Perfectly Flat Table Designs

Discussion in 'Workshop Tips and Secrets / Tools' started by Jman, Mar 27, 2005.

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  1. Mar 27, 2005 #1

    Jman

    Jman

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    Perfectly Flat Work Tables

    Well, I'm trying to decide how I want to build my work table. It's going to be 3 X 16 with a top work surface of 3/4" MDF. I am still looking for an easy way to build it dead flat. My floor is very uneven so any design I go with will need to have adjustable feet. I've come across 3 possible methods but none have struck me as both easy and accurate at the same time.

    http://www.diynetwork.com/diy/ww_materials_products/article/0,2049,DIY_14442_2278181,00.html
    This method seems to be very flat and accurate but more difficult to build. I’m leaning this way only because it seems to be the most accurate method. The box truss seems to be what professional cabinet makers use to build their assembly tables.

    http://www.eaa1000.av.org/technicl/worktabl/worktabl.htm
    Seems easy but not very accurate.

    http://myweb.cableone.net/oz2000/jig_table.htm
    This table uses engineered floor joists which I have never used before. Would these be flat enough over 16 feet if I use jointer to true them up?

    I guess what I'm getting at is I want a dead flat work surface that is relatively easy to build. Can someone give me a push in the right direction? I'm not so lazy as to want someone to design it for me, just some ideas would be great :D . Thanks!

    Jake
     
  2. Mar 28, 2005 #2

    Jman

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    http://www.maddyhome.com/cozy/chapters/chapter0/jigtable.jsp

    This seems to be the way to go. It's a simpler version of the third link above. I believe I should be able to span this design 16 feet with a set of legs in the middle. I'm thinking I might also screw the joists together and joint and plane them to the same exact dimensions just in case they are not perfect from the factory. Has anyone used these engineered joists before? Any comments? Thanks.

    Jake
     
  3. Mar 28, 2005 #3

    George Sychrovsky

    George Sychrovsky

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    I did mine the style the second link shows but I used 2x6 for the top frame, not 2x4, I used 4 pair of legs, It is a lot easier to shim legs to make it straight rather then try to build it straight. I was lucky to find perfectly straight 2x6 12 ft long but if I did it again I would look for the engineered floor joists.

    I have talked to two people that both claimed they spent 150 hours (three weeks) to build they work table. I told them I spent 4 hours building mine, in three weeks I had my first wing. Don’t do it like them.
     
  4. Mar 28, 2005 #4

    Waiter

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    Take a look at www.aerocad2.com. Download the Chapter 3 Education.

    I did mine exactly like this. I put legs in the middle also to help level it and eyelets in each corner. Took about a day to put it together.

    I had a come-a-long with cables and pulleys mounted on the ceiling. When I needed the floor space, I hooked the cables to the eyelets and hoisted it up against the ceiling.

    Waiter
     
  5. Mar 28, 2005 #5

    Jman

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    Thanks for the replys guys. I totally agree with not taking an entire summer to build a work table. I think a simple Tortion box structure using engeneered floor joists will work fine. Thanks for the input. I'll probably start work in the table weekend after next. I'll post pictures here.

    Jake
     
  6. Mar 29, 2005 #6

    Falco Rob

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    Hey Jake,

    I needed a table about 28ft long x 4 ft wide to build the main spar (the Falco has an 8 metre wingspan) and there was no way that was going to happen in one piece.

    I built 4 tables 8ft x 4 ft and bolted them together; each has 6 legs all with levelling screws in the bottom. The top is chipboard and the supporting frame is only 3" x 2" pine, but construction joists would have been much stiffer, of course.

    The tables were aligned end to end, loosely bolted together and then levelled vertically using a surveyors level (theodolite). Once all were level the connecting bolts were tightened and a final check with the theodolite ensured everything was still OK.

    I subsequently built two more identical tables, but without the levelling screws, as general work areas. With the experience gained from the first 4 these took only 2 hours each to knock together.

    Once the spar was finished I disconnected the original 4, replaced the levelling screws on a couple of them with 6 small castors and they are now invaluable as mobile "work stations".

    If you have a look at http://www.seqair.com/Workshop/Phillis/Phillis.html#anchor2214433
    and page through you can see them in the background in some of the photos.

    The only problem I've had occured on a Saturday afternoon at "beer o'clock".

    One of the boys slouched against a mobile table with a full can in his hand ending up flat on his face on the floor covered in beer, but still valiantly clutching his now depleted can.

    The entertainment value in that incident alone was worth all the effort of building them!

