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Shop Cranes

A shop crane seems endlessly useful around the shop. There's always something big and heavy to be moved or repositioned. Some projects, like my Tejas Smoker, require a crane just to move the materials around while building it. Assembling and disassembling my Industrial Hobbies mill requires 3 people without a shop crane. I've used an engine hoist to do it, but its cumbersome. I'd like to have a crane with more capacity, the ability to get out of the way of what's under it, and with higher reach, all good qualities for a gantry crane.

This page contains my notes on shop cranes. I'm intentionally not going to encourage you to build one. Shop cranes are dangerous, and I'm no crane engineer. If you build one, you are on your own with it. I would encourage you to buy a finished crane that has been designed by professionals for safety.

The CNCCookbook Gantry Crane

After looking at some of the options below, I settled on a relatively simple steel design. I followed the general dimensions of a commercial 3 ton crane by J. Herbert. This crane will be constructed with a 12 foot length of S10 25.4# steel I-Beam on top. The legs are 4" heavy walled rectangular tubing, which I have worked with before on my mill table. 3/4" Bolts hold the I-Beam to the legs. Here is the bill of materials for the crane:

12 feet (144 inches) of S10 25.4# Steel I-Beam 304 lbs
2 pieces of 8" x 6" x 1/2" steel plate 14 lbs
2 pieces of 11 foot (132") 4" x 4" x 0.25" rectangular tubing (uprights) 281 lbs
2 pieces of 6' 8" (80") 4" x 4" rectangular tubing (horizontal legs) 170 lbs
4 pieces of 6' 4" (76") 4" x 4" rectangular tubing (diagonal leg braces) 323 lbs
4 casters  
8 x 3/4" by 2 1/2" long bolts  
8 x 3/4" nuts and lockwashers  

Weights on the BOM are courtesy of G-Wizard, which has all the structural shapes in its database. The total weight of the crane is therefore about 1100 lbs. It's a big sucker!

The crane will look something like this:

Aluminum Gantry Crane

By making it out of aluminum, it becomes much easier for one person to assemble and disassemble or move around:

Using an aluminum gantry crane to move a mill into position...

Close-up of the I-Beam Support...

Machine-Dedicated Jib Crane

An ideal shop has a jib crane permanently positioned next to each machine. This way, heavy items can be moved on and off the machine, and the crane can be used as an aid to overhauling the machine. Here are a few photos of jib cranes located near machines:

This jib crane would wrap around my mill nicely and sit against the wall. It's available for $527.00



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