Best approach for bandsaw table surface

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Forum topic by William Shelley posted 06-01-2014 07:15 AM 1292 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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William Shelley

609 posts in 1946 days

06-01-2014 07:15 AM

Hi folks,

Some of you may have seen my blog post regarding my 20” bandsaw project. I’ve been tied up with some other stuff over the last week and have had only a few hours to put into it, but next week is full steam ahead.

One of the design elements that I have not yet figured out is a pretty big part… the table surface. Below is my initial design:

The front-to-back miter tracks are optional but I thought they would be good to have for mounting jigs to or something. I don’t know what material to make the surface from though. I don’t like to use MDF for this kind of thing because in my experience it doesn’t hold up well to wear. I have some 6/4 maple that I could glue up like an edge-grain butcher block. The maple is a little costly for this project though. I have some 4/4 low-grade hickory that was significantly cheaper which I also thought about using.

The overall thickness is targeted at 1-1/2” and the size will be approximately 28” wide and 18” deep. The other issue that comes up is how to surface such a large piece since I have only a 13” thickness planer (and only a 6” jointer).

Some suggestions on this would be appreciated. Solutions that are inexpensive would be best. I’m not adverse to lurking on craigslist until a deal pops up on a good material choice.

-- Woodworking from an engineer's perspective

6 replies so far

View ChefHDAN's profile


1440 posts in 3326 days

#1 posted 06-01-2014 11:41 AM

Bill, I like to use melamine cabinet ply for tops and jig fixtures etc, I come across it frequently in my business but you could also check the big box joints, they usually have the smaller sheets of laminate that get damaged in the rack and will sell them for 50% off, which with a piece of Baltic birch ply you’d have a near perfect top

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

View RandyinFlorida's profile


257 posts in 2545 days

#2 posted 06-01-2014 11:55 AM


Did you see John Hutchinsin’s post abut the Colored Pencil Fruit Bowl here: He has Corian mounted on his drill press table. Very cool. I would expect you could mill the Corian much the same as you might wood. I also like that it would be near dead flat, wouldn’t warp, and would be slick.

-- Randy in Crestview Florida, Wood Rocks!

View William Shelley's profile

William Shelley

609 posts in 1946 days

#3 posted 06-01-2014 03:27 PM

@ChefHDAN – My local big box stores don’t sell melamine ply, only melamine particle board. And PB is a banned material in my shop :)

@Randy – I had kind of thrown corian / avonite out in my head, assuming i wouldn’t be able to machine them. I’ve trimmed regular clear acrylic with a router before and the results were good but it generated a mass of awful clingy shavings that stuck to everything and left an unpleasant odor lingering in my shop. But now that you mention it, I’m remembering they are a type of acrylic composite… I guess if I could get a scrap chunk of it from a local countertop place, that would probably make a real good surface though. Thanks.

-- Woodworking from an engineer's perspective

View William Shelley's profile

William Shelley

609 posts in 1946 days

#4 posted 06-02-2014 04:22 AM

I was at the big orange box today getting some stuff for my yard and stopped by the kitchens department to see if they had formica or similar, which they didn’t. But then I thought about laminate flooring and I remembered how inexpensive some of that stuff is. I went over to browse and found a case that had been broken open (or returned?) by another customer.. about 20sq ft usable in it and the sales guy gave me half off for the damage so a final price of $8.50 for the case seems like a good deal. I can bond this to a stable substrate like 3/4” MDF or a sandwich of a couple layers of ply, or perhaps even going for the solid wood setup. In any case, I have a feeling that this stuff will work good for other wear surfaces as well. And I have enough to cover other things with.

-- Woodworking from an engineer's perspective

View MrRon's profile


5659 posts in 3720 days

#5 posted 06-05-2014 12:03 AM

First thing, I would eliminate all the slots in the table. Then I would use a phenolic faced plywood for the top. Phenolic (not to be confused with melamine) is a durable surface.

View William Shelley's profile

William Shelley

609 posts in 1946 days

#6 posted 06-06-2014 12:42 AM

@Ron – I took your advice. On a whim, I went to a local secondhand building materials store here in Portland, OR called The Rebuilding Center… picked up two pieces of 1-1/4” thick ‘PaperStone’, a fantastically dense and stable composite countertop material made of phenolic resin impregnated paper. paid $10 for a 36” x 27” piece and $15 for a 38” x 30” piece. I’ll use the smaller one for this project and the larger for another project, I think.

-- Woodworking from an engineer's perspective

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