Easy Shop Table

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Blog entry by Lockwatcher posted 01-14-2011 04:02 AM 65332 reads 252 times favorited 44 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I started this project after building an assembly table from an issue of Wood Magazine (March 2010). The table was a lot of work (the torsion box top) but the main unit holding the table up was an easy build. That’s when I hit upon the idea of using the same design for a group of extra tables for other uses. I’ve built a number of these already, and am using one as a router table, a miter saw station, and a sharpening station.

It is built using standard re-dimensioned construction lumber (from the big box stores). I can easily build one in a weekend (and have!).

I made this project with two 2×10’s (10’) with minimal extra lumber. Total cost is about for the lumber is $25-$30 including a top. The most expensive part is the castors. More on these later…

A couple of notes before I start construction. First, when using construction lumber in a project like this, you may need to get more than you need in order to get the clearest final project. Also, buying the larger lumber (like 2×10’s) tends to yield the best lumber. Choose your pieces carefully for the cleanest and straightest boards you can find. When ripping the boards, be extra carefull as you might release tension in the boards and cause binding. I was able to find some great lumber by searching through the racks at the local Lowe’s store.

Okay, lets get started…

Here is the basic cut list for the project. All lumber is standard 1 1/2” thick construction lumber.

4 – 29 1/2” x 3” Long leg
4 – 24 1/2” x 3” short leg
4 – 21” x 2 1/2” Long Rail
4 – 18” x 2 1/2” Short rail
1 – 18” x 18” x 3/4” MDF or Plywood
4 – 1 1/4” x 1 1/4” x 14 1/2” shelf cleat (make from ripping scraps)

1 – 24” x 35” x 3/4” MDF or Plywood top

Starting the build…

First, we need to cross-cut our lumber into reasonable lengths to make it easier to rip. I cut two 31”, two 26”, and four 24” inch pieces. The 31” & the 26” pieces will be ripped to 3” wide. The 24” pieces will be ripped to 2 1/2” wide. Here is how to do this.

Below: The boards are first cross-cut to make ripping easier.

Ripping the Stock:

Set your fence at 9” to trim off one edge of ALL of the boards (assuming you are using 2×10’s). Lay the 24” boards asside. After trimming off one edge, set your fence to make a 3 1/2” cut. Rip the 31” & the 26” boards twice. You should have 8 boards of various lengths, all approx 3 1/2” wide. I pre-cut them this way to releive any stress in the lumber before cutting to final width.

Now let’s do the same for the 24” lengths. Set your fence to make a 3” cut. Rip the 24” boards (once again to releive any stress in the lumber). Rip each board twice. You should have 8 boards approx 3” wide. Save your scrap as we will use it later to make cleats for the shelf.

If you have a jointer, joint one edge of each of the boards and mark the jointed edge.

Below: Ripping the first edge off of the dimensional lumber.

Below: Rip the stock extra wide to releive tension in the lumber.

Below: If possible, run the edge on your jointer – if you don’t have a jointer, just cut the stock to final width!

Below: Don’t forget to mark your jointed edge!

Cutting to Final Width:

You should now have a stack of 16 boards. 8 of them should be 3 1/2” wide and the other 8 should be 3” wide.

Set your fence to make a 3” cut. Rip the 4 31” & 26” pieces – lay these aside. Reset the fence to make a 2 1/2” cut. Rip the 24” pieces at this time – lay these aside as well.

Below: Rip the stock to final width

Below: The sixteen parts are cut to final width.

Cutting to Final Length:

Cut the various pieces to the sizes listed in the cut list. Cut one end off of each piece to square it up, then cut all of the various parts to length. If your using a chop saw like I did, use some scrap to back it up to avoid blow out.

Below: Using scrap to avoid blow-out when cutting to final length

Below: The sixteen parts are ready to assemble.

The Glue Up:

First we will assemble the upper and lower frame. Clamp one of the long rails to your work surface and glue and screw it to the end of one of the short rails…

Add another short rail to the other end, then finish up by adding another long rail. Repeat this procedure for the second frame…

Below: The first frame is complete…now repeat for the second frame…

Now we have to glue up the uprights (legs). Glue and screw one of the 24 1/2” legs to the center of one of the 29 1/2” legs. You need a 2 1/2” notch at each end of the assembly (to make this easier, clamp on a 2 1/2” scrap to one end as shown below). Repeat this procedure for the other three legs!

Below: The four legs along with the two 21” square frames.

Now lets’s add the bottom shelf. Cut your MDF shelf to match the opening on the assembled rails…

Lay one of the frames made earlier with it’s top side down on a flat table. Drop the shelf into the opening so it is flush with the bottom…

Below: The shelf cleats 1 1/4” x 1 1/4” x 14 1/2” (made from scrap)

Below: Glue and screw the cleats to the bottom of the shelf…

Flip the assembly over and your shelf is complete…

Final assembly:

Apply some glue to the face of the notch on one of the assembled legs. Clamp this onto the bottom assembly, on the face of a short rail. Use two screws to secure this. Use a square to ensure that the legs are at 90 degrees to the base unit. Repeat for the other three legs.

Below: Adding more legs to the frame assembly…

Apply glue to the faces of the upper leg notches, and place the upper assembly into the notches in the same orientation as the lower unit. Clamp and screw this together as well. This completes the construction of the table.

