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

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Forum topic by darlingm posted 09-01-2013 07:46 PM 866 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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darlingm

1 post in 453 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

Bluepine38

2939 posts in 1808 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 75 yr young apprentice carpenter

View Loren's profile

Loren

7809 posts in 2371 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.

-- http://lawoodworking.com

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Loren

7809 posts in 2371 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.

-- http://lawoodworking.com

View tefinn's profile

tefinn

1217 posts in 1160 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

realcowtown_eric

367 posts in 660 days


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

Nope.

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

gfadvm

11369 posts in 1413 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

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