I have a 7-foot long work table that currently has an (now old) plywood top
and folding metal legs attached to it. I want to use this for electronics
work and the aged plywood surface is just too coarse for trying to locate
small parts dropped onto it.
What do you recommend? Put some kind of plastic laminate on top of this or
replace the entire top -- ie, pull off the folding legs and attach them to
another material? :: laminate MDF or such?
If the present top is sturdy enough for your needs and you only object
to the finish of the top, I would cap with a piece of tempered masonite
that is trapped by an edge band so it was easy to turn over and/or change.
If a new sturdy top is in order, consider a damaged solid core door.
Everyone who handles doors ends up with some damaged, but you need to
ask or find a demolition site and ask, they are usually thrown away.
If it's rigid-enough to satisfy as is and the surface is basically
sound; sure, laminate is a relatively inexpensive option. Will need
enough surface-prep work to eliminate any really large (like inches)
gaps, etc., and knock off any high spots w/ belt sander or equivalent
and go for it. I'd do it basically like a counter-top; laminate a
second layer around the edge for the thickness/appearance and either
laminate it as well or use a solid banding.
Remember to use a reasonably light (as in color) surface; it's much
easier to find stuff on.
I did the above except built solid legs when switched from consulting
through a firm to independent and found a piece of cheap laminate of
sufficient size at a building salvage/seconds outlet. Depending on how
large you want, it's also possible to find leftovers from kitchen
cabinet redo's, etc., that are as cheap or cheaper than just the laminate.
ReStore has some awesome things, particularly that one piece of a puzzle
that you could never identify, let alone find. I am building a wind wall
for my barbecue area out of double sets of dual pane glass doors. I have
about four more sets until I get enough, then I'll get to the good part
............... making the metal frame to hold them all.
I love ReStore, and like to just go browse, never knowing what the discards
du jour may be.
These requests are so difficult because of each individual's needs. In some
cases, an exterior door is just fine. In others, something with ninety
degree fences or jigs, or flat plane surfaces is the way to go.
I would identify your needs, then go from there.
A GOOD! (and I emphasize that point on purpose) is worth its weight in gold,
but what is just perfect to one may be worthless, or at least, inadequate
Identify your needs, then design from there.
I currently have just put up four doors as work tables. One, because they
were free, and two, I have every intention of them teaching me what I need
exactly, so I do expect to morph into further mods.
There is no "right", nor "perfect". If I had enough space, I would have
probably six tables, each for specific purposes.
Laminate makes a nice smooth and easy to clean surface. You may get
lucky and score some cheap if you have a kitchen installer nearby. Ask
if they have any leftovers or cancellations they will sell cheap.
I'd go get a sheet of melamine board and some 2x4s. Make frame & legs with
2x4s' cut mel board to size for top....smooth, hard, durable. And cheaper
than a sheet of laminate.
If you just have to have folding legs, use what you have but make an apron
all around the mel board - and a couple of pieces crosswise - to support it
and attach the legs to that.
Replace the plywood with a 4x8(or whatever size) sheet of melamine.
The melamine is very tough and very white which is better for finding
small parts on.
Put some snazzy wood edging on it and you will have a nice looking
Cheap,tough and quick.
And were I to redo a top for the purpose of an electronics work table,
not only would I welcome the tough melamine surface, I'd trim the whole
top with a nice hardwood band (maple or oak) and leave a small lip ( ~
1/8" - 3/16") around the top to prevent those small parts from rolling
off the table and onto the floor where you REALLY have fun finding them <g>
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