Maintaining your welding table from contaminants such as slag, spatter, oil, etc. will prevent rust and keep the table clean and flat.
If you don’t use your table often, rust may appear especially if you live in a humid environment. Another issue is spatter stuck on your table, making the surface uneven.
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.
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 to remove the spatter.
- If spatter is stubborn, or you tack weld metal on your table, 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, you can use a rust inhibitor like wd-40 with a rag to apply a thin protective film. Additionally, if the table is under humidity or outdoors, use a paste wax that creates a great waterproof layer and lasts longer. To apply the wax, use a clean rag to spread it and remove the excess. Leave for 15 min and use another clean rag (or polishing power tool) to wipe again to buff it.
The rest of the table is not directly exposed to spatter and the 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 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 your metals and tools.
To protect your table from spatter, you can use the following tips to reduce the amount or prevent fusion with the table:
- If possible, avoid processes that create excessive spatter, for example, stick and flux-core welding. MIG creates less spatter 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 stick 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 to reduce spatter.
- 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 fewer 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 the table.
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.