The Worktable revisited

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Project by Don Butler posted 02-17-2009 06:40 PM 1998 views 3 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch

A Breakdown Worktable

Responding for a request for more detail, I’m posting again on this ultra-light worktable.

The design deals with these requirements:
It should be light enough for even an old geezer like me to move easily.
It must be flat so cabinets can be assembled on it without causing un-square joints.
It should be easily broken down, stored and re-assembled.

I’ve never had a real workbench because I’ve never been able to provide the real estate for it. My little shop is just too jam packed and it shares floor space with the family vehicle every night. That isn’t up for discussion. SWBMT is quite unambiguous on the point. Her baby MUST be garaged. After all, I won the debate on how big the garage would be and whether it would be attached or free-standing, so it’s only fair that I bow on this issue.(:-)

She Who Buys Me Tools. Heh heh heh

The table, at first glance looks rather swoopy and stylish, but that isn’t why the curves on the side stretchers are there. Two things were required, stiffness and lightness. The ends each have two fasteners one high on the corner and the other low enough to provide good leverage, making the leg assembly as stiff as possible consistent with lightness. The curves? Just prettying the design? Huh uh. Stress tends to concentrate in sharp angles and these S curves transmit stress without causing de-lamination in corners. It could have looked like an “H”, but that might fail under pressure. If I had simply allowed the side stretchers to go straight across they’d have been heavier.

Those parts in material such as .75” plywood would also have been quite heavy, so they’re formed with a main body of .25” plywood reinforced by 2” wide strips of .5” plywood on both sides of every edge. The result is strong but light. The edges are 1.25” thick and the center is .25”.

Legs are simple 2”x2” parts with .5” mortises for the plywood stretchers. They could have been just screwed and glued, but mortises provide greater strength.

The connectors between the side stretchers and the leg assemblies are simple bed rail connectors. I chose double hook mortise style connectors and they’re mortised into the legs and stretchers.

The top is a torsion box having .25” plywood skins over .5” plywood edges and grid parts. I use a loose .25” hardboard cover to protect the torsion box.

Dimensions are whatever you like. I selected for weight and storage considerations.

The second picture shows the bottom of one of the side stretchers.
The third one shows all the necessary parts.
The last one is the way one starts to assemble the table. After getting one end and one side part together the other end is connected and finally the second side.

-- No trees were damaged in posting this message, but thousands of electrons were seriously inconvenienced.

2 comments so far

View SnowFrog's profile


102 posts in 2569 days

#1 posted 12-16-2011 10:33 PM

Thank you for sharing. This is an idea that I maybe following in the future. I still have a few big projects to finish but them I may have time.


-- One can dream, about a passion not yet fully fulfilled!

View Mark Wilson's profile

Mark Wilson

2146 posts in 1085 days

#2 posted 11-06-2015 07:02 PM

So well-thought-out. So concisely explained. I’ve never designed, or built anything with a view towards how much space was available for its knocked-down configuration. This was kind of a de-engineering engineering task, wasn’t it? What I mean is that I pictured you measuring the space in which it would be stored, and then, starting the design based on the restrictions of those parameters. So many words. I need a nap.

-- Mark

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