One item that is essential to a good fabrication space is good tables. We feel that making them yourselves is by far the smartest option!
When you create a makerspace, you need workbenches and tables. If you are in a hurry, you might buy them at big box retailers (gag!), but it’s so expensive and generally not high quality. I decided that we would build our own. I ended up building 8 workbenches and 2 standing tables for the space, and 2 special workbenches for my garage. I built them fairly simply, out of cheap construction materials like studs and plywood, held together with 2.5 inch #10 wood screws. The tools needed include a circular saw and a drill. The task becomes much easier if you also have a chop saw, drill press, table saw and a power sander.
To build the standing table, you need to start by cutting the 2X4 studs and 4”x4”x8’ planks. When working with wood, always measure everything carefully. You should find that the studs are actually 1.5X3.5 and of course the 4x4 is 3.5x3.5. Also, they are not always 8 feet long. In construction, a stud is shorter so that you don’t have to patch in narrow strips of drywall… What you need:
|4||2x4||21||End cross bracing|
|4||2x4||37||Side cross bracing|
|1||¾ ply||36x48x0.75||Table top|
So, you need about 3 or 4 studs, two 4x4s and a sheet of three quarter inch ply. These dimensions are for building a standing table that is 36 inches across and 29 inches tall. You will have enough plywood from one sheet to make 2 standing tables. You can add a shelf on the lower set of braces, which will be 21 by 37.
Measure the length needed for each piece, draw a line. You will want to cut on the side of the line opposite the piece you want to keep, because the saw takes some of the wood. You especially want to make sure that all of the legs are exactly the same length.
The easiest way to build the table is to start by building the sides, connect them with the end braces, and then the top to square it all up. If possible, talk two friends into holding the sides while you attach the ends.
In the illustration above, you see the side piece, with pink legs and blue cross bracing. On each end, there is a gap of 1.5 inches. This gap will allow you to attach the end braces later. I set the lower cross braces to be 12 inches below the top end of the legs. These lower braces give your table stability, and you can create a storage shelf if you wish. You need these side piece to be as square and stable as possible. I usually build them on top of the plywood and use the factory cut edges of the sheet to give me a guide for perfect squareness. I line everything up on the right side and then drill two holes through the cross brace above the leg:
The drill bit should be a little bit smaller than the screws (I use a 9/64” bit), so that the screws are easier to get into the wood, but they still get a good grip. I only drill through the cross brace so that I don’t have any alignment problems later. Also, I use a countersink bit to widen the hole at the top and allow the screw head to be flush with the surface. Once you have all 8 holes drilled, and the boards aligned perfectly, use your drill or an electric screwdriver to carefully drive in the 2.5 inch #10 screws. Now build the other side the same way:
Next, drill two holes in the last inch and a half of all four end braces, at each end for a total of 16 holes. Then set a side assembly standing up against a wall or have someone hold it. Set the second side on its feet a couple of feet away (it should be fairly stable). Put the middle end brace in position and screw it perfectly in place:
Then put the top end brace into position and screw it on. Repeat with the braces at the other end. If you have built the table correctly it should be fairly square with no wobble.
To create the benchtop, take your sheet of plywood and measure 36 inches down each side and make a pencil mark. Use something very straight (not a 2x4!) to draw a line between these marks. Use a circular saw (with a plywood blade) to cut on the other side of this line. If possible, orient the top with the factory edge out and the best surface on top when mounting it to the frame. The top of the table should extend 4 inches beyond the legs on all sides. Set it up, then walk around it several times measuring and adjusting until it is centered. I put one screw at each corner into the top of the legs. Countersinking these screws will make for a better work surface.
That’s a Standing Table! I sanded off all of the sharp edges, it’s the least you can do for your fellow makers. I also put 3 coats of Varathane on top, making it pretty, smooth and fluid resistant. Added a shelf on the lower braces, another piece of 3/4 plywood.. Plus, I added adjustable slides on the bottom of each leg. Drill a hole, hammer it in. They allow you to make the high table flat, even if you cut one leg too short.
Optionally, you can build this entirely out of redwood. It doesn’t cost that much more and looks better. I also built one with no bolt heads showing by cutting all of the braces at 45 degrees, bolting them together with the bolt head sunk into the end of the long braces, and then bolting the braces to the legs on the inside.
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