Assembly Table

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Project by toddbeaulieu posted 02-07-2013 02:45 PM 9533 views 39 times favorited 30 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Well I must say that this was my best “quick win” to date. It took me three days, plus several quick finishing passes.

I built this from a plan in Shop Notes, a magazine that I absolutely love. I was shocked when I found out how much Baltic birch costs. This was my first time working with it. $120/sheet is about 3 times more than anything I’ve bought to date. Needless to say I was very concerned and careful when marking it out and cutting it, even taking the kerf into consideration. I’m not the best with sheet goods, so this was a knuckle biter.

This is also my first foray into laminate. I went to Home Depot and found only black and white for solids at $42. I thought that was a bit expensive, also. So I found a local WilsonArt dealer and forked over $62. Way to save money, Todd. But I did like the color selected better.

For legs I used some 8/4 oak that I had and laminated them into 4×3 finished legs. They came out swell, until I dadoed the last one incorrectly. Every time I deviate from a plan, I hit an unexpected snag and that’s what happened here. The plan called for 3×3, but since I had the wood I figured I’d use it and rotate the legs so they were wider towards the center. That’s fine, but now they’re directional and you have dado them accordingly. Idiot. I had to plug three dados because I wasn’t about to start all over with that leg. Honestly, it’s hard to even tell, so I’m happy. I just used cheap adjustable feet from WC, drilled up into the leg bottoms. I think they’ll be OK, being barely extended for levelness.

The top was difficult. I struggled with trying to prevent blow out on the underside with little success. I just chamfered and sanded the underside – you can’t see it anyway. I made a template for one row of holes with two registration holes to allow me to shift it over with each row. Well, if you’re off by even a little on those registration hole it doesn’t work so well! I was able to work around it, though. My 1 3/8” forstner lasted for maybe 3 holes (for the ends of the slots) and was so dull I had to stand on the drill and rock it aggressively. I suspect plywood and laminate are really hard on cutting edges? I came up with my own “system” for routing the slots because my flush trim bit has a bottom bearing and I didn’t want to try mounting a template under the table and routing from above. So I used a clamping straight edge. I just registered each end with the bit up against the hole’s edge. I had to be really careful to be perfect, going back and fourth until I felt like it was there. Then I routed it and made fine adjustments until it was perfect. Move it to the other side of the slot and repeated. Most of the slots really are close to perfection – better than I expected.

I wanted to experiment with lacquer, so that’s what I used here. 4 coats. Probably not ideal for a shop, but it should be fine. Whew! The smell!

For the slot closeup I had to pick the worse one. Dummy. The jig saw blade (that I was MILKING) drifted at the end, just before it snapped. I was amazed by how a sharp blade – something with less than 40 hours on it – cut! ;)

There’s another “pocket” on the back, which I didn’t show. I really like the table design and think it’s going to be amazing to use.

So now I need something to assemble. Oh, and some hold downs and clamps.

30 comments so far

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30407 posts in 2787 days

#1 posted 02-07-2013 03:03 PM

Looks great and will be easy to find in the shop.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View Ken90712's profile


17701 posts in 3637 days

#2 posted 02-07-2013 03:05 PM

Nice work, your right BB Plywood can be pricey!!! We have all made mistakes no doubt. The key is you fixed them. Blondie gets mad if I point out little things I’m not happy with. Like my last post, some cutting board’s I was a little disappointed with. This should serve you well and the laminate will help when you need to scrape the excess glue off. Nice post!

I too love Shopnotes, I have about 5 yrs now in binders and think it is by far the best woodworking Mag. out there.

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View Marcus's profile


1165 posts in 2468 days

#3 posted 02-07-2013 04:00 PM

Great looking table. I keep trying to convince myself that I need to make something like this, but get too busy with other projects.

View ChrisK's profile


2034 posts in 3530 days

#4 posted 02-07-2013 04:37 PM

Looks good, never built a project with $120 a sheet anything. What speed where you using on the drill press with the 1-3/8 Forstner bit? I run around 400/600 RPM with the larger bits with problem. I have inexpensive China made bits. Too fast and the chips can not clear the hole and cutter and the bits overheat or just can not feed.

-- Chris K

View gawthrrw's profile


207 posts in 2896 days

#5 posted 02-07-2013 05:07 PM

I have the same magazine and thought about making this table as an assembly/outfeed table.. Great job!!

-- Rob, Dallas TX

View SteveW's profile


396 posts in 3307 days

#6 posted 02-07-2013 05:19 PM

Nice looking table.
What issue of ShopNotes did that come from?

-- On the eighth day God was back in His woodworking shop! SteveW

View Surfside's profile


3389 posts in 2622 days

#7 posted 02-07-2013 05:27 PM

Beautiful project and thanks for all the details. That was an interesting build!

-- "someone has to be wounded for others to be saved, someone has to sacrifice for others to feel happiness, someone has to die so others could live"

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4168 posts in 3305 days

#8 posted 02-07-2013 05:44 PM

That is a great table
What are the dimensions? Looks 2×4


-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View toddbeaulieu's profile


840 posts in 3453 days

#9 posted 02-07-2013 05:50 PM

Hi all. Thank you for the compliments. To answer a few questions:

@Chris: how fast? Hmmm … I don’t know how fast my corded drill turns. I’ll have to look, but I could have cooked eggs on the bit. Do you think the problem was that I simply went too fast and didn’t clear it out enough? I’ll have to try that. These were inexpensive porter cable bits. Oh, and I held a calm facial expression when he gave me the prices. Tried not to look like an amateur. And felt just awful the whole drive home. $252 with tax for two sheets. I have some left over. I’m going to buy a vault.

@Jamie: The table is about 30” x 48”.

@Steve: I will check on which edition tonight when I get home.

@Rob: This was a great plan. Well thought out with simple/effective joinery. I highly recommend it. The BB looks nice without edging, but woah! The cost!

View helluvawreck's profile


32086 posts in 3315 days

#10 posted 02-07-2013 05:54 PM

That looks like it will be a nice fixture for the shop. Good work.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4168 posts in 3305 days

#11 posted 02-07-2013 05:54 PM

Thanks Tod, the beer threw my eye out. :)


-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View ChrisK's profile


2034 posts in 3530 days

#12 posted 02-07-2013 06:05 PM

Try the same 1-3/8 bit at 300 to 400 rpm and see if it cuts before you toss it. A slight filing of the edges should bring it back to life. I got lazy one day and did not slow my drill press down with a forstner and it did not cut well at all. I do not go above about 900 even with 1/4 forstners. The chips should be like shavings so they clear the hole. I also only plunge about 3/8” before raising the bit to clear the chips. Slow steady plunge pressure, keep the shaving forming and you are cutting well.

-- Chris K

View oldnovice's profile


7496 posts in 3816 days

#13 posted 02-08-2013 12:11 AM

Beautiful table for assembling projects.

When I lived in Illinois there was a kitchen remodler that would sell Formica at 0.30¢/sq. ft. cheaper than paint and I used a lot of it. One of my main uses was for kids projects as paint never lasted and Formica is washable too.

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3139 days

#14 posted 02-08-2013 01:56 AM

Great job on this table. I’m curious as to what it weighs? It looks stout enough to assemble truck motors on it! I think you will love that Formica top. Glue pops right off and I write on mine a lot and it just wipes off with alcohol.

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

View cbehnke's profile


89 posts in 3065 days

#15 posted 02-08-2013 02:31 AM

what did you assemble it on?

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