A welding table is an essential piece of equipment for your welding projects. Cleaning your welding table from contaminants such as rust, slag, spatter, oil, etc. is necessary for safe and productive work.
A ten-minute maintenance will keep your table clean, flat, and rust-free until the next time you’ll need it. Let’s see how to clean and maintain your welding table top:
- Use a brush to remove slag, grinding dust, and shavings.
- To remove spatter stuck on the table, you can use a wide chisel and a hammer. As an alternative, you can use a flat and heavy piece of steel, for example, 5″ x 2″ x 3/8″. You can weld a handle on it and move it all around the table.
- If spatter is stubborn, or you tack weld the workpiece on your table for stability, you can use an angle grinder and a flat flap disc to grind the excess metal. But be careful not to use it at an angle to avoid removing metal from the table. Use a broad movement and never pause on a spot.
- If you have a perforated table top, clean the slides below the table that collect all the dirt that falls through the holes.
- To do the perfect job, use acetone or alcohol and a rag to remove fine dust, oil residue, and every other foreign substance. Acetone generates vapors, you need synthetic gloves and position yourself to avoid breathing them. Furthermore, keep the soaked rag in a closed container to prevent fire because these chemicals are highly flammable.
- If your table rusts easily, use a rust inhibitor like WD-40 with a rag to apply a thin protective film. Additionally, if the table is exposed to high humidity, use a paste wax to create a great waterproof layer that lasts much longer. To apply the wax, use a clean rag to spread it all over the top as uniformly as possible. Leave it for 15 min and use another clean rag (or polishing power tool) to buff it.
If your table has a cast-iron top, spatter is harder to stick, and rust is slower to appear compared to a carbon steel top.
The rest of the table is not directly exposed to spatter and other contaminants. Using a brush and blowing compressed air to hard-to-reach corners will remove most of the dirt.
If you have rust on the table legs, you can use the mentioned rust inhibitors. However, you shouldn’t paint the table, because the paint is a fire hazard.
For troublesome rust issues, you can read this article on how to prevent and remove rust from a welding table.
How do you protect a welding table from spatter?
Spatter is metal blown away from the welding arc. Because it’s red hot, it sticks on your welding table.
Spatter prevents placing your workpieces flat and square them with precision. It can also scratch the workpiece and your tools.
To protect your table from spatter, use the following tips to reduce the amount or prevent fusion with it:
- If possible, avoid processes that create excessive spatter, for example, stick and flux-core welding. MIG creates less and TIG almost no spatter at all.
- Amperage that’s set too high will create excessive spatter because it makes the arc unstable.
- With a stick welder, you should keep a short arc length to reduce the spatter amount. Also, try to avoid cellulosic welding rods such as the 6010 and the 6011 because they generate more spatter.
- If you have a MIG welder, using C25 (75/25) shielding gas rather than C100 will reduce the spatter amount. If your welder has an inductance control, set it to a higher value.
- If you use flux-core welding, remember that these wires need direct current negative (DC-) polarity on the torch.
- Welding on clean metal will also create less spatter. Clean the joint from dirt and remove coatings such as galvanization.
- Another popular method is using antispatter products on the areas you want to protect. These come as spray, liquid, or paste and prevent spatter from fusing.
- As physical protection, you can use thin sheet steel or aluminum to absorb the falling spatter. If the steel has mill scale on it, spatter is harder to stick on it.
- You can also position the joint further from the table’s edges so that spatter doesn’t land on it.
Antispatter sprays are popular, but you can buy antispatter in volume, for example, the Weld Kleen 350 and an empty spray bottle.
This way, you can save money and avoid breathing the additions that proper the chemical from the spray bottle.