I managed to get started today and got a lot done, even with a short break to scramble some eggs for my wife (she’s in nursing school and works damn near full time, so I do most of the cooking). I started out by clearing some room on the MDF sheets I’d laid out last night. I put a few of the 1×4’s I bought under the sheets to keep them off the garage floor. I figured this was the flatest surface I was going to get for now, so I used it.
First up, I cut the outside frame for the top piece, being the largest I figured I’d start with that torsion box so when it was done, I could set it up on my saw horses for doing the rest. The outside frame consists of five boards, with one extra front board to make the total thickness there 3”. This was done to facilitate the lag screws that will be used to attach the dog hole assembly later. After the cutting was done, I glued and screwed the two front pieces together using Gorilla wood glue. I clamped one end, and started putting screws in, forcing the two boards to align as I went. Don’t know if that was a bad idea, with the added stress of the boards, but I figured with glue and screws it wasn’t going anywhere.
I let the glue dry for a few minutes (Gorilla dries fast, and it was still clamped), then attached the sides and back. I did this with a counter sink bit and deck screws, making sure I lined up on the center of the sides to avoid splitting the boards. I also drilled very slowly, since my drill doesn’t have torque settings, and turned it by hand a few cranks at the end to sink the screw just below the surface.
Next I put in the beams running the width of the top, using a speed square to try and get them as close to straight as possible:
All three done:
Now come all the small cuts… I did this the speedy way (and not the most accurate). I marked out the position of each beam, one for each foot of table top. I then took a 1x and laid it along this line, marking where the parallel boards hit them. I then used my carpenter’s square to draw lines on the face, adding 1/8” for each additional block on the board to compensate for the kerf of my chop saw. This actually worked surprisingly well, as most of the cross members were a snug fit (only 2 had a noticeable gap). I made sure to measure the depth over each as I put them in to make sure I wasn’t causing one end to bow out. I used a T50 stapler to attach the cross members, both top and bottom.
I had to stop here, as I’m expected over at my parent’s house for Sunday dinner, but I did clean up my work area and created a temporary table to work on (MDF sheet on top of 1×4’s on top of my saw horses). I really should have done that first, as my back is killing me from bending over this thing on the floor all morning…
I took my 4’ level and started checking for flatness, and I am surprised at how flat it is looking. The picture below shows the level over one cross member, and there is no rocking and no gap. The entire top is like this from end to end, so I am confident I’ll have at least one flat surface :)
There doesn’t appear to be any gap around the bottom edge either, where it is sitting on the makeshift MDF table. For my next step, I plan to lay another sheet of MDF on top of this, lined up with a corner, and trace the outline. Then I’ll cut it out, giving myself an inch or two for each edge that I’ll clean up later with a router. I’m going to do it that way, because I did check the squareness of this and I’m about 3/8” out of square diagonally. I’m not unhappy with that, considering it’s my first attempt, and I’m working with material as-is.
More to come!
-- The difference between being defeated and admitting defeat is what makes all the difference in the world - Upton Sinclair, "The Jungle"