Introduction: Simple Plywood Cutting Table / Work Table (Updated)

Picture of Simple Plywood Cutting Table / Work Table (Updated)

After making the Multi-functional Workbench, and a few projects later, I realized that I needed another workbench. The multi-functional workbench worked great, but it's fairly complicated to set-up, also when I was in the middle of the project and the workbench was in use, cutting some more plywood became a hassle.

I never liked to break down plywood on two sawhorses, as it did not quite feel safe for me. So there is a reason to build a simple work table / plywood cutting table. It should be easy set up and takes very small space in the shop.

Step 1: Material and Hardware

Picture of Material and Hardware

I bought (5) of 8' long 2x4 from home center, and that's all I needed for the table.

I own (2) of the metal folding sawhorses, and I had some scrap lumber screwed on top of them. I also found some left over window latches that I could use to lock the table top to the sawhorses.

First cut (3) of the 2x4 into 48" pieces. Then bundle them together with two clamps to trim them to the final length, in this case 47". Leave them clamping together for next step.

Lay out the notches 12" from each end while they were still clamped together, and (5) of them would be placed 16" from one to the other on two of the 8' long supporting beams.

Step 2: Circular Saw Guide

Picture of Circular Saw Guide

In order to cut the notches for the lap joints exactly the width of the adjacent 2x4, we have to build some circular saw cutting jigs.

I found some 1/4" hard board about 9" wide and 6' long, and ripped a piece of pine board 2" wide and cut it to 6' long as the straight edge. Placed the pine board about 5.5" from one edge of the hard board, that's a little wider than the measurement from one edge of the base plate of my Makita circular saw to the blade, and screwed it from the bottom side and counter sink the screws.

Then cut the jig into two 3' pieces. Trimmed each of the guide board with the saw, thus the trimmed line would indicate exactly where the saw should cut to.

Step 3: Cutting Lap Joints

Picture of Cutting Lap Joints

While the cross support of the table top still clamped together, place one of the saw guide onto the layout line, making sure the trimmed line is on the layout line and square to the 2x4, and clamp it down.

Use two pieces of 2x4 cut off pieces as spacers, and place the other saw guide against them with the trimmed side, clamp it down as well. Now the cut off notch between two trimmed guides will be exactly the width of the 2x4.

Set the cutting depth of the saw to 2 1/4" for the (5) pieces of the cross supports, that's 2" deep notch plus 1/4" of the hard board thickness. Run the saw and cut along one guide, and flip the saw around and cut along the other guide from the opposite direction. Continue to run the saw between two guides a couple more times free handed to waste more material.

Use a hammer or a chisel to remove the rest of the material and smooth out the bottom of the notch with a sharp chisel to show and practice some wood working skill.

Following the same procedure to cut the other side.

The two of the 8' long supporting beams were designed to be notched 1 1/2" deep so that there were more material left for support. Following the same procedure, the only difference would be the depth of the cut was set as 1 3/4", that's 1 1/2 notch depth plus 1/4" hard board thickness.

Step 4: Completed Assembly

Picture of Completed Assembly

When all the notches were cut, they will be grouped together looking like the first picture. That's all there was to it.

Assembly is easy. Place two long pieces onto the sawhorses, with notches facing up.

place each of the shorter piece onto the longer pieces aligning the notch down and press down, now we created a ladder with lap joints.

Four window latches were used to lock the table top onto the sawhorses. In order to make the latches work, we will need some kind of stop feature on the sawhorses. I used four pieces of the floating tenons (Festool domino), or a piece of board glued at the other side of the 2x4 on the sawhorses will serve the same purpose. If that's still too much trouble, drill four holes on the two cross pieces and use (4) clamps to secure the table top will be a simple solution.

Step 5: Applications

Picture of Applications

Some of the applicatins that I've been through, cutting support, as in and out feed support for miter saw and table saw, jig saw support, and some Festool related application with a MFT top clamp on it...
On this table, clamping becomes easy because of its open structure. And it is very solid because of the snug fit lap joint. Place a 4x8 sheet plywood on it, and we have a good size table as well.

Best of all, cost was only $16 (not counting the sawhorses I had) and less than two hours of time; it takes very little space to store in the shop, and less than two minutes to put it together or take it apart.

Step 6: Updates

Picture of Updates

After working with the table for a couple of days, I quickly realized that I would need some surfaces to set my tools, so I decided to create some removable shelves with a 8' long piece leftover 3/4" plywood.

Groves had to be created on the side of the 2x4 as shown, they were 3/4" wide, 3/8" deep and 3/4" from the bottom side, using table saw with dado stack blades. A small hand plane was used to smooth the shape edges of the groves.

Plywood shelves were cut to length and they were all interchangeable at each slot.

Now the table is even more functional. The removable shelves are very convenience to move around while working at different side of the table, and they can be slide off easily and out of the way.


mclelland made it! (author)2017-11-28

Great project, I made a couple modifications to suit my needs. Makes a great portable work surface with plenty of room.

Jzbowmannz (author)mclelland2017-12-04

Looking really good! Thanks for pictures.

Lynn Livingston (author)2016-05-21

I tried making this exactly like the article. However, I ran into trouble because my circular saw will not cut as deep as the notches, and have the motor housing clear the guide you built. So, i went and bought an aluminum guide that is much thinner, and to my surprise (and chagrin since I was foolish not to take careful measurement) it won't clear that guide either when set for 2 1/4" depth of cut. Your picture of the circular saw sitting on the guide looks like the blade isn't set deep enough to cut the notches but I can't really tell. I went to Lowe's today and looked at every circular saw, and every one wouldn't cut this deep without the motor housing also hitting the guide.

I'd sure like to know what saw you have so I can get one. I plan on using this guide a lot, although rarely I guess would I need to cut so deep. Thanks.


I would suggest to make the cut as deep as you can get with guide, and finish the final depth of the cut free handed, the saw kerfs made with guide will give you the right width when you finish the notch.

I was using an old Makita saw.

Another way is to make the guide fence 1/4" thick instead of 3/4", that should get you the depth, as the normal circular saws cutting depth are around 2 3/8" to 2 1/2".

Indywar2 (author)Jzbowmannz2017-08-24

To Lynn and Jzbowmannz,

I ended up using a sliding miter saw (10") to make these cuts and it worked pretty well. Most miter saw have a adjustable depth stop that gets the depth perfect. The other thing I did was move the 2x4 the width of the blade after each cut so there were no kerf to chisel. I started making kerfs as described in the article and was unable to get the exact same depth with everything I chiseled. I used a drywall screw in the grooves as a quick and easy height adjustment. I eliminated all the space when cutting the groves and the results were much better. Thanks for the plans and design.


Well, I thought I had found a reason to replace my 30yr old circular saw, but alas it dawned on me I could fit the guide to the right side of the saw, and once I did that I was gettin' it done.

The project came out nice and I appreciate the 'ible'; I've got a lot to learn about wood working and no doubt I and others will benefit much.


S0dyP0p made it! (author)2017-07-21

Nice project! I've been using this thing constantly since I made it. 2 plywood projects, painting, etc.

When I put it away, I run a couple pieces of 2x2 scrap through the grooves and loop some rope (see the picture) around so the whole thing stays together when carrying and storing.

Jzbowmannz (author)S0dyP0p2017-07-21

Great idea! Beat my bungee cord solution.

KeithG71 made it! (author)2017-03-11

Home depot / Lowes sell stanley plastic saw horses $20 or less that have a precast groove that holds a 2x4 snugly.

Thanks for the upload worked like a charm.

bucklipe (author)2016-07-02

In the picture where the jig is set up in the garage, what is the item that is attached to the long members near the middle?
Also, why not notch the long members to fit over the 2X4 on the sawhorse? I have the sash closures just in case...
I'm building this right now, my next step is to make the slots to hold the shelves.
Thanks for the idea!

bucklipe (author)bucklipe2016-07-02

Another question; why did you notch the long and short members at different depths?
I had notched both at 1 3/4 inch and they are all flush.

Jzbowmannz (author)bucklipe2016-07-02

I left more material on long ones because of the longer span between two horses.
I think I will add an additional long piece at some point, because I sometimes use my cutting table as a scaffolding when I am working on the house, it will feel better if I have the third long member there.
Enjoy your build. Thanks.

Jzbowmannz (author)bucklipe2016-07-02

I have a certain height that I would like to achieve to match my table saw and miter saw work surface level, so I had to have extra pieces on the sawhorses to make it happen. You could notch those, and it will make them easier to be attached.
The bracket in the middle is one of the Festool rail brackets that are designed for cross cut plywood panels with track saw.

GmanBB made it! (author)2015-07-19

Thanks for brilliant and simple design! I starting garage cabinets from cutting table. Author is awesome. Lots of skills. Many thanks!

Jzbowmannz (author)GmanBB2015-07-19

Hey, that track saw looks pretty good! Post a pictre or two when you are done with the garage cabinets.

GmanBB (author)Jzbowmannz2015-07-19

This is my target (based on your design) Chemetal samples are in pocket. Looking for a quality white melamine.

Jzbowmannz (author)GmanBB2015-07-19

Sweet! For sure we need pictures.
Melamine is a little tricky, you might need special blade or at least scoring cut. But Festool is the way to go.

GmanBB (author)Jzbowmannz2015-07-19

Chemetal samples

Ondra78 made it! (author)2015-06-26

Mission accomplished. My own PCT.

Thank you for the idea.

Jzbowmannz (author)Ondra782015-06-26

Looking great. I like the color, very inspirational. Thanks for sharing.

Ondra78 (author)2015-06-19

Great idea. Today I bought the material for construction. Also, I will make one. Thanks.

Ondra78 (author)Ondra782015-06-19

We have a metric system. Plywood or OSB boards have dimensions of 2.5 x 1.25 m. The dimension of the plank is thus 100x50 mm. They need 2 pieces of length 2.5 m and 5 pieces of length 1.25 m.

Jzbowmannz (author)Ondra782015-06-19

I would suggest to cut the notches on two of the 2.5m pieces at only 25mm to 30mm deep, so that they can support more weight.

One time I set this up for me to stand and walk on it while painting the ceiling of a room, it did get a little bit concave because of my weight. My next table will need three longer pieces instead of two.

Thanks, have fun building it.

Allons215 (author)2015-06-09

This is an outstanding idea. Simple and straight forward build. Kudos!

Jzbowmannz (author)Allons2152015-06-09


OmarN2 (author)2015-03-03

Next in the project queue. Cool build.

Jzbowmannz (author)OmarN22015-03-03

Thanks. Please share some pictures when you complete it.

biro.istvan.9256 (author)2014-12-25

Ez nagyon cool! Tavasszal megcsinálom Én is! THX.

gunguru (author)2014-10-09

I have been building a tinyhouse for a year now and have been in dire need of an outdoor collapsible table for building various things. This fit the bill beautifully! Works great for cutting plywood and just having a level building surface in general! I would highly recommend this ible to anyone with a garage and needs a large table surface!

James A.L (author)2014-09-13

To stop cutting into the frames for mine I avoided cutting half way through each beam. I use 2" x 2" piece and notch on 1/2". The leave the beams 1/2" proud on each top and bottom. If I'm cross cutting, I have the 4' beams on top. For ripping I flip the frame over to the 8' side. With my saw blade or route bit no more then 3/8" below the sheet goods I avoid making unintended cuts.

Jzbowmannz (author)James A.L2014-09-14

Great idea. Thanks for sharing!

vladivastok (author)2014-08-10


thecapper (author)2014-08-07

I dig this. Very clever, and an inexpensive solution!

Jobar007 (author)2014-08-05

Just a couple of tips to help things out:

You don't have to trim all of your short members to be the same because your notches are all cut while the boards are clamped. That eliminates the need for either a long hand saw or a sliding miter saw. Yes, they will look wonky, but functionally they will be sufficient.

If you don't have a good, sharp chisel, you can just *carefully* slide your circular saw back and forth across the notch to get the bottom smoothed out and level (as long as the base maintains good contact with your guides.

This is a great idea and with 2x4s costing (in NW Oregon) around $3, this is easily a $20 project if you have the cutting jigs and saw horses. I foresee one in my near future.

Jzbowmannz (author)Jobar0072014-08-05


"You don't have to trim all of your short members to be the same because your notches are all cut while the boards are clamped. That eliminates the need for either a long hand saw or a sliding miter saw. Yes, they will look wonky, but functionally they will be sufficient." - Good point. I am an engineer, maybe it's the nature of me trying my best ability to make everything square and precise, I am sure it would still function well if it is not.

"If you don't have a good, sharp chisel, you can just *carefully* slide your circular saw back and forth across the notch to get the bottom smoothed out and level (as long as the base maintains good contact with your guides." - I would never make this recommendation to the general public, it's not a safe practice. I've seen them been done, but I rather use hand tools for this task.


Jobar007 (author)Jzbowmannz2014-08-06

It is absolutely not safe, that's for sure. That's why I created a jig to make it a bit safer. Is it as safe as a properly sharpened chisel used in an appropriate way? No. But that's a risk I'm willing to take. I've assumed that liability just like anyone following my advise. People are responsible for their actions, despite the casual nature of litigation. I'm approaching soap box territory with this one so I'll step down.

I can't sharpen a chisel to save my life and a dull chisel can be just as dangerous (digging in and then unexpectedly giving say and slicing something soft). Somehow I manage to even mess up sharpening using a jig. Everything is a compromise of safety and I agree that you should mitigate danger in every way possible.

johngriswold (author)2014-08-05

Nice job! Well done. Thanks for sharing

Jzbowmannz (author)johngriswold2014-08-05


Shiseiji (author)2014-08-05

Good carpentry, it's surprising how easy it is to mess up the cuts. I made a similar one using some old 1 by 2" stock I had that didn't last two uses.

Taking it down is a good way to avoid the flat surface magnet for whatever becomes a "I'm a gunna." project. And they tend to multiply like rabbits. Then you end up having to move the "I'm a gunna." projects someplace (uh . . another not so flat surface over crowded with "I'm a gunna." stuff) so the must do projects can be worked on . . .

gcliffe (author)2014-08-05

This is a brilliant idea -Well done on a great make.

Do you see the beams and cross members as sacrificial when cutting sheet materials? I always use a sacrificial timber on my saw-horses, so when it's been cut/notched/sliced/diced to destruction I just replace it.

But with the ease and low cost of this, I'm not sure whether I would bother with tacking on another piece of timber. It'd be just as quick to make up a new set as it would replacing all the sacrificial strips.

Jzbowmannz (author)gcliffe2014-08-05


My initial thought was to use the table as sacrificial when cutting sheet good.

If in case you are not consider that, one way is to use a sheet of house insulation board as the sacrificial, it also help the dust collection when using the track saw. It weights very little, and you can cut it into three 16"x8' strips, tape them together to use as a sheet, fold them when you are done to save some space.

Another easy way to save the table is to drill some holes on the top, use dowels to space out the sheet good from table top, or use biscuit joiner to cut some slots and use #20 biscuits as spacers.

Thanks! JZ

Silvester10528 (author)2014-08-05

This is making me reconsider how I built a suspended miniatures gaming table in my barn...


fzumrk (author)2014-08-04

This looks much nicer than a similar one I made. On mine, I put some notches in the top of the 2x4s for the saw blade to run through so I would not get a bunch of random cuts in them. I just shift the panel I am cutting so the cut line lines up with the nearest notch.

This kind of table is essential if you have to cut paneling by yourself. It does a good job of keeping the panel fully supported so there in no binding of the saw and dangerous kick-back.

Jzbowmannz (author)2014-08-03

Thanks everyone!

Still thinking about the plywood loading feature to save my back, and some way to keep the tools around - detachable tool tote or shelving.

Allons215 (author)2014-08-03

Awesome! Could have used this a few months ago cutting paneling!

Ssmo72 (author)2014-08-03

Great set up. The low cost of the project and lack of metal hardware is great if you happen to accidentally cut into it. Something satisfying about knocking wood out of a notch with a hammer and chisel as well.

LukasM1 (author)2014-08-03

cool idea

About This Instructable




More by Jzbowmannz:Making Shoe RacksMaking Entryway Storage BenchMaking Modular DVD Storage Towers
Add instructable to: