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Help with building a large assembly table / work bench

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Forum topic by coloradotrout posted 01-02-2015 02:12 AM 1922 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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coloradotrout

61 posts in 1470 days


01-02-2015 02:12 AM

I’m thinking about building a table/bench large enough that 4×8 sheets can be slipped in/out the long edges of the table. This would serve both as a sheet storage system and large assembly table and bench (with vises). I have 8’ ceilings so other sheet storage ideas seem to be taking too much floor space or limited access in my 24×24 shop. I’d like to to be able to store about 20 sheets of 4×8 ply, osb, mdf, etc and have a couple of “shelves” to sort through the piles.

This was my early design—http://i49.tinypic.com/2z3p27n.jpg but I’m open to other ideas. I’d like to maximize the storage capacity, strength of table, storage holding strength, with the least amount of material—and also the simplest joinery. I’d also like the “top” to be as flat as possible. I was thinking to top the “frame” with MDF, but those tend to be 97×49 which alone is not going to be large enough. I can get larger sheets of particle board, or possibly I just edge out the MDF with hardwood.

I’m thinking I’d like the long edge to be about 8’ 1-1/2” to slide in full sheets so that I only need 4’ of clearance on either side of the table to move sheets in /out.

I’ve got access to hardwood, so I am thinking to use that rather than 2x materials thinking that the hardwood should be able to support more weight over a longer span with less flex. A little flex on the bottom and mid shelf is ok, but I’d like the top to be pretty flat.

1) Is there a better way ? to store ply. Maybe I’m too stuck on this one multi-purpose system to handle assembly, bench, and storage?

2) If I do go with this basic design—any suggestions on joinery? thickness and width of materials to support my loads (10 sheets on the bottom / mid) and flat top?


11 replies so far

View Yonak's profile

Yonak

979 posts in 988 days


#1 posted 01-02-2015 04:36 AM

trout, it’s good that you, at least, have two shelves to store your plywood but, in my opinion, that may still be pretty unwieldy, especially at 10 sheets per shelf. I used to store plywood flat but, after getting tired of having to pulling out all the plywood on top of the sheet I wanted, I built an area that stores my sheet goods vertically.

Regarding the top, MDF can work as a surface but it’s got to have plenty of support. In fact, I would have flat 2Xs all the way across and put the MDF on top of that since you need a flat, smooth surface. If you do that, it wouldn’t matter the width of the MDF as you could piece the sheets together. I believe I would use plywood, however, as plywood wouldn’t be prone to getting chipped and dented as much.

Back to the plywood storage : if the main reason for the extra wide workbench is to have room for plywood beneath, how about storing your plywood vertically (on edge) behind the bench, then the bench may be narrower and the whole arrangement could be only as wide as your original idea ?

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coloradotrout

61 posts in 1470 days


#2 posted 01-02-2015 06:45 AM

Yonak – thanks and appreciate the thoughts on storage. Yes, storage is the reason for the over-sized bench idea. I would still probably want a nearly 4’ x 8’ bench/table with walk-around room on all four sides, for workbench, glue-up, and assembly type work. But I could size it so that the mdf makes for a full size top and not need the underneath area to be a clear 4×8.

So I have two needs – sheet storage and assembly/work area. I’ve jumped to a conclusion that I should “combine” these, but as you note, maybe two solutions are better than one. That is – in part – why I posted here; to pick the minds of others that have been down this path.

Again my shop ceiling is 8’ – 1” at the “low” end and maybe 8’ – 3” on the “high” or near the door end. The concrete floor slopes a bit. No, it never gets wet inside, but the floor was sloped. Right now, near that overhead door end, I have some simple shelves 8’ wide along the wall. Along the same wall I have my lumber rack which I need to extend another 2’ (about 10’ total). Still further along the same wall – opposite the door – I do have about 10 sheets stacked and strapped together standing upright. So 8’ of shelves + 10’ lumber rack + 4’ ply which about consumes the 23’ wall. The shelves near the door are handy because it stores stuff that moves in/out of the shop (wrenches, car ramps, auto oils, air compressor, etc). Attached to the ceiling I have 4’ shop lights – 12 total. So my clearance along the walls is 8-1 or a bit more, but I have shoplights interfering across the ceiling, so dealing with a 8’ panel is tricky. I also have a roll around cart – that’s overloaded – hard to move, and gets in the way! I need to get the full-sized sheets off of it, and probably just get rid of it altogether. In 24×24 (or about 23×23) space, a roll-around seems to just get in the way.

