Moving a Power Tool into the Basement

EagleHasLandedSo I recently got a 12″ jointer/planer for my basement shop.  It weighs 500 pounds, 600 shipped.  Getting it down there was tricky but I managed it after some planning and deliberate, slow work.

I used three simple machines to help out: wheels, levers, and incline planes.

Lever: A harbor freight 1-ton shop crane to lift the tool

Wheels: Furniture dollies to move it around

Incline Plane: Sturdy, stable ramps over my basement stairs

I left the tool crated during the entire move because jointers are top-heavy and have small bases as compared to their overall dimensions.  I figured that a large rectangle would be easier to maneuver than a jointer, and also damage would be reduced if I messed up and it tipped over.

Shop Crane

The shop crane was the key to this whole thing because it let me lift the crate.  The legs of the crane do not allow the center of the crate to be moved below the hook so I extended its reach.  I sandwiched two 2×6’s around the arm, using 3/8″ threaded rod through existing holes in the arm.  I used three rods, the first in the hook bolting point, and the second and third in the fixed part of the arm.  To maximize leverage I used the holes on each end of the fixed arm segment.

A test lift
A test lift

Even with its arm 4′ or so beyond its original length it had no problem lifting the 600 pound crate.  As you can see I did have to add counter weights in the form of 60 pound sand tubes.  At the crane’s maximum stock reach its rated at 500 pounds (1/4 ton).  I realized that I’m far exceeding this by having the load so far out, but in my opinion the crane is very over-engineered.  This is a smart choice on their part because it’s involved in a inherently dangerous operation.

For lifting the crate I used two 1200 pound working load ratchet straps.


To move the crate from the garage to the basement door I built a large dolly with 4″ caster wheels.  It worked nicely over the pitted, rough cement on the way there but I probably would have gotten away with regular furniture dollies for this.

Two of the small Harbor Freight dollies did a fine job rolling down the ramp and for moving the crate around the basement.  I simply cinched them onto the belly of the crate with two of those ratchet straps acting like big belts.

HF Dollies
HF Dollies


Using two 2×10’s side-by-side I made ramps over the stairs.  They are supported from the bottom in three places: top, bottom, and in the middle.  The middle support isn’t visible in this photos but I just wedged two vertical boards under there.  I screwed all three supports in place from the top.  If the ramp shifted I didn’t want the supports to roll out from under it.

The cross-piece is attached to the ramp and is wedged against the door frame.  Its job is to prevent the ramp from sliding.

ramp2 ramp1

Moving it Down

I positioned the crate by the door and then used the crane to lift up over the threshold.

Lift over the threshold
Lift over the threshold

Next I used another Harbor Freight product, their 1200 pound winch puller to lower the crate down the ramp.  I anchored it onto the crane, and as you can see I buttressed the crane legs against the house using sand bags as pads.  I made sure to put the anchor rope low on the crane in order to avoid tipping forces.

Crate, Winch Puller, and Anchor
Crate, Winch Puller, and Anchor

From here it was just a slow process of lowering it down the ramp one ratchet notch at a time.  The winch has a really short cable length, 3.6′, so twice I had to take the tension off the winch (again with a ratchet strap), wind the winch back in, and add rope between the crate and winch.

WheelClearance LiftAsAnchorPoint GoingDown2

Crate, Winch Puller, and Anchor
Crate, Winch Puller, and Anchor


The eagle has landed!


Once I got the crane centered on the ramp it went straight down.  However if I do this again I will add short railings to the sides of the ramp just to prevent the dolly wheels from ever slipping off.

So in the end this little project went really well, I was able to safely move a heavy tool down a narrow, awkward space.  I don’t think it would have been doable with just human power because of the small space.

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