Author Topic: Building a cutting table  (Read 853 times)

Petruchio

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Building a cutting table
« on: February 09, 2020, 08:20:21 PM »
So I'm planning on building my own cutting table and would love to have some input from the community. Currently I'm only making shirts, but I plan on giving trousermaking a try in the future. I'm cutting mostly with siccors and sometimes with a rotary cutter on a mat.
Due to the limited space I have, I was thinking about a 100 cm high, 95-100cm wide and 2m long table, which unfortunately is accessible only from one side. I have of course never worked in a professional environment so I have no idea on what materials to use, the best dimensions, construction ect.

best regards,

Thomas

TTailor

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Re: Building a cutting table
« Reply #1 on: February 10, 2020, 12:14:22 AM »
This is my set up. I doubt many people have or need anything like it, so I am interested in other people's set up.
I do this for a living. And I rent a space for my set up. My house is much too small for it.

I have a four foot by eight foot industrial steel frame table with a lower shelf of 4x8’ 3/4” plywood.
The top is a plywood base with a framed edge. In the centre is a layer of tentest with a layer of cork on top of that. I used to cover the whole thing with paper but most recently I have covered it with vinyl. I used to have an extension piece piano hinged to the long edge so I could make the table 60” wide which allows cutting single ply wide fabric.
The cork top used to need varnishing regularly, which is why it is covered now.
The cork top allows me to use steel push pins to hold fabric and patterns in place.

The whole thing is very heavy but it comes apart for moving. The top is especially heavy though.

You might consider the width of the fabrics you use when planning your table. If you will use 60” (150cm) wide fabric folded in half, the table should be 30” wide.
There is nothing worse than having the fabric hang over the edge, it pulls the fabric on the table and. You would have to keep shifting the fabric to lay anything out.


Petruchio

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Re: Building a cutting table
« Reply #2 on: February 10, 2020, 02:13:48 AM »
Thanks TTailor. The cork inlay sounds like a great idea, I might give it a try. Concerning the material I initially thought of chipboard (or particle board) because it is much cheaper, so does anybody have an opinion on that; are there any major downsides?

I only will work with 150cm and sometimes 90cm shirting, so I will go for 95cm width to be on the safe side. This is also the most I can afford given the limited space I have.

Thanks again for your advice...

theresa in tucson

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Re: Building a cutting table
« Reply #3 on: February 10, 2020, 03:16:22 AM »
Petruchio, I don't know where you are located but you might be able to use a hollow core door.  When I had to make a houseful of curtains I purchased two 30" hollow core doors at the big box store (Home Depot) and screwed them together on the bottom and underneath with mending plates.  The doors are what is standard height for the U.S. (80") .  These were set up on sawhorses at counter height.  I was able to lay out, cut and prep my curtains without resorting to the floor.  I'm now using the same set up in the garage for my personal sewing.  I find the 60" a bit wide for what I normally work with (45") so I may scale down to two smaller doors in the future.  Also, check out Heather Lou's set up over at Closet Case Patterns blog for her cutting table.

hutch--

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Re: Building a cutting table
« Reply #4 on: February 10, 2020, 03:49:20 AM »
I did mine by building the frame with a type of angle called Dexion (steel angle with bolt holes along each edge) then put a 1 metre by 2 metre single piece of melamine faced timber on the top. Easy to keep clean and nice to cut on.
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tom bennett

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Re: Building a cutting table
« Reply #5 on: February 10, 2020, 03:52:10 AM »
For my two pennies I would say that you need a board that is about hip high, or just above, you don't want to be bending over it. Also my board is the width of cloth folded on the double. If you can have a board that is long enough to lay out all the cloth required to make a pair of trousers as you really need to lay out the whole pattern before cutting, I'm sure you realise this from making shirts.
« Last Edit: February 11, 2020, 07:45:35 AM by tom bennett »
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TTailor

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Re: Building a cutting table
« Reply #6 on: February 10, 2020, 09:10:48 AM »
Cork is expensive.
The other table i have just ( same framework) has only  the tentest top, and covered with vinyl. The tentest is fibreboard.
Chipboard is harder,  and you would want to seal it or cover it for sure, but it really depends on whether you want to be able to pin into the table surface. Tentest and cork are self healing not sure whether pinning into chipboard would work.


Schneiderfrei

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Re: Building a cutting table
« Reply #7 on: February 10, 2020, 09:23:00 AM »
Dexion sounds lavish hutch, although I have several meters of it in my shed as shelving. :)


Henry Hall

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Re: Building a cutting table
« Reply #8 on: February 10, 2020, 12:24:52 PM »
I'd second Tom's suggestion about the height of the table. For a long time I had a table that was not high enough and it is a sheer nuisance being not exactly bent-over, but not standing up straight. Awful for drafting, chalking out, cutting out. I have an adjustable table now and it's at just above hip height. Also you don't want it so wide that you're insanely stretching across to reach the other side.

