Building a simple quick work table - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 16 Old 08-13-2017, 08:42 PM Thread Starter
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Building a simple quick work table

I want to make a simple work surface to build my exterior door on. It will have to be 4x8 minimum size.
I currently have an old steel drafting table outside, the surface of which was a big piece of ply that has rotted so I tore it off today. I think I can put a new surface on that will do the trick, and the frame of the table is about 30x60. I can, I think figure out a way to put a surface on it but the question is, how to get something that is large, flat and level with the least amount of effort, expense and time.
I'm thinking I could build a simple frame from MDF 8 1x2x4s sandwiched between two sheets of 1/2 or 3/4 MDF that would give me something that could be made pretty much perfectly level and flat. I'd shim if necessary under the surface between it and the table frame.

I'm also wondering if I can just get away with a single sheet of MDF, no framing. the table is level and the steel frame is 30.5 x 59 inches, with sheet steel running all the way around the top. a single piece of MDF could just be screwed to it, but I'm a bit concerned that it might not be level enough.

Again, all advice and suggestions welcome...

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post #2 of 16 Old 08-13-2017, 09:10 PM
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build a torsion box

Take 2 pieces of 3/8" ply or even 1/4" and build a egg crate like structure between them, about 3" thick or so. Here's a thread I posted my outfeed table in:
http://www.woodworkingtalk.com/f2/to...sizing-104889/



It will be strong and stay flat, IF you build it correctly. You will need a 8 ft straight edge, 10 ft would be better. Just make one side at a time and one edge at a time.
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The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)
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post #3 of 16 Old 08-13-2017, 09:22 PM
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It doesn't have to be level, just flat.
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post #4 of 16 Old 08-13-2017, 09:32 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by woodnthings View Post
Take 2 pieces of 3/8" ply or even 1/4" and build a egg crate like structure between them, about 3" thick or so. Here's a thread I posted my outfeed table in:
http://www.woodworkingtalk.com/f2/to...sizing-104889/



It will be strong and stay flat, IF you build it correctly. You will need a 8 ft straight edge, 10 ft would be better. Just make one side at a time and one edge at a time.
Wouldn't MDF be preferable being machined and more dimensionally stable than ply? Thats why I was thinking of doing it in 100% MDF, 1x2 MDF boards (should) be straight and not warp...

Thanks for the torsion box info, I'll definitely use this technique!

Last edited by tucsonguy1; 08-13-2017 at 09:49 PM.
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post #5 of 16 Old 08-13-2017, 10:05 PM
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MDF is better, but ...

It's also quite heavy. I used it on my outfeed table and the thing weighs a ton. Plywood is notoriously not flat unless you get a good grade of hardwood, like Baltic Birch. The procedure I used was to use a straight edge clamped along with the internal longitudinal member so it was insure to be flat. I worked one edge at a time, then the center.

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)
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post #6 of 16 Old 08-13-2017, 10:23 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by woodnthings View Post
It's also quite heavy. I used it on my outfeed table and the thing weighs a ton. Plywood is notoriously not flat unless you get a good grade of hardwood, like Baltic Birch. The procedure I used was to use a straight edge clamped along with the internal longitudinal member so it was insure to be flat. I worked one edge at a time, then the center.
Well, my table isn't as big so weight isn't so much of a problem. I think I'll use 1/2" MDF top and maybe only a 1/4 MDF bottom, and 1x2x8 MDF crossways and build boxes every 6 or 8 inches. The 1x2 MDF should need no planing or ripping (but I will check it) so I think that's the easiest way to go in the long run.

I don't have a 8 foot straight edge so I'll have to think on how I will handle that issue.

Thanks for the expert advice, most helpful!
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post #7 of 16 Old 01-25-2018, 04:19 AM
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Personally I'd hunt down a couple of 24" Hollow Core Closet doors. Free salvage and pretty much as flat as you will ever need for any kind of assembly.

Bill - Rochester MI
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"The trouble with quotes on the internet is that you never know if they are genuine."President Abraham Lincoln - 1876
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post #8 of 16 Old 01-25-2018, 06:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Bluenote38 View Post
Personally I'd hunt down a couple of 24" Hollow Core Closet doors. Free salvage and pretty much as flat as you will ever need for any kind of assembly.
This is the route I took for my portable/moveable/temporary work benches. You do not even have to have totally hollow core.

