May 25, 2016
by Woodworker's Journal
May 22, 2016
May 17, 2016
May 15, 2016
by George Vondriska
My friends Charlie and Joni own a residential cabinet shop that churns out lots of cabinets each year. A few years back, I noticed that they don’t have any traditional workbenches in their shop. Instead, they use a fleet of rolling shop tables. Heavy-duty casters make it easy to roll the tables around, even when they’re loaded with parts. Large assemblies can be handled by pairing a couple of tables or more) side by side. And when floor space is required, it’s easy to roll the tables off to one side and open up some real estate. I was intrigued by the versatility these simple tables added to the shop, and I decided to make some for my own shop.
I refined Charlie and Joni’s design with a keep-it-simple attitude in mind, looking for ways to make the tables even more versatile. Charlie and Joni’s table saw is surrounded by an aircraft carrier-sized outfeed table system. Mine is not. That’s why I made the tables the same height as my table saw so I could use them for support when cutting large sheets or ripping long boards. I added a drawer for storage and a magnetic strip that keeps small tools handy. A power strip provides a place to plug in portable power tools. With an eye toward economy, I worked on the table’s dimensions until I could get all the parts for one table out of one 4 x 8 sheet of plywood. Butt joints, glued and screwed, keep the joinery simple. I used BC pine plywood from a home center for my tables. You can certainly upgrade to cabinet-grade plywood, but I don’t think it’s necessary.
These simple tables have served my students and me very well for a number of years. They’re lightweight but strong. Although not designed for heavy chopping jobs like hand-cut dovetails, they’re a great work surface for a dovetail jig.
You’ve Got Options
This article will show you how to build a table that includes a drawer, but the drawer isn’t required. The material that goes into the drawer could be used, instead, to make an intermediate shelf. Or you can skip the shelf and the drawer altogether. At the end of the article, you’ll see other ways you can “trick out” these tables, along with the price tag for each optional upgrade.
Buy the casters before starting to build. You’ll need to measure their exact height to determine the final leg length.
Next, crosscut the plywood into three slabs, 36", 32" and 28" wide. Here’s one of the easiest ways to do this: lay a sheet of foam insulation board on the floor, and then lay the plywood on top of it. Mark the cut locations and clamp a steel stud in place to guide your circular saw. You’re just rough-cutting at this stage, so you don’t need to be too particular about precise dimensions. Obviously, with the saw kerf, each piece will be slightly undersized. That’s OK. You should, however, make sure the cut is perpendicular to the edge. Pay careful attention to these instructions and cutting diagram to make sure you can get all the required parts from one sheet.
Moving from Slabs to Parts
Using your table saw, cut the following parts from the slabs: rip a 19-1⁄4"-wide piece from the 36"-long slab, a 20"-wide piece from the 32"-long slab and a 61⁄2"-wide piece from the 28" slab.
Making the Legs
First, do the calculations to determine the length of the legs. Carefully measure the height of your table saw. From this number, subtract the height of your casters plus 1-1⁄2", which allows for two thicknesses of plywood. This takes into account the thickness of the top and caster braces. Since plywood is slightly less than 3/4" thick, you’ll get a table that’s a tiny bit lower than the top of your table saw — perfect for outfeed support.
Rip the wide and narrow leg pieces (pieces 1 and 2) to width. Note that the widths given in the Material List are nominal, not the actual width. Your leg parts will end up slightly narrower. If you add up the widths of all eight leg pieces, you get 19", which doesn’t include saw kerfs. You’ll be able to get all the leg pieces from the 19-1⁄4"-wide piece by setting the rip fence so the dimension reads to the outside of the blade (see top inset photo), not the inside as you normally do. This technique allows you to get the widest possible parts for the legs. These are the only parts that require measuring this way.
After the leg pieces are ripped, glue and brad-nail the wide piece to the narrow one to make a corner. Mark the parts with the approximate location of the final leg-length cut so you don’t put any nails there.
Square one end of each leg and cut them all to finished length. Using a 1/4"-diameter roundover router bit, ease the outside corners of all four legs.
