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Flip Top Tool Stand


The Story of a Stand...

So I bought one of these...

But my shop is not very big...


Some of the Tools/Supplies Used In This Project: (Affiliate Links)

So I decided I needed to build a fliptop stand to do this...

(Side Note: It seems my sense of humour confuses people -- many people seemed to be puzzled by this photo. YES, this photo is just a flipped upside down version of the previous photo. The joke was that I want to build a fliptop stand which will flip the planer upside down when not in use, so I just flipped the photo as an introduction to the idea. Just ignore me and read on...)

I had read about fliptop tool stands on various forums, magazine articles, and other places. The concept is a tool stand with a top on a pivot. One tool is mounted (bolted into place) on each side of the top. By flipping the top over you can use each tool in turn, but you are only occupying the space of one tool.

Most people build stands like this to hold two tools. Like a miter saw and a planer, or an Oscillating Spindle Sander and a grinder. Things like that. At the time of building I did not have second tool, but I wanted to build the stand so it is ready for that.

The first step was to turn one sheet of 4x8 paint-grade maple plywood into this...

Note: I am not providing detailed plans in this article, but here is a rough parts list. All parts are 3/4" (19mm) plywood.

Part Size (WxL) Quantity
Side 23-3/4" x 29-1/2" 2
Top 23-3/4" x 25-3/4" 2 (glued together)
Bottom 23-3/4" x 27-1/2" 1
Front/Back 6" x 27-1/2" 2
Wheel Mount Blocks 5" x 5" (approx) 4

One thing that puzzled me with most of the other fliptop stand designs that I came across in my research is that people would double-up the plywood for the sides. I did not understand why, as plywood standing on edge is really, really strong. I use just one thickness of plywood for the sides in my design. I did, however, add a narrow 1-5/8" strip on each edge, as you can see in the photo. This gives more strength, and also helps remove the wiggle. Seven years of regular use have proved to me that one thickness of 3/4" plywood for the sides is completely sufficient.

One final note in this section is the cutout in the top of the sides. This is where the axle (for flipping the top) will be mounted in blocks. This is explained in detail a bit later.

Here is the axle for the pivot top...

I bought a 36" rod of 1/2" steel, and cut it down to fit. I made the groove in the two top pieces using a 1/2" roundover bit in my router. I picked up this idea from a ww'ing forum -- some plans just have a bolt from the side into the top to serve as the pivot point. That doesn't seem very robust. An axle all the way across the top is much stronger, I think.

And speaking of the top, here it is being glued...

For the top, I chose to use two thicknesses of 3/4" plywood. This is needed for strength, stability, and to give a thick top for bolting on the tools.

After a few more hours in the shop we're almost there. Here is the carcass, now assembled and finished.

I put three coats of Flecto Varathane waterbased finish on the top. First, I had it available, and second, I thought it would give it a nice protective coating. But that was too much work for the rest of the carcass. On that I just wiped on , and buffed out, (wax on, wax off!) a coat of walnut oil. I happened to have a small can of it that I had picked up some months back and then decided not to use. It spread on quickly and easily, and buffed up with a satiny danish-oil feel. Gives a nice warm tone to the pale plywood.

The axle is set into some hardwood -- white oak in this case -- rather than just being set into holes in the plywood. This should be stronger, and not only that, it is easily replaceable. Earlier, I cut a notch out of the top of the sides (which you can see in the previous photos) to accommodate this. A bit of wax was dabbed into each hole to help the axle spin smoothly.

(Note that after seven years of use there is no discernible wear or slop in the white oak mounting blocks.)

These blocks are just held in place with two screws from the inside of the cabinet, hence the T-shape. Therefore, they are easy to remove for any needed maintenance. Also, it isn't easy to see in the photo, but the central part of the blocks are intentionally a bit thicker than the cabinet sides, so that the flip top is held away from the sides to prevent scraping. (They protrude about 1/16" - 3/32" on the inside.)

Here's the flip top in action...

All I really need to do now is put on some more latches to hold the top steady (only has one so far, to try out how well it holds), and then bolt the planer into place.

Here is a closeup of one of the latches. I have two of these installed on opposite corners. This started out as a simple test -- I had these in my spare-hardware drawer and it was easy to screw them onto the table and drill a hole in the edge of plywood there to receive the pin. Most other plans that I'd seen on the net had various forms of locks and latches that clamped things down pretty tightly. These were cheap and easy and I figured I would replace them someday...

... However, seven years later I have not seen any need to change them. These work fine. Yes, there is a slight bit of wiggle possible in the top, since these do not clamp down. But I have not found that to be any sort of a problem in my use of this fliptop stand.

All done!

Here's the planer bolted into place and hanging down...

I have not decided for sure, but I may also want to fabricate some handles for the flip top.

Here is a closeup of dust port on the back of my planer. The DW735 is already a pretty big planer, which requires a large fliptop stand. But, this dust port makes it even bigger. If space was a huge concern, I estimate that the fliptop could be built 3-4" narrower if you were willing to remove this attachment each time you flipped the planer.


...and that's all for the basic flip top stand building diary.

How It Works...

First, you lock the wheels. Next, grab it by the handles on the top of the planer ... well, right now they're at the bottom ... anyway, you grab them and give it a heave-ho and up it comes.

Make sure you've got control of the thing or it'll just keep right on flipping. (No, that has not happened to me. I have been careful right from the start, every time I flip the unit. Make sure you are careful also!)
Then you throw the latches and Bob's Yer Uncle.
The stand seemed pretty stable as it was. But I still took the advice of previous stand builders and threw a 50lb bag of sand inside the base to provide stability.

In seven years of use, this has proven to be unnecessary.

Back when I had only one tool mounted, the fliptop was still quite stable. With two tools, it is more stable. I have tried the unit without the sand, and it makes no difference -- well actually that isn't true, the unit is then 50lbs lighter so it is a bit easier to move around the shop.

If I were to build it again, now that I know how stable it is, I think I would try to design the base differently. I could easily fit a shallow drawer in the space. But on the other hand, the short front and back pieces do provide side-to-side stability, so you would need to be sure that there was some sort of a crosspiece above such a drawer.

Now, the problem for anyone else with a DW735 planer is this thing.

This is the included Allen Key for removing and installing the top cover and the planer blades. This key sits in a hole in the top of the planer. So what do you think happens when you flip the planer over? Right.

For now I've just left it sitting inside the base with the sand.

Later Work...

Soon after building this fliptop stand I acquired a compound miter saw. It found a home on the other side of my fliptop stand.

With the black handles on the DW735, I have found no need to add any handles to the top itself. I use those handles when flipping the top. As well, the planer outweighs the chopsaw by quite a margin, so it is still important to always keep control of the planer while flipping.

Here is the planer on the bottom and the miter saw on top.

As you can see in these photos I have managed to make use of the space in the bottom of the stand for some shallow storage.

Fixing The Key...

As mentioned above, there is the problem of the hex key tool. There is a nice spot on the top of the planer where the hex key is supposed to stay. This is good design in that it always keeps the key with your tool, so it is right where you need it.

But for a flip-top stand, it is also a bad design, since when you turn the top over, the tool will just fall out. I lived with this for the past seven years and have been fortunate (so far) that I have not lost the hex key. Still, there had to be a better way.

The hex key has some embedded magnets on the top of the handle, to use when removing the planer blades. I got to thinking that it would be nice if I could somehow place a magnet to hold the hex key in place...

I removed the top of the planer to investigate just how the hex key fits in the inner workings of the planer. I noticed two things. First, there is a lot of open space inside the planer, with lots of room around where the hex key hangs. (This is indicated with the red arrow in the photo at left.) Second, on the underside of the top, there is a plastic rib that is right beside the hole where the hex key hangs through the top. (This is indicated with the blue arrow in the photo.)
I realized that I could cut a piece of scrap plywood to size and fit it under the lid. I could screw through that rib into the plywood to hold it in place. I could also embed a rare earth magnet in the plywood using some epoxy. Now, when I insert the hex key in the hole, it should slide along the piece of plywood, past the rare earth magnet, which is strong enough to hold it in place.

Pictured here is the piece of plywood after a bit of creative cutting and drilling, and the insertion of the magnet. The drilling was to relieve the top, to leave room for the thicker part of the hex key. The cut-out curve on the bottom is to avoid some obstructions inside the planer which I realized after a test fit.

Here is the piece of plywood fastened in place to the underside of the lid, with the hex key in place. Everything fits as planned.
Here I have the lid arranged to protrude off the front of the workbench, showing how the hex key stays in place and does not fall out.
And finally, here it is installed on the planer and hanging upside down. I have run a few boards through the planer and there is no indication of extra noise or vibration from having this installed.

PLEASE NOTE: The interior of the DW735 planer is quite sealed up. There is a dust shroud in there to direct all the chips to the blower fan/dust port. There are no exposed blades. I believe that there is no realistic risk to my planer with this modification. But if you attempt to copy this, you do so at your own risk!


Thanks for reading!

See Also:

Aging Cherry With Lye

Mobile Tablesaw Workstand

Plywood veneer Repair

Disc Sander Build

Fixing My Tablesaw Stand