1) Large enough to spread out a textbook, notebook computer, and writing notebook.
2) Durable, with legs that do not wobble or a span that bends under weight.
3) Without nooks and crannies that would fill up with knick knacks.
4) Modern, clean, stylish and a positive addition to my workspace.
My finished product has douglas fir legs, a birch top with steel panels and an acrylic overlay. The edges are finished with aluminum angle.
And so we begin with the materials:
1 4x8' 3/4" Birch Plywood
1 3x6' 0.118" Acrylic Sheet
1 12' 4x4" Douglas Fir
2 8' 1" Aluminum Angle
12 8x12" Galvanized Steel Flashing in Pre-cut sections
10 3/4" #8 Stainless Screws
4 4" 3/8" Hanger Bolts
4 3/8" Tee Nuts
1 Can Polyurethane Finish
Double Stick Tape
Drill with various drivers and bits
Step 1: Plan and Cut to Size
But layout a design on your available plywood and see what works best. With an acrylic top, you can put nearly anything underneath, I considered pictures, lights and many other designs.
I used a circular saw to cut the plywood down, a table saw or hand saw would work just fine as well.
Step 2: Cut Legs to Length
When working with a 12' beam, we chose to cut it into quarters, then down to our desired size. Wasteful yes, but easier to manage and keep square.
Step 3: Cut Acrylic to Match Top
If you don't have a router, a circular saw or even wood saw would be just fine.
Step 4: Cut and Bend Aluminum Edges
To cut the aluminum, measure out a 90 degree angle, and cut it out with the jigsaw. Then clamp to a right angle, and gently bend to 90.
Step 5: Drill Holes for Legs
A better plan would be to go a few inches further from the front, so that the legs can be rotated and removed without removing the aluminum angle.
Once you drill the holes, put a small amount of glue around the hole and gently pound in the nuts.
Step 6: Drill Holes in Legs
Screw in the hanger bolts by placing two nuts on the threaded section to act as jam nuts, then use a hex wrench or ratchet to screw them in to the desired depth.
Step 7: Apply Finish
Suspend all of your pieces for finishing, and apply finish with roller or brush. Be sure to stir your finish of choice.
Once dry, sand with 320 grit or finer, clear off the dust, then apply a second coat. Apply as many coats as necessary, we put four coats on because the polyurethane went on a little thin.
Step 8: Attach Legs and Metal Panels
Layout the steel panels in desired pattern, then tape them down with double stick tape. You could glue them, but tape allows you to remove them or rearrange them should you choose.
Step 9: Drill Holes for Aluminum Angle
We chose to put all of the screws on the topside to prove the most structural support. We put three across the front, then one on either side of the joint on the side.
Drill a pilot hole first, to avoid cracking the acrylic, then finish with a larger hole so the screw doesn't have to chew through the aluminum and acrylic. It should be shallow enough to allow the screw to anchor into the plywood.
Put all the screws in to test fit, then polish with a metal polish. Finish the polish off with car wax to keep the aluminum from oxidizing.
Step 10: Clean Surface and Lay Down Acrylic
Screw down the edging, and you're finished!