Introduction: 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

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

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

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

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

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

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.