I’ve seen those “swing-out” sheet storage ideas, but I don’t have vertical space to do that if the sheet stands up 8’ vertically. Hmm.. possibly… maybe.. I could figure out a swing-out system but rest the sheet on its 8’ edge. I’d need 8’ along the wall that would swing-out into an nearly always open area, but that does take 8’ of storage and another 8’ of “pull-out” space, so that’s 16’ of clearance. That’s where my “big bench” idea only takes 8’ of clearance.

Any other ideas for sheet storage? I’m going to have to revisit the swing-out idea. 8’ ceilings is a constraint, as is the overhead door (and tracks)

View pauljuilleret's profile

pauljuilleret

71 posts in 1120 days


#3 posted 01-02-2015 10:11 AM

I use the swing out type storage rack but I lay the sheets on their side so with a heavy duty caster on the swinging end of the rack it’s still only a bit over 5’ off the floor. to make mine I got two 2X8’s and cut one in half and hooked them together at right angles using a half sheet of 1/2” OSB cut diagonally. this gave me the strength plus sides to hold smaller pieces in the rack I then mounted the thing to the other half of the 2X8 with two large heavy duty hinges and attached it to the wall using lag screws, now I can just swing it out and see what is on either side of the storage rack and it doesn’t eat up that much floor or wall space. something else for you to think about. my assembly table is also 4X8 with a heavy 1” MDF top on it it is reinforced due to the sagging you can get by using the MDF with extra 2X4on 16” centers but it works great. I sealed the top with a quart of spar varnish using many coats so when I do a glue up I just let the glue drops dry and they flake off the top for easy clean up good luck with your project. Paul

View coloradotrout's profile

coloradotrout

61 posts in 1470 days


#4 posted 01-02-2015 05:38 PM

@paul – yes, that is the swing out I’m now contemplating. I have a wall that is 23’-6” long to the right of a single car garage door (of a 23-6×23-6 total area). That overhead door hardware takes about 8’ or so. Right now I have some shelves along that 8’ of the wall. Further down the wall I have my pipe lumber rack that needs to be extended 2 more feet (wall studs are 2’ on center). Further yet – near the corner – I have those 10 or so sheets stacked vertically. To convert to the 8’ long swing-out I’d need to reduce the shelving to about 6’. So, 6’ of shelving, 8’ of swing-out, then 10’ of lumber. I could probably use that 3’ of space above the swing-out for hanging storage of sorts or possibly some more lumber storage. I always have stuff on the floor that needs a home.

I would like my sheet storage to handle 20 sheets—hardwood ply, osb, mdf, pb, and misc partial sheets. But 20 x .75 ~16” .

My “bench” will be multi-purpose – typical “bench”, assembly, glue-up, etc for WW plus who knows what for mechanical/home/farm type activities. Yeah – I’ll toss an old osb atop to keep the mdf for WW. Right now I have a stack of drawers—with an old solid-wood school door – with a sheet of OSB as my whatever-table.

View Richard H's profile

Richard H

489 posts in 1148 days


#5 posted 01-02-2015 05:53 PM

Keep in mind you will need 4’ plus your body free behind the storage bench to be able to pull sheets out so the vertical storage idea might not be as much room as you think. Also have you ever tried pulling sheets of plywood off the lowest rack at the lumber yard? Imagine if you couldn’t pick them up until you slide them out and tilted them up. Sounds like it would be rough on the back for sure. I would be tempted to go with some form of drawer slides with a frame that the sheets sit on so I could get better access to the sheets but even than I think it’s going to be a lot harder on the back for one person than vertical storage.

