Workshop 2019 #2: Assembly Table: Part 1

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Blog entry by KettleWorkshop posted 05-21-2019 04:48 AM 710 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: So it begins...again. Part 2 of Workshop 2019 series Part 3: Assembly Table: Part 2 »

The first thing I knew I lacked and needed to correct was the role of an assembly table.

My current one was nothing more than an ikea desk top with two stanley sawhorses. It worked? But it was far from ideal.

An aside. I was taught how to do woodworking by my grandfather and he was a very practical man so function was a primary issue for him, always. Attractiveness of the solution was secondary. He also taught me to never just dive into a project; to examine what functions I needed the project to fufill and then research all the ways to achieve that goal. In his teachings, the next priority was to think on what other functions I could also achieve with the same project and figure out how to incorporate those.

One would not be mistaken for thinking him of an engineer mind set. He had spent various parts of his life doing interesting, and varied things. From working on the Oakland Bay Bridge to being an excutive at US Steel.

So, function check. #A large flat surface to build future projects
  1. Mobile and able to be stored away
  2. Able to be configured into multiple positions to accomodate a project
  3. Able to later have addons attached to it as needed

The first design I came across that seemed to hit these all was the Fold Flat 3-in-1 assembly table from Wood Magazine Issue 207.

But then I started to see these torsion boxes, specifically Ron Paulk’s design. I thought they were…strange and wondered what the deal there was. A lot of research answered those questions.

All that research made the Fold Flat really look subpar. Sure it worked but it only just worked. The design of a Paulk style torsion box had further benefits.

But i had a problem with them. I hated his sawhorses, yet could not build a permanent base like Jay Bates did. (This is due to space limitations. I have a 2 car garage but one side needs to allow a car to park there..sometimes). I also really dislike saw horses. I mean I totally get why they were the right answer for Ron, but they were not for me. Also they lacked one glaring problem I had…unlevel ground.

My garage is a 80’s Florida style. Meaning its extra deep due to having a ledge thats typically for the washer/dryer. But there is a serious slope to my garage. About 3/4” over 12’ from nearest I can measure it. This meant that whatever design I went with had to enable the use of a leveling foot, preferably via a Tee Nut.

Some more deliberation later and I realized I would want this table to be height adjustable. I wanted it to be at 34” as an outfeet table for my Kobalt Table Saw (I like it and it works for me, but I am overly aware and take steps to counter the fence issues it has). I also wanted it to be able to go up to about 42”; which is a comfortable height for more detail oriented work.

In the end my priority list looked a bit something like…
  • Paulk Style Split Torsion Boxes (Mine would be 2’x6’ each)
  • Individual, fold away, legs with leveling feet.
  • Legs must be height adjustable.
  • Legs must lock in both stored and deployed positions.
  • Top must be at least 3/4” and able to be setup with 3/4” Dog Holes.

Well, this is going to be fun.

Took about a week, and 3 versions to get what I wanted.

[Will post photo soon]

And as of this posting…work is already under way.

In the event anyone spots it. Yes..the top is 3/4” MDF. Yes its heavy as hell. Tomorrow night I will glue and brad nail the bottom (1/2” Plywood) on and then use it, with the saw horses to build out all the legs.

Oh and when I am done, I will post the full completed project and Sketchup File.

-- If you don't throw out the original design at least 2 times, you aren't finding all the imperfections.

3 comments so far

View EarlS's profile


2802 posts in 2743 days

#1 posted 05-21-2019 11:00 AM

I look forward to seeing what you come up with. I’m pondering my options for a multi-functional assembly table as well since I am downsizing from a 2 car garage shop to a single car space. A SketchUp model would be the icing on the cake so to speak.

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

View RPhillips's profile


1260 posts in 2231 days

#2 posted 05-21-2019 11:27 AM

Looking forward to seeing further progress.

I too have a single car workshop, that is well… kinda still in the early phase of layout and design. I am kinda stuck with what I have and it does not function well.

Keep us posted…

-- Rob - Indianapolis IN - Learning... one mistake at a time...

View KettleWorkshop's profile


39 posts in 36 days

#3 posted 05-21-2019 01:35 PM

Will Do.

The torsion box top is nothing revolutionary. Its just a Paulk design except the risers (pieces between top & bottom are 7” tall to allow for a 5” tall hole wih 1” of material top and bottom).

The legs though are based on a few designs i have seen but have been adapted into their multi function use. Basically I took some ideas people have used for height adjustment and some ideas for folding legs and put them together. Once I am sure that they work, and are stable, then I will gladly post the design with them included.

That will probably be part 3 as part 2 will be the finishing of the first torsion box.

-- If you don't throw out the original design at least 2 times, you aren't finding all the imperfections.

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