Working out of a garage, that has to actually be a garage as well, can present a woodworker with certain challenges that someone with a dedicated workshop can not appreciate.
Although I have a very spacious three-car garage that we built a bit oversized, we still park my wife’s vehicle in there and we still store the usually lawn equipment and other miscellaneous house things in there. So no, it’s not a dedicated work space but I manage – and grateful, mostly because I try to keep everything mobile and consider the potential for multiple uses for things AND I also consider the fact that during the cold months (or during a potential tornado) three cars must fit into the garage as well as all that other stuff – and the tools.
the usual workflow
So in the warmer months (what I call “the woodworking season”) when I begin a woodworking project I usually will set up the single car side of the garage for work. This involves placing tools in an “as ready to access” position as possible. The table saw will usually, and typically, be placed in the center of the work area. I’ll usually place a couple adjustable sawhorses at the end of the table saw and, because most projects will involve some type of plywood, I’ll place that plywood on the saw horses. This gives me a pretty good out feed table for the table saw AND an assembly/work table. But there is one big problem with that – once I start using the plywood, my out feed/assembly table disappears.
I’ve seen dozens of build videos on shop tables and they all have certain features to their merit. I’d love to have incorporated a laundry list of features that many of the builders incorporated, but, since this is a shop project (and I feel a little guilty sometimes spending money on shop builds – most of which I use scrap wood to build) AND this thing had to be mobile and capable of being stored out of the way occasionally – some features had to be eliminated.
learned still learning
I’m slowly learning – with a gentle reminder from my wonderful wife every now and then – that I usually regret not spending a little more, or saving a little longer, for the better tool, or building something a little better than I did. I tried to take this to heart when I built my out feed/assy table.
I’d love to have made a huge 4 ft x 8 ft table – but due to the reason above, I opted for half that. The end result is an approximate 4 ft x 4 ft mobile table that is slightly lower than my table saw at 34″ (so it acts as a great out feed table). The top is a torsion box design while the bottom is mostly torsion box (everything but the bottom skin). The entire project was built with mostly 3/4 plywood.
So how do you build a perfectly flat table without a perfectly flat work area? The closest thing I could think of (and still wasn’t too sure about it) was my garage floor. I’m pretty sure it is NOT perfectly flat – but it was all I could think of – well, except for one thing – but I wasn’t gonna suggest it. But then, my wife volunteered it (insert angelic angel singing here) – why not use the kitchen island granite top? So I jumped on it (but I still felt bad for moving my assembly into the kitchen – air compressor, clamps, glue, wood, etc.). It worked out pretty good and I was only in there long enough to glue the top torsion box together and then it was back out to the garage. Thanks hun…. 😊
nothing like a nice set of wheels
I used some hefty 5″ casters I purchased from rockler.com. I initially thought they were overkill – too big and too pricy – but when it was finished, I was VERY happy with them. They work very well – both locking the wheels from rolling AND locking them from swiveling. (My only complaint was that the specs on the website said that they were 6 in tall and they ended up being 6-3/16 in – doesn’t seem like much but it is when you are trying to build something to match the height of another tool.) My garage floor is “polished” to a very smooth finish so locked casters just seem to slide across the floor – especially with a fine coat of sawdust on it – so good casters are a must.
I put the whole thing together with tons of Titebond II glue, some pin nails to hold things together while the glue dried, and a few 1-1/4 in screws. I finished it off with three coats of Minwax wipe-on polyurethane – sanding with 220 grit between coats. I rounded all the corners (even the bottom edge) with a 1/4 in round over bit to break the sharp corners and prevent the plywood from eventually separating (which still happened during the build – guess that is what happens when working with plywood edges).
In the end I’m VERY pleased with the table. There is lots of storage underneath and lost of flat work surface on top – no more building on the floor – yeah!. It rolls and locks very easily so I can roll it out of the garage into the driveway if I want to sand or finish outside. My intent is to build another one identical to this one in the future so I can put them together and make a big work area – or use/store them individually (maybe after the bedroom furniture build – maybe next Spring ???)
There are a few more shop project to get done before moving on to the “real” stuff but I’m gonna take a week off and get a little R&R – need a change in latitude (remember, I’m a Southern boy and I need some tropical therapy… 😀🌴☀️ )