For those of us who share
shop space with a car or a
washer and dryer, elbowroom
is always a problem.
This tool stand is the answer.
A 2 ft.by 6-ft. section of floor
space is all you need to store
it. When you’re ready to
work, just roll it out, lock it
down (these casters won’t
budge) and plug it in. It not
only stores three benchtop
power tools, it provides a
working platform that actually
improves their performance.
In seconds you can
shift from a chop saw station
to a huge router table and
then to a portable planer
stand with infeed and outfeed
A dead-flat torsion box is
the foundation of this tool
stand. This torsion box is a
sandwich made from two
skins of medium-density
fiberboard (MDF) and a grid
core (Fig.A). It offers incredible
strength and resistance to
sagging. It simply won’t twist
out of shape no matter how
uneven your shop floor is.
$300 buys all the material you need to
construct the ultimate tool stand.We
used 3/4-in.MDF to build ours.
The only tools you need are a circular
saw, a router, a drill, a tablesaw and
an accurate straightedge.A pneumatic
nail gun makes assembly a lot easier.
Butt joints, screws and glue make for
simple, sturdy construction.
Dimensioning the Tool Stand
There are two things to consider when
dimensioning your tool stand:
1. The height of the bed on your chop saw.
2. The height of your tablesaw.
The tool stand consists of two boxes permanently
fixed to the top to form a tool well (Fig.A).
The 4-1/2-in. height of each box was determined
by the height of our chop saw’s bed mounted on a
1/2-in.plywood base.Adjust the width of the ribs
(C5) to match the height of your own chop saw.
The 34-in.height of the tool stand is just below our
tablesaw so it can be used as an outfeed table. If you
need a different height for your saw, adjust the
length of the sides and dividers (C2) accordingly.
Accurate Machining of Parts
Any part that’s a little bit out of square or not
exactly the right size will have a ripple effect on the
outcome of this project. Sides and dividers that are
not square or exactly the same size will result in an
uneven top.Out-of-square tops and bottoms make
for poor-fitting inserts.
The Square Template
Here’s a recipe to guarantee square, perfectly
First, rough cut the tops, bottoms and
sides about 1/2-in. oversize with a circular
saw (Photo 1). Then rip all the pieces
to finish width on your tablesaw.Organize
your work so the fence is set just once for
each dimension. This guarantees that
every piece is exactly the same width.
Each piece must be crosscut perfectly
square.One surefire way to get a square
end is to use a straightedge and a router
with a flush-trim bit (Photo 2). Once
you’ve created a perfectly square 24 in.by
72-in. piece, use it as a template for routing
the other three 24 in.by 72-in.pieces.
Simply clamp the finished piece over the
rough one making sure the edges are
exactly flush and the ends to be cut overhang
about 1/4 in. Then trim the ends
with a router and a flush-trim bit.
Use a 24 in. by 24-in. piece as a template
for trimming the ends of the other
24 in. by 24-in. pieces. The smaller parts
can be accurately cut on your tablesaw or
Use the Carcass as an Assembly Table
There are two problems with building a
large torsion box:
1. It will only be as flat as the surface you
build it on.
2. It can be a bear to clamp up.
We’ve solved both of these problems
Create a flat surface on which
to build the torsion box by building
the carcass first.Assemble the carcass
top, bottom (C1) and sides
(C2) using glue and screws. The
dividers (C2) are fastened with
screws only, so the interior divisions
can be altered for future
needs. Be sure all the edges are
flush as you build.Use a perfectly
square back (D4) to square up the
cabinet. Laid on its back, the
assembled carcass now provides
the dead-flat surface needed to
build the torsion box.
The Torsion Box
The torsion box is designed to resist twisting.
It consists of a web core made up of MDF
strips notched for easy assembly (Fig. A).
To ensure each piece is notched the same,
gang cut the notches on the tablesaw (Photo
3). Glue and screw the sides (T2) and ends
(T3) first to create a frame. Assemble the
core grid (T4 and T5) inside the frame along
with the corner blocks (T6) (Photo 4).Place
the torsion top (T1) over the core grid and
tack it in place.Be sure all the edges are flush
(Photo 5). Then weight the top for clamping
pressure (Photo 6). Once the glue has set,
remove the weights, flip over the torsion box
assembly and glue on the bottom (T1).
