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#1 JRWebb Pottery

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 11:01 AM

I work exclusively with slabs and hand-building and have decided to build a new work table, larger and taller. Probably 5' x 6' and approx. 36 inches tall (will give option to sit on a stool or stand to work).
I think that having the underneath for clay (and other) storage will be great. Plus, with the larger work space, I can have several projects going at once...

I would love some feedback on doing this (good idea, bad idea, design ideas, etc)... Also, what should the work surface be? Plywood? Some kind of masonry board?

This will be what I am working on full-time, so I want to make sure that I do it right! Thanks a bunch!
Jonni Webb
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#2 neilestrick

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 11:08 AM

My tables are: 4x4's for the legs, 2x4 rails and MDF top, all screwed together. MDF is not good for wet surfaces at all, so I have about 10 coats of linseed oil applied to the top to keep it from 'bubbling' when it gets wet. It's still porous, which is nice, and very hard and durable. Just don't leave puddles on it over night and it works great. I've had mine in a busy studio (30-50 students a week) for 8 years now and they're still in great shape. I reapply the oil every couple of years.
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#3 Chris Campbell

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 12:00 PM

One studio I taught in painted the tops of all the wooden tables with epoxy paint. I think the wood was the dense mdf ... The paint was two part so had to be mixed and applied following specific directions ... But apparently only has to be done one time then the tables are good to go for all kinds of work. It was a very busy facility and the tables looked great. I'm thinking of trying it on mine which is about 6 ft long and 4 ft wide with storage underneath.

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#4 DAY

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Posted 08 April 2012 - 08:46 AM

My Bailey DRD slab roller has small casters on two legs. I haven't moved it in 10 years, but I can- and it is rock solid.<div>I suggest several smaller tables- with those casters. Pallets are built of oak, and are free. A few 4'x4' tables can be used alone, or put under a 4'x8' sheet of plywood for really big projects. Use bolts, not nails or screws.

#5 clay lover

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Posted 08 April 2012 - 09:44 AM

Rollers for sure, big swivel kind that can lock for stability. I might use marine grade plywood, no varnish. Saw it at a workshop, liked it, wished I had it. Mine is an old school table, slick surface, and I put big plaster,sheet rock sheets on it sometimes, dependes on what I'm doing. One big table is nice if you have the room.

#6 Pres

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Posted 08 April 2012 - 10:50 AM

One studio I taught in painted the tops of all the wooden tables with epoxy paint. I think the wood was the dense mdf ... The paint was two part so had to be mixed and applied following specific directions ... But apparently only has to be done one time then the tables are good to go for all kinds of work. It was a very busy facility and the tables looked great. I'm thinking of trying it on mine which is about 6 ft long and 4 ft wide with storage underneath.


One of the worst finishes I had on work tables was in the new studio I had at school. The workbenches purchase had a very hard-shiny work surface that chipped easily. After a few years of looking terrible, the maintenance crew came to me and asked what I thought would be the best solution. I was not up on much that way, but told them that I thought some sort of oil surface that was not a thick built up of polyurethane or such would be better. They got some sort of semi matte finish on the tables that they could renew every 5 years or so. The tables have been there now for over 20 years, and are in good shape. The material is the standard maple butcher block type top. Keeping the metal end pieces and the screws in is a big help to making the tops last.

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#7 DAY

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Posted 08 April 2012 - 12:36 PM

For the table top, cover it with something both removable and washable: Oil cloth, or a "retired" canvas from the lab roller. You can wedge on it, and clay won't stick. Take it outdoors and beat it/wash it.

#8 JRWebb Pottery

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Posted 08 April 2012 - 01:48 PM

Thanks so much to everyone! Please keep ANY suggestions about this table coming...this is helping me a lot. My brother is going to build the table for me and I want to be able to give him as much good input as I can...and have the end product as functional as possible!

Does anyone have any particular thoughts on the height... Do you suggest working at a regular height table or would a table built high enough for a stool and/or standing be practical?

#9 Marcia Selsor

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 05:27 AM


I work with slabs very often. I have a 4 x 6 table and another 4 x 4 butted up to the end level with it. The first one was a work table with steel legs and a formica top. It has about a 7 inch ht. shelf underneath where I store large plaster molds for birth baths. On the floor are dollies with clay boxes or chemicals in containers on wheels. The second table also has a formica top.It is on casters and has a shelf at the base where I store a large plaster mold. I like the formica which is great when glazing. My slabs come off the slab roller on canvas or on boards. They are never in contact with the formica until the forms are leather hard.. I got big lot of casters on ebay and made a lot of dollies for buckets of chemicals and glazes. I also have 2 bakery carts for storing slabs.
Marcia


#10 Chris Campbell

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 10:37 AM

Height is a hard one to answer ... I find that sometimes I stand all day and am walking around the table and other times I'm sitting doing detail work ... just make sure your chair is adjustable.

