CNC machine shop, they are not going to make any parts.
Shop air to a CNC machine shop is almost like electricity is to a welding shop. Without it, you are dead in the water.
A nearby shop offered an old air compressor that had been in storage outside in the laydown area.
It runs, but has no belt guard and that is kinda dangerous.
So this is Part 1 of a 2 Part Video on fabricating the belt guard.
50 years ago, no one would have got excited about no belt guard on a compressor.
Well today, things are different. What we viewed as normal 50 years ago, we cringe at as terribly unsafe in this day and time. Sometimes it goes too far.
For example, I had a comment on a video a few years ago about grinder guards. One fella ranted that in 30 years of work, he had never used a grinder without a guard and had no tolerance for anyone who made excuses why they had to remove the guard to get in a tight area.
He must not have worked in the same universe where I work because I have been in all kinds of areas where a grinder guard completely prevented any reasonable access.
I am all for safety. But common sense has to be part of the equation, too.
When common sense dies, unrealistic rules are made by unrealistic people. People who think all risk can be removed from the work area.
The only way all risk can be completely removed from a job is to just not do anything.
It used to be a common joke on construction jobs to stop working when the safety man came around. That way, you couldn’t be written up for a violation.
I even worked one place where every vice had to have rubber washers on each side of the handle because someone once got a blood blister from the handle.
I am not saying that is right or wrong. I am just saying.
Ever see the photograph of construction workers having lunch on a beam at the Rockefeller center building in 1932? Today, It evokes gasps. It makes some people just cringe to see all those men up so high in the air with no safety restraints. Yet no one on the beam seemed to be cringing at all. No safety belts, no harnesses, no hardhats. Just a bunch of men having lunch on a beam that happened to be hundreds of feet high.
Alright… Enough of the rant. Lets move into the welding project.
So before we get this air compressor piped in and up and running, I am going to fabricate a belt guard so that nobody accidentally sticks 5 fingers in and only pulls out 4.
Here is how I am approaching this:
This is the final video on the DIY downdraft table. At least I think it is.
Maybe I will add some gussets to the handle… but maybe not. It seems to work fine and I am not likely to load it up with a 5000 lb plate anyway.
I am working on getting some drawings made and will post them on this page when they are done, but I believe there is plenty of info already in the videos to give someone a jump start in building their own downdraft table.
As I said before, this would be a great project for any welding school. It provides some opportunity to teach about welding fumes, fabrication techniques, distortion, angle calculations… and when you are done, you have a piece of equipment that will come in handy for years to come and make the shop a better and safer work environment.
Best of all, it’s a safety item. More likely to be approved if that’s part of the process.
I made this downdraft table to connect to a Miller Fume extractor. But there are other options.
For example, Northern Tool sells an 8 inch utility fan and flex duct that could be used to exhaust fumes far away from the breathing zone… like out the door.
I tested it out using some paper towels and every bit of smoke got sucked down the table… none escaped.
The Miller fume extractor works better than I had hoped for. It pulls a good enough draw on the table top, that I won’t be worried about cutting anything at all… even galvanized steel (if it pays good enough).
One the most useful things I ever fabricated was a downdraft cutting table.
I made one about 20 years ago and it turned out to be one of the most useful things I ever made.
I have used it as a plasma cutting table, a downdraft grinding table, a paintfume downdraft table, oxyfuel cutting table, and even a table to weld on galvanized coatings so I wouldn’t have to breathe the fumes.
It’s made with a funnel/vent hood that directs all the sparks and dust into a sliding tray where they can be dumped periodically.
This time around, I intend for it to be even more useful and am including a few improvements.
For example, I am including a telescoping handle that can be used to support short lengths of angle iron, flat bar, etc. without needing a roller stand.
I have a few other ideas as well… so stay tuned for the follow up videos.
I estimate this thing taking at least 3 videos to include enough details and dimensions to make it easy for schools to take this on as a student team project.
You will notice I am using the Stronghand Tools BuildPro Table as well as one of their 3 axis clamps. That helped me to knock out the frame in just a few minutes.
Also, being able to visualize the vent hood by using a riser block to transfer a point in space was extremely helpful and was a time saver.