Terri's table with a shelf underneath is great. I have this now (in fact I'm sure I stole the idea from her blog! Or it was mentioned here). It's just the thing for holding cut out pattern pieces and trimmed cloth as you go, but without having them strewn all over the place. I also use it to hold a job if I'm using the table for something else, because I draft, baste and even press on the same table; the latter with a lap of old wool on the surface.

I used to live in an even smaller house than now (houses are small here in NL) and I had my other table on large swivel wheels, two of which had little brakes. It meant I could have it against the wall usually and then wheel it out to make it more accessible when drafting/chalking/cutting out. I kept kicking one of the wheels accidentally because it stuck out, which was annoying. ;D
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hutch--

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Re: Building a cutting table
« Reply #9 on: February 10, 2020, 01:20:07 PM »
I agree with the height, I built mine at 1 metre so I can stand for cutting without bending over.
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Dunc

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Re: Building a cutting table
« Reply #10 on: February 10, 2020, 09:52:52 PM »
Due to the limited space I have, I was thinking about a 100 cm high, 95-100cm wide and 2m long table, which unfortunately is accessible only from one side.

Is there any way at all that you could have it accessible from all round? It will be really awkward if you have to do all of your cutting from one side. You don't really need it to be more than about 80cm wide...

Mine is made from 12mm ply, covered with vinyl flooring - I happened to end up with a checkerboard pattern because that's what the flooring shop happened to have lying around as a off cut at about the right size, but it's turned out to be quite useful to have a grid pattern on the table top that's strong enough to be visible through many shirtings. Also, I bought 4 self-adhesive measuring tapes and stuck them round the edges. Not essential, but handy... It's definitely useful to have a surface that you can pin into or use a tracing wheel on without damaging it.

As everyone else has said, around hip height seems best. For me that's about 1m.

Greger

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Re: Building a cutting table
« Reply #11 on: February 14, 2020, 01:34:01 PM »
Many cutters have drawn and cut from one side.
I recommend 2 inches wider than the cloth itself. That is, folded double. Length would be ideal coat and trousers. Or even long, coat and 2 trousers. But, many cutters have used their work bench, something like Poulins, which is small. Draw part, fold and move, put pattern back on, and draw, until finished.
Some tailors have fine art tables. Legs have been turned on a lath, fancy drawers for shears, scissors,  needles, pin, thimbles, pen, chalk, etc.
A 32 inch wide "board" (or 2 boards) whatever length can be hidden behind the couch when not in use. A couple of stands to put it on when time to use.

pelusobros

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Re: Building a cutting table
« Reply #12 on: February 15, 2020, 05:58:13 AM »
Many of the tailors I know are go for tables that are big and tall. Usually these two criteria make for a very versatile table.

Where I'm at I don't have access to many tools so I went over to a antique dealer and bought an old, large desk that works decently.

In one of the tailor shops I worked at they used steel square tubing for the base with 1/2in plywood tops. The height was around 1 meter, which was a pretty good height for me though it depends on the person to some degree. I measured the height at which I wouldn't have to bend over to cut fabric or work on the table (about 108cm) to figure out how high I wanted by table to be.

The cork table top seems like a great idea. I'm going to have to incorporate that into my next iteration of table.

tom bennett

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Re: Building a cutting table
« Reply #13 on: February 15, 2020, 06:17:32 AM »
IMHO the best top for the table is plywood, the surface has just enough grip to aid in striking. Cork after time will break down and become uneven. With plain plywood you can sew on it, chalk on it, iron (with a board cloth) on it, and write on it. But as most of us seem to be saying make sure you get the height right for you, there is no set height, just what is comfortable for you. Hours of drafting or basting can wear on your back if you have to hold yourself at some awkward tilt. Stand next to a table then put your hands above it at the height you feel comfortable at that'll give you a good idea of the correct height, it's generally hip level.
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Henry Hall

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Re: Building a cutting table
« Reply #14 on: February 16, 2020, 01:51:12 AM »
Whilst I have a table setup much like Tom describes, it has to be said that - like it's written under Terri's avatar - there is no formula! It's following a few guidelines for height comfort and then the rest is just adapted to your working preferences.

Plywood really is a winner though because it is cheap and performs as good as an expensive table top (better in terms of the grip Tom mentioned). Because it's unfinished it also works well when I use the steam iron. At first I imagined it would cause the glued ply to separate. I suppose the plywood chappies have that covered. ;D
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