Thursday, January 13, 2022

Converting Out Feed Rollers to Non-Rolling Table Top

 I had four Harbor Freight out feed rollers.  I picked them up for the table project, and during that project, I was a bit frustrated with them.  First, the bolts holding the feet on keep sliding out.  I need to bore/thread the pins to keep them in place, and use a washer system.  A simple hack, but that should take care of it.  However, this is not what this post is about.

My other gripe is that they rolled fairly smooth.  Sure, I know that sounds weird.  But, when you wanted them to roll, they rolled fine.  But when you didn't want them to roll, they still rolled fabulously.  I needed to lock them, so that they wouldn't roll.

I grabbed my calipers and measured the actual rollers.  They came in at just under 2" (1.974", actually).  A piece of 2" PVC pipe has an inside diameter of about 2".  What a coincidence!

A quick note here.  PVC is under pressure - meaning when you are performing this next operation, it will likely pinch down on a saw blade when the first cut is made.  Yes, the kerf instantly snapped closed as soon as the cut was complete.  Anyway, off we go.

I bought some 2" PVC pipe, and cut off 11.5" sections (how long the rollers are), then ran them through the table saw. to get a slot in them lengthwise.  I held them up to the rollers to mark the other length-wise slot so that it was just larger than the brace holding the rollers, and ran them through the table saw again.

I had a sleeve that would fit past the brace.  When it snapped closed, I was worried that it would close too far and make it difficult to install - but that was not the case.  The PVC tubes fit pretty well perfectly.

At this time, I glued two boards together for each one (because my screws were 1-1/4" and the boards were 3/4" thick, and I didn't want to grind off the screws to fit), and let them set overnight.  I used two clamps and stacked all of them to reduce my gluing footprint.

Next was to create some wood braces that these PVC sleeves could be screwed against.  I drilled three holes in them, and with a long countersink bit, I made it so the screws would be under the radius of the PVC, and then screwed them together.  Note that I did it at an angle to the slot so that the slot could be opposite of the brace, preventing the things from coming apart while doing something.

With that done, the next action was to screw the wood panel down.  You can use any surface, really.  This was simple enough, so I won't go into too much detail.  For my test case, I'm using some 1/2" plywood.  These are screwed, and not glued, so that I can replace as needed.

Now I have an instantaneous work table, from roller stands, and these stands can also act as rollers.  (They are now multi-purpose!)  I can use these to keep a longer surface on my jointer to get a flat surface much faster than I did on the table build.  They will work perfectly!

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