(5/24/10)

The Hopeful Monster Begins to Stir on its Slab

“Hopeful Monster” expresses the idea that evolution does not always proceed by gradual change to an existing type, but, on occasion,  by a radical re-ordering of its parts. Often the “monsters” produced in this fashion cannot compete with established species and vanish. However, under certain circumstances some monstrosities graduate to  “hopeful” and a new species comes into being.

Eli Tables is just such a “hopeful monster”. A radical re-imagining of job-site workpiece and tool support for the professional, and a solution for the homeowner, small business operator and do-it-yourselfer; whose occasional need does not justify dedicating scarce space exclusively to a workshop.

Eli Tables are assembled (without the use of tools) from a kit of modular parts. They are not, actually, tables per se as they do not have a “top”. The support derives from multiple parallel projecting  rails, rather than from a continuous or divided surface.

The tops of the rails stand a uniform distance above the legs and beams which support them, and can be easily slipped from one position to another.

This means that while one group of rails supports the “keeper” another group supports the “off-cut”; as the blade or cutter passes between rails. A central notch in the rails provides this same support for cross cutting.

An end to binding, tear-out and the sniping of edges at the end of a cut.

There are positions for clamping objects to the top, ends or faces of the rails at 6” intervals (by clamp orientation – alternate planes every 3”.) Those on the top can also be used with bench dogs or bolts for fastening workpieces or tools.

The “open” design provides access to the underside of workpieces. It also prevents paint, finishes, cleaners and solvents from puddling around an object being cleaned or finished.

Because Eli Tables are made from modular parts, they are expandable and adjustable to adapt to any task.

Only what is required for a particular use need be deployed. Whatever is required for any  use can be deployed. It can then be readily re-configured to optimize it for each particular operation .

The only constraint is the number of parts available to the user.

This modular design also means that individuals may combine their kits to create larger Eli Tables, together, than any individual could create alone. It also opens up the possibility of renting parts on an as needed basis.

Its superior portability derives from its modular design as well. Instead of a single heavy or awkward object on wheels, the lightweight individual parts may be dispersed into otherwise wasted space; be it on  the back of a pick-up, in a work van, or in a tightly packed garage/home workshop.

A serious failing of many mobile table saw stands (that also occurs when mounting a table saw on a vise stand) is inadequate or non-existent out-feed support. This leads to unsatisfactory cuts and exposes the operator to danger. Mounting a table saw as shown gives you a full 80″ x 30″ of continuous out-feed support and a place to run a trolley for side support.

One of the most significant features, which set Eli Tables apart, is multi-functionality. If you own a tool stand dedicated to your power miter saw, you will need another dedicated to your tablesaw (you may also need to purchase an additional accessory to provide out-feed support); and you will still require one or more pairs of sawhorses to approximate the capabilities of an Eli Table. Moreover, there is no guarantee that these different devices from different manufacturers will have compatible working heights.

In the same way that a computer’s operating system is a platform on which applications are run, Eli Tables are conceived of as a platform on which users may mount whatever custom jigs and fixtures they may devise for their particular needs.

And so it begins. The hopeful monster begins to stir on its slab.