Building the Frames
The top and bottom frames are identical in size. Make the frames by ripping six of the short and long frame pieces (pieces 3 and 4) from the 20" x 32" slab and two from the 7" x 28" slab. Crosscut the parts to finished length.
Drill pocket holes in the four parts you’ll use for the top frame, three pockets in each piece. Pocket screws will be used to attach the top later. If you don’t have a pocket-hole jig and are willing to live with screws showing in the top, you can fasten the top by simply screwing down through it to the upper frame.
Assemble the frames. The long frame pieces overlap the short pieces.
Joining the Legs and Frames
Glue and screw the frames to the legs. Cut the bottom shelf (piece 5) from what remains of the 32" plywood slab. Round over the top corners. Glue and nail the shelf to the bottom frame.
Adding Braces and Casters
Rip a strip for the caster braces (pieces 6) from the 28" slab. Cut one end at 45 degrees. The only way to get all four pieces from the strip is by cutting them so angled sides face one another. I do this by swiveling my miter saw to the right and making the first cut. Leave the saw where it is and flip the blank. Cut the brace free. With the saw still angled to the right, flip the blank back again to cut the next brace, and so on.
Glue and screw the caster braces to the bottom of the lower frame. Secure the casters to the braces with short lag screws and washers.
Making the Drawer
Rip the drawer rails, sides, front, back and face (pieces 7 through 10) from what’s left of the 28" slab.
Fitting the drawer rails between the legs is a perfect application for transferring length instead of taking a measurement with a ruler. I use this technique whenever I can, and I find it’s much more accurate than measuring. Carefully cut the drawer rails to length and install them.
Cut the drawer sides to the same length as the slides. Cut the drawer front and back to length, being careful to allow for the thickness of the drawer sides and slides. Mill a groove in the drawer box pieces for the drawer bottom. Cut the drawer bottom to size and assemble the parts with glue and screws.
Install the drawer slides on the drawer box and rails so the top of the drawer is 1/8" below the bottom of the upper frame.
Cut the drawer face to length so it fits between the leg posts. I allow a 3/32" gap per side between the face and the legs. Ease the front corners of the drawer face with your router and 1/4"-diameter roundover bit. Screw and glue the drawer face to the drawer box, from the inside out, allowing the face to project 1/4" below the drawer box. This provides a handy finger grip you can grab to open the drawer.
Topping It Off
Here’s an approach to edge-banded plywood that guarantees perfect corners. Cut the top (piece 12) to length from what remains of the 36"- wide slab, but leave it overly wide. Make the edge banding (pieces 13 and 14). Glue and brad-nail the banding to the ends of the top, keeping one end of the banding flush with an edge and letting the other end run past the opposite edge. After the glue is dry, position the flush edge against the rip fence on your table saw and cut the opposite edge so the saw blade cuts through the banding and just skims the plywood. This ensures that the plywood and banding will be perfectly flush. Then rotate the top and, with the freshly cut edge against the fence, cut it to size. Fasten the last two pieces of edge banding.
Round over the top and bottom corners of the banding. Center and screw the top to the frame and legs.
Sand the entire table through the grits to 180. On a shop project like this, I’ll typically only apply finish to the heavy traffic areas, like the top. But there’s nothing wrong with finishing the entire project if you prefer. I used furniture oil on the top, but poly or any other durable finish you have on hand will do just as nicely. Fasten the magnetic tool holder and power strip.
Now, take a gander at the upgrade options shown below to see how you can soup up this cart ... or the others you’re bound to make soon!
May 12, 2016
April 14, 2016
by Matt Becker
April 1, 2016
by Chris Marshall
Benchtop planers can do most of what you need them to in your home workshop, but many shops could get use out of a large, stationary planer.
April 1, 2016
by Matt Becker
February 13, 2016
February 7, 2016
by Michael Dresdner
Wormy wood has an interesting look, but it tends to cause bubbles when you apply finish, thankfully there is a technique to prevent this.