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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have two shop areas, a shed that's jammed, and half my garage for cutting and sizing project material, particularly breaking down sheet goods.

Parked car there means I wind up breaking down sheets either on the truck bed outside (awkward) or on a foam sheet on the garage floor (painful knees and bending). Noticed the frameworks others are using and came up with the design below. Because I'm using bracing and the foam sheet, I could possibly use a thinner ply sheet for the top, maybe with triangles reinforcing corners. The 1 x 4 I will have plenty of strength and a place to clamp. If I use a thicker ply, the openings will also allow some clamping IF I wish. But weight is a consideration.

I could use saw horses (wood or plastic, make fold-down ply legs, or recycle the metal folding legs from a commercially made table. The point is to have something I can fold up and store out of the way, and that was light and strong enough to let me work at a comfortable height with adequate support.

Anyway, here's the bottom view of the design with explanation. I'm fishing for suggestions. I could, of course, simply make a second top for an existing table, , but that would be too easy (LOL). :fie:
 

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Tom, I too am limited for space and always use my truck bed as a way to break down sheet goods. What I have found to be effective is to take two 8-10 foot 2 x 4's and lay them, on the tailgate, across to a couple saw horses that are approximately the same height as my truck. Laying the ply on top of them gives me good support while cutting. I adjust the depth of the cut so as not to go too far into the 2xs. The ply will lay there after the cut and I don't have to bend down to cut or pick up the pieces.
 

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Every chance I get, I asked the store to cut each sheet at least once. Never had anyone buck up. They all have panel cutting saws and cross cut saws (either radial arm or chop style).

This is working OK for me. Saw horses, 2x4's and the portable tops. See pictures.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Hi Mike. I'm using a track saw to do the breakdown, and find I need to clamp it down to really trust it. I've used the truck bed in the past, but it's too high for me to safely and comfortably make cuts with the track saw (which I love).

The car lives in half the garage, which floor is the location for laying out the insulation sheet and then cutting the flat goods. So the table is there to support the insulation, keep the goods flat and be at a convenient (pain free) height.

By making the table with folding or easy to use supports, I can just move it into a storage spot, out of the way after pulling the car out. I just can't tolerate sore knees and stretching like mad to reach across the truck bed while standing on a short ladder. I'm getting old (75 in a few weeks), and this might help me get out there more often. Just now, I need to make my wife a large night stand or small dresser, but the thought of kneeling on that cold concrete floor has stopped me, well, cold. I think this table will solve that.

At any rate, i'm fishing for any improvements you can see would make it more workable. For example, could I get away with 2.5 or even 2 inch trusses (lighter)? I'd like to use 1/4 inch ply for the skin (lighter), do you think It will be stiff enough? Or does it really have to be that stiff? Or should I just add more trussing?

What do you think. 25-30 lbs would be my max weight. I'll cut a couple of hand grips on the side so I can lift it easily for moving. Most of my ply is 5x5, but the overhang will make it easier to clamp the track in place. That's my reasoning so far, but Forum members are so sharp I'd be a fool not to ask for feedback.

Tom
 

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Tom I can tell you what I have planned for breaking down ply. It's been a bout 2 months ago I went to the lumber yard and bought 4 sheets of 1/2" and 4 sheets of 3/4" - 3 B baltic birch ply and some other lumber. I like to have material on hand rather than buy a little here and there so I can't leave it on my truck. Besides where I buy lumber they have a $200 min.

I am going to use plastic saw horses and lay a sheet of ply down then a sheet of 1" foam insulation, then lay down the sheet I want to cut. I can't lift any of this ply by myself so my wife will help me. She is very good about helping me lift heavy or akward things. I do help her with house work and any other thing she might want. I hate doing house work but I suck it up and do it.

PS - I did buy a Triton Track saw.
 

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I'm with Steve (Knot2square) on this...I do the exact same thing...purchase, transport, cut, use...granted, this puts me in a "just in time" environment. I do from time to time buy more than what I need (if it looks good on that trip)

But I don't need to store another bunch of stuff that is equally heavy to move...and I save on the set up time.