Below: The completed glue-up

Adding Castors:

The castors I chose were the most expensive part of the project. The were about $12 each from Woodwerks (local store). Don’t skimp when it comes to your castors! The ones I picked up lock both the wheel and the pivot. This is very important for a planer table or a router table. When I lock these castors – nothing moves. I had tried standard locking castors (Harbour Freight) and the table could still be pushed (as the wheel would whip around on its pivot).

Below: The castors I used lock both the pivot and the wheel…

Castors can be mounted directly to the bottom of the leg assemblies…

The completed Shop Table ready for a top!

The shop table is now ready for use. As a router table, simply add the top of your choice (or make one). Mine is a Rockler top secured with a piano hinge on the rear side. I added a stop so I could tilt the table for access…

You can also build a simple plywood or MDF top and cover it with formica. I did this for my sharpening station. This top is hooked to the upper frame with simple L brackets. I added Poplar edging to protect the top. I have built four so far (one of them is the base for my miter saw). Don’t be put off by the simplistice nature of these tables. They are strong and very easy to build. You can modify this design by adding drawers, sides, whatever you wish.


-- Lockwatcher, Ohio,

44 comments so far

View Rustic's profile


3256 posts in 4562 days

#1 posted 01-14-2011 05:05 AM

nice table

--, Rick Kruse, Grand Rapids, MI

View ahohnstein's profile


2 posts in 3658 days

#2 posted 01-14-2011 05:31 AM

ken, fantastic writeup. thanks.

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 4639 days

#3 posted 01-20-2011 02:18 AM

Nice table.

View wookie's profile


154 posts in 4050 days

#4 posted 01-31-2011 04:56 PM

Thanks. I need a ton of these. Nice write up!

-- Wookie=Wood Rookie

View Mark Colan's profile

Mark Colan

211 posts in 3812 days

#5 posted 02-02-2011 01:54 AM

Thanks for taking the time to make it an easy project. What are the final dimensions?

-- Mark, hack amateur woodworker, Medford (greater Boston) MA

View Lockwatcher's profile


93 posts in 3658 days

#6 posted 02-02-2011 01:17 PM

Final dimensions:

Height: 36 1/2” (including top and castors – my top is 1 1/2” thick)

Table top area (without top), plan view 21” x 24”

Height: 29 1/2” (without castors or top)

If you need any more information or need some additional pictures, let me know!

I am in thr process of building another shorter one as a planer table…

Ken C / Lockwatcher

-- Lockwatcher, Ohio,

View Mark Colan's profile

Mark Colan

211 posts in 3812 days

#7 posted 02-02-2011 03:24 PM

Thanks for the dimensions. I’m planning to build something like this, but with side and back panels, and drawers… as a stand for my drill press.

-- Mark, hack amateur woodworker, Medford (greater Boston) MA

View Don's profile


1 post in 3634 days

#8 posted 02-05-2011 05:21 AM

What a great write-up. I made one for my Rockler router table, previously sitting atop saw horses, and I’m very happy with the results. Now I just need to add the locking casters. It was so cheap to make that now I want to build 3 or 4 more of them. I’m a woodworking newbie, so this was a good learning exercise for me.

-- Don, Washington

View Lockwatcher's profile


93 posts in 3658 days

#9 posted 02-06-2011 04:12 AM

Your version looks great…if anyone else has made one of these…post your pictures here as well!

Ken C. / Lockwatcher

-- Lockwatcher, Ohio,

View Gary's profile


34 posts in 3659 days

#10 posted 02-19-2011 05:45 PM

This is perfect timing. I have been looking for a plan to make a table for my router table. They look great and I bet are rock solid. Thanks for posting how you went about making it.

-- Addition by subtraction

View Lockwatcher's profile


93 posts in 3658 days

#11 posted 02-19-2011 10:40 PM

Glad that you like it! I am working on some more myself…

Ken C.

-- Lockwatcher, Ohio,

View spunwood's profile


1202 posts in 3802 days

#12 posted 03-05-2011 04:00 AM

I am so glad you posted this. I needed a quick plan for a assembly table too. This is going to be my drill station.

-- I came, I was conquered, I was born again. ἵνα ὦσιν ἓν

View brippeon's profile


9 posts in 3569 days

#13 posted 04-11-2011 02:38 AM

Built one of these today in about 4 hours. Great plans, I modified the dimensions a little bit as I wanted a larger work surface. I went with 48×24 MDF top which I plan to seal… some how and a mdf bottom shelf which is not in the picture. I plan to build a few more of these for other uses. Thanks for the idea. I will also get better pictures and upload.

Also I made the bottom rails 4 inches so that I can load up the bottom self over the 48” span

View Lockwatcher's profile


93 posts in 3658 days

#14 posted 04-11-2011 12:34 PM


That is a great version of the Shop Table. Your wide span is very cool indeed. And you were right to increase the width of your lower rails to support the extra weight. This is one of the other advantages to using wider construction lumber for the project (rather than 2×4’s). You can addjust the sizes on the fly! I sealed my Giant Assembly Table with Polyurethane (brush on) it soaks in quickly but sealed very well (if you check out my table you will note the off-color from regular MDF). You should also post this table on a “project page” as well! Great job!

Ken C.

-- Lockwatcher, Ohio,

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10955 posts in 5018 days

#15 posted 04-14-2011 07:34 PM

COOL… Simple… Strong…

What could be better than that?!

Thank you very much!

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:

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