Build a T-Track Assembly Table
This assembly table is built to keep everything I used most often close at hand while building and finishing! It has a "rough" side where I keep common tools, screws, clamps, joinery aids, etc.. the "finish" side carries finishes, brushes, cloths, stand offs, paint sprayers, etc. And each end holds a lot of clamps or the power tools I constantly use, my drill, driver, and brad nailer!
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Plans are currently available for this project here!
This project is almost entirely made from 1/2” plywood. So the first step was wrangling that into my shop and breaking it down. I normally have the home center break down sheets for me, but that’s when I’m working with 3/4”, which is a lot harder to wrangle by myself than 1/2”
Also, I’ve recently had some bad luck with the saw operators at the home center and I just received the True Trac Saw guide and wanted to build a project with it. They’re not a sponsor, but I do want to say I’m really liking their guide so far. It’s almost entirely aluminum, everything in made in the USA and the adaptor plates are made in my home state of Tennessee, plus they’re a small family owned business. All of those are things I think are awesome. You can find out more about them here.
The cut off of the guide is pretty clean, but I still prefer the finish and accuracy of cuts at my table saw. So I use the true trac to break everything down close to dimension and into easy to handle pieces, then cut to final size at the table saw.
I’m using 1/2” plywood to keep cost and weight down. However, 1/2” plywood is a lot less rigid than 3/4” so I’m using some different techniques in this build to make sure I don’t end up with a sagging bench. I frame out two bottoms with reinforcing stretchers to help carry the weight.
The main box will be held together with screws and pocket holes, so I drill the pocket holes before I start assembling. First is attaching the bases to the middle support. I screw them together from both sides taking care not to accidentally run the screws into each other.Next comes the sides. They’re attached the the bottom pieces with screws from the inside so they won’t be seen, and pocket holes from the middle support. I take extra time to make sure I’m assembling everything square to each other to minimize headaches later.
With the main boxes assembled I started building drawers. The concept behind the storage in this bench is to have a rough side, and a finish side. The rough side will have storage for my most commonly used cordless tools and accessories, joinery kits, clamps, glues, screws, stuff like that. The other side will have finishes, brushes, foam brushes, wiping cloths, sand paper, sanders, painters triangles, paint sprayers.. I’m sure you get the idea. Then on each end I’ll store the tools I reach for most often, and my smaller clamps.
The rough side has a vertical drawer on each end, so I install those first, before starting on the regular drawers that’ll go in the middle.
To mount the drawers I’m using full extension ball bearing slides. These are affordable if you buy bulk packs on Amazon. I like to install slides by taking them apart and screwing them to the carcass, them putting them back together and sliding the drawer into place and adding two screws in the front of the drawer. Then take the drawer out and put in more screws.
To make sure the dividers that the middle drawers will mount to are square, I cut spacer blocks and use them to keep consistent spacing from the box sides as I screw the dividers into place. I also go ahead and add the top cleats at this point. They serve three purposes. They help keep the frame square, they provide strength to the top, and they provide a way of securing the top to the base.
Then I use the same method to install the middle drawers as the vertical drawers. But my jig won’t fit for the first drawer, so I just use to offcuts to equally space the first slides and drawer off the bottom.
Despite my best efforts, sometimes things are still just enough out of alignment that a slide won’t work well like happened with this first drawer. When that happens, I just use door shims to shim out the slide until it starts operating smooth and then everything is good.
Once all the drawers were in, the “rough” side was complete. The finish side is pretty much the same except that it’s one bank of wide drawers and a cubby with slides for some small totes I like to store things in.In my small garage shop, there were two musts for this table. Leveling feet and casters. Both of which Rockler was kind enough to provide for me. I’ve purchased these casters before and they work great.
Now on to the top. I used 3/4” plywood for this for the rigidity and because I’ll be setting t-track into it. I’ll talk more about the t-track at the end of the video. A lot of folks opt to cut dados for t-track with a router. But, my table top is pretty manageable at 3’x4’ so I decided to do it at the table saw, it’s less set up time and the dust collection is way better. The trick was doing lots of test cuts to get the thickness of the dado stack and the depth of cut correct.
Then I attached the top to the base by screwing through the cleats I installed earlier. I wanted to add some edge banding to clean up the appearance of the table. I used some scrap walnut I had leftover from a previous project, I’m going to be looking at this nearly every day, so why not treat myself.
I ripped the walnut down to size and installed it using glue and brad nails. I mitered the corners to hide the end grain.You might be wondering why I didn’t install the edge banding before cutting the dadoes for the t-track. Well, I didn’t want to wait for the glue to dry to worry about hitting a brad nail with my dado blade. If I fumbled with the table top, I didn’t want to worry about breaking off the edge banding. And lastly, I thought it’d be easier to get the top aligned in place without the edge banding on because it conceals the top of the base.
The only downside to adding the edge banding later is that I had to extend the dados into the edge banding. I thought the simplest and fastest way would just be to do it by hand. So I busted out my pull saw and chisels and went to town, it only took about 10 minutes.
Now I take a pause from the top to work on the drawer fronts. I cut them all from a single piece of plywood to have a sort of continuous grain. I started on one side and worked my way across, planning for a 1/8” gap between the drawers.
I attached the drawer fronts using CA glue and activator to hold it in place, and then drove 3/4” screws from the inside to permanently attach them.
Next everything received a 220 sanding before I started installing the t-track.I installed the intersections for the t-track first, then I could cut the runs to fit. The t-track is made from aluminum which is soft enough to cut with wood tools, so I cut these at my miter station and screwed everything into place. I put the t-track in before finish so I wouldn’t have to worry about it the finish building up in the dados and interfering with the fit.
Then I masked off the t-track with blue tape and applied polyurethane, and several coats of wax to make sure nothing sticks to the top.Now for finishing touches. I used a 1 1/4” forstner bit to drill a thumb hole in the drawer fronts to open them. A backer board clamped in place helped prevent tear out on the backside.
I’m always reaching for small clamps to hold things while I assemble them or for glue ups, so I decided to put them at the side of the bench, close at hand. I use Rockler clamp racks for the f-style and quick clamps. To hold my spring clamps, I glued and screwed some small plywood offcuts to the side to clip them onto.On the opposite side, I install some sash pulls to act as hangers for for my drill, driver, and brad gun, which I use all the time.
Plans are currently available for this project here!