Posts: 15
Registered: ‎12-12-2010

How to build an Easy Shop Table (Instructions & Pictures!)

[ Edited ]


Easy Shop Table


table30.jpg I started this project after building the assembly table from March 2010 issue of Wood Magazine.  The table was a lot of work (the torsion box top) but the main unit holding the table up was an easy build.  That's when I hit upon the idea of using the same design for a group of extra tables for other uses.  I've built a number of these already, and am using one as a router table, a miter saw station, and a sharpening station. 


It is built using standard re-dimensioned construction lumber (from the big box stores).  I can easily build one in a weekend.


I made this project with two 2 x 10's (10') with minimal extra lumber.  Total cost is about for the lumber is $25-$30 including a top.  The most expensive part is the castors.  More on these later...


A couple of notes before I start construction.  First, when using construction lumber in a project like this, you may need to get more than you need in order to get the clearest final project.  Also, buying the larger lumber (like 2 x 10's) tends to yield the best lumber.  Choose your pieces carefully for the cleanest and straightest boards you can find.  When ripping the boards, be extra carefull as you might release tension in the boards and cause binding.


Okay, lets get started...


Here is the basic cut list for the project.  All lumber is standard 1 1/2" thick construction lumber.


4 - 29 1/2" x 3" Long leg *

4 - 24 1/2" x 3" short leg *

4 - 21" x 2 1/2" Long Rail

4 - 18" x 2 1/2" Short rail

1 - 18" x 18" x 3/4" MDF or Plywood

4 - 1 1/4" x 1 1/4" x 15" shelf cleat (make from ripping scraps)




1 - 24" x  35" x 3/4" MDF or Plywood top


* combined to make each leg


Starting the build...

First, we need to cross-cut our lumber into reasonable lengths to make it easier to rip.  I cut two 31", two 26", and four 24" inch pieces.  The 31" & the 26" pieces will be ripped to 3" wide.  The 24" pieces will be ripped to 2 1/2" wide.  Here is how to do this.




Above: The boards are first cross-cut to make ripping easier


Ripping the Stock:


Set your fence at 9" to trim off one edge of each of the boards (assuming you are using 2 x 10's).  After trimming off one edge, set your fence to make a 3 1/2" cut.  Rip each board twice.  You chould have 16 boards of various lengths, all approx 3 1/2" wide.  I pre-cut them this way to releive any stress in the lumber before cutting to final width.  Save your scrap as we will use it later.  If you have a jointer, joint one edge

of each of the boards and mark the jointed edge.


Below: Ripping the curved edge off the stock (why do they make that annoying curved edge?).




Below: Rip the stock extra wide to releive tension in the lumber




Below: If possible, run the edge on your jointer - if you don't have

a jointer, just cut the stock to final width!




Below: Don't forget to mark your jointed edge...






Above: Cutting the stock to final width


Cutting to Final Width:


Set your fence to make a 3" cut.  Rip the 4 31" & 26" pieces - lay these aside.  Reset the fence to make a 2 1/2" cut.  Rip the 24" pieces at this time - lay these aside as well.


Below: The sixteen parts are at there final width (various lengths)




Cutting to Final Length:


Cut the various pieces to the sizes listed in the cut list.  Cut one end off of each piece to square it up, then cut all of the various parts to length.  If your using a chop saw like I did, use some scrap to back it up to avoid blow out.


Below: Using scrap to avoid blow out when cross-cutting






Above: All of the pieces ready to assemble


The Glue Up:


First we will assemble the upper and lower frame.  Clamp one of the long rails to your work surface and glue and screw it to the end of one of the short rails...




Add another short rail to the other end, then finish up by adding another long rail.  Repeat this procedure for the second frame...






Above: The first fram is complete...repeat for the second frame...


Now we have to glue up the uprights (legs).  Glue and screw one of the 24 1/2" legs to the center of one of the 29 1/2" legs.  You need a 2 1/2" notch at each end of the assembly (to make this easier, clamp on a 2 1/2" scrap to one end as shown).




Below: This notch needs to be 2 1/2" at both ends!




Below: The stack of four legs, along with the two 21" square frames...




Now lets's add the bottom shelf.  Cut your MDF shelf to match the opening on the assembled rails...




Lay one of the frames made earlier with it's top side down on a flat table.  Drop the shelf into the opening so it is flush with the bottom...




Then glue and screw the shelf cleats into position...


Below: The shelf cleats 1 1/4" x 1 1/4" x 15"




Below: Glue and screw the cleats to the bottom of the shelf...








Above: The bottom of the completed shelf...


Flip this assembly over, and your bottom shelf is finished...




Final assembly:


Apply some glue to the face of the notch on one of the assembled legs.  Clamp this onto the bottom assembly, on the face of a short rail.  Use two screws to secure this.  Use a square to ensure that the legs are at 90 degrees to the base unit.  Repeat for the other three legs.




