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How to build a Torsion Box Assembly Table

Hey Guys its Mike from The Geek Pub, and during our first 16 episodes we basically used a couple of saw horses, and some scrap MDF covered with some brown paper as our project table. Well its time to step it up a little, and on this episode we’re going to create a new project table…. worthy of The Geek Pub.

To make our Torsion Box Assembly Table, the first thing we need to do is build the base that it will sit on. We’ll start by cutting out the four panels that will become our cabinet sides. Be sure to use a clamping straight edge to guide your saw. Then over to the router we’ll need to install a 3/4″ straight bit that will be used to cut several dados and rabbits for this project. Again, using a clamping straight edge cut two dados on the panels to hold our shelves, and then use a jig saw to cut out our toe kicks.

When you’re done you should have four identical pieces, except for shelf heights which you can adjust to your preferences. Then we’ll use the table saw to cut out four shelves for the cabinets. Add a nice bead of glue to one of the dado cuts and spread it out evenly. Then using a speed square to keep it aligned, insert one of the shelves and press it in firmly. Use brad nails to hold it while the glue dries.

When you’re done you should have two cabinets that look nearly identical. On mine, I made one shelf lower than the other. Now its time to cut out our toe kick covers and our stretchers. We’ll do this again using a clamping straight edge and our router again to make two dados and two rabbits. It’s easier to do this all at once on a larger piece and then move to the table saw to rip it into six equal three inch boards rather than to to try to cut all of the dados and rabbits on the individual boards afterwards.

Carefully lay everything out and line it up on a flat surface and then install the toe kick covers by adding glue to the rabbits and dados, and then securing them with brad nails. Give the glue thirty minutes to dry and then stand up your cabinets and install the top stretchers using the same method. It’s important to check everything for square before applying the glue and brad nails.

When you’re done it should look like this. After giving the glue another 30 minutes to dry lets turn our base upside down. We’re going to install three blocks on each side to support our wheel base. Feel free to adjust the height in your project to suit your preferences. Use glue and brad nails to hold them in place. Then we need to install the base our wheel casters will sit on, and they need to be at least three inches wide.

Set the wheel casters in place and then trace out the the location of the mounting holes. Pre-drill them and then install 1/4″ lag bolts to secure them. Its important to snug them up, but be careful not to over tighten them and strip the wood. When your done, turn the base back over. It’s time to cut and install our doors. I cut mine on the table saw. Using a square draw a line three inches from the top. Clamp a scrap board to the base shelf using some quick clamps. We’ll use this as a brace to hold our door level while we mark its hinge locations.

Use a straight edge to transfer the marks from the cabinet to the doors. You can go ahead and install the base of the English style hinges, but we’ll have to drill pockets on the doors using a Forstner bit before we install the other side.

Now, screw the hinges in snugly to the doors. Line everything up and screw the hinge into the base. There’s lots of little adjusters to get everything lined up. So take your time and you’ll wind up with a perfect fitting door. Over on the router, we need to route out all of the boards for our drawers. Adding dados at the bottom and rabbits on the fronts. When you finish you’ll have an unassembled cabinet drawer.

Once again using a speed square… glue and brad nail three sides together. Then insert the drawer bottom and attach the last side. It’ll look like this! Install the cabinet slides into the base using a scrap 1/4 spacer. Install the matching piece onto the drawers and then slide the drawers onto their tracks. The spacer makes sure there is an equal gap between each drawer top to bottom.

We’ll want our drawers to have matching faces, so cut and glue faces to each drawer that slightly overlap the sides by approximately 1/4 inch. Once you’re alignment is good clamp it in place and use brad nails from the back side to secure it. Follow this up with a solid board covering the backside of the drawers. Using a square on the doors, measure one inch over and three inches down to mark for our door pulls. We’ll drill two holes three inches apart and then install our door pulls with screws.

Repeat the same process for each drawer, being sure to find the center point, and then install the pulls. And we’re done with the base! We’ve got a rolling, super heavy duty cabinet with two doors on each side and four drawers on the front. And now we just need a torsion box to sit on top! Our Torsion Box is going to be 5 foot by 3 foot. Using two sheets of 5/8″ MDF measure out two 3×5 sheets but oversize the lengths by 1/2 inch. So that’s 3 foot 1/2″ by 5 foot 1/2″.

Then using a clamping straight edge, carefully cut out out the oversized sections. Using the leftover material from the original MDF sheet, rip several 3″ sections on the table saw. Then use our miter saw to cut them to the correct lengths. Using a large square layout the outer panels of the torsion box, leaving roughly a 1/4″ gap all the way around. Then layout the 5 center stretchers. Once you’ve checked everything for square its time to glue it up. Once again using brad nails to hold everything in place. Follow the same process to install the vertical supports. Be sure to use your speed square on each and every piece. I can’t over emphasize how important it is to keep the table square. I recommend you offset each row to leave room for your brad nailer.

Once the grid is completed, add glue to every board and then glue the top and bottom sections leaving that 1/4″ overhang. Use brad nails and clamps to secure it while the glue dries. Now remember that 1/4″ overhang? Use your router and remove it. This will leave us with a perfectly flush surface that we can cover with our oak planks. Measure and mark your oak planks to the exact dimension of your torsion box. Cut them to length first on the miter saw, and then rip them to 4 1/4″ inch on the table saw. Take your time and get these cuts perfect.

Using some scrap MDF clamped on as a guide its time to install the oak planks. We’ll install the these planks with glue and brad nails making sure they are aligned correctly in all directions. To finish the table off, use your router to add a 45 degree chamfer around the entire top of the table.

And believe it or not, we’re done! Our new Torsion Box Assembly Table is complete and ready for all of our future projects. You’ll probably want to add some varnish to yours and wax the MDF surface before you use it the first time, but that’s completely your preference. Well thanks for watching and I’d like to throw a shout out to Mark Spaguolo at The Wood Whisperer for inspiring this project. And you can help me out by liking and subscribing to my channel on YouTube.

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2 Responses

  1. Great project and video, Mike. The torsion box table has been on my to-do list for a while. The size of your tabletop, complete with casters for mobility, will compliment my small shop nicely. You mentioned the top’s dimensions, but what about the base?

  2. Hi Mike, thanks for sharing this! Do you happen to have the plans for this project (cut list, materials needed, etc)? If so I’d love to grab them for this weekends project!

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