Expandable Worktable

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Blog entry by Dan posted 01-09-2011 12:07 AM 4755 reads 2 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’ve recently started woodworking over the past 6 months and I’ve been getting my shop together. I needed a table that I could use as an assembly, outfeed, and work table. I got the idea for this project from the newest Shop Notes Vol. 20 Issue 115. The idea is a small footprint work table that can expand to hold a full sheet of plywood for cutting. The table also has a sacrificial top so that I can abuse the thing without worrying about it. This bench is also completely made of 2×4s and MDF. This is great because I’m a little short on cash lately. There is no fancy joinery just glue and screw for this project.

I started by getting 16 premium 2×4x8’ Kiln dried white wood boards and a sheet of 3/4 MDF from my local big box. I didn’t want to wait until I could get to the lumber yard which is quite a ways away and I also had a gift card from Christmas.

(TOOL GLOAT) When I was at the big box store I also picked up a Dewalt 734 thickness planer. I’ve been waiting for one of these for awhile. I got the Lowes 10% discount online and with the gift certificate it worked out to be a fairly good deal.

I tried to pick the best boards I could find. I ended up just not worrying about the knots and just making sure the boards were straight. It was a real lost cause to try to find anything close to a clear board.

I then went to my local Woodcraft and picked up all the hardware I would need. Basically its 4 4’ sections of T-track and 2 hold downs. I went with the Incra T-track as that’s all I could find.

Then I started the milling process. I didn’t worry about getting everything milled up perfectly. I jointed one edge and then ripped to width on the table saw. After that I cut to length on my miter saw. After it was all milled up I got to work on the assembly.

Below is the top all glued and screwed and ready to go. The outside pieces sit 1/4 inch proud of the inside 2×4’s. This allows the MDF top to drop in and sit proud by a half 1/2 inch. This design guarantees that you won’t hit a screw or other piece of hardware when cutting a piece of plywood on top.

Next I glued up the legs. I added a few more clamps and didn’t worry about clamping them all together. I’m also adding screws so I’m not worried about the lamination failing.

Next I attached the legs to the top

Then I added the stretchers. There will be a shelf on these at some point to add to the rigidity of the structure.

Then I started cutting the dadoes on the router table for the T-track in the extension pieces so that I can start assembling them.

All in all not a bad amount done for a day and a half of work. Going to the store and picking out the materials took the most time so far. I still have a lot left to do but I’ll be sure to update you when I’m done.

Update: I’ve been able to put a little more work into the bench. Its coming together very nicely and I actually used it to cut the rest of the MDF for the shelf and side braces. The only thing left to do are the angle braces to add stability. All in all I think this is a great project and will prove to be very useful in the workshop. I put a few coats of wax on the top to prevent glue sticking and such.

-- Will work for wood...

8 comments so far

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3328 days

#1 posted 01-09-2011 12:39 AM

Your project is looking real good.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View thiel's profile


387 posts in 3286 days

#2 posted 01-09-2011 04:54 AM

I was eyeing that project as well… would love to hear how hard/easy the project turns out to be!

-- Laziness minus Apathy equals Efficiency

View Dan's profile


106 posts in 2821 days

#3 posted 01-09-2011 08:11 AM

@stefang – Thanks

@Thiel – So far its proving to be a very easy project. The instructions are pretty good. There are a few details missing but they are easy enough to determine from the photos. The hardest part was determining how to cut the dadoes (table saw or router table). Ended up going with the router table because I had a bit that was the exact size of the cut needed.

-- Will work for wood...

View lanwater's profile


3111 posts in 2928 days

#4 posted 01-09-2011 08:42 AM

I have been looking at that tabe (shopnotes) but have not started on it yet.

It looks like you are almost done.

looking good!

-- Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

View bdjohns1's profile


43 posts in 2686 days

#5 posted 01-16-2011 11:17 PM

Looking good. I need some more work surface in my shop as well, and a project like this one would be a good way to do it.

I’ll out-gloat you. When I got my DW734 in November, Lowes had it for $349, HD had it for $399. So, I went to HD, showed them the low price, and they did the match+10% (down to $320). Then, I got them to take a 20% off HF coupon. $256+tax!

-- Ben - resident cheese whiz.

View Dan's profile


106 posts in 2821 days

#6 posted 01-17-2011 01:28 AM

@bdjohns1 – nice on the dw734. I’m almost done with the bench. I haven’t had a lot of time lately to work on projects so this is taking me much longer than expected.

-- Will work for wood...

View Skippy906's profile


121 posts in 1981 days

#7 posted 01-14-2013 04:09 AM

Is this table getting good use in your shop? And has it preformed for you well?

-- Making progress

View Dan's profile


106 posts in 2821 days

#8 posted 01-14-2013 11:16 PM

I did find this table very useful. It also works great as an outfeed table. Unfortunately for space reasons I had to break it down about a month ago.

-- Will work for wood...

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