So the first phase of my workshop reorganization/upgrade had to be my workbench. In my first entry I mentioned that my current “workbench” was actually two metal framed shelving units which stand 3’ tall and have a plywood top. When I bought my home in 2011 this shelving unit was already in the garage half loaded up with old paint, left over tile and a few extra trim boards for the kitchen cabinets. At the time, I didn’t have the setup or time available to start building a new work bench, so I made due with what I had. Each shelving unit got topped off with a piece of 2’ x 4’ plywood and I had a work surface. This should in no way be confused with an actual work bench :) I couldn’t clamp anything to the surface, the whole thing wobbled and vibrated if I even tried to pre-drill a hole with my cordless drill on it. Because it was so useless, it eventually just became a collect all for me to pile up all the one-off things which didn’t have a home on. With all of that going on with the “workbench” I ended up using my table saw and extension wing as my main work bench… not an ideal situation!
So I decided that I was going to start from scratch. My main objectives with the new workbench were:
1. It had to be cheap!
2. It had to provide ample storage underneath
3. I wanted to have a wagon wheel vise
4. It had to be solid to stand up to hand tool use as well as being able to use bench top tools on it.
5. Again, it had to be cheap… I started this the week of Christmas, so available funds were already allocated to toys for the kids!
I decided for cost savings I was going to make as much of it out of materials I already had on-hand, which included a stack of 8 2×4’s, and a few sheets of 2’ x 4’ BC Plywood from the big box store. After establishing that the overall dimensions were going to be 8’ x 30” deep x 38” tall (I like a tall bench).
The first step was to start to build the frame:
All of the 2×4’s were stickered for a few days in my workshop before I started to plane and joint them. Jointing approximately 45 2×4’s generated a LOT of shavingsIn total there were 2 overflowing wheel barrow loads of shavings:
Once I had the frame constructed, I added 3/4 BC plywood to the inside to create a cabinet on either side of the bench. Each cabinet measures 40” wide x 24” deep X 28”tall which will give me plenty of space for storage.
Notice the small space heater in the picture, this was during the first “polar vortex” here in the northeast, and I think it got down to -8 that night. Not sure of the temperature in the workshop, but let’s just say that little heater needs to be about 5 times bigger…
Like the base, the entire top is made of planed and jointed 2×4’s. It may not be up to the standards of some of the Roubo benches out there, but this will be more of a general use bench than a dedicated hand tool bench. I still wanted some of the nicer bench aspects like the wagon wheel vise and a front vise. The top was glued up in three segments, and then they were all glues up to make the whole top. The overall bench is nearly 32” wide.
The Wagon Wheel Vise:
I don’t currently use a lot of hand tools, but I’m trying to get started with some of the basics. With that I wanted to build this bench so I have the features I’d need when using hand tools more often. I started researching buying one online, but found them to be way too expensive. So I headed off to the big box store, and picked up a piece of 3’ 3/4” threaded rod, and some corresponding bolts.
I thought I had taken pictures of the build of the vise, but apparently didn’t… however I did get some pictures of it once it had been installed:
It’s basically just a 3/4” nut seated and epoxied into the runner. Then I drilled through the threaded rod and put a locking pin in to prevent it from pulling out of the bench. I made a basic wheel handle by locking the wheel between two nuts. It works remarkably well for a $7 investment!
Here’s what the final bench looks like. The only thing I still have to do is get two more hinges for the last door (thought I had 8 but only had 6) and add wome shelves within the cabinets. Eventually I’ll turn one or two of the doors into a drawer unit when I’m able to do something else with my bench top tools, but for now they’re stored in the cabinet base.