It Starts With a Workbench #3: Project: Get this thing off the ground

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Blog entry by DocTux posted 06-29-2015 11:43 PM 1378 reads 1 time favorited 1 comment Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: Fuss over tools and the first project Part 3 of It Starts With a Workbench series Part 4: Get this thing off the ground 2 »

It seemed so simple when I thought about it, a workbench seemed like the perfect place to start my woodworking hobby, then from there I can easily figure out what tools I need to complete the job.

As it turns out, you can’t exactly start with just a workbench. You need to get off the ground before you can get your hobby off the ground. First I really fussed over what type of bench I wanted to make. Well, that wasn’t very fruitful. I WANTED to make a bench that was 92” long by 36” with vises on every face and every leg. Those hole things? Sure, let’s put those on there too. It turns out they’re called dog holes. They’re extremely useful it turns out, except when you just randomly put them in all over the place. Glad I didn’t have materials yet otherwise my workbench would have been swiss cheese before I even realized.

So I refined by quest; what kind of work bench COULD I have? Well, it turns out I’m extremely limited on space. My garage is a “two car garage” according to my landlord. It works out as one because both my wife and I drive very small vehicles. I’ve only got 24” of clearance from my mirror to the wall it turns out. So what do I think of? A fold down bench top! Brilliant! Space would be saved, I wouldn’t do work with the car in the garage anyway. So when I park, just fold it up and problem solved. Well, I guess I COULD make due with that, but my aspiration to be as archaic as my patience will allow doesn’t seem to work very well with it. I can’t imagine a fold down bench being incredibly sturdy. So, back to the drawing board.

Staring at the wall in my garage, cluttered up by shelves filled with nonsense that has been mistreated over the last year or so, I came to a realization. I had space that was hiding from me. A lot of it it turns out. Well, not a lot, but enough that a solid workbench could easily be a thing. So obviously the next step was to continue to ooh and ahh over what I wanted to do for tools. Build a list of tools I would need and what I would buy and how much it would cost. Three spreadsheets later, I was plagued by my brain. I couldn’t decide what I wanted to do for a bench. Again. So what do I do? I had just found this awesome forum and began posting here. Great times have been had and I was highly encouraged (and guided) by several awesome people who appear to be regular posters.

So it turns out that part 3 is get into a community. Sure you can do it alone, but why would you? There is a wealth of knowledge out there and this is a great opportunity to get to know some people in the meantime. So with their advice I finally have a solid idea of what I am going to make. A bench that can be broken down for the purposes of moving it. Awesome. Next time we begin to tackle it. Three parts in one day, because I had to retroactively catch the narrative up to where I’m at. I’m not sure how frequently I’ll be able to post. It’ll likely be similar to this where I post several parts at once and split them up by their theme.

Included is my very first, from scratch, workbench design.

Next time will be a design inspired by the help of JayT. By that I mean I’ll be adapting his design to fit my spacial needs.

Stay tuned and good woodworking!

-- Of the three rules of combat medicine, the third is the most important.

1 comment so far

View MrFid's profile


793 posts in 1326 days

#1 posted 06-30-2015 12:44 AM

Looks like a good start to a plan :)

Be sure to think about how your vices will attach while planning. Also, you might end up wanting a heavier top that sits on the legs. How you’ve built it in Sketchup there will be a LOT of shearing force on whatever method you attach the top to the legs with. Look at your dining room table and see that the legs support the top from underneath, and that the legs are (likely) not flush with the edge of the top. Keep us posted.

As for tools, become a Craigslist hound, and don’t shy away from a little rust. Learning how to restore a tool goes a long way towards learning how to use it properly. It will be frustrating because it won’t feel like you’re woodworking, but it’s a worthy process, and can save you some cash. Again, ask a ton of questions of the folks on here.

-- Bailey F - Eastern Mass.

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