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#11 oldlady

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 10:44 AM

LOWE'S puts out some ideas in a newsletter every month. the first one i saw was for building a 4x8 worktable for holding all kinds of things in spaces under the tabletop. bins, shelves, drawers, all kinds of storage. even though i have perfectly good smaller tables i constructed, i envied the person whose studio could accomodate a 4x8 table built to this plan. heavy duty wheels allow for moving it while cleaning up.

my tables were built for holding not only a work surface on top but storing tools and materials underneath. a good worktop is simple drywall over plywood. the plywood is surrounded by framing and leaves a 1/2 inch depression into which the sheet of drywall sits. the drywall works in a single user studio because the user will probably take reasonable care not to ruin it by denting it or some other thoughtless thing. i cover the top with TYVEK which does not stick to the clay and is washable with a sponge. i have not had to replace my TYVEK top in 8 years. do not use canvas because it will hold clay dust and send it into the air each time it is used. think about banging a slab onto a canvas surface and imagine what the powdered clay that landed in the canvas yesterday is doing. work surfaces need to be kept CLEAN.

if you run a 2x4 or something else horizontally indented just under the edge of the top, you will provide a sturdy hanging surface for all those items that usually get put onto the nearest flat area, namely, your worktop. suddenly, the 4x8 tabletop has shrunk to a 2x2 open flat space surrounded by tools, forms, plaster bats, etc. if you store them by hanging under the top, a simple black marker will tell you where each item is under the surface. looking down at the marks you know exactly where to reach for that special form or tool you always use.

if you work with slabs you probably use a needle often. drill a hole into the framework or tape the writing end of an old pen onto the center support of your slab roller to hold your needle safely. put it back each time and it will always be available. paint the handle bright yellow so you can find it if it gets misplaced. a piece of tubing can hold rolling pins or other long items at the end of your table. there are tons of ways to make your table useful. make it tall enough so you can work comfortably standing. you can get a stool of the correct height for sitting at it.

i wish i could send you some photographs of what i mean but i will not be home to take any until after april 20.
"putting you down does not raise me up."

#12 Rainy Day

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 09:50 PM

I work exclusively with slabs and hand-building and have decided to build a new work table, larger and taller. Probably 5' x 6' and approx. 36 inches tall (will give option to sit on a stool or stand to work).
I think that having the underneath for clay (and other) storage will be great. Plus, with the larger work space, I can have several projects going at once...

I would love some feedback on doing this (good idea, bad idea, design ideas, etc)... Also, what should the work surface be? Plywood? Some kind of masonry board?

This will be what I am working on full-time, so I want to make sure that I do it right! Thanks a bunch!
Jonni Webb
JRWebb Pottery
www.jrwebbpottery.com

I like 3/4 inch MDF as a work surface. I also wedge on it. It has held up well for over a year in my home studio, however, it might deteriorate in a busier teaching studio environment.

#13 claydog

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 10:16 AM


I work exclusively with slabs and hand-building and have decided to build a new work table, larger and taller. Probably 5' x 6' and approx. 36 inches tall (will give option to sit on a stool or stand to work).
I think that having the underneath for clay (and other) storage will be great. Plus, with the larger work space, I can have several projects going at once...

I would love some feedback on doing this (good idea, bad idea, design ideas, etc)... Also, what should the work surface be? Plywood? Some kind of masonry board?

This will be what I am working on full-time, so I want to make sure that I do it right! Thanks a bunch!
Jonni Webb
JRWebb Pottery
www.jrwebbpottery.com

I like 3/4 inch MDF as a work surface. I also wedge on it. It has held up well for over a year in my home studio, however, it might deteriorate in a busier teaching studio environment.


When I set up my own studio 7 years ago, I built tables using instructions from Peter King's "Architectural Ceramics for the Studio Potter" book. Here's a link with a photo: http://books.google....k table&f=false
These tables are easy and cheap to build, and modular so you can clamp them together in different configurations. I love them!! I didn't end up putting casters on mine but if you do, pay for the heavy duty ones. Puny ones won't hold up at all, especially if you load the lower shelves with clay and plaster molds like I do.