You might find this useful...saves on the back no matter the size... https://www.homedepot.com/p/Stanley-Panel-Carry-Orange-93-300K/202262083


But I do like your design and would consider it if I had more room...
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Hi Nick, When the car's in the garage, I have no spare room, but do if I pull the car out. That's why I want to have this thing so I can store it out of the way with some sheet goods against one wall. I'm seriously thinking of repurposed folding legs because conventional saw horses eat a lot of floor space, plus, it's going to be very easy to set up. I think I'm going to go with the quarter inch top. Hopefully it will be stiff enough.
 

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Hi Nick, When the car's in the garage, I have no spare room, but do if I pull the car out. That's why I want to have this thing so I can store it out of the way with some sheet goods against one wall. I'm seriously thinking of repurposed folding legs because conventional saw horses eat a lot of floor space, plus, it's going to be very easy to set up. I think I'm going to go with the quarter inch top. Hopefully it will be stiff enough.
It won't need much given the superstructure you have planned...I have a bunch of folding horses that work like a champ...Workforce at Lowes...around $18.00...
 
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Having sheet cut at store works for me so far. 2' cut off top and 16" down the side and it all fits in the Prius. Haven't had a need for longer or wider pieces yet, and can still handle the 3 pieces at (84 in a few weeks Tom) 2 folding plastic sawhorses with 2x4's in the slots leave all the cutting at a comfortable level.
 

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Hello Tom, I have the same problem and do all my cutting outside, been useing the garden table but its a cheap hardwood one and its now falling apart, my plan is to build a sturdy garden table out of treated CLS (3x2 ish) make it look a bit stylish with splayed legs, but it doubles as a workbench. I cut lots a sheet on the old table, use long scraps to support the sheet and cut it down with the skilsaw, works well enough.
Steve.
 

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@Desertrat Tom

Tom,

I built this open-grid cutting table for breaking down plywood and it has worked very well. The height sitting on the saw horses allows me to pull the sheet out of the truck bed and onto the surface without having to lift the sheet at all. The grid disassembles and is stored on top of the shelf unit, and the sawhorses fold and hang off hooks next to the ceiling. A plus is that it can also double as an assembly table, the open spaces give room for clamps. I made tops for the saw horses with rabbets to hold the strips so that they wouldn't move - they really need to be deeper as they don't really lock the strips in place while I'm assembling the grid and were falling over, resulting in one of the long strips cracking at the notch. I remade it and reinforced all the notches with nailing plates as shown, will add strips at the rabbets to make them deeper (next time).
 

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my version...

.
 

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So, pretty much the same, except I don't have as many cross pieces. Never been a problem, although when cross-cutting 1/4" plywood I have to make sure one of the cross pieces is under the saw - ripping doesn't seem to be a problem. I guess the sheet foam underneath would help - and also give better dust pickup - but it's one more (large) piece to find a place to store, although I've heard of some cutting the sheet into sections for easier storage. Another downside to having either the foam or a sacrificial sheet on top is losing the ability to clamp to the grid. I normally rip as the first operation before cross-cutting to length, and the set-up I use has a fence that locates on the edge of the sheet so I need to clamp the sheet to the grid to stop it being pushed away from me.
 

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My cutting table is just a 1 X 4 frame about 30 X 70" with some 2 X 4 cross pieces laid flat and flush with the top surface of the frame. These are located where necessary to attach folding Banquet Table legs to the bottom of them, plus one additional across the center of the frame. The entire frame and cross pieces are glued together with biscuits, so there is no metal anywhere near the top surface of the frame. Only short screws attach the metal legs to the bottom of the 2 X 4 cross pieces, keeping the upper 1" of the table completely free of metal. When folded, the legs fit up inside the frame. I have added two rounded squares of plywood to one of the long sides of the frame with a bolt located off center in each piece. These allow me to rotate them so they extend above the table or turn them 180 degrees so they are below the table top surface. To load a sheet of stock, I turn these to extend above the table and then lay the table on it's side with these down against the driveway. I then place the sheet on these and against the table, then lift the table and sheet until it is standing on it's legs with the sheet laying flat on top of it. Then I turn these pieces of plywood down below the top surface of the table and re-position the sheet for cutting. Each cut is made roughly centered on the table and when I complete the cut, neither piece falls, with both remaining on the cutting table. I usually set the saw to cut about 1/4" deeper than the material being cut.
If I ever cut enough kerfs in the table that they begin to weaken it, I'll just make another table and transfer the legs to it.

