DIY Scissor Lift Table Using Actuators

Scissor lift platforms belong to the oldest types of lifting equipment. Modern platforms are widely used in different fields for lifting heavy cargo at different heights and transporting goods. You can use them not only in big warehouses but also at home when you need to work with heavy items.

You can always choose to buy or rent a scissor lift table from your nearest store, but if you use this equipment on a regular basis you may want to consider building your own scissor lift table. In this blog, we will help you with steps to making your own scissor lift table.

Uses for a Scissor Lift Table

The main purpose of the platform with a lifting mechanism is to lift the heavy items and hold them at a certain height. It is used in large warehouses for stacking and sorting cargo. The bigger models can function as elevators and transport items between different floors. A scissor lift table optimizes work to a high extent by facilitating access to cargo on racks and high shelves. The control is carried out by one person and does not require any additional training.

Good news is that you can use a scissor lift table at home if you work with heavy items or would like to renovate a car in your garage. In this case, you can construct a mechanism which allows you to lift the car from any side.

Using Actuators for the DIY Scissor Lift Table

Every scissor lift mechanism requires an actuator to manage its work. Depending on the type of energy generation and conversion, actuators can be:

  • Hydraulic
  • Electric
  • Pneumatic

A scissor lift linear actuator converts the energy and moves the scissors to lift the platform. From a technical point of view, linear actuators use the same principle of work, however, they do the job in a different way. Study the characteristics of available models, analyze your needs and choose a suitable one.

Types of Lifting Platforms

In the case of a hydraulic actuator, the mechanism is driven by a hydraulic transmission consisting of two working cylinders connected by a small channel through which hydraulic oil is released when you press the starting lever or button.

The pneumatic actuators work on the same principle. They consist of a pneumatic cylinder that has compressed air inside from a special tank (bought separately).

An electric actuator scissor lift is in many ways similar to a hydraulic one. They also have a reinforced frame, a scissor mechanism, and a hydraulic pump; however, they are distinguished by the presence of an electric actuator, which, when turned on, increases the pressure. Electric platforms have high rates of carrying capacity and working height - these characteristics can be improved by installing one or more additional engines.

The lifting platform has minimum dimensions of length and width. The shorter the platform is, the more the scissors you need to install to raise it to the desired height. As for the materials used for the platform itself, you can choose wood, metal or hard plastic according to your need.

Designing and Calculations for Scissor Lift Table

It is important to calculate the force, the stress, and the reaction of materials you will use for building a scissor lift table. It correlates directly with the stability and safety of the mechanism. Even though the mechanism works slowly, it is a dynamic one.

You must consider two main positions: the lowest and the highest. In the lowest position, the mechanism lies on the floor. In the highest position, the platform is raised up to the maximal height. Before starting the construction, observe the highest position and the force which is needed to move it up. In any other intermediate position, the results of your calculations will depend on these two factors.

Parts Required

Every scissor lift table consists of certain parts which maintain its functioning and safety. Among the basic elements are:

  • Base
  • Scissor mechanism
  • Platform
  • Linear actuator
  • Motor
  • Control panel

The electric actuator scissor lift is usually equipped with electric engines that convert electrical energy into mechanical and allow the device’s functioning. An actuator is an engine itself and the most common types are:

  • Direct current (DC) motors
  • Alternating current (AC) motors
  • Stepper motors

DC motors are simple in design and cheap, so they are used for the simplest actuators. The weakness lies in the fast depreciation. AC motors are characterized by high power and lasting life cycle. Therefore, they are suitable for those actuators you plan to use more often and for more intense work. Stepper motors are powered by a pulse signal and suitable for the linear actuators with medium accuracy and not intensive exploitation.

Diagrams for DIY Scissor Lift Table

The basis of any construction work is a carefully thought out and calculated diagram of the project. You can easily find already calculated and measured diagrams on the Internet; however, they may be inaccurate. The second way is to find a reliable specialist. Nowadays, there are many construction companies, as well as individuals, who are ready to help with homemade scissor lift plans. Before you contact them, make a complete list of requirements - the dimensions, material, and outlook.


To build your own scissor lift, you must combine different processes and work with various mechanisms. The following tutorial will define the main steps of construction and the points important for every stage. Like any other lifting equipment, your DIY scissor lift mechanism must meet the high requirements of reliability and safety.

Step 1 - Constructing the top and the base

To begin, take a piece of plain wood for a platform. Cut it to create the top and the base parts. The size of these two pieces can vary depending on the use of the scissor lift table. Take the wooden or metal bars and cut them into smaller pieces to create the frame for the top and bottom parts. When it is ready, glue it and put in the nails. Remember that it has to be solid and the top platform has to be stable and should fit the frame. If your DIY scissor lift table is for heavy loads, replace the wooden parts with metal ones.

Step 2 - Constructing the scissor mechanism

For the scissor mechanism itself, you will need to cut the wood or metal parts. All the parts should connect with each other and apply to the required height. Next step is to attach the scissor mechanism to the top and bottom parts of the lifting table. In order to raise and lower the table smoothly, you will need to install bearings along the edges of the scissor mechanism. Then, you fix the construction with screws or weld all the elements together.

Step 3 - Connecting the linear actuator

Once you have assembled the scissor lift parts together, the next step is to make the table operate and be functional. At this stage, you connect your linear actuator on a scissor lifting table and check if the mechanism is moving up and down without any bugs. If everything functions, then set limits for the bearings, so that they do not jump off accidentally.

Step 4 - Test check

It is now time to check how your DIY scissor lift table functions. Make sure that all the parts are properly connected, and the linear actuator works appropriately. You should ensure that your table can be lifted in case of an emergency, in order to minimize any damage or injuries. If you’re unsure of the working of your table, it’s best advised to consult a specialist to help with your construction.

Designing a homemade scissor lift can be more cost-effective than purchasing one. We hope our guide will help you through all the stages of the construction. Keep in mind that for your own safety, you must make the right calculations and design a plan for your future scissor lift table.

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