Laundry Table/Grow Light

in DIY,For the Garden,For the House,Garden

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Four years ago I built a laundry-folding table from 3/4″ plywood and 2×4′s with a top surface of large self-adhesive floor tiles. I added casters to make it easy to move around and it has been a helpful addition to the laundry room.
One day recently I was looking at the thing and had an idea. What if I hung the spare shop light under the top shelf and filled the bottom shelf with seedling trays?
I set it up and it looks like it might work. This is the first season I will try this, so I can’t say it’s a time-tested system, but the concept is pretty basic.


I’m including the instructions for building the table. It is hip-high and the smooth vinyl top is water-resistant and snag-proof. Customize it for your space and height and uses (if you want a very heavy-duty version, use even thicker plywood and additional supports).
One possible weakness for my grow light system is that some recommendations are for four lights for growing plants and my shop light is a two-bulb one. It will be brighter than my windows, though, so I am hoping for the best. It can be fitted with specialty grow lights, but I’m using a light I already had. I will provide updates on seedling health once I get some seeds started.

Laundry Table
39″ high, 48″ long, 18″ wide

Materials:
3′x4′ of 3/4″-plywood
12′ of 2″x4″s
3′ of 2″x2″
carpenter’s glue
wood screws
4 casters (optional, and if you choose not to use casters, adjust the height of the legs for your purposes)
3ct. of 18″ square self-adhesive floor tiles
all-purpose caulk
paint or finish of choice

Optional for the grow light: one 4′ fluorescent shop light fixture with one bright and one cool bulb, or, a grow light of your own size and choosing
cord to wire the shop light, wire nuts, electrician’s tape
2 large screw hooks
wire or chain for suspending the fixture from the underside of the shelf

Cutting list:
For the top, cut a piece of 3/4″ plywood 18″ x 48″.
For the lower shelf, cut a piece of 3/4″ plywood 18″ x48″.
Cut 4 legs from the 2×4′s, each 36″ long.
Cut 2 shelf supports from the 2×2′s, each 18″ long.


Putting it together:

1. Using the 2×4′s as a guide, cut out notches in the four corners of the lower shelf where the legs will be inset (see diagram above and detail below).


2. Measure 6 3/4″ from the end of each leg and mark. This is where the TOP of the shelf supports will be placed. Predrill pilot holes for your screws and glue and screw the shelf supports to the legs.


3. With the help of an assistant, prop the top shelf on top of the leg assemblies. Line up the tops of the legs with the corners of the table top. (See top photo). Drill pilot holes through the top of the table into the legs, glue surfaces to be joined, and attach the top to the legs. Make sure the screw heads are flush with or slightly dimpled into the surface of the table so they will not interfere with the vinyl tiles later on. Countersink as necessary.
4. Set the table carefully on its side. Place the lower shelf into position on top of the shelf supports. From underneath, screw (and glue) the shelf supports into the lower shelf. Use clamps as necessary. Return to an upright position.
5. Sand and caulk and prime and paint or stain. Cut one of the three 18″ self-adhesive floor tiles in half. If you would like a more symmetrical table top, this short tile can be placed in the center and the other two tiles can flank it. I just left the short one on one end because it was easier for me (less chance of getting one tile wonky and having a gap somewhere).
6. Drill the appropriate holes for the casters and tap them in.

This concludes the instructions for the laundry table. If a grow light option is desired, here are the directions:

1. Wire a shop light fixture with a cord that can be plugged into an electrical receptacle near the laundry cart. If you don’t know how to do this, instructions can be found in most do-it-yourself manuals or you can find an electrician or handyperson to help.
2. Install heavy duty screw hooks underneath the top shelf of the laundry table at the location corresponding to the hanging holes in the top of the light fixture you have chosen. (Be sure you do not screw all the way through the top of your table!)
3. Position hanging hardware on the top of the light fixture. It is helpful to have a chain or wire which you can adjust to varying lengths to accommodate the growth of your seedlings.
4. Hang the light and plug it in. The light can be removed and stored when you aren’t growing plants indoors and the laundry table restored to it’s former job.

Here are some resources for starting plants from seed:

http://faq.gardenweb.com/faq/seed/

http://www.vegetablegardeningguru.com/seed-starting.html

And using grow lights:

http://www.uaf.edu/ces/publications/freepubs/HGA-00432.html

http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/lights/#search

Helpful resources for determining when to start what:

http://www.chestnut-sw.com/growform.htm (This has a great tool for calculating all the dates for starting seeds and planting out in your region).

http://www.harvestwizard.com/2009/01/seed-starting_vegetables_in_ja.html



{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Nick Koch August 3, 2009

Thank you for the great information on how to build a nice seedling table. People all around the country are starting to grow their own vegetables again. People are starting to take control of the foods they eat.

2 Tomato Lady August 3, 2009

Thanks, Nick. Very true.

3 j4y January 22, 2011

Thanks for writing this up. I’m on my way to home depot to get the supplies now.

4 DIY @ 57 June 26, 2011

I have a fluorescent light fixture I just took down and saved, hoping to make a grow light with it. Combined with some leftover plywood, 2×4′s and floor tiles I already have (just finished a DIY kitchen reno), I am going to give this a try. I even have some casters that I picked up at a garage sale. Maybe I can make it without spending any extra money at all. Thanks for a great dual function idea and the easy to follow plans. (I was also wishing for a folding table to put in laudry room.)

5 Patricia March 10, 2012

I already had a metal shelving unit and my husband brought a fixture from work they were throwing out. You will need to get that light closer to your plants. Max distance from plants would be 8 inches. And you want it on for about 14-16 hours if you don’t have any sunlight on them. Good job though.

6 Lisa December 27, 2012

Patricia? I always heard it had to be more like 3″! I guess there is no right or wrong, just what works for your plants. Maybe the difference is the bulbs. For school my son used the curly kind of gro-lights, and I have seen just plain old shop lights, and lately strings of LED Christmas lights.

7 Lisa December 27, 2012

I meant to say, thanks for all the links! I need all the help I can get.

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