Below: Adding more legs to the lower assembly...




Below: All the legs glued and screwed...




Apply glue to the faces of the upper leg notches, and place the upper assembly into the notches in the same orientation as the lower unit.  Clamp and screw this together as well.  This completes the construction of the table.


Below: Add the top frame...




Adding Castors:


Castors can be mounted directly to the bottom of the leg assemblies...




Above: The castor locks both the pivot and the wheel!


Below: Installing castors on the bottom...




Below: The completed table with castors...




The castors I chose lock both the wheel movement and the pivot on the castor.  This is very important to ensure non-movement of the table.  Castors of this type are available from Rockler.


Below: The completed shop table, ready for use...




The shop table is now ready for use.  As a router table, simply add the top of your choice (or make one).  Mine is a Rockler top secured with a piano hinge on the rear side.  I added a stop so I could tilt the table for access...
































Below: My chop saw table features the same easy to build shop table (torsion box wings)...




You can also build a simple plywood or MDF top and cover it with formica.  I did this for my sharpening station.  This top is hooked to the upper frame with simple L brackets.  I added pine edging to protect the top.  I have built four so far (one of them is the base for my miter saw). 




- Lockwatcher (Ken C)






Honored Advisor
Posts: 12,549
Registered: ‎10-23-2009

Re: Easy Shop Table

This is very nice. Thanks for the read and images.


Question: You seem to be a fine woodworker. Why would you purchase a RT, when you could have built one?



"Why worry about things you can't control when you can keep yourself busy controlling the things that depend on you."
Posts: 15
Registered: ‎12-12-2010

Re: Easy Shop Table

Reference: Router Table Top


Actually, the router table top that I have was a gift! My wife got it for me for a birthday a couple years ago.  The Rockler one is made from doubled MDF and has proved itself to be a very good product.  It is available for $199 (including fence etc.) but I seem to remember at the time that she spent about $139 - that was a pretty good deal at the time.


Yeah, I could probably make one...



Honored Advisor
Posts: 2,997
Registered: ‎10-28-2009

Re: Easy Shop Table

Nice design and good step by step, thank you. I can see a couple of those in my shop!!


Steve K

"Good judgement comes from experience, and experience--well, that comes from poor judgement."
- Cousin Woodman

My Youtube Channel
Veteran Contributor
Posts: 115
Registered: ‎01-13-2010

Re: Easy Shop Table

Wow!  Easy to build and very functional.  I may have to do this for my own shop- chop saw, router, drill press, bench grinder.  The casters make it easy to store out of the way and then move to use.  Thanks for the pictures.  Never thought of using large boards and cutting them down.Smiley Surprised

Posts: 15
Registered: ‎12-12-2010

Re: Easy Shop Table

It makes a lot of sense using the larger boards.  I ended up with very little waste (expense wise) as the construction lumber is not that expensive in the first place!


By cutting the sections larger, I was able to cut around most larger knots and the bad stuff.


Kudos also go to Wood Magazine that inspired me to build these...


- Lockwatcher (Ken C)



Veteran Contributor
Posts: 117
Registered: ‎10-23-2009

Re: Easy Shop Table

Wow you have  created a  great set of "legs"  for  shop   bases. The  2 x 10 is also a great idea. This beats checking "thrift shops" for an old table.  Thanks for shareing this.TCM

need to talk with my moderator. Been sick thus I have not been back to join the Forum HELP
Posts: 1
Registered: ‎07-12-2013

Re: How to build an Easy Shop Table (Instructions & Pictures!)

[ Edited ]

Nice simple design!  I have built something similar; I used Southern Yellow Pine because I put a heavy machine on the table.  I probably over designed it. Have you added drawers to any of these tables?  If so, could you please provide a note on how you did it?  By the way, what size casters did you use?

Veteran Contributor
Posts: 112
Registered: ‎08-19-2014

Re: How to build an Easy Shop Table (Instructions & Pictures!)

In the middle of making a modified version of this that is 40 in wide to accommodate a bandsaw on one end and a drill press on the other.  I am using a bunch of old wood (2x4,2x6 cutoffs and scrap) I have accumulated over the years/projects.  That introduced a few challenges as the wood has been stored for a while and even the best ones have some odd twists and turns.....Nothing a little creative rough carpentry could not fix.  Smiley WinkOnce I get it done I will take a picture and post it as an update.  It will not be pretty, but it will work for my purpose AND be virtually cost free 'cause it used up stuff I had lying around the shop.  Thanks again for the inspiration.



Posts: 19
Registered: ‎09-05-2014

Re: How to build an Easy Shop Table (Instructions & Pictures!)

Looks like everbodys already said it, THANKS FER,YA TIME.