Plywood Camp Table
I've been using this table for about 5 years now. The idea was inspired by the TI article about a 4' round table from one 4x8' sheet of plywood. Mine uses a 4x6' sheet, producing a 2x4' rectangle. It works a bit better for transport in smaller cars than the 4' round does - in my Geo you just flop down the back seats, and feed the parts through the hole. Total dimensions disassembled are 2' x 4' x 1-1/2" - totally flat, park it on the bottom of the pile in your car.
- A 4' x 6' piece of 1/2" plywood, or three 2x4' panels. You can use heavier plywood, but the half-inch will hold my weight.
- The finish of your choice. I just sprayed mine with several coats of polyurethane.
- A jigsaw or sabre saw, with a couple of fine wood-cutting blades. Expect to break a few.
- A sanding block with coarse sandpaper, and/or a rasp.
- A tape measure, a straightedge, and a square.
- A piece of string for drawing curves.
- A pencil.
- Cut 4-foot by 6-inch strips from the edge of two panels, then an 18-inch square from the end of each, leaving a pair of 18" x 30" pieces (figure 1).
- Measure the thickness of your top. Nominal 1/2" plywood ain't 1/2" thick, it can run from 3/8" to 7/16". Call your result x. Draw a line across an 18x30 piece x inches in from one end (figure 2a).
- Find the center of that end. Measure outward 2-1/2" to each side and mark. Go 6" further on each side, and mark. This should leave you with a 1/2" gap, a mark, 6", a mark, 5", a mark, then another 6" - mark - 1/2" (figure 2b).
- Cut away the 5" and the two 1/2" areas, leaving a pair of 6" wide tabs, of depth x (also figure 2b).
- Next, cut a slot 3" deep along the centerline, x wide (figure 2c). In the middle of the piece, make a 6" by x vertical slot (also figure 2c).
** NOTE: I didn't bother listing a drill with 1/4" bit among the tools because you can start a hole with a jigsaw. Hold it with its front end pointing down at the board, blade horizontal. Turn it on, and then slooowly rock it backward until the blade chews down into the middle of your cutout. Practice this on a piece of wood you don't love, first.
- Use your string and pencil to draw arcs as shown in figure 2d. Cut 'em out.
- Sand all cuts smooth.
- Round the ends of the two 4' x 6" pieces as shown in figure 3a.
- Measuring 6 inches in from each end, cut a pair of 3 by x inch slots (figure 3b).
- Sand edges and cuts.
- Measure in 6" from each end, and draw a line across the 2 x4" top. Draw another line x inches inward from each of the first two. (figure 4).
- Find and draw the centerline. From there, measure out 2-1/2" to either side, in the x-width strips. Mark there, then mark again 6" out toward each edge.
- Cut out the resulting slots, which should fit the tabs you cut back in step 1. Double-check this before you cut anything.
- Sand all edges and cuts.
- FINISHING TOUCHES:
- Stain if you want.
- Spray or brush on several coats of a hard finish like polyurethane. You'll want this table to stand some abuse without damage.
- Use the 18" pieces to make whatever you'd like - maybe chess / checkers / tablero / go boards.