I've been using my cutting table outside my shop for over 10 years now and it has been a perfect solution for me to break up sheet stock using straight edge clamps and a circular saw. It has worked so well that I have taken it with me for working away from my shop too. To use with my miter saw, I attach a piece of plywood big enough to hold the saw over the table center, but I don't need to do this very often. When not in use, the table legs are folded and the table is placed in my shop on it's edge, leaning against the sheet stock.

The attached photos are of my first cutting table. I have since replaced the 2 X 4 outer frame with 1 X 4 material to reduce the table weight because I'm getting older and can no longer handle heavy items. I took pictures of this new version, but cannot locate these newer pictures. If you make a table like this, use 1 X 4 stock for the frame. It doesn't need these 2 X 4's for strength and your legs and back will thank you.

You can buy the Banguet Table Legs from Harbor Freight or Northern.

Charley
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 · (Edited)
My cutting table is just a 1 X 4 frame about 30 X 70" with some 2 X 4 cross pieces laid flat and flush with the top surface of the frame. These are located where necessary to attach folding Banquet Table legs to the bottom of them, plus one additional across the center of the frame. The entire frame and cross pieces are glued together with biscuits, so there is no metal anywhere near the top surface of the frame. Only short screws attach the metal legs to the bottom of the 2 X 4 cross pieces, keeping the upper 1" of the table completely free of metal. =Harbor Freight or Northern...

Charley
This is very much what I had in mind, and using 1x4, selected for light weight seems perfect. I'll make it undersized so I can put a 1x2 clamping rim around the outside, glue and pegged together. I'll probably go with the 1/4 ply with large areas cut out to save weight and add ridgidity. I have some old folding tables, but they're better than the plastic ones, so thanks for the HF lead.

I do have that panel carrier, but a 3/4 ply sheet is way too heavy for me.
 

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Tom,

With all of the joints in my table glued and with biscuits in each joint it is a very solid frame. I don't know what the plywood will do for you, except to add weight. Exact dimensions of the table aren't important either. Mine is about 30 X 70", mostly because I wanted it smaller than a 4 X 8 sheet. Bigger also adds weight, which I don't want or need. Adding a plywood surface doesn't buy you much and adds weight to the table, so I left it off. The 2 X 4 leg support pieces at each end of the table are spaced close enough together to support the circular saw between cuts, if the pieces of sheet stock being cut aren't large enough to hold the saw. The photos are actually of my first cutting table, made many years ago and the whole frame was made from 2 X 4 stock. A few years ago I decided that it was becoming too heavy for me, so I replaced the outer frame with 1 X 4 boards, keeping the 2 X 4 cross pieces from the original table. This removed about 15 lbs of table weight and made it much easier for this 76 yr old man to carry around.

When making each cut, I usually position the sheet so the cut will be roughly down or across the center of the table. This is to keep both pieces of the sheet stock from falling as the cut is completed. Gravity holds the sheet stock in place, and I clamp my straight edges to the sheet stock rather than to the table.

If I'm using the table along with my miter saw, I have a piece of plywood large enough to hold the miter saw (about 16 X 30" that I place on the center 2 X 4 of the table with the ling edge of it on the 1 X 4 at the working side of the table. I drive two screws through this piece of plywood into the 2 X 4 center piece of the table, and then place the miter saw on this piece of plywood. Long pieces of trim or stock yet to be cut are frequently placed on the table behind the miter saw until I'm ready to cut them.

