Torsion Box Outfeed Table Question

  • Advertise with us

« back to Woodworking Skill Share forum

Forum topic by Kevin posted 03-03-2008 08:39 PM 2978 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Kevin's profile


291 posts in 4974 days

03-03-2008 08:39 PM

Topic tags/keywords: torsion outfeed table assembly table

I am planning a new outfeed/sidefeed table for my Unisaw. I want to be able to use this table for assembly when neccessary as well. I am planning on 4’x8’ behind the saw and off to the right up to the 8’ mark. Total size inc saw will be about 6’x8’.

First question: Is 4’ behind the saw enough outfeed support for cuttting full plywood sheet by myself? I had also thought about making the entire thing 8’x8’, but i do not want to sacrifice more floor space than neccessary.

Second question: How thick do I make the top? I plan on using 3/4” MDF for the entire top and covering it with the answer to question #3. Then edge in some type of hardwood. I saw that Marc used 3” vertical pieces in his top. What have other people used?

Third question: Do you think I’d be better off using hardboard for the top or 3/4” Melamine? I don’t care about the cost difference on this too much. I want the best I can get.

Thank you all,

-- Kevin, Wichita, Kansas

9 replies so far

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 5004 days

#1 posted 03-03-2008 08:48 PM

1. 4’ should work since you will still have about 10+ inches on the saw.

2. If you are making a torsion box then 3/4 would be fine.

3. Hardboard over MDF would give you a cheap way to replace the top surface if you wanted to beat it up. That’s really up to you and how you work.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View grumpycarp's profile


257 posts in 4762 days

#2 posted 03-03-2008 09:33 PM

I agree with GaryK, tempered hardboard as a sacrificial top over MDF is the way to go. Melamine has never held up as well for me. Additionally you might try to source LDF (low density fiberboard) instead. It’s a lot lighter weight but still plenty durable. It’s often used in cabinet carcasses where veneers or skins are used as the finished assembly is much easier to move. 49×97 sheets of 3/4 MDF are about 85# per sheet I think. If you’re building a torsion box that bugger is going to get heavy. I’m sure you could get away with 5/8 or 1/2 in. depending on your web spacing inside. If you’re going to rout miter gauge slots in the outfeed area be sure to add backing so you don’t weaken the top in that area. And make sure not to leave any fasteners in the way of your bit (not that I’VE ever done that).
Chip Bittman

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27249 posts in 4838 days

#3 posted 03-04-2008 12:58 AM

I agree with Gary. Four feet of support behind the saw will let you rip a full sheet and still have most of the sheet supported by the saw and outfeed support. There should not be any danger of it tipping over. You are not supporting a great deal of weight here so 3/4 should be more than adequate for a top. Besides a torsion box, through the nature of its construction, offers plenty of support in addition to the top. Hardboard is much easier to replace, is cheap and material slides on it well. The one advantage that the melamine would have would be with respect to chemical resistance. This is not a concern with respect to an outfeed table but if you are planning to use it as a work bench for staining and finishing it will hold up better than hardboard.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Kevin's profile


291 posts in 4974 days

#4 posted 03-04-2008 02:04 AM

Gary/Scott – you had me convinced that hardboard was the way to go until I read Scott’s reply about the staining and finishing. I do plan on using it as an assembly/sanding/staining surface.

I already have the 3/4” MDF so I will use it instead of buying 5/8 or 1/2.

Grumpy thank you, thank you, thank you. I hadn’t even thought about the effect the miter slots would have on the strength of the top. This is why I posted the project before I built it. I wonder what else I skipped over in my design???

I may go with the hardboard top, but am still undecided. The white melamine should would look pretty.

-- Kevin, Wichita, Kansas

View grumpycarp's profile


257 posts in 4762 days

#5 posted 03-04-2008 03:12 AM

White melamine would brighten up the shop but I personally don’t likeit, it chips like the dickens. But there is another high pressure laminate out there that escapes memory for the moment that is more durable. It is a paper and resin faced product (also available in white) that is tougher as is it is not particle board at it’s core and is available in 1/4in. sheets. The name escapes me just now, Anyone?

View Safetyboy's profile


119 posts in 4775 days

#6 posted 03-07-2008 10:56 PM

I used left-over kitchen-countertop laminate for mine… glue scrapes right off and even stain mostly comes off. That doesn’t happen with tempered hardboard (I have that on my other workbench):

It’s not hard to glue on, especially if you don’t care if the seams aren’t perfect, and I think it’s the way to go if $$ isn’t an issue.

-- -- Kevin in Mentor, Ohio

View Myron Wooley's profile

Myron Wooley

226 posts in 4912 days

#7 posted 03-07-2008 11:11 PM

I built mine out of 1/2” MDF with 1/4” hardboard top skin. I also set it back 12” from the saw, and built a bridge piece with miter slots to close the gap. This gave me room for dust collection and electrical hookups.
3 coats of minwax oil finish and a bit of paste wax, and nothing sticks to it.

-- The days are long and the years are short...

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 5004 days

#8 posted 03-07-2008 11:15 PM

The reason for the hardboard top is being able to replace it cheaply when you mess it up. It’s a tempered
surface and if you wax it glue won’t stick to it, stains and dyes will bead up.

Melamine works well also but it does chip easily and doesn’t replace easily.

You want a good surface that has all the best charasistics use High Pressure Laminate, Glue, stains, dyes, whatever comes off it fairly easy.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View SPalm's profile


5338 posts in 4898 days

#9 posted 03-07-2008 11:38 PM

I would also vote for replaceable hardboard. Melamine (especially white) does stain. Formica would be better, but not needed here. Wax paper can be used under glue-ups and finishing. Freezer wrap also works well; it has a glossy side and a dull side. I put the glossy side down and the dull side up so as to soak up any drips (within reason).

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics