Introduction: Work Table on Wheels | 4' X 8'
Made at Tech Shop in Round Rock TX using only hand tools, this large 4' x 8' work table is easy to assemble even for the beginner. Designed for minimal waste and maneuverability, this table adds plenty of work space for the creative or maker of any type...and for a very affordable cost under $75!
If you are already familiar with carpentry work, there may be superfluous info presented as this tutorial is written with the beginner in mind. So, feel free to skip around at your leisure.
TimeFrame:2-3 Hours (not including trip to Hardware Store)
- QTY 1 -- 4' x 8' sheet of 3/4" thick OSB (MDF, Plywood work as well)
- QTY 6 -- 2 x 4 x 10' length
- QTY 4 -- 3" Swivel Caster (2 w/ lock brake)
- QTY 56 -- 3" Course Thread Drywall Screws
- QTY 16 -- 2" Course Thread Drywall Screws
- QTY 16 -- #10 1" Wood Screw (Phillips Head)
- Handheld Circular Saw
- Hand Drill (cord or cordless)
- #2 Phillips Driver Bit
- Tape Measure (12')
- Regular Clamp (atleast 4")
- Right Angle Clamp
- Speed Square (optional)
- Right Angle Square (optional)
- Safety Glasses
- Extension Cord
Step 1: Material Procurement (1/4) - Hardware Store
Make a trip to a hardware store to pick up material and any tools needed. It is assumed that you already have the necessary hand tools tools listed in the INTRO section so in the next few steps we will focus on:
When you arrive to the Hardware store, pick up the Casters and Fasteners, saving the Lumber for last. If you want to make two trips, you may be able to find the Casters at a discount hardward store. This is what I did but I will leave this up to you as with most anything, quality usually decreases with price :)
The Casters and Fasteners should be close together somewhere in or around the Hardware Section -- details to follow in next few steps.
Step 2: Material Procurement (2/4) - Casters
Casters are a fancy name for wheels. We will need:
- QTY 4 -- 3" Swivel Casters (2 w/ brake)
Again, I purchased these from a discount tool retailer but you can buy these at the same place you buy lumber and fasteneres. They will probably cost more though. You can buy them with or without the locking brake mechanism. I find that you only need two with the brake.
Be sure to get the Casters with a SWIVEL! It will make mobility so much easier.
Step 3: Material Procurement (3/4) - Fasteners/Hardware
There are three different variations of screws needed in his project:
- QTY 1 BOX (1 lb.) -- 3" Course Thread Drywall Screw (assembling frame)
- QTY 1 BOX (1 lb.) -- 2" Course Thread Drywall Screw (mounting frame to surface)
- QTY 16 -- #10 1" Wood Screws w/ Phillips Head (attaching casters to frame
And one type of Driver Bit:
- QTY 1 -- #2 Phillips Driver Bit
Course Thread Drywall Screws
You will only need the small boxes (1 lb.) of Course Thread Drywall Screws and will have plenty of left over for other projects. There are roughly 100-120 screws in a 1 lb box depending on length. These are similar in size to a #8 screw and require the #2 Phillips Driver Bit. These are the screws we will use to assemble and join frame components and table surface.
You will need 16 of the #10 1" Wood Screws. These are probably located in another section of the Hardware Dept and can be purchased in smaller quantities. They are a bit thicker than drywall screws and have larger head needed for mounting the casters to the frame. Its best to get the Phillips head and NOT the flat head if possible. It's just easier to drive and requires the same #2 Phillips Driver Bit.
In order to install the fasteners specified above, you will need to use a #2 Phillips Driver Bit with your handheld drill. While the QTY specified is 1, it is probably a good idea to get at least one more backup. They aren't very expensive and will break if exposed to enough torque. These should be located in the TOOL dept.
Time to head over to the Lumber Dept...which shouldn't be too hard to find.
Step 4: Material Procurement (4/4) - Lumber
Once you have the Fasteners and Casters, its time to get the Lumber. Grab one of the large carts (if you're like me, you have your hands full so go ahead and place items on bottom surface of cart) and look for the large sheets of plywood.
4' x 8' Table Surface
- QTY 1 -- 4' x 8' x 3/4" thick sheet (OSB, MDF, Plywood, etc.)
