Introduction: Basic Work Table

About: My name is Randy and I am a Community Manager in these here parts. In a previous life I had founded and run the Instructables Design Studio (RIP) @ Autodesk's Pier 9 Technology Center. I'm also the author of t…

I set out to make a simple work table for my home studio so that I could have a surface upon which to work and document projects. I tried to keep the design as simple as possible as I only have a limited arsenal of power tools, a small vehicle for transporting materials and little patience for woodworking.

This design proved to be successful in accounting for all of these requirements.

The table probably is not the strongest ever built, but I don't plan on throwing any motorcycle engines on it or doing any intense metal work. Mainly, I intend to use it for some soldering, general tinkering and light programming. It should be more than capable of withstanding that.

My initial design involved laser etching/painting reference materials and various doodles onto the surface of the acrylic. This didn't work out too well in terms of documenting projects. So, I replaced the etched acrylic with a sheet of solid white (as seen in the following images). I found the solid white acrylic to work out fantastically.

Step 1: Go Get Stuff

To make one table, you will need:

(x1) 3' x 2' sheet of 3/4" plywood
(x1) 3' x 2' sheet of 1/8" white acrylic
(x4) 17.25" railing posts
(x2) 18" railing posts
(x1) 29" railing post
(x4) Felt furniture pads
(x4) Cross dowels with 2.5" bolts
(x6) 2" wood screws
(x4) 3' x 1" x 1" L-shaped aluminum extrusion
A hex wrench set
A screwdriver
A power drill (3/32", 1/4" and 3/8" drill bits)
A hacksaw
A Dremel

(Please note that some of the links on this page contain affiliate links. This does not change the cost of the item for you. I reinvest whatever proceeds I receive into making new projects.)

Step 2: Make Holes in the Acrylic

If you happen to have a laser cutter, you can vector cut four 1/4" circles that are 2.75" in from each edge.

If not, measure and drill some 1/4" holes the old fashioned way.

Step 3: Prepare the Legs

Measure an inch down from one end of a 17.25" post and make a mark across. Then, measure halfway across the length of the post and make another mark. Drill 3/4 of the way through the post with a 3/8" drill bit.

Next, find the center of the end of the post you just measured from. The easiest way to find a center point without doing any real measurements is by drawing an X from each corner. Once you have found the center, drill straight down, as far as you can go, with a 1/4" drill bit.

Repeat on the other four legs

Finally, insert a crossdowel into the 3/8" hole and a bolt into the 1/4" hole. Make sure they line up and that the bolt screws in perpendicularly. Don't worry if its off a couple of degrees. I have developed a theory called "straight enough" which seemed to work out well when building this table.

Step 4: Prepare the Tabletop

Measure 4 points that are 2.75" in from the two closest edges. Drill 1/4" holes at these points.

If you didn't laser cut your acrylic sheet in step 2, do the same to the acrylic.

Step 5: Start Assembly

Peel the protecting back off the backside of the acrylic sheet and place on the top surface of the wooden tabletop.

Insert a bolt through one of the corners and attach one of the table legs by screwing the bolt into the crossdowel.

Repeat for the other 3 legs.

Step 6: Measure for Cross Beams

Flip the table upside down.

On the inner side of both pairs of side-legs (the two planes facing each other on the right and left side) measure 8.75" from the top and draw a line on each leg.

On the inside of the back two legs (two planes facing each other), measure 13.5" from the top and also draw a line on each leg.

Step 7: Instal Cross Beams

Turn the table on its side such that you can easily insert beams between both table legs in a vertical fashion.

Line up the "bottom" edge of the vertical post with the line you just drew and drill a thin pilot hole. Next fasten it in place with a wood screw. Flip the desk over 180 degrees and repeat.

Install the cross beam on the other side in a similar fashion.

Finally, install the cross beam that goes across the back by lining it up with the marks you made earlier.

Step 8: Prepare the Aluminum

Trim the aluminum extrusions such that you have two that are 3' long and two that are 2' long.

Cut a notch in each side at 45 degrees on one of the flat sides of each extrusion. This will allows all of the extrusions to fit neatly together atop your desk.

Note: I recommend checking these measurements against the actual measurements of the table

Step 9: Mount the Aluminum

Glue the aluminum trim around the edges of the table. I recommend using epoxy for this.

(Albeit, I didn't have any epoxy lying around at the time and just used a whole lot of hot glue. It has seemed to do the trick for now.)

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