Moving Machinery

Cabinetmakers suggest ways to roll heavy machinery around in a small shop. October 1, 2005

Does anyone have any good tips or tricks for moving large machinery or heavy custom pieces around in a shop? We are small right now and just do not have the capital to purchase a fork lift. Any ideas would be great.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor K:
I would suggest looking into Pallet Jacks as shown below.

From contributor N:
I built myself a nice heavy-duty lathe a couple of years ago that the parts were heavier than I could manage. I bought a shop-crane from Harbor Freight for about $150 that will lift two tons. While it would be risky to roll it around with a heavy load on the arm, I have found that I can lift, then put a couple of beams across the legs and let the load down on them, and safely handle some pretty heavy stuff. It also folds up into a pretty compact format that only takes about four square feet of floor space.

From contributor J:
I've seen pallet jacks with removable handles. They would allow you to keep the jack in place under a machine without the handle getting in the way.

From contributor P:
You can move almost anything with a pair of pallet jacks - but think the process through very carefully first. Some machines have centers of gravity in surprising places, as we found out while moving our 10' Hofer veneer saw we dumped it right on its face. Amazingly enough, when righted the saw still cut perfectly.

From contributor F:
I have always used low profile dollies to move machines or heavy case goods around my shops. I usually work alone and I have found ways to move almost any thing with them. I made quite a few so I can have all the pieces of a given project on wheels and then roll the whole project through the finishing process. Of course I am not moving beam saws or CNC's.

From contributor T:
I do the same as Contributor F. I have a lot of shop-built dollies. I can always move a piece by myself just by tipping and slipping the dolly under then convincing it it's in its best interest to get the rest of the way on. For stationary tools that need to be moved around, I welded up some mobile bases.