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Topic: Storage unit customized as rolling table
Message: Posted by: DanielCoyne (Mar 13, 2010 12:48AM)
Hey folks,

I wanted to share about my latest attempt at an all-in-one rolling magic table. (Scroll down for image.) I really like things to be simple, tidy and organized, and I was very dissatisfied in the past with the amount of time I was spending before and after shows getting everything together.

SoÖhereís what I wanted out of this new system:
[list][*] A substantial, branded, professional looking table.
[*] A place to store and ditch props during performance. (An open drawer functions like an open-top table.)
[*] Plenty of room for oversized or awkwardly shaped props (such as juggling clubs, shrinking head spiral, etc.)
[*] A way to store but easily access my show effects for practice at home.[/list] I havenít used this in performance yet, but Iím rehearsing my routines with it, and Iím really liking it so far.

So hereís how I made it. I needed to be budget conscious, and although it wasnít super-cheap, it was a lot less expensive than a large Lefler table. (And I actually think it suits my needs a bit better.)
[list=1][*] I started with a [url=http://www.sterilite.com/Category.html?Section=Hardware&ProductCategory=78#]Sterilite, 4-drawer hardware storage unit[/url], which I bought at Target for $59.
[*] I spray-painted it black with paint made for plastic chairs.
[*] I made a rolling base out of half-inch plywood with a small lip around the front and sides to keep the storage unit in place. (Painted black.)
[*] I attached four 2-inch casters to it. The back two wheels have locks.
[*] I bought black vinyl (pleather) material at Joann Fabric. The roll was 54Ē wide, so 1 yard of it was enough to go around the front and sides. It was on sale for $12/yard.
[*] I printed out the graphics on a few 8.5Ēx11Ē pieces of paper, cut out the letter shapes with an exacto knife, and traced the letters onto the material with a chalk pencil. I then painted my name and hat. (Not easy.)
[*] I used heavy-duty Velcro strips to attach the pleather to the storage unit. (Iíll take it off and roll it up during transport.)
[*] I bought a little rolling hand-cart from IKEA, which is great for moving the unit over less-than-smooth terrain. It also keep the drawers from sliding open in transit.[/list] I think the total cost was about $110.

So here are some possible downsides:
[list][*] Itís big. Good for storage of props, but takes up a lot of room at home and in the car. This is not something youíre going to want to fly with. I drive to all of my gigs and it fits easily in the back of my Subaru Outback.
[*] Despite my best efforts, it still looks a little homemade. It suits my character pretty well, but it certainly doesnít look as slick as some of the other tables out there.
[*] The back looks a little ragged, and I didn't paint the inside of the drawers.
[*] Not sure how it will hold up under heavy use. I only do the occasional gig, so Iím not too concerned. The sterilite unit is made for hardware storage and feels a little more heavy duty than the typical rubbermade drawers, but stillÖitís plastic.
[*] For close-up work, you would need to put a largish mat on top.[/list]Anyway, Iím pleased with the way it came out, and proud of myself for putting it together. Iím awarding myself a crafty badge. I'd love to hear what all of you think.


Message: Posted by: brody (Mar 13, 2010 09:11AM)
It's a nice idea. You're right though, looks a little homemade. But, for the occasional show, for the right character, it probably works well.
Message: Posted by: DanielCoyne (Mar 13, 2010 11:34AM)
Actually, from the front, it does look pretty slick. The lettering in the photo above looks a little wonky, but in person, you'd never know it was hand painted. And of course, no one will see the unpainted bottom of the dolly or the inside of the drawers.

That being said, it still looks a [i]little[/i] homemade. :c P
Message: Posted by: Lester (Mar 13, 2010 07:25PM)
Daniel, it looks great. You should congratulate yourself, you have made a super job of it. Give me homemade magic, and that includes tables, anytime. There's nothing wrong with working to a budget in my book.
Message: Posted by: Sir Richard (Mar 13, 2010 10:34PM)
Love it dude!

Sir Richard.
Message: Posted by: KeithP (Mar 14, 2010 01:09PM)
I like it. One of the problems I have with most magic suitcase tables is the weight. This seems like it would be a lot lighter. The trick is finding a plastic storage container that suits the props it should hold.