With the torsion box complete, add the
casters and the levelers (T7). The carcass is
then screwed down onto the torsion box
Building the Boxes
There are four boxes that complete
the tool stand. Two of the boxes are
permanently fixed to the top to form
the tool well (Fig.A).The other two,
the downdraft table (Fig.C) and the
router table box (Fig.D) are used as
inserts between the fixed end boxes.
Assemble the fixed boxes with glue
and screws (Photo 7). Add plastic
laminate for a durable top. Or, skip
this step and simply treat the surface
with a couple coats of polyurethane (it’s
a great way to use up that old can that’s been
opened a few too many times).
Cut the 3/8-in. T-slots in the top with a
dado blade on your tablesaw.Attach the fixed boxes to the top and be sure to keep all
the edges flush (Fig. A).
Assemble the downdraft box from the
inside out (Fig.C).First, glue and screw
the two inside ribs (C5) to the filler
pieces (C6) to create the interior structure.
Then attach the bottom.Use the
spacer stick to attach the outside ribs.
Note: The sides of the insert boxes are
inset 1-in. so they will clear the chop
saw fence stop blocks (C8).
Drill a 3-in. hole into the center of
one filler piece for a dust collector fitting. Perfboard
makes a great template for drilling the 1/4-
in. holes in the top. Use a countersink to widen
the opening of each hole.
Router Table Box
Assemble the router table box.Note: The bottom of
the router table box is cut 2-in. narrower than the
top,making it flush with the outside ribs (Fig.D).
This allows the router table to be lifted in and out
of the well with the router attached.
The router is mounted onto a table insert that sits
flush to the top. This allows you to lift the entire
router out of the table for changing bits. Make two
8 in.by 16-in. access holes,one in the bottom of the
router table and the other in the top of the
carcass.These holes allow room for a pair of
hands to adjust the router.
The chop saw is screwed to a piece of
1/2-in. plywood sized to fit into the well. To
make positioning of the saw and the auxiliary
fences easier, line up the front edge of the saw
base with the front edge of the tool stand
well. Behind the saw, drill two 1/4-in. holes
through the base and the carcass. Mount T-nuts
to the underside of the carcass top (Fig.
A) and secure the saw with T-handle knobs.
Clamp a straightedge to your saw’s fence and
position the chop saw fences against it.Nail
the stop blocks to the fixed boxes.The planer base
is made from a piece of 3/4-in. plywood.The two
1-5/16 in. by 24-in. supports bring the planer
bed up to the same height as the fixed end boxes.
Your planer bed may vary, so size the supports
That’s it. You’re done! Now your shop will seem
two sizes larger without moving a single wall!
Click any image to view a larger version.
1. Rough cut sheet stock down to a
manageable size with a circular saw. A piece
of 1-1/2-in. foam board makes an excellent
backer.Make sure the blade is set to cut only
slightly deeper than the thickness of the stock
you’re cutting! Remember, MDF is dusty stuff,
use dust control whenever possible.
2. Make a part template from MDF. Square a straightedge on a rough-cut
end, then rout a perfectly square crosscut
with a flush-trim bit. Once you have one 24 in.
by 24-in. piece perfectly square you can use it
as a template for making other square cuts.
3. Gang all the torsion box core pieces
together and notch them on the tablesaw. Mark
the common ends of each core piece so they
can be assembled in the same orientation they
4. Spread glue on all the edges of the
torsion box core.The torsion box can only be as
flat as the surface on which it is built. Build it on the
carcass laid on its back (which will be dead flat). Lay
the bottom of the torsion box on the carcass and
assemble the core grid.The corner blocks are
attachment points for the casters.
5. Take the top onto the core grid. Be
sure all the edges are flush.
6. Clamp the top onto the grid with
weights and extra sheet stock.The extra
sheet stock helps distribute the weight of
the blocks evenly.
7. Use a 1-3/8 in. by 24-in. spacer stick to help lay out the ribs on all
the boxes. Use the 1-3/8-in. side to space the
double ribs on all the boxes and the 1-in. side for
the overhang on the two inserts (Figs. C and D).
Fig. A: Exploded View
Fig. B: Electrical Connections
Fig. C: Downdraft Box
Fig. D: Router Table Box