A 3/4" thick sheet of OSB (tounge and groove) panel was used in this demonstration. It is about half the price of sanded pine and MDF. Like mentioned in the intro any 4' x 8' x 3/4" sheet panel will work so it depends on your budget and aesthetic taste. Personally, I don't mind the look of OSB and can deal with the idiosyncratic tounge on one edge of sheet and recessed groove on the opposite side -- IT'S A WORK TABLE!!!
Once you have decided, have a hardware associate help you load the panel onto the cart (if on this quest alone) -- they are not easy to handle by yourself. Once loaded find the 2 x 4 lumber section.
- QTY 6 -- 2" x 4" x 10' length
The entire table frame is made from 2 x 4 lumber. There are several lengths to choose from so make sure to get the 10 ft. length. Select boards that are not warped on either side by looking down the board. It is pretty easy to tell if the board is warped simply by "eyeballing". (see image). There should be quite a selection so spend a few extra minutes to get 6 good and straight boards.
You now have all the necessary ingredients for your new work table! Don't forget to pay the cashier on your way out (optional) (just kidding, NOT OPTIONAL!!)
Step 5: Components (1/4) - Circular Saw and Cutting Setup
You are now back from the hardware store and have a full load of lumber. Assuming you do not have any sort of working surface, we gotta set up on the ground. This is OK (knee pads would be great to have on hand) since we will use the underside of your future table as the working surface.
First unload the 4'x8' sheet on a cleared-off space on a driveway or other hard surface. Be sure to place the side you want as the top surface of the table upside down on the ground. We are building the table from the top (under the table) down. Unload the 2x4s on top of the 3/4" sheet.
- Circular Saw
- Marking Device (pen, pencil, etc)
- Speed Square (if you don't have Its ok but get some sort of straight edge)
- Regular Clamp
- Extension Cord
- Safety Glasses
Circular Saw Setup
Again, this tutorial is aimed at the beginner so it is assumed that, while you own a circular saw, you have never used one or built anything out of wood. We won't get into all of the details of the saw but just go over the items needed for this type of cut.
DO NOT PLUG IN SAW YET! We will be handling the saw and don't want to accidentally hit the trigger.
The blade that comes with the saw is for general purpose cutting and is about 1/16" thick. There is a guard that covers the blade that can easily be pulled back exposing the blade. The main item we need to worry about here is the depth of cut. Most saws now come with some sort of indication of how deep the blade will cut.
Depth of Cut
If your saw has this indication, loosen the knob that secures the cutting base/table and set it to 1 3/4". It is recommended that the blade go through the material being cut 1/4". Since we are cutting 2 x 4 boards with the boards laying horizontal we are needing to pass through 1 1/2" material.
Yes that's right! A 2 x 4 is not really 2" x 4"! These are the NOMINAL dimensions (in name only). The ACTUAL dimensions are 1 1/2" x 3 1/2". For more info on this, check out
If your saw doesn't come with the depth indicator, you can use the tape measure to measure bottom of cutting base to the end of the blade (see picture). Once you have the blade at proper depth, secure locking knob. Your saw is ready for cutting these 2x4's
Material Cutting Setup
Since we are using the 3/4" sheet as our makeshift working surface, it would be a good idea to place one of the 2x4's underneath it, raising it 1 1/2", close to one of the edges. This will provide a space to clamp 2x4 board to 3/4" sheet when cutting. (See picture)
Have another 2x4 (not being cut) handy to place under the board being cut. This will provide an acceptable secondary cutting surface so blade won't hit ground and blade won't get pinched by board. Please note that none of this is ideal but we are working under certain constraints that are forcing us to get creative!
Now it's time to get these components made!
Step 6: Components (2/4) - Legs and Relative Length
The table frame consists of 4 Legs. One 2 x 4 x 10" board will produce all 4 legs. There are two methods we can use to determine length of Legs. The variation in factory lengths forces us to locate more critical dimensions as well as using relative lengths instead of absolute lengths. A relative length is dependent on the size of parts needing to be cut from one board. An absolute length is determined beforehand independent (somewhat) of the exact length of board from which the part is being cut from.
- QTY 4 -- 30" length
The Absolute Method is simple and straightforward. Since the desired overall height of the table is around 36", we can decide that cutting the leg components at 30". As long as our 2 x 4 board is at least 120 1/4", we can make 4 cuts each at 30".
- QTY 4 -- 30"-30 1/4"
The Relative Method is more involved and a bit more complicated. The benefit is reducing the number of cuts to 3 and having no resdual waste. While this is very minimal waste in this example,it can get larger and sometimes unnecessary for larger scale projects. In our project, we have 6 2x4 boards that are APPROXIMATELY 10 ft long. And almost always, they give you some extra to play with. One of the boards I have is 120 7/16" long. The overall height of table is targeted at 36" but this isnt critical. We can accept a tolerance of +/- 1". And since we are somewhat flexible with table height, the leg height can deviate from the 30" mark and still all be the same length relative to overall length just by dividing board into 4 equal lengths. To obtain the length of the leg component for your specific board
Measure total length of board. Let's call this L Measure the thickness of your blade. Let's call this B 4 legs require 3 cuts. Multiply 3 x B = total material lost after three cuts have been made. Subtract 3B from L to get the unusable length of material after accounting for material lost in cutting. Divide this amount by 4 to obtain relative length of leg component to be used.
Or ... (L - 3B) / 4 = Relative length of leg So for my board that measures 10 ft - 7/16" (120.4375") and a blade thickness of 1/16" (0.0625") the length of leg is:
(120.4375 - (3)0.0625) / 4 =
(120.4375 - 0.1875) / 4 =
(120.25) / 4 = 30.0625
30.0625" is 30 1/16"
Again, for this application, the relative method may be a case of "juice not worth the squeeze" but I think it is good to think about how to reduce labor and waste when using mass produced modular components such as a 2 x 4.
Step 7: Components (3/4) - Cross and Longitudinal Beams
The other two components making up the frame are
- Cross Beam
- QTY 6 -- 39" length (absolute)
- QTY 1 -- 33: length (absolute)
- Longitudinal Beam
- QTY 4 -- 81"-82" length (relative)
In the last step we discuss absolute length and relative length. These components involve both of these lengths but is much simpler process than creating the legs...mainly because it involves only one cut. After cutting the Leg components, we have 5 2x4s remaining. We determine that the Cross Beam length is more critical since each it is better to have a consistent width. This is why the 39" and 33" are absolute and used as determing the cut line.
Four of the remaining Five 2x4s will have only one cut at 39" giving us one Cross Beam and one Longitudinal Beam measuring somewhere around 81 1/2".
The last 2x4 will need three cuts. Two cuts at 39" and one final cut at 33". After all of the cuts have been complete, you should be left with about 9" of "waste"...unless, of course, you hold on to this piece as a souvenir commemorating your first table :)
Step 8: Components (4/4) - Cutting
Now that the dimensions and conceptual plan are taken care of, we can actually cut the pieces!
Where to Cut - Making the Cut LIne
Using your tape measure, make a mark at your leg length determined from previous discussion. Take your speed square and place on edge of board and position perpendicular marking your cutting line at a right angle to long edge of board (see picture). If you are not using a speed square, in addition to your first mark, make a mark on the other edge of the board at same length. Connect the marks with any sort of straight edge you have on hand.
This is your cut line. Be sure to cut to the correct side of the cut line. The blade should be on the side of the line that is being discarded (see picture). It usually will be on the right side of line. You can use the guide at front edge of saw to line up cut. But on a cut this short, you will probably need to actually watch the blade as you cut.
Clamp and Cut
Now that you have the piece measured, you can clamp board to sheet giving yourself about 4" of clearance from clamp to cutting line. Be sure there is a 2x4 placed under board being cut as well as 3/4" sheet. You can use your knee or your opposite hand to hold board not clamped to avoid the board from moving while being cut. It is important to keep both ends from falling towards end of cut since it will pinch blade and cause it to stall or kick back. Take some extra time setting up board , especially if you are new to this!
After you have first piece cut, you can use that as the jig to measure all subsequent cuts. It's faster and more accurate instead of measuring each time (see picture)
WEAR SAFETY GLASSES!
Step 9: Frame Assembly (1/4) - Leg Sections
To recap,there should now be 15 pieces ready to assemble including:
- 7 cross beams (6 @39" and 1@ 33")
- 4 Longitudinal Beams
- 4 Legs
Get the Drill ready to use. Insert the #2 Phillips Driver Bit into the drill and tighten the chuck leaving about 3/4" of the driver bit sticking out of the drill head. Plug drill in.
Assembling a Leg Section
To start assembling the frame, the first step is to create the two leg sections. Each of these consists of
- 2 Legs
- 2 Cross beams (39")
RIGHT ANGLE CLAMP In order to create a leg section, using the right angle clamp join the end of one 39" Cross Beam to the end of one of the shorter leg components. To help explain later steps, we will refer to this as Cross Beam A. The end of the leg should butt up to the flat longer side of the 2 x 4 of the cross section forming a right angle. The end of the cross beam should be flush with the long flat side of the 2 x 4 of the leg. This effectively lengthens the height by 1 1/2", or thichkness of 2 x 4. (see picture).
Since the right angle clamp sits off of the ground 1 1/2" and in turn holds the 2 x 4 1 1/2" off of the ground, place one of the other 2 x 4 pieces flat underneath the unsupported ends of the components being clamped to create a level plane. Otherwise, the ends will sag and make very difficult to clamp pieces correctly. (see picture)
JOINING COMPONENTS Once you have both pieces secured in place, open the box of 3" Course Drywall Screws and position screw in place to drill through the cross beam into the end of the leg. The middle of the leg is 3/4" away from the edge of the cross beam. You may want to position the screw about 1" away from the edge to help from splitting ends. This may happen regardless, but a few split ends shouldn't be TOO big of a problem -- It is always nice to avoid, though.
You can get the screw started into the wood first with both hands and then use one hand to drill and the other to put pressure against drill. If you are new to this, this part can be tricky and may take some time to get used to. (If it is not working too smoothly, you may need to drill pilot holes with a small diameter bit to make easier. Pilot holes will also help to eliminate splitting of wood). Make sure the drill goes all the way end and can even recess into wood to make tight. Drill another screw the same way above (or below) the first screw.
Join the other end of the cross beam to the other leg the same way.
You should now have a U- shape section with one cross beam and two legs. Take another cross beam (39") and place on top of the U-Shaped piece with the 3 1/2" side of the 2x4 flat against the two legs. This piece should be positioned at the open edge of the U-shape completing the square. This is Cross Beam B.
You dont need the right-angle clamp here to secure in place. Simply, move one end of the cross beam flush with the end of the leg and drill one screw in to secure. Before drilling the second screw, secure the other end with one screw while holding in place with knee. The corners should be flush as possible. Now drill one more screw into both ends. (see picture)
You now have a completed leg section. Create one more leg section the same way.
Step 10: Frame Assembly (2/4) - Completing the Box
Now that we have two Leg Sections created, we want to add the four Longitudinal Beams connecting both leg sections leaving us with a box frame.
Top Longitudinal Beams
We can complete this one corner at a time. Take one of the Longitudinal Beams and lay on the edge of the 3/4" working surface sheet in the vertical position (1 1/2" side of 2x4 flat on surface). Position one of the leg sections in the upright position against the inside of the Longitudinal Beam. Cross beam A should be flat against the 3/4" sheet while the other end of the Leg Section with Cross Beam B should be in the air. Cross beam B should be on the outside of the legs closer to the end of the 3/4" sheet. (see picture)
Clamp the Leg Section in this position perpendicular to the Longitudinal Beam using a framing square to help ensure 90 deg (see picture). The end of the Longitudinal Beam should make a flush corner with the Leg Section. Make sure to leave a little room drill one screw into outside of Longitudinal Beam into the Leg Section.
Drill a 3" Course Drywall Screw to secure Longitudinal Beam and Leg Section. Remove clamp and drill another screw in diagonally positioned from the first screw while making sure the Leg Section remains square to Longitudinal Beam. One screw does not stop both parts from moving against one another so the position is not secure until the second screw is installed. Repeat this step for the other end of the box on the same side as well as the other side.
Bottom Longitudinal Beams
The two other Longitudinal Beams will go on the inside of the Leg instead of the outside and butt against the inside corner of Leg and Cross Beam. (See picture). Use a clamp to hold one end up while you secure the other end with two 3" Course Drywall Screws like before. Hopefully you have become acquainted with holding the work piece with one hand and drilling with the other. If not, you can use another clamp to secure both ends. As usual, make sure the corners are flush, as this is the bottom corner where the casters will be mounted.
Step 11: Frame Assembly (3/4) - Cross Beam Support (Surface Mounts)
Now that the box is complete and the frame is now autonomously standing, we just need to add the remaining Cross Beams for additional lateral support and table surface mounting.
Surface Mounting Cross Beams
The two 39" Cross Beams remaining will go flat down (horizontal) on the 3/4" sheet and secured to the inside of the Longitudinal Beams. Drill two screws through the outside of the Longitudinal Beams into each end of the Cross Beams. Make sure to keep pressure on the top as to keep both the Cross Beam and Longitudinal Beam flat against 3/4" sheet.
You can use the Relative Method (Step 4) to determine placement of Cross Beams. There should be three equal spaces between the Cross Beams. For me it was three 22 1/2" spaces. Make your mark on both Longitudinal Beams as to keep the Cross Beam Alignment square to the Longitudinal Beams. (see picture)
Step 12: Frame Assembly (4/4) - Cross Beam Support (Bottom Deck)
The last Cross Beam is 33" in length. This is placed in the middle of the Longitudinal Beams currently in the air. This means there should be two equal spaces on each side of Beam.
For me, this length of space came to 40". The Cross Beam will be secured with two 3" Course Drywall Screws drilled through the Longitudinal Beam into both ends of the Cross Beam. The Cross Beam is in the vertical position. Make sure to keep the Cross Beam flush with the Longitudinal Beam at the top and bottom. Using the clamp here will make sure the top and bottom are flush.
Dont worry about any space that may exist between the end of the Cross Beam and the in-side of the Longitudinal Beam as drilling the screws will "suck it up", squeezing the two pieces together.
ALL FRAME COMPONENTS JOINED!!
Step 13: Mounting Casters
Congratulations -- All of the frame components have been assembled! One of the last things to do is mount the casters to the bottom of each of the four corners. Each caster mount requires:
- QTY 4 -- #10 1" Wood Screw
Place the caster with the metal bracket flat on top of the corner (where three frame components meet). One of the short edges of the metal caster mount should be flush with the edge of the Cross Beam of the Leg section. This allows the casters with a brake to be accessible by foot. While the short edge of the caster mount is flush with the edge of the Cross Beam, the entire mount should be placed in the middle of the entire leg corner. (see picture).
Once positioned, screw in each of the screws into the four holes of the metal caster mount plate. Repeat for each caster. If you bought two casters with a brake, keep these on the same Leg Section.
Step 14: Final Assembly
There is one last thing to do before flipping the table over and putting it to work -- mount the frame to the 3/4" sheet. The four Cross Beams will serve as the mounting "plates". We will need:
- QTY 16 -- 2" Course Thread Drywall Screw
We have been using the 3" Course Drywall Screws up to this point to assembly the frame. Since these are too long and would stick out through the top of the table, we need to finish up with the 2" Course Drywall Screws. There will be 4 screws per Cross Beam for a total of 16 screws.
Before mounting the frame, it needs to be positioned in the middle of the 3/4" sheet. This means having two equal spaces on opposing sides. Again, using the relative method (step 4) we can determine how much space we need on each side and locate where the corners of the frame should go.
Measure the length and width of both the frame and sheet. They should be close to 81" x 42" and 96" x 48" respectively. For me, the frame was 81.5" x 42" and the sheet was 96" x 47.5" (because of the tounge and groove). This translates to 7 1/4" space length-wise and 2 3/4" space width-wise.
Find the two corners, diagonal from each other, by measuring from the end edge and side edge of the sheet marking corner with your pen. Align frame with marked corners.
Mounting with Screws
To start, drill one of the 2" Course Drywall Screws as close to the leg at one of the corners as possible. Then do the same thing at the other opposite diagonal corner to lock frame into place. Now you can finish with the remaining screws attempting to space out evenly across each Cross Beam.
Notes about Installing Screws
Be sure to place pressure against each Cross Beam, when drilling, to keep the screw from pushing the Cross Beam away from the 3/4" sheet. Even with pressure this may occur and you end of with a space between Cross Beam and sheet.
If this happens, you can reverse the screw out from the hole in 3/4" sheet (but not out of the Cross Beam) and then re-drill screw into the same hole. This should squeeze two pieces together.
Also, even though the 2" Course Drywall Screw isn't long enough to stick through the 3/4" sheet when installed properly, with enough force you can drill that screw deeper into Cross Beam than necessary causing the screw to travel entirely through the 3/4" sheet. If this happens, simply reverse the screw as much as needed..
FINISHED...That's it! Assembly is complete and the table is ready to do its job...you just have to figure out how to flip it right side up :)
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