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Strength of unsupported polycarbonate (Lexan) good enough to use as work bench a

Strength of unsupported polycarbonate (Lexan) good enough to use as work bench a

Old 08-30-13, 07:54 PM
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Strength of unsupported polycarbonate (Lexan) good enough to use as work bench a

Building a new work bench area. Home business & space is quite limited. Could really use a gigantic light table as well.

If I made a gigantic light table with the top being a large sheet of 4' x 8' polycarbonate (Lexan), could I double up and use the light table as my new work bench area?

The only thing that would put a worrisome amount of stress on the polycarbonate would be when I use my 10" blade miter saw to cut strips of wood, similar to moulding, that are 2" x 2" x several feet. Probably weighs around 30-35lbs, plus a bit of additional force when I set it down from moving it.

If I needed to have the polycarbonate sheet sitting on more of a frame than just on the edges, how much of a frame would I need to be confident I won't break it? Would a single support beam making it two unsupported 4' x 4' areas do the trick?

I know thickness of the sheet will have a lot to do with it, that's part of what I'm trying to figure out.

Also, I need the surface to be flat when not holding heavy weight, so if what I'm planning on doing will warp/bow the polycarbonate, I'd need to build enough support so it wouldn't do that.
Old 08-30-13, 08:49 PM
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Personally, I wouldn't do it but if I absolutely had to, I would keep a sheet of plywood around to lay over the table when I put the saw on it. I'm not really sure what a light table is used for, I'm guessing photography. I would be concerned about scratching up the lexan and also sawdust covering the table and everything else in the room.
Old 08-30-13, 10:00 PM
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I'm no plastics expert, but if you obtain a thick enough sheet of Lexan (like about 3/4" or 1"), I think it would be stiff enough with just a single cross-frame support at the midpoint. Just be prepared to take out a second mortgage when they tell you the price! I personally would just get a thinner piece, still pricey for the size you want, but somewhat affordable, and then install a hinged piece of plywood to drop down over the Lexan when the need arises. Remember that the Lexan will be weakened (slightly?) when you sand-blast or etch the underside to properly diffuse the light source coming through it.

Speaking of light tables--I made my own more than 30 years ago out of some scrap plywood and a sheet of 1/4" plate glass I found in my neighbor's trash one morning. For the light, I used a double circular fluorescent fixture I found at a Goodwill store for $5. Total cost of the 2' x 3' table was less than $20, and I am still using it today in my stained glass business/hobby. It sure cuts the amount of time needed to cut out glass pattern pieces (no more cutting out individual paper templates, just work directly off the master patterns placed on the table!), and I installed it on a rolling cart that easily rolls to wherever I need it.
Old 08-31-13, 02:47 AM
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Not so much a light box, but I have used tempered sliding glass doors, still in the frame for grow box lids for wifey to seed things early in the year. Nothing like lexan or glass will take the punishment you plan on putting on it with a miter saw, so I'd make other arrangements for that and dedicate the glass table for it's intended purpose.
Old 09-01-13, 01:13 PM
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Polycarbonate scratches pretty easily, I wouldn't use it for a workbench surface.

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