George
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post #9 of 16 Old 01-25-2018, 02:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Bluenote38 View Post
Personally I'd hunt down a couple of 24" Hollow Core Closet doors. Free salvage and pretty much as flat as you will ever need for any kind of assembly.
Lots of them at the Habitat ReStore for $10 or less.
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post #10 of 16 Old 01-25-2018, 06:50 PM
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Yeah ... hollow-core doors are like torsion boxes, in terms of how they are structured internally.

... turning perfectly good wood into firewood every day ... :smile3:
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post #11 of 16 Old 01-25-2018, 07:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tucsonguy1 View Post
Wouldn't MDF be preferable being machined and more dimensionally stable than ply? Thats why I was thinking of doing it in 100% MDF, 1x2 MDF boards (should) be straight and not warp...

Thanks for the torsion box info, I'll definitely use this technique!
Don't use MDF for the interior portion of the torsion box. You will be fastening into the edges of the MDF which is terrible at holding fasteners. In this case plywood or straight lumber would be a much better option.
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post #12 of 16 Old 01-26-2018, 08:20 AM
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4x8 is bigger than a single door, and 2 doors together are more like 6x6.

2 pieces of 1/2" mdf with 2x4 internal support would make a torsion box the size you need. Or plywood. The thing will be pretty dang heavy though.

Or you could do it in 2 parts, each 4x4. At least the thing wouldn't be so heavy then.

... turning perfectly good wood into firewood every day ... :smile3:
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post #13 of 16 Old 01-26-2018, 04:15 PM
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Personally I'd hunt down a couple of 24" Hollow Core Closet doors. Free salvage and pretty much as flat as you will ever need for any kind of assembly.
Yep. As you've already noted in that other thread, the hollow core doors are in fact torsion boxes. They demonstrate that the torsion box concept is about economy of efficient material use, so for Pete's sake, skip any notions of using MDF in your torsion box. Torsion box = airplane wing construction (thin skin w/ strong, light internal framing)

Here's why: MDF doesn't offer much shear value for its incredible weight -- MDF cannot be considered for structural strength, it is used because it is cheap and has a machined surface. Because it has little structural strength, you'll see it lay over the stickers and racks at the lumber yard like a freakin' noodle. You'll be better off using any kind of solid wood 1x4's for the internal framing and something like luan door skins or 1/4" plywood faces (as long as you aren't planning of abusing the surfaces). If you'll be pounding on the faces, then just lay that awful mdf sheet over your torsion box as protection, although tempered hardboard would be a better choice IMO due to its lesser weight.
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post #14 of 16 Old 01-27-2018, 05:55 AM
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Yep. As you've already noted in that other thread, the hollow core doors are in fact torsion boxes. They demonstrate that the torsion box concept is about economy of efficient material use, so for Pete's sake, skip any notions of using MDF in your torsion box. Torsion box = airplane wing construction (thin skin w/ strong, light internal framing)

Here's why: MDF doesn't offer much shear value for its incredible weight -- MDF cannot be considered for structural strength, it is used because it is cheap and has a machined surface. Because it has little structural strength, you'll see it lay over the stickers and racks at the lumber yard like a freakin' noodle. You'll be better off using any kind of solid wood 1x4's for the internal framing and something like luan door skins or 1/4" plywood faces (as long as you aren't planning of abusing the surfaces). If you'll be pounding on the faces, then just lay that awful mdf sheet over your torsion box as protection, although tempered hardboard would be a better choice IMO due to its lesser weight.
Good post. I have never understood the love affair many people have for MDF.


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post #15 of 16 Old 01-27-2018, 05:56 AM
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4x8 is bigger than a single door, and 2 doors together are more like 6x6.

2 pieces of 1/2" mdf with 2x4 internal support would make a torsion box the size you need. Or plywood. The thing will be pretty dang heavy though.

Or you could do it in 2 parts, each 4x4. At least the thing wouldn't be so heavy then.
Actually most interior doors are about 32" wide and 84" tall. Many are only 30" and some 28".

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post #16 of 16 Old 01-28-2018, 12:11 AM
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Actually most interior doors are about 32" wide and 84" tall. Many are only 30" and some 28".

George
So yeah ... like I said, 2 doors together would be about 6x6. The OP said 8x4. I don't know how much he wants it to be that size though.

... turning perfectly good wood into firewood every day ... :smile3:
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