Jump to content

Building A Work Table


Recommended Posts

I have my kiln. I have my clay. Now all I need is a work table. My handy husband is going to build me one, but first I need some advice, please. What material should I make the top of the table out of? I plan to cover it with canvas, which I bought at a ceramics supply. Should I just use plywood? Beaverboard/high density fiberboard? Does anyone use plaster under their canvas, or would that dry out my clay too fast? For the time being, I also have to use my work table as my wedging surface because I don't have enough space for two tables. Any advice is much appreciated. Thanks in advance.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Plywood would be fine.  Many here will advise against canvas, as it can create quite a bit of dust.  I'm on the fence with canvas myself.  The main reason artists use canvas, is because it's a lightweight material, that can be put over nearly any surface, and the clay won't stick (As much).  It also does a good job of helping to dry the clay.

 

Plaster under the canvas is another common choice.

 

Personally, I'm thinking of looking into cement board.  Sturdy surface that I can put over my wood workbench, porous to absorb water, and doesn't hold in dust like canvas can.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Plywood would be fine.  Many here will advise against canvas, as it can create quite a bit of dust.  I'm on the fence with canvas myself.  The main reason artists use canvas, is because it's a lightweight material, that can be put over nearly any surface, and the clay won't stick (As much).  It also does a good job of helping to dry the clay.

 

Plaster under the canvas is another common choice.

 

Personally, I'm thinking of looking into cement board.  Sturdy surface that I can put over my wood workbench, porous to absorb water, and doesn't hold in dust like canvas can.

I am definitely going to use canvas. I am not very concerned about dust since I will be working in the garage. I do mostly slab building, and need the canvas to keep the clay from sticking. I am interested in hearing more about using cement board. The idea had crossed my mind.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I work in my garage as well and I have canvas on my wedging tables. I don't particularly like it and I plan on replacing it with another surface eventually. The one thing I will recommend is that if you do go with canvas before your wedge on it, take a sponge and wet it down so that when you wedge your not sitting there breathing in clouds of dust as you use the table. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I work in my garage as well and I have canvas on my wedging tables. I don't particularly like it and I plan on replacing it with another surface eventually. The one thing I will recommend is that if you do go with canvas before your wedge on it, take a sponge and wet it down so that when you wedge your not sitting there breathing in clouds of dust as you use the table. 

Great tip. Thanks.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For wedging I like plaster -for work surface I like formica as it cleans up easy with water. You can paint plywood as well with good paint. A smother high quality plywood is best and it costs more. Not CDX.

You can order sheet formica at a local lumber company (not big box) and glue it down yourself-this makes the best surface for glazing waxing and working for me. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I like formica or painted wood surfaces for the table as they are easy to clean. Then I use ware boards, newspapers, or sheets of canvas laid on top of these surfaces. This way I can have the best of both worlds. 

I had the privilege of watching my friend develop her pottery studio from the first year when all she had was a tiny corner of her garage with wheel and kiln; so I saw the problems it caused her to have a canvas covered table. Lots of dust while working (not about the mess, it's really bad for you to inhale!) and also if you use any darker clay bodies you have to use a ware board for lighter clay anyway. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

+1 on NOT having canvas. It really is about breathing in the dust (though also produces far more than you'd imagine which settles on all your flat surfaces, jars, containers etc. and just makes for a mucky working environment.)

 

I work on a wooden table - surface has several coats of satin varnish. I use small ware boards and pieces of dry wall for building on and a plaster slab for wedging & rolling.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am like Mark. I wedge on a small plaster topped table 2' x 3' next to my wheel can recycle most thrown scraps immediately as I work. My work tables are formica. One is from the School of business garage sale. The other I built to match the height and is on wheels. Easy to clean.I taught in a studio with canvas covered tables. I soaked and sponged them down regularly. They were very old 50+ years wooden tables ,but very sturdy. The canvas does generate dust.  Another concern would be the height of the table. I am a short person. My wedging table is for my height. My work tables are a good height for what I am using them for. Glazing am decorating.I built a storage shelf underneath the 4 x 6' table and store plaster molds under there. Then 5 gallon buckets on wheels are on the floor under that. I recently added a larger birch plywood top for my wheel and painted it. Part of Spring cleaning.Organized tools and brushes in 3 work stations using sections of a shoe storage. 

 

Marcia

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I use wooden banquet tables with formica tops. I then use drywall wareboards  with the edges taped off to build on. Wedging table has canvas top and is outside. Some day I will weld up a table and pour in a plaster top for a nice wedging table.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My work tables are 3/4" MDF with 5-6 coats of linseed oil. I've had them in my studio for 12 years, with a couple dozen students using them every week. You shouldn't leave puddles of water on them, but if you do and get a rough spot you can just sand it down and re-oil it. They're hard as a rock, but still porous so clay doesn't stick too badly.

 

Whatever you use, make sure it's thick. At least 3/4", and well supported underneath.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

use the canvas for something else.  it is deadly after a few years.  everyone thinks they will keep it clean but that does not happen.  

 

you are embarking on a very long journey with a great many decisions that will be necessary along the way.  try to always go with safety in mind.  you only get one set of lungs unless someone else dies.

 

the height of the table is a big consideration in long term comfort.  you will avoid working at a too high or too low table.  if you are planning to wedge clay, build a separate shorter, smaller, slanted downward table for that purpose.  if you plan to use dark and light clays, prepare two tops for that wedging table.

