Design: Two Tables

New Design LabThe Design Lab at my school is moving to a new room.  Currently, we have about 800 square feet, which is awesome — but we’re really only using about 400 square feet for most projects on a regular basis; and the school really needs a community flex-space of about 800 square feet. Ironically, back in 2010 I said that the school needed a 400 square foot makerspace, but I was told, no, we need the larger room to be our Design Lab. And so we’ve rattled around in the big room, which has had some advantages but mostly disadvantages…

And now we’re moving to the room I proposed in the first place.

But before we can move, we have to build what we need. The goal is to move rooms in a flip-flop rapid-fire exchange, and be done by April break.  That means using the OLD room to build the new furniture, and then moving the new furniture into the new room in early April, so the community room can occupy the old design lab; and kids will come back from spring break to an awesome new space.  I’m excited.

My contribution to the plan was that we needed to save a fair bit of money for the community room renovation — so I said, Let’s use my experience from the Adirondack Chair project and the experience and knowledge base of our parent community to build the furniture. My logic was sound: we had a lot of “crafty” parents interested in carpentry, the Makerspace furniture was all the kind of stuff you’d find in a workshop, and it needed to be rough and rugged, and all of it needed to be moveable and on casters, etc.

New Design Lab
my colleague cuts boards

People liked it.  We can buy the wood locally, we get parent buy-in for the project, we have a whole lot of personal effort invested in the new space on the part of some parents; we build up a range of skills in our parent body; we encourage community participation; and best of all, we show kids that all of the furniture in their new working space can be built by their parents, and therefore built by them.

I did go to the trouble of doing some research, and buying the woodworking plans.  Pinterest was a huge help in terms of finding the right designs for things like sawhorses, these tables, a cart for wood, a workbench, a couple of rolling carts, and some other things for the room. There was a website like that was also very helpful.  And my boss is thrilled by all the levels of community involvement, design in action, and personal experience and skill-building involved.

Plus, there’s the tool-acquisition.  I got myself a circular saw for cutting plywood, and an impact drill, and a few other tools.  You’d better believe that sooner or later this worktable design is going to appear in my basement workshop, along with the workbench design, and maybe that rolling cart for plywood or something similar.  Building the kavad is still on my mind.

New Design Lab
a couple of spirit gates?

So that’s the plan. Which we put into action last night.   We cut the wood for two of the worktables (out of an eventual four), assembled the frames, cut the plywood tops (with a couple of small mistakes), and built the worktables for the new Makerspace.  Done.

The tables are easily strong enough to support my weight.  They’ve each got an extra bar under one end, for supporting a vise or a heavy piece of equipment like a drill press or a table saw.  They’re level (well — level-ish. One has a slight bounce in it, which I think I can take out with a little bit of judicious sanding).

This morning, I finished up the work on the two tables with a quick visit to the hardware store, and about 40 minutes with a power drill, adding in a few extra screws to help lock everything together. And so the first piece of this project is done.

Look for further posts on this subject in the near future.

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  1. […] We’re getting better at assembling the frame of this particular workbench, too.  I took myself off to a local Harbor Freight Tools for a set of a dozen bar clamps, and  we used those to help us square and true the frames of the two tables.  Bar clamps are incredibly useful things. We used them yesterday to clamp a level to a piece of plywood, to use the level as a guideline for the circular saw.  A circular saw is likely to drift away from your cutline if you’re not careful, so the bar clamps hold the level in place so you can use the edge of the level as the guide for the edge of the saw.  Brilliant. Picked up that trick from Dan before vacation. […]

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