There are two small pieces of 1/2" Baltic Birch ply attached to one side of my table (you can see them in the first 2 photos). These are each attached with one screw off center, so the piece can be rotated to extend about 2" above the table surface, or rotated 180 deg to be completely below the table surface. When I want to place a sheet of material on the table, I turn these tabs so they extend above the table surface and then tip the table over on it's side with these tabs down against the ground. I then place the sheet stock on edge against the table with the bottom edge of it sitting on these tabs. I then reach down and grab both the table and the bottom edge of the sheet stock and lift the table into it's upright position with the sheet stock lying flat on the table top. I then rotate these tabs so they no longer extend above the table and re-position the sheet stock so the first cut will run roughly down or across the center of the table.

I then measure for the cut and attach my straight edge, set my circular saw to cut about 1/4" deeper than the sheet stock is thick, and then make the cut. I don't use foam on the table top and just cut into the top surface of the table. Adding foam makes the sheet stock slide around too easily. If I ever make so many cuts into the top surface of my table for it to become weakened or just too ugly, I'll just make a new frame and move the Banquet table legs to it. I once used foam as a backer and cut my sheet stock on the floor, but my age and my knee replacements have all but eliminated my ability to work at floor level now.

If the sheet cut is made roughly down the center of the table, neither the piece nor the off-cut will fall at the end of the cut. I can then remove the undamaged off cut (because it didn't fall or break off) and re-position the remaining piece to center the next cut on the table, re-position the straight edge clamp and make the next cut.

In the third photo you can see my 108" straight edge clamp and the HDPE block attached to my circular saw that guides the saw along the straight edge. I have since made a HDPE guide that slides on top of the straight edge and the shoe of my circular saw is attached to it, positioned much like a track saw. This saw also has a piece of Lexan attached to the bottom of it with a clearance slot for the blade guard that also has a narrow slot for where the teeth of the saw blade rise up out of the stock being cut. This provides a "zero clearance" function that nearly eliminates edge chipping of the cut. I don't have a sacrificial strip along my straight edge clamp to reduce chipping, but this piece of Lexan performs the same function.

I much prefer my cutting table over saw horses for most uses and have almost eliminated
my desire to use saw horses completely, but I still use saw horses occasionally if I want to set up a temporary work table, or support a scaffold. For about every other application where I once used saw horses, I now prefer to use my cutting table.

For moving sheet stock I recently made a wheeled carrier out of some 3/4" cabinet birch
ply and a pair of large diameter wheels re-purposed from an old high wheel lawn mower I actually made two of these. The first had smaller lawn mower wheels and no handle holes for pickin it up easily. This was my second build and I much prefer it. The dimensions of it aren't very important either, but I used a scrap of 3/8 ply as well as a piece of 3/4 ply to widen the slot between the two sides and make it easier to use with any common thickness of sheet stock. Even the 1" Baltic Birch will fit in it.

In use, I usually place it roughly centered under the sheet stock, but it can also be placed under one end while you lift and carry the other end. With the blunt pointed ends of the center plywood spacer in it, you can just drop the sheet into the carrierb and it will right itself without the need to even touch it. The larger diameter wheels roll over my door threshold and rough lawn much better than the smaller wheels of the first carrier that I built too. I used the stub axles from the lawn mower too and just drilled holes in the flat steel plate that's welded to the axle to mount it to the carrier with a couple of long screws.

I also purchased a "Gorilla Gripper" to help me carry sheet stock, but found that it didn't do too well for 5' X 5' Baltic Birch ply mostly because I'm not tall enough at 5' 8". so I bought one of these. https://smile.amazon.com/Stanley-93...527869653&sr=8-1&keywords=stanley+panel+carry Since it attaches to the bottom edge of the sheet, rather than the top like the Gorilla Gripper, I prefer it for carrying Baltic Birsh sheet stock. It works pretty well for 4 X 8' sheets too, and is much more reasonably priced than the Gorilla Gripper.

That's my driveway in the last picture, not the street. My driveway circles my house. My shop is to the right of the photo and my house to the left.

Charley
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Lots of good ideas. Thanks guys. I think I'm going to make it a little smaller, and clamp the track to the workpiece. It will be 1x4, which is available from HD, and if I pick carefully, can be fairly light. The fold down legs will allow pulling the sheet off the truck, onto the table. Most of my sheet goods will be 5x5.
 
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