Finishing torsion box assembly table

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Forum topic by groland posted 11-16-2015 08:15 PM 861 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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183 posts in 3437 days

11-16-2015 08:15 PM

Topic tags/keywords: torsion box assembly table

I am in the process of building a torsion box assembly table according to Spagnolo’s video on The Wood Whisperer. The top is done now and it seems very flat indeed. It is made entirely of 1/2” MDF.

In his construction process, MS waxes the MDF prior to gluing up the internal grid so glue that spills out won’t stick to the table, then he uses that piece of MDF as one of the outer surfaces. I assumed that waxed side would remain on the exterior of the top so the glue on the internal grid would stick to its other (unwaxed) side. So now I have a top with one waxed and one unwaxed side. Since M.S. finishes his top, I assume that means the waxed side is on the bottom where the top is attached to its base. Does that sound correct to you?

The MDF surface is pretty fragile. If anyone has any experience on how to treat or finish the top I’d be most interested to learn from your experiences.



3 replies so far

View HokieKen's profile


5237 posts in 1164 days

#1 posted 11-17-2015 06:15 PM

That sounds like a sound approach to me. As far as finishing goes, depending on what you’re going to use the table for, I’d either laminate some formica onto it or lay a sheet of tempered hardboard on top to keep the mdf from getting gouged. If you don’t need it to be that “rugged” a coat of wax would be good to keep glue from sticking. Whatever you do, I would avoid water-based finishes. They can cause the surface of the MDF to bubble or delaminate from the core.

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

4999 posts in 2518 days

#2 posted 11-17-2015 07:41 PM

Mine is made of 3/4” MDF (skins) and is now about 12 years old…I’ll be replacing it within the next year. But the only finish I ever used on it, and it will also be on the replacement is a mixture of turpentine, beeswax, and BLO. I will probably substitute MS for the turp (really has a smell that lasts a couple of days), but this finish does an excellent job of protection (spilss, etc.) glue pops right off of it, and it’s easy to renew. My RAS also has an MDF tale and I put it on that. Ditto my workbench (hard maple). Of this is off interest, it’s explained/detailed pretty good here. I should have mentioned: while my assembly table does have some nicks and dings, the primary reason I’m repalceing it is size…I built it for my last shop and sized it for the space art hand. The new place is a little different so i can change the dimensions slightly.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View rwe2156's profile


2965 posts in 1506 days

#3 posted 11-18-2015 11:31 PM

No the waxed surface goes up because the top needs to be glued down to the torsion assembly.

When I build mine I covered it with plastic.
I left mine MDF and applied several coats of BLO.
Every once in a while I go back and refresh.

I wouldn’t recommend wax because it will be too slick.
Eventually the wax will wear off then you can finish another way if you don’t like it.

I don’t think covering in hardboard is necessary no matter what you do its going to get gouged and dinged up anyway.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

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