Message: Posted by: KirkG (Mar 16, 2010 02:55PM)
Work with it for awhile and then you will know how to build your next one even better. I would make the suggestion that the ALL BLACK look is something I would move away from. Doesn't sound like you are an emo charactor, so something a little more light and friendly may work better. You could just have a different banner for the front, or a different wrap around pleather.
Message: Posted by: JonathanM (Apr 1, 2010 09:11AM)
As far as the audience is concerned - it just looks great!
Message: Posted by: Bill Hegbli (May 29, 2010 11:28AM)
Nice idea, the only thing you might want to consider is covering it with speaker material. This is the material that is used to cover the speakers in those loud music playing systems they put in cars. This only cost $2 a yard, in my area from a store. It comes in Black and Gray only.

Another kind of easy table I been considering making is to use one of those cheap $20 microwave oven carts. They have a shelf in the middle. All is needed is a sheet of aluminum on one of the open sides, and a handle on each side. They come on wheels, the only draw back is the weight as it is made out of that chip board wood. It should be simple to fashion a door on the back that can be removed.
Message: Posted by: Jim Grathoff (Jul 16, 2010 07:15PM)
I've been thinking of buying a suitcase table just how sturdy are the laflir tables.. I did see a suitcase table made out of flight case materiel but I can't find the maker. looks a little different then a laflir table.
any ideas as far as just a case. I need to carry a strat o sphere. and
stage size hippy hop bunnys. something so props don't get banged up
Message: Posted by: uncleperry (Jul 17, 2010 05:27PM)
This is a great looking table and an imaginative idea. The great thing is that
you can always change the look if you want. (You can do that while your critics are herniating themselves hauling their Leflers around.) Seriously, yours looks really lightweight and easy to handle. Do you find it to be sturdy enough? I'm thinking about trying it out myself if you don't mind. Good work!
Message: Posted by: TrickyEric (Jul 17, 2010 10:38PM)
I love it! The red hat is a nice touch. As for KirkG not liking the all black look, I have to respectfully disagree. It looks professional, and looks good with most backgrounds you may encounter. Not to mention clashing colors of what you may wear. Black is simple and works.
Message: Posted by: DanielCoyne (Nov 11, 2010 12:56AM)
So...after about 6 months of use (about a dozen gigs), I have some follow-up thoughts about this home-made rolling table/storage case:

Mostly I love it. It has held up very well and the pleather signage on front has remained smooth and clean-looking. The drawers hold almost all of my props and makes resetting my show pretty easy. I ditch things (mostly) right where they live, so after the show I have only a broken egg and some throw-streamers to clean up, and I'm good to go. Oh yeah, and harem's worth of silk to refold.

I put strips of Velcro on the inside bottoms of each drawer and on the bottom of various sized tupperware containers, which hold my props in place in the drawers. I can easily add or remove these containers (with their props) depending on the line-up of effects I plan to use. The lids are sometimes finicky and are a pain to secure. Test your tupperware!

One modification:
The drawer units are meant to be stackable and customizable, and I found they were pulling apart if I ever needed to lift the whole table from the top. Which leads me to another weakness...lifting it. While it rolls well on its casters or with my little Ikea handcart, there are times when I need to lift it up stairs or to get it into and out of the car. There's no place to get a handhold. I solved both problems by getting a 1" black nylon tie-down strap with a rachet similar to [url=http://www.uscargocontrol.com/Ratchet-Straps-Tie-Downs/1-Inch-Ratchet-Straps/1-x-15-Ratchet-Strap-w-Flat-Snap-Hooks]this one[/url]. I tied it around the sides of the table under the pleather (across the top, down the sides and beneath the bottom dolly). I leave it on permanently. It is not visible from the audience, and it gives me a way to lift it from the front or sides while keeping all the drawer units firmly pressed in place.

The one thing I don't love is that it seems a bit big when it's in the house. My partner is about to move in, and suddenly the idea of having my big magic case taking up a big chunk of real-estate in the office or bedroom is a little less popular. : )

Also, the more I get to know my show and my performance style, the more I'm interested in paring down to the essentials. I may eventually look for a slightly smaller version that I customize a bit more. But for now...I have to say I'm really happy with it. When I roll in, people know that I'm the entertainment and that I come prepared! It looks good on stage and suits me very well.

