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Hooray! Finally! This was another one of the jobs that was planned and started just after we moved in a year ago, and finally got completed this past summer break.

When I knew I was going to have enough room for a proper crafting space, one of the things I wanted was a cutting table, at the correct height, that was moveable so I could push it against the wall to be out of the way, and pull it out so that I could move around it as I cut. Honestly, being able to do that makes SUCH a difference to how easy it is to cut something out, and accurately!

I did a lot of googling of DIY cutting tables and I settled on using IKEA KALLAX units – as used to be Expedit. This meant I could use the table as my stash storage at the same time, a very necessary thing let me tell you. So we bought the units, and got the plywood cut to size, and bought the castors, and then it all sat in a pile for a year. I was using it as stash storage and cutting space, it just wasn’t all connected and I couldn’t pull it out from the wall.

So finally I painted the tops – it’s just ‘vivid white’ in dulux, because that’s what matched the units best. I thought about staining it to match my wall shelves but I thought having it white would make it easier to see when tracing, etc, which has proved the case. I did two coats of that and then for the top I sanded it and did another one coat of polyurethane. It probably could have done with two but I was impatient! The wood is just plywood, we bought a large sheet and had the cut shop where we bought it cut it. I put the KALLAX units together and measured the width and depth. I got one piece cut to exactly that size, and one a little bit larger. There was also another bit left over and I’ve thought of a couple of uses for that so I kept it.

Once the wood was all ready, we put the castors on.

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We just screwed right into the plywood without drilling, although we did use an electric screwdriver to make it easier. You can see we originally put one in the middle – I could only find five of the castors but then the other one turned up. I think I might go back and buy one more and put one in the middle again because I think it rolled easier when there was one there.

Next was to attach the units to the base. I was originally going to use no more nails, but then I realised if I did that I was committing to alway and forever having this unit in my room! It’s too big to take out – it might fit out the door but I don’t think it would fit down the hallway! So instead I used 3M tape. It’s still pretty solid but there’s slightly more chance of being able to take it apart and still reuse the bits, if need be.

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This bit took some maneuvering and was definitely a two person job.I put the strips on, and then took off the covering tape. Then we stood the unit on one edge, with a person on each side, to line it up to the edge of the base. Then the person on the inside slooooowly lowered it while the other person kept it lined up. We did it that way for all three units (only this photo because it was tricky so I didn’t pause to take more, sorry).

I was hoping I’d be able to use the third piece of plywood as the top, then add some spacers and have the proper top on top of that. That way I’d have a niche to stash things while I wasn’t working on them. But once we got it this far it was clear that it was already the perfect height, so I abandoned that plan.

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Once all the units were on, we wiggled them out a bit and I stuck some tape in between them to keep them together. Then I placed the tape on the top. I put lots on because the base will have gravity helping it stay down, but the top is where most of the pushing and pulling will be so I wanted it firm

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Then we put the top on, using the same ‘slow lowering from an edge’ technique.

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As you can see, the units are not quite as wide enough for them to line up. So we deliberately left that gap, more on that later. You can also see that the top is wider all around than the bottom, to give more working room. We lined it up flush with the back so that it can be pushed all the way against the wall, though.

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I was really worried that the cubes wouldn’t line up properly, because I need to be able to slide them all the way in and out, but they did!

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I sorted through the stash and now it all fits! Well, in the cubes and also in the drawers next to it. I am debating adding wallpaper or something to the back of that, and I’ll need to paint the exposed bit of the base of my cutting table. I threw out a whole bag of scraps too small to do anything with, and a whole bag of muslins for garments I’ve already fitted and made. Yikes! Why do I keep these things? Here’s the unit from the side – sorry the photos aren’t great, it’s a bit of a small space to work in (and a tad messy. Real life, y’all).

