From the perspective of trying to work as safely as possible, where are the best places to put jack stands? Are there different spots when doing different kinds of work? I have been looking at 24" stands, are these safe enough or should I look at something a little lower?
24" stands work great. You can place them just inboard of the spring hangers on the frame for axle work/spring work.
For just general lifting of the rig, I like to go right on the axle tubs in the rear and right under the spring plates in the front.
You can easily put the whole rig in the air using the axles, but I don't like having the whole thing lifted just by the frame inboard of the inner spring hangers. If I do that, I also put a stand under the bumper.
Also, a good jack point is the rear pumpkin and the front axle tube just to the pass side of the pumpkin.
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Another thing I do when supporting it under the axles is to leave the wheels and tires on if you can and work on one side at a time.
That way if it does fall, it won't fall all the way to the ground and crush you. It will fall on the tires and give you a chance of surviving.
If I take a wheel and tire off to work on the axle or something, I lay the wheel and tire on the ground under the drum or rotor so that it falls on it instead of all the way to the ground. Try and keep body parts from between what you are working on and the ground.
I also leave my floor jack under the pumpkin or axle tube when up on the jack stands if possible.
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Depending on what I'm doing I'll put the jack stands on the frame where Rusty mentioned or if I need a wheel up I'll put it on the axle itself. Putting them on the frame allows the suspension to droop in case you need to do some suspension work. I generally use a minimum 2 jack stands and I'll place a tire(s) behind a wheel(s) as a chalk just for peace of mind. I'll even put one behind a wheel and the other under the jeep just a buffer in case it falls for some reason.