One of my most useful jobsite tools is the easy-to-build work­table desribed in this article; in the above photo, I'm supporting a full sheet of MDO on one of my older worktables as I rip it in half to make two new tables. I’ve made several variations on the basic design over the years as I’ve fine-tuned its features. For example, my first worktables were simple frames, some with plywood tops and some without; a top skin provides a useful work surface, but it’s easier to make rips and cross-cuts on an open frame without damaging it. My current model incorporates both features and can be flipped to either side depending on the task at hand.

You can make the frames out of whatever material you have on hand, but I like to use primed 5/4x4 stock, cutting all of the pieces for both tables to length at the same time (click on the slide show to see the process). After assembling the frames, I cut sheet goods to size and fasten the tops to the frames. Again, if you have a full sheet of plywood on hand or some plywood rippings, you can use those; for the worktables shown here, I ripped a full sheet of 1/2-inch MDO in half, making it possible to assemble two 24-inch-wide tables at the same time. MDO is more expensive than standard plywood, but it’s rugged and stands up well to weather. I usually cut a few inches off the ends of the ripped panels to make the tables a little shorter than 8 feet so that they will fit more easily in the back of my box truck.

For a minimal investment in time and materials, you can build a couple of worktables that are easy to transport to and from the jobsite, and that you'll find yourself using nearly every day.

Photos by Emanuel Silva