I also think having 10 sheets on top of each other is going to be very much a pain unless you only use a couple different types of plywood. Again imagine going to the lumber yard and looking at a stack of plywood and digging the 5th one down out from the stack that is only 12” off the floor. That makes me sore just thinking about it.

View johnstoneb's profile

johnstoneb

2149 posts in 1640 days


#6 posted 01-02-2015 05:59 PM

4×8 table is going to take up a lot of floor space, especially when you will need at least that much or more floorspace to put wood into and take it out ot the storage. Do you have a 8’ section of wall that you could store them on edge maybe under your lumber storage.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

View coloradotrout's profile

coloradotrout

61 posts in 1470 days


#7 posted 01-02-2015 08:55 PM

I appreciate all the input. My current lumber storage goes floor to ceiling – 2×4s with black pipe. I have a 4×8 table of sorts today, and don’t know how I’d do without that space – maybe a bit smaller, but if I go with sheet goods for the top, 4×8 keeps it simple. I generally have another 4’ of clearance along at least one side. I more or less have that table in the center of the shop and work around it.

The swing-out bin of this sort—http://www.thewoodwhisperer.com/videos/racking-my-brain/—seems like it might work if I make some changes to my shelving/lumber racks.

@Paul—was the 2×8 sturdy enough? I’d like to make mine have about a 16” wide capacity (20 sheets). Two bays might even be handy. I very much do like the cost of the 2×8 and OSB approach.

Alright—some good food for thought—time to get out the tape.

View pauljuilleret's profile

pauljuilleret

71 posts in 1120 days


#8 posted 01-02-2015 09:33 PM

for my use it is if you want to store that much wood you will have to a lot heavier I think I mite of got my original idea from woodwisperer and modified it some my hard wood storage is also vertical as I buy good kiln dried wood standing it up has not given me any headaches you can’t do this with green wood though unless you want to get into the airplane propeller business as it will twist and do all sorts of stuff you don’t want

good luck Paul

View Yonak's profile

Yonak

979 posts in 988 days


#9 posted 01-02-2015 10:28 PM

trout, you know your shop and your needs and I don’t, but if that situation were in my shop, I believe I would not make a stationary 4 X 8 layout / assembly table. I would make a bench about a third that size and two mobile carts, also a third the size. That way, when I needed the big table I could put them all together but when I don’t, the carts could be rolled aside and there would be more floor space. The carts could also serve as outfeed / infeed tables and work surfaces that could roll where I needed them and for transporting materials from one place to another. ..Strictly my 2ยข.

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coloradotrout

61 posts in 1470 days


#10 posted 01-03-2015 03:36 AM

@Yonak – hmm… so 3 tables, 48” x 32” ish? or is there some other dimension in mind? Some good ideas to mull over. I do need to turn one into something of a ww bench with at least one vise.

My shop wall would lend itself to a pull-out cart, about 10’ of lumber storage, and 5’ of shelving. The swing-out cart is looking promising – especially if I can load it up with 20 sheets. I know that’s quite a bit. But I have about 10 sheets of ply on-hand, like to keep 4 or 5 sheets of osb, and a few each of 1/4 misc, mdf, and pb. Maybe I look for a way to toss the osb along some other wall. I’m not too concerned sitting it on the concrete floor.

My hardwood is likely going to be air-dried from local sources.

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coloradotrout

61 posts in 1470 days


#11 posted 01-04-2015 02:34 AM

Do 3/4” MDF and particle board really weigh 100# a sheet?

That was a shipping weight I saw on Menards’ web sight. So worst case, my swing-out needs to hold 2,000#. Yeow—that’s a bunch. I have quite a bunch on a 4-caster roll-around cart right now, and I hate it. It’s not moveable. I’m hoping the swing-out is a bit moreso even under extreme weights. I think I will use it’s platform for the swing-out, but downsize it to 16” wide from 24”

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