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All Around The Farm Idea of the Month: April 2010

Agriculture.com Staff 04/06/2010 @ 11:40am

If necessity is the mother of invention, setbacks must be the fairy godmother. After all, sometimes when things don't turn out at first, they turn into something better.

Justin Kelzer didn't know how to build a scissor lift for the adjustable worktable he'd been planning, he says. So he came up with "this other idea instead."

He had in mind what he wanted. "I'd put a lot of thought into options and abilities before I started to build. I wanted a vertical lift, and I wanted to be able to lock it in place," he says.

He found the vertical lift by operating his table with a Power-Packer hand pump and a double-acting cylinder with the hose connected to its retract port.

This makes the 3x5-foot table raise from 32 inches to a 36- or 40-inch height for welding and other projects. And, yes, it locks into position with pins inserted through the legs.

Furthermore, since there is no bulky scissor lift in the way, there is room under the tabletop for storing both a vise and a plate shear. They hang upside down; the shear without its handle attached.

Kelzer bolted a 5-inch multipurpose vise to a turnover plate cut right from the tabletop. It flips over out of the way when it's time to put the table away by rolling it under the family's shop workbench -- another essential element inherent to Kelzer's design.

Both the vise and shear can be bolted to the tabletop with 1/2-inch bolts for added stability. The ones for the shear have washers welded to them so they can be tightened by hand; round bar is welded to the bolts that hold the vise in place for the same ease in securing.

It took him about three months of working in his spare time to complete his worktable, says Kelzer, and he estimates that it cost about $450 in materials. The main expenses were the steel, cylinder, and pump. That amount includes the vise and shear, which were both purchased new.

Before the last deer hunting season opened, Kelzer, 27, completed another project. He built 9-foot-long independently adjustable legs for a salvaged tractor cab deer stand. The stand is lifted with a skid loader for attaching the legs.

  • Family farm: Justin's parents, John and Marcie Kelzer, own Nature Haven Farm near Randall, Minnesota. They raise beef for replacement cows and sell steers.
  • Education: Studied welding and metal fabrication at Central Lakes College (CLC) in Brainerd, Minnesota, and manual machining at CLC in Staples. "The instructor there was good enough to let me use the school's shop and wire-feed welder for the table," Justin points out.
  • On his wish list: "My own shop!" he says.
  • Hobbies: Justin enjoys hunting, snowmobiling, four-wheeling, and attending steam shows. He also has a collection of six antique steam whistles. "I guess I'm just an ironhead at heart," he says.

If necessity is the mother of invention, setbacks must be the fairy godmother. After all, sometimes when things don't turn out at first, they turn into something better.

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