    Cheers,

    Rob
     
  7. Mar 29, 2005 #7

    Jman

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    Rob,

    Thanks for the details. I'll take a look at your site. I was thinking that I would stay away from building multiple tables to bolt together because I couldn't really visualize how to level them. I kept thinking that if the tables were very stiff then, even if the tables were individually leveled, they would pull out of level when bolted together unless the mating surface was built perfectly true and square. However, your method of a relatively flexible work surface with many legs to fine tune with seems like it would work well. Thanks Rob - good food for thought.

    Jake
     
  8. Jul 23, 2005 #8

    Jman

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    Well, I got a later than expected start on the table but I'm just about done with it. It took me about 3 days of actual work to get it to this point. I'm quite happy with the results, however, I need some advice before I put the finishing touches on it. I've attached one drawing and two pictures below. The two pictures give you an idea what it looks like and the drawing is what I would like advice on. I'll be describing the construction details in another thread once it's completely finished.

    Here is my problem. The top surface is attached and completely flat with the table sitting on the sawhorses. There are 9 legs and each has the ability to fine tune the level using lag bolts in the bottoms. To finish the table I need to secure the bottom surface for rigidity.

    Here is my question. Would using a truss type method (Either #1 or #2 pictured in the drawing below) to secure the bottom surface be just about as secure as using full sheets of plywood? Using the Truss would be lighter and would have the advantage of being able to be completed without flipping the table. It's quite heavy :D and I'd rather secure it while it is known to be completely flat rather than flipping it and securing it when it is possibly not perfectly level thereby locking in errors. Any reason I should not use this method?

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    Jake
     

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  9. Jul 24, 2005 #9

    StRaNgEdAyS

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    That's a great table Jake!
    I only hope my next work surface is a good.
    I'd say if you're comfortable doing the trusses like in your drawings, (I'd be going with the crossover design) then do it.
    If it's flat now, odds are it will be flat then, just check it before and after you screw it in place to be sure.
     
  10. Jul 26, 2005 #10

    CAB

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    Maybe..............

    Perhaps sheets of masonite instead of plywood. Lighter, easier,(you could screw 'em up lying on your back) and plenty strong enough, I'd think. Mayhap expensive????????? :D

    CAB
    Bearhawk # 862
     
  11. Jul 27, 2005 #11

    Jman

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    I think Masonite would be the ticket. However, I had the truss material available so I just did it that way. Seems to have worked OK. I may get some masonite to lay on top of the table for the fuselage jig. Not nessesary but would protect the top surface. We'll see.

    My workshop is now 96.5% ready. Can't wait to get my spruce!!

    Thanks guys.

    Jake
     
  12. Aug 18, 2005 #12

    BD5builder

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    Here's a photo of my table.. you'll have to forgive the fuselage on it, but i had no otherplace to put it, since the table takes up 70% of my garage.

    but its constructed out of 2x8x10's w/ 3/4" MDF tops and has a set of lag bolts on the bottom of the 4x4 legs and it is perfectly flat and level in all directions, and cost roughly $200. Its dimension are 30" tall, 4' wide and 12' long ( i have 2 feet of overhand for clamping a vise and other parts onto.
     

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  13. Aug 18, 2005 #13

    George Sychrovsky

    George Sychrovsky

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    Make sure you people put a second deck under need as a big shelf otherwise all the space is wasted there , it’s the best way where to store all the raw material , something like this.

    [​IMG]
     
  14. Aug 18, 2005 #14

    BD5builder

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    I"m still working on that part of my table.. i think i'm just gonna go w/ the cheapest 1/4" ply i can find for that shelf...
     
  15. Jan 17, 2007 #15

    base363

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    I built a table that is 20' long. I used the plans the EAA has on their web site, only made the table in three sections. 2-4X8', 1-4X4'. I built adjustable feet using bolts with washers welded to the head. I then bolted them together, and leveled the entire table to within 1/16" using a homemade water level. I also used 3/4" OSB for the top, and covered it with 1/4" birch panel. That way, I can change the top to new for about $12!

    http://www.jumprunenterprises.com
     

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  16. Oct 29, 2009 #16

    Atomic_Sheep

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    Just wanted to add a suggestion, Jman suggested a design that I completely agree with. If you have adjustable screws on each of the legs, then you can make a perfectly flat workbench. I'll do my best to describe the technique which I saw used in one of the billiard places that I've seen. Basically, you take a low resistance circle e.g. perspex or really shiny plastic... and you move it around the table surface (pretty much over the sections of the 9 legs of Jmans design) and place a billiard ball in the centre, if it stays in the centre, then you don't have to adjust anything, if it rolls then quite obviously you need to adjust it.

    EDIT: I found the place that does it... a picture speaks a thousand words!

    150barkly.com - Masters Billiards Equipment
     

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    Last edited: Oct 29, 2009
  17. Oct 29, 2009 #17

    Jman

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    Great idea. Thanks!
     

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