Mobile machine bases…you either love them or hate them and I, unfortunately, fall into the latter camp, but I’ll concede that they do have their uses.
When the hobbyist workshop is of modest dimensions – let’s say single garage size or smaller – and you’ve accumulated some decent quality, heavy machinery, they’re almost essential. They’ll allow the woodworker to trundle, for example, a heavy planer thicknesser into a position where it can be used and park it again afterwards in a convenient spot against a wall.
What usually tends to happen though (and I’ve seen it in a couple of workshops) is that the keen hobbyist buys a big lump of cast iron, which ain’t necessarily the best for his or her needs, tries to fit it into the workshop, only to find that they’re up against the space restrictions imposed by four walls. That choice of equipment may be by design, but in a small ‘shop it invariably ends up on a mobile base of some description, as what’s not taken into account is that some free space is usually always required somewhere in the workshop to assemble or stand semi-completed projects.
Given the right choice of machinery to suit the workshop space and the intended projects, mobile bases aren’t really necessary, particularly if the requisite amount of planning is done when the workshop is set up. Perhaps one of the most useful applications for a mobile base is with a small table saw, where largish sections of sheet board need to be cut and space is needed to manoeuvre the material.
When mobile bases are used, there are a couple of issues which take on particular relevance, the first being that by necessity, the hobbyist will almost certainly have to use a trailing power cord of some sort. Workshops are dangerous enough places without the added risk of tripping over a 13A extension lead!
The second issue is that it becomes more awkward, though not impossible to link up a dust extractor to the machinery, but easier if a stand-alone appliance is used as is likely to be the case in a hobbyist’s workshop. Where a ducted system is installed, as in a trade workshop, hooking up a piece of machinery to it might prove a little irksome, if not downright difficult and very time consuming. My personal opinion is that mobile bases are a bit of a ‘curate’s egg’ and can be dispensed with if the location and usage of the machinery in the ‘shop is planned well in advance. However, this is not always the case where very small ‘shops are in use and machinery needs to be shoehorned into quite a small space.
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