This instructable is written for those interested in creating nesting work tables for your school Makerspace. Our organization work with schools, students, and parents to design and create spaces where students and teachers can apply design challenges and maker-centered lessons. Elementary school students have participated in the creation of this design, and this instructable will include student speaking guides for those interested in creating the same experience at your school.
Below are some key features of this worktable:
- Built to be used, scratched up, and marked up.
- Affordable pine lumber that can easily be replaced.
- Portable with caster wheels and design to fit through a standard door.
- Holds up to 1,200 pounds of weight.
-Smaller table can nest under large tables to save space.
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Step 1: Materials and Cut List
To save time and avoid any possibility of injuries, we order the wood pre-cut to the dimensions below. Allowing students to work with a miter saw is something that should be done with proper adult supervision, and a precluded safety lesson.
The cut list is for one large size table. If you plan on creating more than one table, fill up the "total number of tables" column with the quantity you want and multiply with numbers from "# of items per project" column to get the full list of what you'll need.
***To avoid a total mess on the day of our community build, we write the length of on each piece of wood. During a build with many students and teachers moving around, wood will be moved and it can be very time-consuming to stop and measure out the exact length that you'll need. This step is critical to save you time.***
Step 2: Add Frame to Your Table Top
1. Find a solid surface to lay your table top on.The framing of the table and the adding of the legs will be done upside down then flipped after it is done.
2. Add on the two 75" spanners to the table top. Add on three 27" crossbeams, two at the ends, and one in the middle at 37.5"
3. Add on clamps, as many as is needed to secure the frame tightly to the table top.
4. Add two screws that will start from the spanner and go into the crossbeam. There are three crossbeams so each end of the crossbeams should be secured with two screws. Have students work in teams, one to add in the pre-drilled holes and one to add in the screws.
- Young students can be taught how to work a clamp, and for those students who are timid to use a power tool, having them operate a clamp is an easy way to engage them in the build process.
- Show students clamps can be unlocked and can lock, but always make sure that the clamp has a tight fit.
- A safety lesson should be given on how to operate each power tool including the how to attach and detached bits, how to apply pressure onto the drills, and how to change batteries when needed.
- We are all part of a team and can switch roles and responsibility during the build.
Step 3: Attach Frame to Table Top
The tabletop shown in the picture was donated to schools from corporate donors. We decided to use L brackets to secure the frame to the table top. Doing this way kept the surface free for screws, however; if you are using cheap plywood you can avoid using L brackets by simply screwing the screws from the tabletop side down into the frame.
1. Clamp down the frame to the tabletop. Make sure it is aligned as much as possible. Because the wood you buy might not be perfectly straight, it is okay if it is not perfectly aligned. Try to get as much of the corners aligned as possible.
2. Locate spots on the frame that is away from the corners. The corners will be where we attach the legs.
3. Screw into the tabletop using screws that will not go through the tabletop.
4. Screw into the frame using screws that will not go through the frame.
Student Reminders and Questions:
- Why are we using different length screws? How does that impact the design we are building?
- The L bracket is made from steel, how is steel different from wood? What are the properties of each?
- How should we approach using the drill when we are screwing downwards into the table? and how should we approach using the drill when we are screwing forward into the frame?
- Remember sometimes it's hard to start using the drill and screw if it is not secure into our drill hole. We can use our hand and spin the screw clockwise until there is enough fiction to make it stand by itself in the drill hole. Then it will be easier to use the drill.
Step 4: Create and Attach Legs.
This is a step where the sequence can be adjusted depending on the need of the build time and event. In a build day with many participants, you can divide up the participants into small teams and assigned different responsibilities. Creating a team to just build the legs can increase the efficiency of the build. Once the legs are built, they can be attached to the frame by another team. In the example below, we are going to build the legs onto the frame one step at a time.
1. Take two 24.75 inch pieces and lay them flat against the frame's width side. Clamp the pieces to the frame at each corner so that you can drill in three screws. Again, have students work in pairs, one to drill the holes, and the other to add in the screws.
2. Take two 23.25 inch pieces and lay them flat aginst the frame's length side. Clamp the pieces to the frame, drill the holes, and add in the screws.
3. Have students pre-drill holes, and add in three more screws to attach the leg pieces together. Use the pictures above to see the position and direction of each screw.
4. Add a 21 inch piece to the top, and drill in two screws downwards into the leg. Add another screw from the outside leg into the piece.
5. Repeat steps 1-4 on the other end of the frame.
Step 5: Add in Gussets (Optional)
The tables are plenty strong enough without the gussets, but you can choose to add gussets or bolts to create a table that can support up to 1,200 pounds. The gusset we are using runs 7 inches on the long side and are cut at a 45-degree angle to get a triangular shape.
1. Use scrap wood place it down next to your leg piece on length side. See picture above.
2. Add on the gusset so it fits like the picture above.
3. Add in the drill holes and screw similar to the picture above.
4. Repeat for each leg on the table.
Step 6: Add Caster Wheels
Caster wheels might be the most expensive part of this table. Lockable casters run for about 8 dollars per wheel. You can find cheaper models on Amazon, but make sure to account for how many inches it will add to your design. The caster we are using adds 4 inches of height to our frame (which is 26 inches) and gives us a total height of 30 inches. Standard eight for working desks and tables is 29-30 inches.
1. Have students place a caster wheel onto the leg frame and mark where to begin each drill hole. Have students consider if the placement of the holes will intersect with any screws placed earlier before.
2. Using a 1/4 inch drill bit, drill starter hole into the wood.
3. Add a nut driver attachment that fits your bolt into your driver/drill. Have students drive one nut into the wood. Remind students to not make it fully tight at first so we can have wriggle room for our other lag bolts. Have the students add in the second lag bolt diagonally from the first. Add in the rest of the lag bolts, and tighten as much as possible. You can also have students use racket wrench and sockets to tighten the bolts.
4. Repeat for each leg.
Step 7: Finish.
After the casters, you should be all done. Attached is the cut list for the shorter junior table for students pre-k to first grade. The junior table can be nested into the larger one to save space. Follow the same steps to get your junior tables.