Layout Table

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Layout Table

Postby JoeM » Wed Jul 11, 2018 7:58 pm

I've been talking about it for almost 6 months now, but it looks like I may finally start my layout/assembly table the beginning of August with hopes to begin cutting wood for frames shortly after.

Moderators. I didn't know where to place this thread so if it needs to be moved to Misc, or elsewhere, then please do and I hope you accept my apologies for adding to your work :). I just figured it is a pretty important piece in our builds and needs a thread of it's own to discuss what is the ideal table to make. Or maybe it doesn't. Either way here it is. :)

To start off I'll go ahead and post a couple important points, my ideas for my build, and roughly what material I'm using.

It's important for the table to accommodate the size of your build. In my case I have a vessel with a max beam of 8'6" and a frame height approaching 6'. My table dimensions will be 7' x 10'.

It's important for the table to be flat and stay flat. I'm making a torsion top assembly table out of 3/4" MDF. The top will be made out of 3 sheets of plywood with one ripped to 3ft and one ripped to 2ft so I won't have any lines where a center-line and/or set-up line will be going.

The inside support structure grid will not be larger than 1ft square. I will frame the entire thing with a piece 3-3/4inch wide and the top will sit flush with the top of the frame. This will take left over bits of the top and an additional sheet to accomplish.

The legs will raise the table to the same height as my tablesaw and bandsaw so I can use it to help support long pieces. I will also have supports between all of the legs and eventually(once I plan out storage needs) I will be placing boards on them so I can store tools and other materials underneath. It will take another 3-4 sheets to cut all the legs and supports.

Looks like it will be 7-8 sheets but I will probably get 9-10 just in case. I'm considering painting the top white so my lines will show up a little easier. I will post my eventual table once complete, hopefully by middle of August.

Feel free to offer constructive criticism, your thoughts, and post pictures of your own tables so we can gather ideas for others down the road.
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Re: Layout Table

Postby TomB » Thu Jul 12, 2018 5:18 am

The bench may be the most used tool in the build. Some two cent details...

Add thin sacrificial layer of painted plywood so you can nail (used to index the edge of pieces, bend battens around...), screw (clamping (see Neel Thompson's build thread)), and staple (holding paper and plastic in place) to it without getting the eruptions that happen in mdf. Paint will show lines better and reflect light making the work space brighter. The paint may help release epoxy drips too.

Put an overhang on all sides so you can clamp to it and have uninterrupted access for your toes below the bench.

Consider putting your bench on locking swivel casters so it doesn't become an immovable island.

Run plywood walls through the base so it can't rack when you push on it. Shallow shelves between the legs and backed by the plywood make great places to store cans, alcohol, rattle cans, glue, etc.

Perfect flatness is a big help for many glue ups. If the top is made with a top and bottom skin separated by a grid (as you've shown) it will be stronger and stay flat. (It will still flex without the bottom layer). I use elevator bolts between the base and top to fine tune flatness.

A big flat space is an advantage making frames, making other things maybe not as much. If you make it in three sections with cam clamps to hold it together?


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Re: Layout Table

Postby Cyclone » Thu Jul 12, 2018 6:04 am

I did something similar. I did not have the space available for a table, so instead I built it on its side like a partition wall and secured it to the existing structure of my garage. Besides space savings, and requiring less material for construction, another benefit of the vertical orientation of the work surface is that you can access the entire surface when standing in front of it. You do not have to walk around the perimeter to access the full surface. Paper templates are taped in place, and frame members are screwed in place during assembly. Covering surface with clear plastic film allows you to see lines and prevents glue from sticking to the work surface. After all the frames for the boat were all built on it, I took it apart and used the material to build a portable base on wheels for the building form. I used roller stands to support material when using my table saw and band saw. You could use suitable plywood for the work surface that could later be used for the floor of the boat as any screw holes could be filled and floor coverings will hide them.

A benefit of a table over a vertical work surface is that it would come in handy for working on scarff joining plywood panels for the planking if that is something that is needed. I used saw horses and a sheet of plywood for a makeshift table for this, but something more rigid would have made the job easier.

Due to my limited work space a vertical surface was the best option for me.

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Re: Layout Table

Postby hoodman » Thu Jul 12, 2018 6:18 am

I don't know how big of a space you have to work in but consider that you may only need a table that size while you are building your frames. After that, you will be working on longitudinals. You may want a smaller table after you get your frames set up on the building form.

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Re: Layout Table

Postby mrintense » Thu Jul 12, 2018 6:28 am

I'm going to play devil's advocate here.

I agree that having a nice work surface is ideal however, if you consider that most of the work you'll be doing on the boat will be in place on the boat (except for assembling the frames - more on that in a moment), then a large work table will get less use than you might think. As for frame assembly, I bolted two plywood sheets together , painted them white and laid it on my garage floor while I built the frames up. On this I lofted the frame lines for guiding my assembly.

