Granite Surface Plate – Part 1

I’ve been trawling Craigslist lately for… pretty much anything. I used to just click “for sale” and then “tools” and see if I needed anything; but the last few weeks I’ve done slightly more targeted searches.

I would type something generic in the search (“router”, “lathe”, “mill”, etc…), just to limit the number of floor scrapers and tile saws I had to sift through.

However, it turns out that even this limited filtering was excessive: I had been completely missing out on granite surface plates!

What is a surface plate? Google it.

In the unlikely event that Google brings you back here:

A surface plate is a certified flat surface with very tight tolerances for precision. It is used to check or verify the flatness of a tool or work piece. They are typically made of granite because it can be ground very flat and is stable enough to resist flexing and warping with pressure and temperature changes. It is also hard enough to come into frequent contact with metal surfaces without being worn out of true.

I stumbled across a small surface plate for $275 dollars, and it was a bit a expensive for my purposes, but I knew my father-in-law had been eyeing them too, so I sent him the link.

He replied with a counter-link: a huge 24-inch by 36-inch slab, 6-inches thick on a rolling metal stand for only $80! It weighed around 1200lbs… but only $80!

I called up my friend with a small flatbed trailer, and he was willing to lend it to the cause.

I contacted the seller, he still had it.

Game on.

I borrowed the trailer from my friend the next morning, threw some plywood in my truck to use as a ramp, and headed off to pick up my new flat surface.

I arrived at the location, got out of my truck, and it promptly started pouring down rain.

The seller came outside and we began a long process of looking back and forth between the trailer, the plywood “ramp”, and the granite, with our hands in our pockets, in the rain.

“Will the trailer hold it?”

“According to the manual, it should…”

“Should we try to get a running start?”

“…how would we stop the granite?”

“…”

<head scratch>

<other scratch>

“will the plywood ramp hold it?”

“…nope…”

“….”

“well… it’s not going anywhere, if you want to come back and try another day…”

“that’s probably a good idea.”

I forgot to take a picture of this process, but it looked something like this:
loadingProcess
And so I returned home, empty-handed and damp.

After a few sleepless nights and un-productive days at work, I came up with a plan. I had a small ATV winch with a 2000lb capacity, and a pair of loading ramps from Harbor Freight that can hold 1000lbs that I used in the past to load my motorcycle.

Loading winch

I bought one more ramp set with a coupon for $50, for a total of 2000lbs of loading capacity, and a pair of 16-foot jumper cables to power the winch for $17. With proper ramps I no longer saw any advantage to using the small trailer, so I returned it to my friend and started working on a setup to use the winch to load the granite directly into my pickup truck.
winchMount

First I welded together a frame to mount the winch in the bed of the truck, up against the cab. it has extension arms held together with bolts and installed in the truck with clamps and straps so I can easily remove and store it.

Then I covered the ramps with  1/2-inch plywood secured with carriage bolts to give the wheels a smaller step up onto the ramp and a smoother ascension into the truck.

This took about a week and a half to finish (interlaced with life in general), but I was finally ready to go get the granite last week.

The sun was shining and I arrived to be greeted with complements on my welding job and general optimism that we may succeed.

We were all impressed with how well the whole thing worked and in 10 minutes I was on my way home with my acquisition.
Granite Surface plate

I drove very slowly and arrived without incident and started the simple process of reversing the loading procedure.

Right… how exactly do you get a 1200lb piece of granite out of a truck?

<To Be Continued>

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One thought on “Granite Surface Plate – Part 1

  1. Pingback: Granite Surface Plate – Part 2 | GarageSandals

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