Strength of unsupported polycarbonate (Lexan) good enough to use as work bench area?

  • Advertise with us

« back to Focus on the Workspace forum

Forum topic by darlingm posted 09-01-2013 07:46 PM 2151 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View darlingm's profile


1 post in 1964 days

09-01-2013 07:46 PM

Building a new work bench area. Home business & space is quite limited. Could really use a gigantic light table as well.

If I made a gigantic light table with the top being a large sheet of 4’ x 8’ polycarbonate (Lexan), could I double up and use the light table as my new work bench area?

The only thing that would put a worrisome amount of stress on the polycarbonate would be when I use my 10” blade miter saw to cut strips of wood, similar to moulding, that are 2” x 2” x several feet. Probably weighs around 30-35lbs, plus a bit of additional force when I set it down from moving it.

If I needed to have the polycarbonate sheet sitting on more of a frame than just on the edges, how much of a frame would I need to be confident I won’t break it? Would a single support beam making it two unsupported 4’ x 4’ areas do the trick?

EDIT: I know thickness of the sheet will have a lot to do with it, that’s part of what I’m trying to figure out.

EDIT: Also, I need the surface to be flat when not holding heavy weight, so if what I’m planning on doing will warp/bow the polycarbonate, I’d need to build enough support so it wouldn’t do that.

6 replies so far

View Bluepine38's profile


3380 posts in 3320 days

#1 posted 09-01-2013 08:16 PM

Lexan is a bulletproof type of plastic and is strong that way, but talking to a dealer in plastic, I was told that it
is not as rigid as regular plastic and would have more give to it, therefore it would not be a flat working surface.
I was going to use this as a router support insert. A piece that size would also be very expensive. I would
talk to a dealer in plastic in your area.

-- As ever, Gus-the 80 yr young apprentice carpenter

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3882 days

#2 posted 09-01-2013 09:02 PM

I would do it as a sort of one-sided torsion box.

Lexan is pretty flexible, which makes it resilient
but I think it will sag. It gets expensive in
thicker pieces too.

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3882 days

#3 posted 09-01-2013 09:16 PM

I found some fiberglass panels some years ago. I don’t have
them anymore so I can’t check. As I recall though they
were translucent enough for a light table and smooth
on one side. They were way stiffer than lexan at
about 1/12” thick.

View tefinn's profile


1222 posts in 2671 days

#4 posted 09-01-2013 09:31 PM

Lexan is also a very expensive material to use. Last time I priced it in my area, a 4×8 .250 thick sheet was over $200 dollars. That was without shipping and tax.

-- Tom Finnigan - Measures? We don't need no stinking measures! - Hmm, maybe thats why my project pieces don't fit.

View realcowtown_eric's profile


617 posts in 2171 days

#5 posted 09-01-2013 11:50 PM


it’s gonna sag with the weight of the saws, and get scratched to boot. maybe even bust if you get too much weight on it!

Suggest rather building a fold down cover for you light table, just push the tools to the back 2’ and lift the lid (1/2 the depth)to get yer light table exposed. a 4’ deep light table is way more than any reasonable person needs….try 32” or 36” and besides, a light table is next to useless if it’s covered in dust and scratches.

Just my thoughts…Eric

-- Real_cowtown_eric

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2924 days

#6 posted 09-02-2013 01:05 AM

The Lexan will sag and scratch badly as stated above BUT

With the advent of digital radiography, there are hundreds of x-ray view boxes available for free or next to nothing. Check with hospitals, veterinarians, etc.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics