What to make my extension table out of?

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Forum topic by Joekwon80 posted 03-29-2012 07:42 PM 2064 views 1 time favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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87 posts in 2258 days

03-29-2012 07:42 PM

Topic tags/keywords: extension table biesemeyer unisaw rebuild

I’m still rebuilding this Unisaw and I’m at the point now where I need to build the extension table. I have a 52” biesemeyer fence I got off CL and now I have to figure out how to build and attach this table.

Anyone have suggestions? MDF? Melamine? Plywood?

Does it bolt straight on to the fence rails? My plan was to build a simple table with with 3” inch stretchers down the length of the table and 2 3” wide cross braces using white birch plywood and putting a layer of something to make it smooth and durable.

Is that my best bang for the buck option?

-- Joe Kwon

13 replies so far

View thebicyclecafe's profile


23 posts in 2245 days

#1 posted 03-29-2012 10:17 PM

Hesitatant to recommend MDF or melamine since it can sag over time. I’d take a good hardwood core ply (like Russian/Finnish Birch or Appleply) and brace it underneath, like a torsion box. Either ply is stable and flat, and works easily. I’d find some way to connect it to both the fence rail and also the saw table itself- and make sure you level it off with the table.

View doncutlip's profile


2832 posts in 3552 days

#2 posted 03-29-2012 10:20 PM

Good point about the sagging, never thought about it and built mine out of MDF. If I had it to do over again I might go with a good plywood.

-- Don, Royersford, PA

View Scot's profile


344 posts in 3392 days

#3 posted 03-30-2012 12:01 AM

Delta has built them out of 3/4” particle board for years. They laminate BOTH sides with formica and have cross supports to prevent sagging. I have made them the same way and put a 1×3 oak skirt on 4 sides. One 4×8 sheet of formica can be bought at Lowe’s for about $45 and is more than enough to do both sides.
This make a very durable, strong, very long lasting table.

-- If the old masters had power tools, they would have used them. So get off your damn High Horse.

View crashn's profile


528 posts in 2461 days

#4 posted 03-30-2012 12:19 AM

mdf or plywood torsion box, will not sag or twist, good bang for the buck.

-- Crashn - the only thing I make more of than sawdust is mistakes

View Joekwon80's profile


87 posts in 2258 days

#5 posted 03-30-2012 12:22 AM

What’s a good source around here to get MDF or plywood? Lowes MDF is like 35 bucks a sheet and that seems high to me.

-- Joe Kwon

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87 posts in 2258 days

#6 posted 03-30-2012 12:33 AM

Also, does anyone here cut melamine with their table saw? I have a 60 tooth blade that is relatively new. Would that work?

-- Joe Kwon

View RandyM68's profile


693 posts in 2313 days

#7 posted 03-30-2012 01:55 AM

You can cut it with a any table saw, or skil saw blade. The sixty tooth will cut it fine, but a plywood blade will have less tear out. You can buy a cheap one that should work okay.

-- I can explain it to you, but I can't understand it for you. I'm sorry,thanks.

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10380 posts in 3643 days

#8 posted 03-30-2012 06:28 AM

Melamine will chip on the edges in use, and may swell
on the edges if it gets wet.

Masonite isn’t as attractive but it’s cheap and replaceable
and doesn’t swell or chip. a 1/2” or 3/4” ply panel
with masonite screwed to it makes a nice extension
or outfeed table and the masonite takes wax as well.
It is also real cheap.

View Woodknack's profile


11610 posts in 2376 days

#9 posted 03-30-2012 07:09 AM

Delta used melamine on the factory extension tables. Had mine for 10 years at least and it hasn’t sagged or chipped. Melamine is tough as nails, heat and chemical resistant.

-- Rick M,

View JimDaddyO's profile


545 posts in 3074 days

#10 posted 03-30-2012 11:59 AM

Always a cheap place for material…...Habitat for Humanity Re-Store….You can pick yourself up a chunk of kitchen counter top for cheap.

-- my blog: my You Tube channel:

View bondogaposis's profile


4723 posts in 2347 days

#11 posted 03-30-2012 01:46 PM

I would go with MDF and plastic laminate. It won’t sag if you support it in a hardwood frame. $ 35/ sheet for MDF is standard. You can cut melamine on a table saw just fine. The 60 tooth will work, you may get some chip out. With melamine you should chamfer the edges or edge it with hardwood to prevent chip out.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View BlankMan's profile


1490 posts in 3348 days

#12 posted 03-30-2012 01:47 PM

Joe, I made mine out of plywood for stability and used torsion box framing. It is also hinged so it swings down out of the way. There’s a pictorial of how I made it here.

-- -Curt, Milwaukee, WI

View Joekwon80's profile


87 posts in 2258 days

#13 posted 03-31-2012 03:51 PM

Went to the state surplus yesterday and they have several desks for 5 dollars. I asked them if I could bring my tools and remove the legs and just take the tops of two of the desks and they said I could even dump the legs in their dumpster. 10 dollars for 2 formica tops! Not bad. I think that’s the route I’m going to do. I am however going to edge band tops so I don’t chip the laminate on top.

Thanks for info everyone! I’ll post up some photos when it’s all said and done!

-- Joe Kwon

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