The most logical first project for most beginning woodworking enthusiasts is the utility table. Not only is it one of the easiest things to craft in a woodworking shop it will be the most useful thing to start with because all of your later project can be started right on top of your new table.
This article will discuss the basic steps for taking some plain wood and, using your own ingenuity, crafting your very own woodshop utility table. Since every woodworking project can make great use of a table there is no better place to begin than to start with table woodworking plans and get your first project under your belt.
To begin with, you will need to start with the base for your table. This is the most complex part of the entire project. You will need two short sides, two long sides, and three stringers or sway braces for the base.
The stringers are what will actually keep your table standing when you place things on top of it. You will want to make sure the stringers are evenly spaced. The dimensions of the two short sides and the two long sides are determined by what size you want your table to be.
Depending on how heavy the material you will be using you will want your base to be no more than one to two feet smaller than the overall dimensions of your table. For example: a four foot by eight foot table can be supported by a base that is between one and two feet for the depth and between four and six feet in length.
For the base of your table a butt-joint assembly will work fine. Once you have assembled the base of your table you will want to check to make sure it is square in shape and very stable. The next step is to attach the legs which will be close to the outside edges of the table top. Make sure to cut the legs evenly and use a square to get the legs placed correctly.
You can use some wood glue to seal the narrow places between the legs of your table and the base. If the table legs are to made from relatively thin wood you will not want to use screws to attach them because screws have been known to split wood. Splits or cracks in the legs will grow larger over time and weaken the entire structure.
Once you have glued the legs of your table to the base of your table it will be time to attach the stringers for your table. You will have stringers on the base of your table and on the legs of your table. This may not be the most attractive design but it will be the strongest and when it comes to utility tables in woodworking shops strength will be the main concern.
Since you never know what you may need to place on top of your utility table: it could be very heavy pieces of wood or large tools, you will want to make sure it is as strong as possible.
When it comes to cutting and attaching the stringers you will want to start by measuring the distance between the legs. Start by placing the table upside down on the floor and measuring the exact distance between the legs.
You will need to attach four stringers to the legs of your table. You will need two stringers for the short sides (one on each side) and two stringers for the long sides.
The stringers on the short side will work best if they are attached about five inches up from the bottom of the legs (five inches off the floor when the table is turned upright). The stringers attaching the legs on the long side of the table should be attached at the midpoints of the legs.
Since thirty four inches is a standard table height, 17 inches off the floor is the correct placement for these stringers. If you are taller or shorter than the average person you should adjust the height of your table accordingly to make it easier to work on your table.
If you want to make your table even stronger you can add two additional stringers to the short sides of your table at the midway point of the legs.
You should use small door hinges or metal brackets made for this purpose to make sure your table is as strong as possible.
The next step is to take a piece of plywood (or you could use two pieces and double thickness for extra strength) and attach it to your legs and base. It is also a good idea to attach 2×4’s or 2×6’s all the way around the perimeter of the plywood to make it stronger and more durable.
The last step is to paint or varnish the plywood so it is protected from spills or drips or oil, water, paint or any other liquids you may be working with. Now you are ready to start on your second project! Make it something for your home and it will be a lot easier to work on now that you have a great woodworking utility table.