Used Workshop Equipment Represents a Great Value

Used Workshop Equipment Represents a Great Value

But moving it to your shop can kill a great deal.

A used piece of equipment can be a great value. The price is often very reasonable and the machine will come with many accessories that you must buy à la carte with a new machine. Sometimes heirs just want the machine out of the basement so that they can close a chapter on a loved one. The deal breaker for most people in buying used machinery is moving it.

A couple of weeks ago I got a call from a long time friend and colleague. His shop “had to go” because he was moving into a retirement home. “Was I, or did I know someone, who might be interested in his Oneway 2536 Lathe?” Having always wanted what I refer to as the Marcedes-Benz of lathes I said, “look no further.” We agreed on an extremely fair price based on two additional codicils: That I would remove the Oneway from his basement expeditiously and that he could visit his lathe whenever able. We shook hands on the bargain.


I have moved a lot of heavy stuff in my day. For really big machines you call a rigger, the term for machinery movers. At one of my early jobs I watched riggers move a forty-five ton press brake. When our family was manufacturing lathes I did ten or more trade shows a year. I got so sick of moving seventy-five pound lathe legs that I had three sets cast from aluminum, which reduced the weight to twenty-five pounds. To compensate for the lack of weight I would super glue the feet to the floor. This scheme was busted when a brute of a Texan grabbed the lathe and lifted it with two floor tiles still attached to the lathe.

I have accumulated a kit of essentials for moving heavy objects. With these implements I have moved a lot of heavy stuff the most challenging being a nine hundred pound safe. They include:
• One small hydraulic jack and two automotive floor jacks; the newer one from Harbor Freight is low profile, which is much better for getting under things.
• An assortment of crowbars for lifting machine bases enough to get under them.
• Two hand trucks (dollies).
• Wide canvas straps for lifting from a convent height with your legs and not your back.
• Rounding out this array is a climbing rope, a come along and a half-ton chain hoist.


Stairs are always the biggest challenge and most shops in North Eastern Ohio are in basements. My friend’s basement was a flight of stairs ending on a landing with a door to the right. Complicating matters, there was no place to anchor a rope or hoist from above to secure the load.

Divide and conquer is a good slogan when moving machines. The Oneway was easy unbolted into manageable pieces that I was able to carry up the stairs to my pickup truck in a few hours. The thorn was the bed, which even with the motor removed was three hundred pounds. With no way to secure from above I was uncomfortable with a standard dolly.

After a couple of hours on the Internet I found a rental company with a stair climbing hand truck called a Lectro Truck.  Clicking the link will take you to a training video. This amazing dolly has an electric motor and a battery that allows the operator to raise and lower the wheels and climb stairs. I was able move the Oneway bed out of the basement to my truck with no damage to the house or the lathe. I had the Lectro Truck back to the rental agency inside of four hours for a rental charge of $74.48. What is more I moved the lathe and reassembled it at my shop single handily with no help whatsoever?

Have you moved heavy pieces of equipment? Tell us your stories or share your best tips for moving heavy tools and equipment.

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  • Brad

    In the past year I’ve moved a 5hp Sawstop Industrial, a Jet 8″ jointer and a Rikon 14″ deluxe. The Sawstop was the most challenging as its close to 700 lbs I believe. I rented a 5’x9′ uhaul trailer with a gate ramp and managed to pull the Sawstop into it by attaching a come-along to the front of the trailer and wrapping straps around the saw. The most difficult part was the floor of the trailer was corrugated so the mobile base bottomed out once it got up there.

    A little ingenuity, a lot of shoving and some scraped paint later we were able to secure it and then unload back at my shop. The come-along was invaluable in that whole process.


  • bcbob

    I have moved many pieces of printing equipment in my life and the one thing I would add to your list is a good Johnson bar and some low profile dollies. These would be on my list if I still moved heavy equipment. But a pretty good list . . . you could move a lot of stuff with this . . . .:)

  • John J Crouse

    I too have moved many heavy machines, the heaviest is my 18″ Crescent Jointer which weighs in around 1500 pounds. Have moved it several times. All the equipment you have mentioned is fine, but you missed the simplest using pipe for rollers!

  • geraldvg

    I’ve had a wood shop and power tools for over 50 years and have moved it at least six times, all by myself. I’ve used a combination of basic physics employing levers, pulleys, rollers, jacks, hoists, come-alongs, ramps, ropes & straps and most recently a tractor’s bucket lift. Thankfully I’ve never had to move into or out of a basement. It just takes thought and planning (always protecting yourself from back injury or dropping something).

  • KellyCraig

    For little tools, like my 52″ Unisaw, Powermatic band saw and so forth, that range in weight around three hundred pounds, I apply techniques like geraldvg mentions.

    For example, I hand truck the item to my van. I position 4×4’s just left or right of the item. I tilt it back and push the 4x under the front. If that gets it high enough, I just tilt it on into my van, on carpet or something else that wont scratch it.

    For my band saw, I did the same thing, but switched to 4×6’s to start the raising process. Because I was loading it into my Grumman, with a higher deck, I also had a 4×6 near the back. Once on the forward one, I tipped it forward and put one behind it. Then I tipped it back and added a 4×4 to the front, which got it high enough to put into my Grumman.

    Last week, I removed an Grizzly 8″ jointer from its crate by removing the sides, front and back, then pressing down and lifting the table to duck walk it off the crate base. After that, I was able to pull it on to its base by putting some of the crate foam under the front, so sliding it wouldn’t scratch it. Just before it dropped off the bed of the truck, I added more Styrofoam at the back.

    In the end, these methods allowed me to avoid lifting, or, with the jointer, pulling a lot of weight, which is good for this sixty-four year old missing a large chunk of his heart.

  • Josua Lara

    Oh boy my father has been moving heavy equipment for 2 years now thanks for sharing some tips surely they will help my father. Why not use small equipment like a table saw