Building a wooden GROAT outfeed roller stand
Matt Jackson from Next Level Carpentry has designed and manufactured some excellent metal infeed/outfeed stands, which he calls GROATs: the Greatest Rollers of All Time. Their key design feature is a tangent ramp leading up to the roller. He has produced a detailed series of videos on how to build them. They're really amazing roller stands, and I've wanted to have them since I first saw them years ago in his videos.
But they're made of welded metal pieces, which I'm not currently set up to fabricate. I decided they could be made out of wood if I used an existing third party outfeed stand. Here's how I made my wooden versions.
I decided I would use the Rockwell JawStands as the foundation for my roller stands. My reasons to use these stands were:
- Then can grip a 2x4, which is how I plan to attach the GROAT heads to the stand,
- They're a tripod design, so I won't have to worry about them rocking,
- They have a tilting head, which I can use to compensate for my garage floor, which has some irregular spots on it, and
- The height is easily adjustable, with coarse and fine adjustments.
In his first build video of the series, Matt explains why he designed his roller stands and how he's modified them over time. In a Patreon video from January 2022, Matt showed the precise dimensions of his metal GROATs, which gave me enough information to start my wooden versions.
My first attempt looked a bit like a truss. The truss performs no useful purpose other than to reduce weight and to look good. The materials seen here are all 3/4" Baltic Birch plywood. The curve of the top of the side pieces exactly match the metal pieces that Matt laid out in his Patreon video.
And did they ever look good! The block in the back right would be attached to the ends of the sides joining them together, and the JawStand would clamp on to that block as if it were a 2x4. This design worked great, with one fatal flaw: it was too tall! When placed on top of the JawStand, it was about 2" higher than my table saw. That was not going to work at all, and I could see no good way to modify the design to drop it down the needed 2". So reluctantly, I scrapped this design and threw away the work I'd done.
My second attempt was similar, but in order to cut down on the height I discarded the truss idea and just went with holes drilled in the sides in order to reduce some weight. The drill outs probably don't make any meaningful difference, but I liked the look.
Here you can see the rollers and their "ears" before I attached them to the sides. You can also see the "2x4" block I fabricated from 2 pieces of 3/4" plywood. It's this block that the JawStands grab onto. The block sits in a dado that is on the inside of each side piece, which provides some torsional resistance when the work piece first hits the ramps.
Here you can see the assembled GROATs before I put the Lexan ramps on them. They're finished with a sprayed on water based lacquer.
Here is a detail of the Lexan and roller. Note that the roller is approximately 1/16" above top of the Lexan at the tangent point.This is one of the key parts of Matt's design: the work piece (shown here as a scrap of plywood) will ride up the ramp, then "climb" onto the roller. Longer work pieces are supported exclusively by the roller.
And here are the finished wooden GROATs. I've been using them for about 6 months, and they're great for all the reasons Matt lays out in his video.
So, was this project a success? I'd say it mostly succeeded. One problem I have with heavier work pieces is that the JawStands don't grip the wooden block firmly enough, and it tends to rotate the whole GROAT head slightly toward the roller end. I might modify the JawStands gripping mechanism to make the attachment somewhat firmer. But this is more of a theoretical problem than a practical one: I don't often slide very heavy work pieces on the rollers. If I needed to support something heavy, I'd just take the GROAT off and use the "naked" JawStand. Also, were I to do this again I'd probably try acrylic (Plexiglass) instead of polycarbonate (Lexan) because of the cost. I paid $120 for the Lexan in January 2022, although the price has since dropped to about half of that. Plexiglass might be harder to bend without breaking, but it's also about 1/3 the price of Lexan.
Thanks so much to Matt Jackson for his input and support during the build process. You really should check out his metal GROAT build videos, and Next Level Carpentry in general. Matt is an excellent craftsman and a very good teacher. And if you can't build the metal ones, consider making your own wooden GROATs!