Update on Workbench/desk build

  • Electric

    Would a sawhorse table be sturdy enough for a temporary desk?


  • Get a door. There is no cheaper, sturdy desk surface available to buy. Try the restore over by Walmart. It is essentially a torsion box, won’t flex easily light weight, should cost less than ten bucks. Sometimes you can go to a place that sells doors and get one that has a hole in one side out of their dumpster for free. Ask permission and there’s no telling what they’ll offer you.

  • Founder

    yeah, doors are a good idea. I have used them before. Only 2 problems.

    1. It can be hard to find one to suit without all the panneling on the top. Although for a few bucks more you can get a thin sheet of finish plywood and fix it to the top.

    2. They are BIG. So it depends on how much space you have.

    Some design questions:

    Does the table top in the picture have a way of being fixed to the saw horses?

    If not, it’ll slide around, and even if you just plan on using it as a computer or drawing desk, that’ll get annoying. Especially if you have a hollow-core door that is light on top.

    One solution would be to add some ‘stops’ or a kind of groove on the bottom of the table-top for the saw horses to fit in.

    Do you want to be able to move this desk and then set it up again?

    Do you want to be able to store this desk?

    Perhaps you have a small space and want to be able to move the desk out of the way to make room for some other task. If so, saw horses aren’t going to save you much space.

    Look for what is called a “knock-down” table. Knock-down furniture is designed to be lightweight, easy to set-up, knock-down, store, and move.

    Here is an example of what is really the simplest and cheapest knockdown table imaginable with things you can get at the hardware store. A few pieces of ply that fit together in slots. When knocked-down it all fits inside the top. This is also an example of charging people an outrageous price for something that is actually quite simple to make for a few bucks in plywood.

    I would also suggest that the sawhorses in the photo will not give the rigidity you want, they are only braced along a single plane. Go upstairs to the woodroom, and wiggle those sawhorses around. If you really want saw horses - and you might, as you may want to use them as saw horses too - I can help you come up with a better design.

  • Founder

    Also, if you decide to make a plywood knock-down desk, check out this e-book from MAKE on cnc joinery for paneling. It may offer some inspiration, and would be a cool project to use the CNC router for.


    Personally, I think you should go with a ply knock down desk. But there is a lot of solid wood in the shop suitable for legs, although the size of top you are wanting will then eat up your budget as there is nothing in the shop that will work.

    Also, building a solid wood table will take time and climbing a learning curve, and it sounds like your passion is to get the desk project out of the way so you can move onto other things.

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