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  • Writer's pictureScot Finnie

Proving its worth: Mobile torsion-box assembly table

Updated: Nov 15, 2021

There are many reasons why our new Mobile Torsion-Box Assembly Table is the top of the food chain for assembly/cutting tables. But in a word, it's versatility.

Large torsion box assembly table has dead-flat top that makes it a great reference surface for glue-ups, precise cutting, routing, domino driving etc.
Looks big? This mobile assembly/cutting/workbench table does it all. But its short wheelbase and 40" width make it squeeze into places that look too small for it.

Depending on how you like to work, this table can be a real space saver by merging your cutting and assembly areas into one space. You may find yourself performing workbench operations on it too. And the torsion box top makes the table very flat -- ideal for woodworkers. Here are some of the table's high points:

Mobility. Although it's heavy, the dimensions of the base are much smaller than the dimensions of the tabletop. The large overhang has several advantages, such as making it more maneuverable and easier to move into tight places in your shop. So, when you need it out of the way, it's easy to find a spot for it.

Tool and material storage. It offers four 31" long x 16" deep by 22" tall storage cabinets, plus two large shelves at the ends measuring 31" wide x 15" deep x 12". There could be drawers and doors for organization and to keep the dust out. I just prefer the open approach because I can see everything at a glance . In these cabinets and shelves, I can get my two handheld sanders and all their accessories (including sanding discs in all grits), two Festool track saws, their accessories and one large systainer, Domino and accessories, including two systainers, plus all my jigs for making square boxes and cabinets, along with cabinet-making jigs for door hinges, drawer slides, adjustable peg holes for shelves, and so on. And I still have 1-1/2 cabinets free on the assembly table. I'm thinking about moving my jigsaw, oscillating tools and perhaps circular saws there too.

Designed for clamping. One of the primary design themes of the table is that it's easy to place clamps on, on all four sides. The tabletop has a finished height of 3 inches, and even the largest throat clamps will have no trouble gripping all the way to the hilt.

Cutting sheet goods. It's an awesome cutting table. Just add a 1-inch or 2-inch 4 x 8 foam-insulation board to the tabletop to serve as the sacrificial material protecting the table from the saw blade. The foam board will extend 5 inches beyond the table on either side. If you use 2-inch foam board, that's thick enough to place cauls (small flat piece of scrap wood) on the underside of the foam board to protect it as you clamp the 4 x 8 sheet to be cut on the top. The table was designed to be low to help with lean-over cutting operations. The J-hook mounted on the side makes it much easier for one person to hoist even heavy 4 x 8 sheets onto the table.

Dead-flat table top. What's a torsion-box? It's the best way to build a flat surface. They can be made in a variety of ways, but the basic design is the same -- two flat layers of outside material sandwiching a lightweight honeycomb-like structure of crisscrossing slats (see picture). Think of it as scores of boxes that come together, side-by-side, until they fill the inside of a frame. In this case, the slats are roughly 1-1/2 inches wide by 8 inches long made of lightweight MDF. They are glued and brad-nailed in place. On this table, they support two 3/4-inch sheets of lightweight MDF.

Inside the torsion-box table top
A look inside the torsion-box table top

Built properly, a torsion box maintains the positions of the top and bottom of its tabletop equidistant all the way around. Although it's mostly air, a torsion box creates great strength and dead flatness for your tabletop. The key is milling the slats so they are all exactly the same width, probably using a table saw.

Removable oak bumper adds to the already 3" deep clamping area all around.
Removable oak bumper adds to the already 3" deep clamping area all around the edge of the table.

Most torsion boxes don't have a wide internal frame that this one has. I needed this frame to stand up to strong clamping on the sides and ends. To make it work, I had to mill the 2 x 4 cross pieces and sides to precisely the thickness of the width of the slats.

The first thing I did after I built this table was to do a medium-sized Domino-based joinery project. Everything came out straight and true for the first time since I bought my Domino. Success!

The Sudbury River Woodworks assembly & cutting table does a lot of things well . If you're in the area, make an appointment to swing by and check it out for yourself. Or feel free to send an email with any questions or suggestions you may have.


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