#14 claydog

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 10:23 AM

LOWE'S puts out some ideas in a newsletter every month. the first one i saw was for building a 4x8 worktable for holding all kinds of things in spaces under the tabletop. bins, shelves, drawers, all kinds of storage. even though i have perfectly good smaller tables i constructed, i envied the person whose studio could accomodate a 4x8 table built to this plan. heavy duty wheels allow for moving it while cleaning up.

my tables were built for holding not only a work surface on top but storing tools and materials underneath. a good worktop is simple drywall over plywood. the plywood is surrounded by framing and leaves a 1/2 inch depression into which the sheet of drywall sits. the drywall works in a single user studio because the user will probably take reasonable care not to ruin it by denting it or some other thoughtless thing. i cover the top with TYVEK which does not stick to the clay and is washable with a sponge. i have not had to replace my TYVEK top in 8 years. do not use canvas because it will hold clay dust and send it into the air each time it is used. think about banging a slab onto a canvas surface and imagine what the powdered clay that landed in the canvas yesterday is doing. work surfaces need to be kept CLEAN.

if you run a 2x4 or something else horizontally indented just under the edge of the top, you will provide a sturdy hanging surface for all those items that usually get put onto the nearest flat area, namely, your worktop. suddenly, the 4x8 tabletop has shrunk to a 2x2 open flat space surrounded by tools, forms, plaster bats, etc. if you store them by hanging under the top, a simple black marker will tell you where each item is under the surface. looking down at the marks you know exactly where to reach for that special form or tool you always use.

if you work with slabs you probably use a needle often. drill a hole into the framework or tape the writing end of an old pen onto the center support of your slab roller to hold your needle safely. put it back each time and it will always be available. paint the handle bright yellow so you can find it if it gets misplaced. a piece of tubing can hold rolling pins or other long items at the end of your table. there are tons of ways to make your table useful. make it tall enough so you can work comfortably standing. you can get a stool of the correct height for sitting at it.

i wish i could send you some photographs of what i mean but i will not be home to take any until after april 20.


I LOVE the idea of TYVEK on the table top! I am going to replace my canvas with that right away!! And your ideas for creating handy storage for tools are much appreciated. You're right--my table top shrinks to nothing when I am working because I scatter tools all over the work surface, then go crazy when I have to search for something. I'd love to see photos of your studio; I'm sure you've been smart and creative in your use of space. Have you ever done a video tour of your studio? That would be great too. Also, it occurs to me that TYVEK does not stretch like canvas so it is much easier to apply and keep tight on the tabletop.

#15 JRWebb Pottery

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Posted 20 April 2012 - 07:34 AM

LOWE'S puts out some ideas in a newsletter every month. the first one i saw was for building a 4x8 worktable for holding all kinds of things in spaces under the tabletop. bins, shelves, drawers, all kinds of storage. even though i have perfectly good smaller tables i constructed, i envied the person whose studio could accomodate a 4x8 table built to this plan. heavy duty wheels allow for moving it while cleaning up.

my tables were built for holding not only a work surface on top but storing tools and materials underneath. a good worktop is simple drywall over plywood. the plywood is surrounded by framing and leaves a 1/2 inch depression into which the sheet of drywall sits. the drywall works in a single user studio because the user will probably take reasonable care not to ruin it by denting it or some other thoughtless thing. i cover the top with TYVEK which does not stick to the clay and is washable with a sponge. i have not had to replace my TYVEK top in 8 years. do not use canvas because it will hold clay dust and send it into the air each time it is used. think about banging a slab onto a canvas surface and imagine what the powdered clay that landed in the canvas yesterday is doing. work surfaces need to be kept CLEAN.

if you run a 2x4 or something else horizontally indented just under the edge of the top, you will provide a sturdy hanging surface for all those items that usually get put onto the nearest flat area, namely, your worktop. suddenly, the 4x8 tabletop has shrunk to a 2x2 open flat space surrounded by tools, forms, plaster bats, etc. if you store them by hanging under the top, a simple black marker will tell you where each item is under the surface. looking down at the marks you know exactly where to reach for that special form or tool you always use.

if you work with slabs you probably use a needle often. drill a hole into the framework or tape the writing end of an old pen onto the center support of your slab roller to hold your needle safely. put it back each time and it will always be available. paint the handle bright yellow so you can find it if it gets misplaced. a piece of tubing can hold rolling pins or other long items at the end of your table. there are tons of ways to make your table useful. make it tall enough so you can work comfortably standing. you can get a stool of the correct height for sitting at it.

i wish i could send you some photographs of what i mean but i will not be home to take any until after april 20.



#16 JRWebb Pottery

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Posted 20 April 2012 - 07:44 AM

(I am having trouble replying for some reason, so I am posting this as a separate post)

To oldlady: Please, please, please post some pics when you get back into the studio! Thanks!!! Jonni



#17 JRWebb Pottery

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Posted 20 April 2012 - 07:45 AM

...and thanks to everyone who has been offering advice for my perfect work table! Please keep suggestions coming!
jonni




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