Home Depot Husky sent over a low-profile floor jack a while back, and I’ve used on my vehicle maybe once or twice. What I didn’t realize was how much use this jack would see in my garage workshop.
There are a wide variety of lifting and hoisting tools that I should probably own. But, cranes and gantries take up too much space for how little use they would see, and hoists would require extensive reinforcement to the ceiling. If I can’t store a crane, a gantry is certainly out of the question.
I built a temporary pulley-based lift a few years ago, to raise the head of my drill press on top of its column, and after that I purchased a worm-gear winch for future needs. With the pulley system, there was nowhere near enough mechanical leverage to make the job easy.
I might build a knock-down aluminum-framed gantry at one point, but if need-be I can create a 2×4-based lifting tower with minimal effort.
Back to this jack. In addition to being able to lift vehicles, it can lift certain other things as well.
I’ve used to replace caster wheels attached to workbenches or tool cabinets too heavy to tilt over.
And yesterday, I used it to lift a 400-pound jointer onto its base. The process of uncrating and raising the jointer took me about 4 hours, but I got it done safely thanks to this Husky low-profile jack.
In addition to being able to fit underneath narrow gaps 3-1/8″ off the ground, it can be raised to a height of 19-3/4″. The wheels make it mobile, and although fairly heavy, the jack can be lifted and moved around if need-be.
I’ve kept the jack in a corner of my workshop, but will probably find a new home for it now that it’s out in the middle of the floor again. The handles remove easily, and so it can be very easily stored with a small footprint.
The way I raised my 6-foot-long jointer table, I blocked it up on each side and eventually removed the crate and pallet from underneath it.
Lift one end with the jack, place 2×4 support under that side of the jointer table, lower the jack, then switch to the other side. I basically built taller and taller towers on each side to support the wings of the jointer table until it was tall enough for me to place on top of the base unit.
Lifting equipment in this manner can be risky, but I took precautions with how my wood blocks were stacked and I supported the main table mount with taller and taller load-rated platforms.
This wasn’t the most effective approach – an engine or shop crane would have shaved a bunch of time, effort, and frustration off the task, but then I’d need to find a place to store it.
This worked for me because I had to lift the jointer table only about waist-high. If I had purchased the larger parallelogram-style jointer with a wider base, I would have had to have rented lifting equipment, built a wide gantry, or used some other type of crane or hoist.
Everything could have slipped and fallen at any moment, and so I took precautions with providing proper support under the center as well. And, I worked with the assumption that something could slip and fall at any moment, which meant never putting my fingers or hands where they could be crushed.
The jointer dropped half an inch at one point, and slid horizontally at another, but my fail-safes worked. I worked slowly and carefully, and was prepared to give up and call it a day until I could figure out alternate lifting means.
400 pounds is nothing for a 3-ton jack, but I appreciated its ease of use just the same. Operation is a little different with workshop equipment than a car, since the lifting position shifts with use and can move your load laterally. With a car, your jack might move since the car won’t.
I absolutely do NOT recommend using automotive jacks in any way described here or in any way other than recommended by manufacturers. Misuse can and will lead to injuries. As an aside, if you’re lifting a vehicle, follow manufacturer’s directions and also use jack stands – a jack is a lifting device and not to be used for support.
The Husky jack is straightforward to use, and it has been secure and reliable with every automotive and non-automotive use so far.
As for workshop use, I’m always up for safer, easier, and better tools. While this worked well for raising the corner of a mobile tool cabinet, the same can’t be said about going back and forth lifting the sides of a jointer table a little higher incrementally.
A lift table wouldn’t have worked, partially because I couldn’t get the jointer table on top of it in the first place, but also due to storage limitations. An engine crane would have worked perfectly. But again, where would it go for storage?
I have seen portable gantry cranes, but they’re very expensive.
The funny part is that after every improvisation like this, I think “I’m definitely going to build a bolt-together gantry that I can easily store!” But, I don’t, and then the next lifting task comes along and I improvise in a different manner. For instance, I’ve lifted a 52″ tool chest on top of a mobile tool cabinet, solo, using ratcheting tie-down straps anchored to the bottom cabinet. But how often do I need to do that?
I’ve got a 1500 lb-rated worm gear winch (Dutton-Lainson WG1500HD with hex drive, available at Amazon) and a coil of 3/16″ wire rope from the same company. It’s about time I create a portable gantry that can be used with this and other attachments. Hmm, and if I do it right, maybe I can design it to be multi-functional so that most of the structure can be used more than once or twice a year.
Thinking aloud, looking at load calculations, an 80/20 beam capable of supporting 1000+ loads with minimal deflection would be run ~$280 with shipping. I could potentially build the base and design it for use with 2x4s or 2x6s doubled up. Or, I could go with a smaller 3″ x 3″ aluminum extrusion that could be replaced by a beefy 3″ x 6″ if or when needed.
Well, in the meantime, the Husky low-profile jack has gotten me out of some difficult lifting tasks. But as mentioned, I don’t recommend it – don’t do as I do, as it is risky to health and property.