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The final touch was today. I wanted hooks for the side but I couldn’t find any that were small enough for my purpose. So I bought some trim – it happens to be Tasmanian oak because that’s the one I found that was the right size. I cut it to size, gave it a quick oil with linseed oil, and banged some nails in. I used more 3M tape to stick it on to the side. One of my rulers didn’t have a big enough hole to be able to hand off the nail, so I used a bulldog clip to hang it. Then I put four cup hooks above it. Now my rulers and cutting implements are off the table! I might not keep the measuring tape there, I think it might become a cat toy if I do…

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This is a functioning room I use every day, and the table does tend to become a dumping ground. However, I have things set up so there are proper places for everything, and I can clear it off quickly when I want to use it. I have already been using this a bunch (garments which are almost finished and will be blogged soon, hopefully, barring disasters) and it makes it so so so much easier to cut things out, and trace. I am so pleased with how this turned out!

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9 thoughts on “DIY cutting table

    1. Thanks! I thought about an adjustable one but in the end I couldn’t go past the storage. I do need the space, so having it double as something helped justify it. And I did wonder just how often I would want to be adjusting it up and down anyway, knowing me I’d end up just leaving it one height and being too lazy to adjust it! Especially if I had to move machines off of it, etc.

      I would recommend having it either mobile or be able to move out from the wall, it’s made a massive difference.

  1. Awesome! I’ve been planning to make something very similar to this but we’re planning to buy a house sometime this year, so I’m waiting until after we move. Yours looks so good and so useful!

    1. I was planning mine for like a full year before we moved! There wasn’t room for it in my last place, and of course I didn’t want to have to move it… I did some more cutting out last night and honestly it took half as long. And my knees didn’t hurt. It was great!

      Will you post yours when you do make it? I’d love to see it!

  2. This table is wonderful! I’ve been collecting ideas for cutting tables for when I finally get a bigger place, and I think yours just took the lead. I already have a Kallax in our kitchen that our apartment-sized dryer sits on. Once we have a bigger place, I hope we’ll have a regular dryer and then the Kallax will be mine to do what I please with it. I use my sewing desk to cut right now because I have so many chronic pain issues that cutting on the floor is absolutely a no-go. But it still hurts my back because it’s not the right height, plus I have to drag my heavy sewing machine off of it. I cannot wait until we can move so I can copy this exactly!

    Oh, and I also liked your living room shelves in your prior post – we wanted to do that for my books when we moved into our current place because it’s so small that we thought we could put these shelves above the sofa, which would free up actual floor space. It turned out that the sofa wall is a firewall made out of concrete, though, so it would have been a major project to drill into it and use the proper anchors. We could have done it – Ben knows how – but we were worried our landlord would wonder what the jackhammering noise was because he lived in the building at the time, so we nixed it.

    1. Thank you! I’m glad I could contribute to your plans! That’s why i blogged it – I spent a lot of time collecting ideas before I built mine, so I thought mine might be useful to someone else.

      I don’t have pain issues as such – just the usual ‘I work in an office and sit in one position all day’ issues. I actually found it really incredible how much better having a cutting table at the right height it. Before it was all together but without the castors, so a couple of inches too low and I couldn’t move all the way around it. Half the time I still cut on the floor because it was less annoying. But now I am not sore at ALL after cutting something out! It’s a bit depressing that that’s so exciting 😛 And I have my sewing desk set up so I never have to lift them – it doubles as a computer desk so I do have to move stuff around but I can slide it rather than lift. It does make a big difference. I feel very lucky to have a space that makes that possible, I always had awkward spaces before where I just had to work around constraints. Still, having a dedicated sewing space at all is pretty luxurious.

      I probably wouldn’t have been game to drill into the concrete either! It’s a big undertaking, and I would have been very nervous about the landlord! My cousin has wall shelves from shoulder height up all the way around her apartment – it’s a really great use of space and it looks great. Our house is pretty big (I am very spoiled, and feel very lucky about it) but it’s always good to use space sensibly and get the most out of it. My last place was small but the walls were poor quality brick and it was so crumbly I was too scared to put anything too heavy into it! I hope you can get a big place next, with good shelving options!

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