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distinguished member (210)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
03/15/2022 12:27PM  
Hello all.
Thought I would share my camping "coffee table" build.
This came about as a result of a spot we went camping last summer, with kayaks, and there was no picnic table. Doing everything on the ground was a real PITA.
So when I returned, I tried to come up with an appropriate design for a small table that would serve as a small prep and dining table, be lightweight, not cost too much and fit into my WS Tarpon T120 fishing kayak.

The rear well of the kayak is the only logical place that it could go, but it has some supports and an overall shape that made it difficult to put anything rectangular in there. So the first thing was deciding to cut the table to match the shape of the cargo well. Cardboard templates, refined, became the pattern for cutting some 3/8" plywood.
I thought a lot about how to support it. I didn't really want to start custom fabricating aluminum legs/supports, and didn't want to add to the weight. The "indent" shapes made me thing that there was some logic in using that space for supports. After tossing around a dozen hit me that Jorgensen Pipe clamps were the answer. Not the whole pipe clamp, which weighs as much as my kayak, but just the clutch plates. Anyone familiar with these clamps knows that there are a stacked series of ring-shaped stamped steel with a tab. They "clutch" the side of the black pipe and make it grab. Why couldn't this do something similar with some sticks that I cut on site (saving the weight of carrying supports)?

After a good bit of fiddling, I figured out that drilling a hole through the tab would be the way I attached the rings to the plywood. With a stainless steel nits and bolts and Loctite blue, and with just enough slack, the rings were a bit loose and so could "grab" onto the stick similar to an actual pipe clamp. Bear in mind, I am using only one ring, not the four that are part of the clamp head.

So the clamp head was sacrificed to the gods and I stole the discs. Because of the shape of my kayak well, I had two side "indents" at the I added another at the long end. The clamp rings would go at these three locations. When not used, they flip out of the way so as to allow the table to sit at the bottom of the kayak well. Also this had an added benefit. Since it's a sit-on-top kayak, water can stream over the decks and there are scupper holes to drain the water. Water also comes up out of these holes as well. Suffice it to say, anything in the back there has to be in dry bags or it will be soaked. Having this table serve as a "deck" helped to keep the "bilgewater" off the cargo to some degree.

So the tabletop got cut with a jigsaw, voids filled with Bondo, rounded/sanded edges and surfaces, and three coats of McCloskey marine varnish. I also added some cupholders that were leftover "inserts" from my RAV4.

The end result is pretty good I think. Not perfect. The sticks get a sharpened end and driven into the ground. The rings from the pipe clamp go over but don't grab onto the stick as precisely as I would have hoped. It makes sense since there's no way to get the stick to be exactly one inch diameter like the black pipe. Also, I'm only using one of the clutch plates, not four. I just need to get bark and bumps off the sticks to allow the rings to slide. Then I tie the tabs off to the stick with some cord and they are pretty rigid.

It's beautiful alongside my hammock and gives me a place to put all sorts of stuff, including drinks. Since there's no place that works as a horizontal stable surface in a hammock, this works really well.

Now I'm just thinking about how to add some short foldable aluminum legs to allow it to be used as a quick-setup picnic table/coffee table. I think I may make a fabric "undershelf" that won't take up any room when it's stashed but will drop down maybe 6" below the table to provide a place to stuff a sweatshirt or magazine.

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03/15/2022 03:16PM  
That's brilliant and beautiful, both.
distinguished member(915)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
03/15/2022 05:51PM  
Very cool design!
distinguished member (210)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
03/16/2022 01:00PM  
Thanks guys. You know how satisfying it is when you finally figure something out and it works!
I actually used this process to fall asleep for a couple months. Kind of designing and trying out options in my head. Eventually I'd get tired and konk out.

I'm thinking of ripping it in half, and putting a piano hinge underneath...then a couple of aluminum bars across the bottom to keep it straight until i need to fold it.

That way if would fit into a backpack.
I might try to figure a way to then rig it as a fishing "dashboard" in the canoe. Cupholder...velcro or clip on little pockets for lures, leader, senkos....etc.

I like gear that is at least double duty. Triple duty is nice.
distinguished member(1445)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
03/16/2022 04:09PM  
Very cool! Elegant, functional, multi-purpose, and simple enough to replicate - I plan to borrow the concept. Well done!
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