 

the sturdiness of the work table comes from good construction.  4x4 legs, a set-in H stretcher with the long part of the H parallel to the long side of the table.  a sheet of 3/4 birch plywood will last your working lifetime with a little care for about $40.   covering it with Tyvek, not canvas, will let you wash it down with plain water at times it needs it.  the Tyvek will last many years unless you try cutting on it carelessly.  build your table as large as your studio allows.  sit in a chair at the height your body thinks is comfortable, and raise your feet to a comfortable position as though you are resting them on the H. measure that distance from the floor and build the stretcher there.

 

 many times you will use the table for other than directly working with clay, pricing, packing, sorting, looking at what just came out of the kiln, writing glaze notes, etc.  sitting will happen so get a good chair.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'll throw in with Neil, hardboard is a great surface for working with clay. Also I would recommend a separate wedging table with a thick plaster surface. Mine is 3 inches thick and 24x24 inches wide. I have 2 inches of concrete on the bottom and an inch of plaster on the top. I built it at just the height I need to be able to put my full weight downward into the wedge, rather than work only from the shoulders. Since the wedging table is separate, you can really slam the clay down  without shaking up everything else. I can also use it to roll slabs, using my trusty rolling pin.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

wedging block:  Use an smooth ~2-inch thick 18 inch square concrete stepping stone for wedging it is less weighty than plaster and just as good.  I place mine on a non-skid drawer liner matt and store the stone on a rack under the table when not it use. 

 

The table should be sturdy and should not "bounce" when you throw a slab down on the table.  The surface can be raw wood, concrete, metal, plywood, HardiePlank, or steel.  I prefer raw wood.  Beware of home center MFD, as most is not water resistant.  Insist on MEDEX or better for MFD.    Wheels are good, if they are sturdy. 

One table is made from pine 2x4 uprights and 2x8 planks glued together for a top.  The other table is made from a kitchen cabinet leftover from a house renovation with a plywood top bolted on. If I want to roll clay I spread out a small table cloth of heavy fabric or a thin sheet of craft foam.  I mostly work directly on the wood table top  or on newsprint or kraft paper.  Canvas is a mess to clean.  Paper is recycled, or becomes fuel.

 

LT

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is what my work table looks like. It has a table top which I stand at. I sit down to throw so I enjoy standing up to do everything else. If I get tired of standing I can always use a stool to sit at the same height.

 

There are 2 different height of wedging tables. One is for small stuff which is the higher one, and the lower one is for wedging large amounts 15-20# of clay. It is much lower so I can put my back into leaning into the clay.  There is also a table below the table to make it more sturdy and to store bags of clay.

 

I just ripped off my canvas as I am going to replace it with something better, tired of cleaning it all the time. 

 

I have found this table to be the center of everything I do. It is right beside my wheel so I can literally reach for balls of clay from my wheel sitting down, it is also about 2 feet away from my kiln so when I am unloading pots they get placed on top of the table for examination. 

 

I bought all the lumber and screws at home depot, I think the final cost was around 75$. Just an idea to go off of. I don't know what you plan on doing but you asked about a table so here is a table to ponder.

post-63346-0-26093100-1464918394_thumb.jpg

post-63346-0-26093100-1464918394_thumb.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I built mine using cement board for the top.  It works quite well as it absorbs and dries without issues.  But it needs to be supported or it can crack if you do slam wedging like I do; if you don't slam wedge no need to heavily web.  I then cover this with canvas.  When building your bench  take care to pay attention to the final height and depth of the top as too high, too low, too deep or too shallow will cause you ergonomic issues.  Also, design it so that you can use the space underneath.  I am in the process of building a insert cabinet that will hold kiln shelves when not is use and drawers for chemicals and tools.  Also figure out your lighting as the best bench in the dark is not much use; add a power strip as well and you good to go.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I use a heavy wooden workbench I got from SAMs Club. I only have room for this one work table. It's the perfect height to stand at and work but too high to wedge so I have a thick wooden step I pull out and stand on to get me to the right height to wedge. I currently use canvas on half the table for wedging, quickly firming slabs and rolling coils. I hang it out in the rain every couple of weeks and inbetween pray it down with water and use a paint scraper to remove any build up and there is but there's not much most of the time. I do want to try tyvek instead just need to find some wide enough.

 

Since it stands in the middle of the floor I did add shelves under the table for my plastic shoe boxes full of tools and supplies, as well as narrow shelves on 3 sides for Underglazes, slips, Engobes and glazes. I added a lip on the far side and placed my tools in pencil boxes along it so I can't accidentally knock them off.

 

It's really interesting to read what everybody else does here, very educational.

 

T

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes, make sure your table(s) are for your height.  Love the concrete step idea!!  I ditched my canvas a few years ago, just way too much dust in the air, even with constant cleaning.  I use ware boards for creating work, or the formica table top (easy to clean) but now Old Lady has me hooked on printers blankets.  I have one for wedging red/brown clay and one for white clay.  She was right about getting them for free.  The clay does not stick to that material and wipes off easily and is easy to take outside and hose off as well. 

Oh yes, and a couple of adjustable stools that slide under tables......

Roberta

 

I like Joseph's table system also. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest JBaymore

At the college we use 3/4" MDF for work table tops.  Porous, non-stick, and works great.  Stands up to repeated use and abuse well.

 

In my personal studio...... 3/4" plywood covered with 1/8" Masonite.  I replace the sheets of Masonite every couple of years.

 

Separate plaster slab wedging table (with soil heating elements imbedded in the plaster cast for low-temp drying).

 

NO CANVAS on working table surfaces.  Dust generator.

 

best,

 

........................john

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 6 months later...

I've used melamine as a top for an outfeed table for my tablesaw and a top for my router table which seconds as a side table for my table saw. Works really well.

 

For clay I believe MDO would be better, for glazes something with a formica top.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.