Thanks everyone for your encouragement. As always, I'd love to see pics of other people's tables and cases.

Message: Posted by: dwitten13 (Nov 12, 2010 04:18PM)

I like the cart a lot, and think you did an awesome job. You mentioned in the first post about the weakness of NOT having the drawers painted on the INSIDE. Have you considered some type of lining? Like a black felt or even the speaker material that WM mentioned in his post? At least for the bottom of the drawers may help. I have a pre-fab case that I bought like many others that opens from the top and becomes my table top, but have also not liked the fact that things move around too much in transit. I have thought about "tweaking" the one I have and trying to make it better. Again, I really like what you did with this and think you should be very proud of it!
Message: Posted by: DanielCoyne (Nov 16, 2010 07:26PM)
Thanks DWitten,

I actually added strips of industrial strength velcro along the bottom of the inside of each drawer and more strips on the bottom of tupperware containers (containing the props for individual effects). When I arrive, I just have to take the lids off.

If I have to replace any effects to customize a show, I just switch out the tupperware. The hold is almost too strong -- I think lining the drawers with speaker material and then adding velcro to the bottom of the tupperware, might be a little better.

Message: Posted by: Starrpower (Dec 24, 2010 07:04AM)
I think it's a great looking, functional table. However, I do not see the point of painting (or lining) the interior of the drawers black. Black makes the storage areas dark and hard to see into. The audience never sees it, so keep it white and bright!
Message: Posted by: REV BILL (Dec 25, 2010 10:13PM)
I like it so much I may put my tools in my Lefler table in the garage.
Message: Posted by: Stevethomas (Dec 26, 2010 09:35AM)
My only worry about the case/table made from the Sterlite piece is, and this may only be an issue here in the South where temps are in the 100s for a few months each year, after being painted black, outdoors, won't this thing just be a solar oven? Don't know if you'd use this outdoors, but this plastic would probably warp or melt in the sun, especially when black.

Message: Posted by: DanielCoyne (Dec 26, 2010 05:11PM)
On 2010-12-26 10:35, Stevethomas wrote:
...won't this thing just be a solar oven? Don't know if you'd use this outdoors, but this plastic would probably warp or melt in the sun, especially when black.[/quote]

I never thought of that! I've haven't used it outdoors yet, but if I do, I'll make sure to look for a shady spot. : )

Message: Posted by: REV BILL (Dec 27, 2010 08:34PM)
I thought most magicians were kinda shady already.
Message: Posted by: Magic Patrick (Jan 1, 2011 01:14PM)

I think that you are on to something. May I use your idea to make my own? I really love the idea of the velcro. I am a huge fan of LEAN Thinking and what you have described is all about lean. I think it looks aweswome and I am sure you are loving the ease of it.

Thanks for sharing,
Message: Posted by: DanielCoyne (Jan 2, 2011 11:01PM)
On 2011-01-01 14:14, BYUDAD wrote:
May I use your idea to make my own?

Go for it -- I would love to see how you and others might adapt and improve on this idea. Please post about your results.

Message: Posted by: Bill Hegbli (Jan 3, 2011 12:33AM)
Found this on Sterilite Site, looks like this is a perfect size for a magic table.


I have to see what I can do with it. I hope that it can be bolted together depending on space between drawer and box.

I also found a 3 drawer model at Walmart, but may be a little short as it comes with legs, and is still short. 31.75" is a good height for a magic table, but that is with the legs attached, maybe 2" wheels will bring it back up, have to check it out.

Maybe this plastic cabinet would also be a good consideration, have to go look at it in person. This is 35.75" high, so 2" wheels would bring it up to a good height as well.

So many choices when you see what Daniel has done with some imagination.
Message: Posted by: magicswan (Jan 24, 2011 03:10PM)
I think the table is awesome..& not because I'm from western Mass too!
Message: Posted by: WeiserSide1 (Mar 3, 2011 08:06AM)
Very clever and very inexpensive idea!..i store my un-used tricks in those things at home..but would never have thought of "roading" them