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Thread: flat bench for assembly

  1. #1

    flat bench for assembly

    Greetings. This is my first post here. My woodworking experience is mostly in building things for utility, but I do like it when fit and finish turn out right.

    I have a small area of the garage in which I can have a moderate-sized work surface. I'd like it to be flat so that pieces can be assembled to fit right. I have visited a few online articles and videos about building a torsion box (just google it), and I believe that I understand the principles that make it work. It relies on a top and bottom "skin" with a uniformly thick and flat spacer material composed of wood pieces glued in a tight grid. it forms a 3-dimensional I-beam. I have thought of a way to build a torsion box (or imitation of it) that may be easier to build and almost as good. I certainly would value the advice of the community on this approach while it is still in the design phase. I have some drawings of the concept, but I am not sure what is going on with pictures in this forum, so I'll try to use words instead.

    Here is my idea:

    1) create a temporary but flat work surface. I may be able to borrow some metal square tubing for this. I would need some adjustable feet (or various shims) to get a flat surface. My thought is to use a laser level and possibly check with a good 6-foot level to verify flatness. Flatness is required, level is a good idea but not required.
    2) Use two new interior slab doors to create a uniformly thick and flat spacer material. Lay one door on the square tubing and check for flatness. Attach anchors and/or weights to the sides of the door as needed to make it flat. Dry fit a second slab door on top, discover placement of weights and anchors to make the combination of doors flat. Then glue the two doors together.
    3) Add the "skins". Use a similar gluing method to add a 3/4 ply (maybe one side melamine?) to the stack, then turn the whole thing over and add a 3/4 ply to the other side.
    4) Build a bench. Build up horizontal beams to support bench top from ripped and glued 3/4 ply on edge for dimensional stability. Add legs with adjustable feet to make it level.

    Could this work?
    One person I spoke with said that I was assuming too much with regard to the flatness and consistency of the interior doors. I picked interior doors because the inside is supposed to be some material on edge and well-sealed with glue and not likely to change with humidity.

    I have read about something similar, but made by gluing only pieces of plywood together. It is tough, but very heavy. The resistance to bending lies mostly in the outer layers; hence I thought interior doors might work better for the core.

    Thanks for any advice or pointers towards information.

    Tom

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Pueblo, CO
    Posts
    291
    I made a base out of 2x4s and added levelers to the legs. One hollow core door from the damaged goods corner and I had an assembly table. I added some blocks under the edges of the door to keep it from sliding off to base. Slapped some shellac on the top to keep glue drips from sticking and you're off to the races. My table has been working well for about 10 years now. I tend to move things around quite a bit, so this light weight table is just what I need. I also expect another cross country move soon, so the table will be off to the landfill.

  3. #3
    Thanks, Dan!

    Your experience tells me that interior doors can work well, and that I may be making this more complicated than it needs to be.

    Tom

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Kansas City
    Posts
    1,296
    Tom, if you want another option, I've used leftover sections of laminate counter tops to make assembly tables. You can buy good-sized pieces cheap, at Home Depot, Habitat ReStore, or from installers. Free if you know someone who is remodeling. Nice and flat and easy to clean.

    I used an interior door for a workbench top. It was OK, but not great. And note that one of the edges is bevelled so you can't use that side as a reference or mounting point for vises.

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