Assembly of the frames was accomplished by laying a suitable release paper (or plastic) in the areas where I would expect epoxy overflow, then nailed the pieces to the board. The last step was to use cinder blocks to hold everything down while it cured.

A couple of provisos are necessary here. You need to insure your garage floor is relatively flat which should not be a problem most of the time. This method does require knee pads! Make sure the plywood boards are thick enough to hold nails.

Benefits: Much less expensive both in time and money to get started building. Garage floor gives nice solid surface to hammer nails against. When completed, the wood can be repurposed. When finished, no longer takes up space in your work area. If using weights (i.e. cinder blocks) you don't have to lift them up to the top of the workbench.

Cons: You need knee pads. You need to periodically sweep off the boards as they will get sawdust and other stuff on them.

As for the workbench, a smaller general purpose workbench will suffice for most work you have to perform.

Anyway, this is my $.02. I certainly don't want to discourage anyone from doing this the way they want to, after all it is their build and their project.
a.k.a. Clipper

Crafting a classically styled Vera Cruise named "Some Other Time"

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Bill Edmundson
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Re: Layout Table

Postby Bill Edmundson » Thu Jul 12, 2018 6:34 am

I wonder if Noah had one of these? My table was 8x5 1/2" exterior ply that I later used as my sub-deck. It was mounted on an old church folding table.

Do leave a lip around the edge for clamping.

Any flat surface just becomes a place to set crap down. Then you have to move it.

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Re: Layout Table

Postby JoeM » Thu Jul 12, 2018 6:59 am

Thanks for all of the replies and advice. I appreciate all of it!

I can't believe I forgot the bottom piece for the torsion top grid! Would have ended up being too flexible. Thanks TomB!

I have actually considered the fact that I probably won't need this huge table for the entirety of the build so I have left some room in this design to be cut down after i'm done with the frames into a more manageable assembly table size(think around 4x6). There are plans for a large steel building to eventually house the boat and build but who knows when that will be put in. In the meantime I'm using my two car garage as my shop. So I have enough room for the big table as long as it's multipurpose. I did consider building multiple tables and somehow connecting them but figured one solid piece would be easiest to get as close to perfectly flat as possible.

I did seriously consider just using my floor and some plywood as the floor is pretty flat as is. But I needed an assembly table with a nice flat top anyways as my 1st workbench is not holding up as well as I had hoped and is no longer flat. Eventually, it will become my blacksmithing bench and I'll be building a simple replacement. I also wanted to save my neck and back as much as possible so being able to not have to constantly shift from kneeling to standing is a good thing.
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Re: Layout Table

Postby Jimbob » Thu Jul 12, 2018 11:15 am

Hi Joe,
I made a table out a nice piece of 3/4" 4x8 birch plywood and straight 2x4's. It's flat. The legs are saw horses. I coated it with polyurathane so things didn't stick. Epoxy was easy to get off with a scraper. Later I cut the table down the middle so that I had two 2x8 table tops. Now I can configure the table the way I want by just clamping the pieces together, and its easy to store when not in use. Pics below of the different setups.
2x16 version - good for long piece glue ups.
4x8 version
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Building a Barrelback in Sacramento, CA

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Re: Layout Table

Postby kens » Thu Jul 12, 2018 3:02 pm

mine was 4x8 sheet of 3/4" MDF over levelled saw horses.
I found you could rub wax into the mdf and pluck off epoxy drips and boogers.
I'm basically advocating mold release function of the table.
Oak is over rated, everything about it takes extra time; then it warps, splits or checks !!! :roll:

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Re: Layout Table

Postby hoodman » Thu Jul 12, 2018 3:08 pm

I've tried my best to get my workbench flat. It's pretty close now. I have yet to come across a project where that really mattered though. It has a good quick release vise and it is rock solid. Those two things have mattered a whole lot. It is made solely from 2x4s from Lowes.

My layout table was a sheet of 3/4 marine plywood that later became my transom. Sounds like some of your frames are bigger than a sheet of plywood though.

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Re: Layout Table

Postby gdcarpenter » Thu Jul 12, 2018 3:46 pm

I am lucky to have a garage with a more than 10' high ceiling. The concrete block comes up about 30" and the walls are 2X6's.

I 'sistered' the studs with parallel 2X6's through bolted at the bottom, and the legs similarly through bolted at the top. When not in use it 'folds' up into the wall, when dropped down is a wonking big work surface if you throw a sheet or two of ply on it.

The photos were taken shortly after I brought home the 1957 Century Palomino project that I am currently slowly working on resurrecting.
This is my first, last and only boat build.

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