2020 May 22      Woodworking    Various DIY Projects


Introduction


Here's a small, rough-carpentry work table or tool stand that's easy to build. 

It's not fancy, and there's no joinery.  The purpose of this build is to make something that works.  Use it to hold stuff.  Scale it up, add a planing stop and a holdfast, and you've got a carpentry workbench.

Caution:  Please read the Disclaimer.  Also realize this little table is heavier than it looks.  You might need someone to help you move it around.


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In This Article

Gearing Up

The Cut List

Assembly

If You Did It Right

The Wide Apron Boards

Do This For Durability

Conclusion


Gearing Up


This is another project that can be nailed together, but you may find it easier to use a drill and an impact driver instead. 

2 1/2" deck screws are about right for 1" thick boards fastened to standard 2x4's.  If you're fastening into the flat side of the 2x4, you might want to go with 2" deck screws.

Make sure to get a countersink drill bit.  It does two things:  makes a pilot hole, and makes a countersink.  Both of these reduce the chances of splitting the wood. 

A jigsaw can cut 1x10's and 2x4's, but a circular saw works much better for cutting the 2x4's.  The jig saw blade tends to deflect and make crooked cuts, especially when the wood is more than about an inch thick. 

Don't forget the clamps;  you'll need something to hold the boards to your sawhorses while cutting.  The clamps also help a lot for holding the apron boards in place before you fasten them.


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The Cut List


You don't have to make this with exactly the same dimensions, but here they are.

You'll probably want to start with two 8-foot 2x4's and two 8-foot 1x10's.  If you can't get full-dimension 1x10's, look for something comparable.  You could easily substitute plywood (not OSB, unless you're going to paint it), or almost any wide boards that are at least 1/2" thick.  You might have to adjust some measurements accordingly. 

The Two-by-Fours: 
20" x 4 pieces; 
18" x 1 piece.

The One-by-Tens: 
29" x 2 pieces.  If you want the plank ends to overhang for clamping stuff to the edges, cut these 32" or 33" instead.
27" x 2 pieces.
20" x 2 pieces.

Next up, assembling the pieces.


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Assembly


The 1x10's will act as sheathing to tie everything together and keep it squared up. 

Fasten two of the 20" 2x4 pieces to a 27" 1x10 piece.  Make two sets of these, like so:



Then take the 18" piece of 2x4 and use it to join the two sets, like this:



It helps if you mark the center of each side before fastening this.  If the width is 27", the center point will be at 13.5".  Use the rafter square to make sure the 2x4 connector is perpendicular before you fasten it.  And of course, pre-drill pilot holes before driving the deck screws.  Use 2 1/2" ones for this.

Once the two halves are joined with the 2x4 connector, then you'll attach the short pieces of apron board to each end.  (These are the 20" pieces of 1x10.)  This is a good time to use a pair of mini bar clamps:



Once you have all the apron boards fastened, the top boards are fairly easy.  Just make sure the fasteners will be going into 2x4's, not air. 



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If You Did It Right


The table should look something like the photo at the top of this page.  The legs should be parallel, which means that if they're 20" apart at the tops, they should be 20" apart at the bottoms.  (1/8" difference is OK;  the smaller the better.)

By the way, it would not be that much extra work to glue-laminate 2x4's into square-ish legs, improving the overall appearance.  You could trim off the rounded 2x4 edges on a table saw before doing the glue-up, making them 3" wide so you could make 3x3" square legs.  But I didn't do that here, because I just wanted to make this really basic.


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The Wide Apron Boards


These make it almost self-aligning and self-squaring.  They also prevent racking.  Just make sure the 1x10's have good square (perpendicular) ends;  these form a reference point for lining up the rest of the project.  Don't underestimate a crude-looking carpentry project like this;  it requires the basic skills of making square cuts, as well as measuring, marking, and working with boards that might be slightly cupped or warped.

Another reason to have the wide boards:  you can later attach various holders or compartments to them.  This is good for blacksmiths, backyard mechanics, and others who need to have stuff near the work area. 

Or, if you want to use these as plant stands, make another one that's only about a foot tall.  Then put it up against the taller one.  There, the wide apron board can keep stuff from falling back under the taller plant stand. 


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Do This For Durability


The basic 2x4 legs have very square edges.  To reduce the chance of edge splintering, chamfer the ends with 60 or 80-grit sandpaper.  (Get a roll or two of this.  It's great.)  Then use 120 or 150 grit for smoothing.

It really helps if you use a sanding block or sanding stick.  You can make one easily from scrap wood.  This makes the sandpaper act more like a file, so you can get nice, flat, 45-degree chamfered edges.  Otherwise the sandpaper will flex during use, rounding the corners instead of making flat chamfers.

You may also want to seal the end grain of the 2x4 legs.  I would use either epoxy, polyurethane varnish, or exterior paint.  It's important to keep water from soaking up into the end-grain. 


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Conclusion


This is very basic, very handy work table that you can put together in one afternoon.

Make yourself a couple of these.  Use them to hold books, plants, whatever.  Use them to hold tools and stuff while you're building more of these tables.  Stick one next to your door so you can set groceries on it, or your hat or something. 


         


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