The Deck. Cutting and fitting the working surface.
The working surface (the deck) is made out of a single heavy piece. Which is good I guess. You don’t want it moving. Cut from 3/4″ particle board. It takes a good bit of saw and jig saw work. If I were to do this again I think I would make this in several pieces. While one piece is probably fine for the 2′ x 2′ and 2′ x 3′ it’s a cumbersome size board for 2′ x 4′. I see no reasons this couldn’t be two or even three sections. Making it out of several parts would also make getting to the underside plumbing easier, which I can see needing to do when I change out the Platens.
This is an easy step. Just layout the pattern and cut away. Makes a bit of saw dust but nothing hard. I did stain this to help seal the particle board. Humidity will eventually get to unsealed particle board and it makes it look more finished.
The heating panels are 2′ x 6″ and a 2′ x 4′ vacuum form takes 8 panels. To hold the heating panels is a support grid made up of ceiling tile frames and a box made from steel studs. It takes about an hour to cut and bend up the support grid. Lifting and attaching the support grid to the top frame is another challenge if you are just one person. This is a good step to have a helping set of hands. The precise placement of the frame in the upper box is not provided so you kind of have to wing it. I hope I guessed right. Too high and the plastic will be too far from the heating elements and we won’t get good heat transfer. Too close and the transfer rate will be too high and we could over heat the plastic.
This is quick step and can be done in an evening. The materials are easy to get and they are light. There are a lot of sharp edges. You need to wear good gloves and have some sharp tin snips. I didn’t have to build the old style heat box but the plans look like a pain. I’m glad this improvement came along.
Starting with a second stack of cut wood, fit, drill, stain and assemble the upper and lower sides to the metal frame. The lower sides are cut the 1/2 inch extra depth to accommodate the added width of the 1/4 angle iron. Also the lower sides have holes for the lift arm that comes later.
This a simple step too. Straight forward cuts, simple bolt and screw assembly. Take care. Everything else hangs from or bolts to these sides. It’s important to get everything level and straight. An error here is something you will have to work around or compensate for on the rest of the project. Take your time and you will be fine.
Starting with just a stack of cut wood the lower frame is assembled, wheels are added, top metal frame fitted, and then stained.
Building the lower wood frame in a simple step. I cut the wood one evening on the chop saw, put it together the next, and stained it on the third. Not too much can go wrong here if you follow the plans. The whole rig is very heavy by the time you are done and this frame has to carry it all. I initially thought that the 2x4s were over kill that it could be done lighter out of 2x2s. That would have been a mistake. At times I have had to stand and clime on the machine to get parts in place. I was glad the frame could take it.