Keep Your Assembly Table Clean With a Roll of Paper

When we work by ourselves we often see things one way. We all develop a certain value for this or that and place a lower priority on doing this or that. So bringing in an outside perspective will often times shine light on simple areas for improvement that you may not have thought about. This is a perfect example of that.

I recently built a solid woodworking workbench that had several glue-up stages. Most of which resulted in a massive amount of glue squeeze out spilling all over my assembly table. The simple solution? Put paper down before you glue. I’ve seen it done hundreds of times on other assembly tables but never took the notion to implement it on mine. Not until friend Nick Ferry came over and made me realize how crazy simple and quick a paper roll holder would be to make.

After a quick trip to a supply store we had a 35” roll of brown paper, a 3/4” dowel, and a simple plan to get it built.

paper roll holder (1)

I had a scrap block of plywood that was perfect for this. I believe it was 62” long and all we needed was one 6” wide strip. In the video I said we were using 1/2” plywood but I was mistaken. The piece that I measured and Nick cut was actually 3/4” plywood. Either way, 1/2” plywood would work fine. The plywood I’m using is PureBond hardwood plywoood from Home Depot. It’s my go-to plywood because I’ve had great results with it staying flat in my shop, it’s made in the USA, and it’s formaldehyde free.

paper roll holder (2)

The single 6” wide strip needed to be cut into three parts. A 37” piece for the top and two 9” pieces for the sides. I made these cuts at my miter saw station.

paper roll holder (3)

Each side piece needs a 1” hole cut for the dowel to rest in while holding the roll of paper. A slightly larger hole, such as 1-1/8”, would actually be a little bit better for this.

paper roll holder (4)

Whatever direction ends up being forward, the opposite direction is where the loading slot should be. As you can see the slot should connect with the top of the dowel hole and should be 1/8” up from what will be the bottom of the hole. This way when the dowel is inserted it will stay in what will be a slight divot formed by the bottom of the hole rather than rolling back and falling out of the slot.

paper roll holder (5)

The slot was easily cut at the bandsaw. We also made the bottom of the bracket have a full radius on it.

paper roll holder (6)

Nick also talked me into getting a budget osculating spindle sander. So far I liked it and it really came in handy on this project. It really made quick work of cleaning up the bandsaw edges.

paper roll holder (7)

As I’ve said previously, joinery is like underwear, plenty of options so just choose the one that fits you the best. I recently made a really nifty box joint jig so knocking out precise box joints was as simple as putting the box joint jig on the table. I really like this thing.

paper roll holder (8)

The glue bottle seemed to be in high demand in the shop so I tried to work extra quick with these. Some people are just impatient…

paper roll holder (9)

After glue-up the joints were a little less than perfect. A low angle plane is great at taking light passes to clean up plywood joints without taking off the thin veneer layer. I used the homemade twin screw vise on my new workbench to hold the assembled holder in place. Having a removable jaw for this vise has already proven to be a good idea. For those wondering at the time of posting this articl…a video on my workbench vises will be out on Sunday.

paper roll holder (10)

I’m very pleased with this Woodriver #63 low angle jack plane. It was a Christmas gift to myself this past December and I give it two very high thumbs up. More on it later.

paper roll holder (11)

To cap off the dowel ends and prevent it from falling out of the holes we cut a couple caps. Just a 3/4” hole at about ¾ depth inside of a hole saw cutout.

paper roll holder (12)

We didn’t show it in the video be we ended up gluing on one of the caps. The project went without a hiccup and was very quick to make.

paper roll holder (13)

I mounted it to the bottom of the assembly table closest to my clamp rack. Just four drywall screws is all that is needed. The roll slides in from the back slots and rests in the bottom of the center hole. It works really well.

paper roll holder (14)

So this was a crazy simple and easy project to make. It took us two hours to make it including glue time and the extra time it takes to record the video. This is definitely a project I should have already made and I really recommend it. Also, be sure to check out Nick’s YouTube channel and subscribe if you want to see more of his projects.

paper roll holder (15) paper roll holder (16) paper roll holder (17)



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21 Comments

  1. Paul

    Great inspiration here, Jay. I recommend that you store a pair of scissors near the paper roll and a roll of painter’s tape at the other end. It’ll make you more likely to use the paper every time you need it. Should be as easy as installing small dowels at both ends of the table.

  2. Bob Burch

    Great idea! Wish I had room for that assembly table.
    About that glue bot? It’s been getting some negative comments on line but it looks like a great idea. Any thoughts?

  3. Lee Peterson

    I would have cut the “slots” used for the dowel at an angle rather then a straight 90 so the roll of paper won’t fall out. Thanks for the idea, like David said a few comments ago, better find somemore work for your helpers.

    1. Jay Bates

      The center hole that the dowel stops at is a larger diameter than the slot so the bottom of the dowel sits in a slight divot when it is all the way in the slot.

      1. Patrick Lessard

        You can use flooring wax paper from any big box store. They normally sell it with the flooring/hardwood section.

  4. Peter

    The end caps look larger than 3/4″ mentioned in the article, maybe a typo? Looks like compared to the dowel that they are attached to…maybe 1 3/4″? I’ve been meaning to do this same project for a while and even have the roll of paper under my bench. Thanks for the inspiration!

  5. Mike

    I bought the dowel yesterday, a broom handle and have the paper coming today. I will start on the roller asap.

  6. Kevin

    Very cool, I am going to be adding this to my highs school wood shop. Plus I am going to have one of my students make it for the shop & our finishing table.

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