Here's how to build a "levitating" coffee table with acrylic legs, that doubles as a whiteboard! We made it at TechShop Pittsburgh, and a full BOM and assembly guide is available in the PDF file below.
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Completion Time: ~6 hours
Materials Required: (Total Cost ~$220)
- 27.75"x55.75" Panel board (which is whiteboard coated)
- 27.75"x55.75"x0.5" Plywood
- Black spray paint (highly recommended: black powder coat paint)
- 8 pieces of 24"x12" clear acrylic sheet (thickness can vary, but at least 0.2")
- 2x56" and 2x28" lengths of 3/4"x3/4"x1/8" steel angle (stock #A1343418)
- Acetone and a rag to clean the steel
- 12 steel corner braces (other places will be cheaper - these match our laser cutter file holes)
- Wood glue
- At least 32 wood screws, #8 1/2"
- Laser Cutter
- Miter cold saw
- Table saw
- Drill press
- Powder gun and oven for powder coating (or other painting method)
Prerequesites: You'll need to know how to...
- Use a laser cutter
- Drill holes with a drill press
- Retain your appendages when using a cold saw and table saw
- Not electrocute yourself with the powder gun (optional, but always helpful)
Step 1: Preparing the Acrylic
The first step in building your own levitating table is to cut and drill the acrylic. We attempted hand-cutting the acrylic for the legs, and swiftly realized there was no easy way to get a good finish. Enter the Trotec Speedy 300 laser cutter!
For each piece of acrylic, we cut out the attached vector design. The eight finished pieces were bolted together in pairs for extra strength, resulting in four stable legs.
The laser cutter settings we used were maximum frequency (5000Hz), speed 10, and power 50. You will have to adjust this depending on the acrylic thickness, color, laser cutter power, etc.
To ensure a nice finish, you'll want to make a few test cuts with your acrylic material to ensure everything looks as you expect. We also recommend placing some scrap plywood or other standoff between your acrylic part and the bottom grating, as this lets the smoke and vapors through and keeps the soot from adhering to the acrylic.
For those unfamiliar with laser cutters, we encourage them to visit TechShop and take the SBU, or refer to an online guide such as StumpChunkman's Instructable - both of these are excellent for teaching the basics.
If you don't have access to a laser cutter, we'd recommend using a table saw to ensure a straight cut. Make sure you keep the protective plastic cover on during the cut to keep surface scratches to a minimum. It's also recommended to drill a very small pilot hole first and expand your bit size slowly, as acrylic can crack very easily when drilled.