Shop-made Jigs and Fixtures #2: Bench Grinder Workstation

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Blog entry by Mark Colan posted 01-05-2011 05:29 AM 11302 reads 1 time favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Jig to expand the cross-cut length of Incra TS-LS fence Part 2 of Shop-made Jigs and Fixtures series no next part

I bought a Porter Cable grinder and a Harbor Freight grinder stand, to create a bench grinding station. I guess you could call this a Christmas present to myself. I built the grinding workstation during the Christmas holidays.

The Bench Top

The mounting holes for the grinder were wider than the stand’s holes, and just about as wide as the top of the stand, making it hard to mount it at all. But I had already decided I wanted to put a wood bench between so I could easily mount a Veritas grinding stand (and maybe other accessories later).

The PC instructions did not provide the hole center distance for mounting. Instead, they said to use the grinder itself as the template. This isn’t really possible, because the holes are underneath the moter, and you can’t get a pencil in there to mark them. My solution was to measure as best as I could, then drill 1/2” holes in the bench for 3/8” bolts. The larger hole allowed for some error and adjustment.

I used a scrap of nice birch veneer plywood. I cut it large enough to accommodate the accessories, and drilled all the holes. I rounded the front corners because I knew otherwise I’d be bumping into it and gouging my hips or legs.

I had a long thin strip of red oak, thin enough that it could be glued around the front and sides in one piece, bending around the corners. The moisture of the glue probably helped make them more flexible.

Why glue oak veneer on a grinder stand for edging? Because that’s what LJ’s do, even for their shop jigs and fixtures, according to Jim Bertelson. And that seems like a good reason, plus it looks nice. I figure, I enjoy working in the shop, will do it a lot, and may as well make it aesthetically pleasing. Odd having red oak edges on a birch platform, but red oak is what I had, and matching birch strips is exactly what I didn’t have.

I assembled the whole thing, switched on the grinder, and experimented with grinding at this height. It all seemed perfect, so I took it to the next stage.

The Accessory Storage Cabinet

The HF stand has a tool holder in the middle. It’s like a rectangulare steel piece with the sides bent up to join to the legs. It’s real purpose is to make the legs very sturdy, which it does well. But hey, now it’s a feature, so they call it a tool holder. But not for MY tools!

I envisioned having a few grinding and buffing wheels; I already have three beyond the two that came with the grinder. I don’t want them banging around in the tool holder. I need a place to put the PC grinding stands when I was using the Veritas stand, and vice versa. And the rouge, polishing compound, spare grit and beeswax for sharpening and polishing.

I decided to build a cabinet that would be bolted to the tool holder and go up, stopping just short of the top of the stand. It did not provide enough space, so I made a second one that would use the same bolts to attach to the tool holder, but hang downward. So now there are slots for platforms to support 8 accessory wheels (more than I think I’ll need, but that’s what I thought when I built the blade cabinet in a similar way) and there are three drawers for other accessories.

The wheel supports are pieces of masonite, each with a 5/8” dowel glued in a hole in the middle, to hold the accessory wheels when not in use. There are slots in the side of the cabinet that they fit into. I created a couple of open channels that would hold small drawers for the other accessories. No sliders, cleats, or anything: just small boxes (with fronts and handles) that just fit into channels in the cabinet.

You’ll notice in the photo that I got carried away with the drawers, and made drawer fronts cut at an angle to just fit between the legs (which are at an angle) of the grinder stand. I think it looks nice.

The Problem, and a Theoretical Solution

But looks aren’t everything. The cabinets I attached to the tool holder, which go above and below it, serve another function that I had not thought of: they pick up the vibrations of the grinder (which are modest) and make them louder and more powerful. Switching on the grinder, the sliding wheel holders AND drawers started emerging from their slots, some eventually falling onto the floor.

I’m open to ideas on why this happened and how to fix it, but in thinking about it myself, I developed the theory that the middle steel shelf (tool holder) vibrates, and attaching the cabinets to it alone is causing the problem.

Therefore, if I attach wood cleats to the top of the upper cabinet and bottom of the lower cabinet, and make them long enough and angled properly to fit flush on the legs, I can screw them to the cabinets and to the legs, so that instead of one mounting point for each cabinet, there will be two. The theory is that this should greatly reduce their ability to wobble and therefore they won’t vibrate as much.

I will comment again in a few days when I have a chance to try this, and tell you how it worked out. If it fails, I might mount the cabinets side by side on the wall just behind the grinder. The drawer fronts will look funky, but funky will fit well in my shop.

The Photo

PC Grinder and Stand

-- Mark, hack amateur woodworker, Medford (greater Boston) MA

14 comments so far

View bigike's profile


4052 posts in 3288 days

#1 posted 01-05-2011 05:43 AM

very nice work, the stand looks great with the addons. So your from medford huh? I wonder if u know anyone i know? I lived in somerville for about 25 years or so, I swam alot at the medford pool when non residence could swim there.

-- Ike, Big Daddies Woodshop,

View Mark Colan's profile

Mark Colan

211 posts in 2845 days

#2 posted 01-05-2011 05:49 AM

Hey bigike, we should meet up some time. I’m trying to build a local community for fun and (occasionally) mutual help. So far it’s PurpLev, nearby in Winchester. My buddy Snake (Arlington) is also a woodworker, but I don’t think he’s on LJ.

-- Mark, hack amateur woodworker, Medford (greater Boston) MA

View oluf's profile


260 posts in 3039 days

#3 posted 01-05-2011 06:25 AM

A very nice looking grinder station. I would like to have a dry grinder in my woodshop, but I have been afraid of sparks starting dust smoldering. I do have two wet slow speed grinders in the woodshop for sharpening hand tools and for sharpening my jointer and planer knives. For all other grinding and metel cutting I go to the barn where I do metal work. Again I do like the nice job you have done.

-- Nils, So. Central MI. Wood is honest.Take the effort to understand what it has to tell you before you try to change it.

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4174 posts in 3164 days

#4 posted 01-05-2011 06:31 AM

Hey Mark,

Just got home from work, actually the hospital, from, in this case, a difficult delivery, second generation, meaning I delivered the mother of the baby I just delivered…...but all turned out well. Sherie is entertaining the applique group, so I am banished to my office, and her AV setup in her hobby room…....which is very nice.

But first sat down at the computer with an adult beverage, since I am not on call this evening. Bring up the email and here is this post…....with my name in it…..and, and….......the subject matter is absolutely apropos for my current tar ball in the shop….........(-:

Laughed out loud.

I am in the process of moving my drill press to an unused scroll saw stand (because I don’t use the scroll saw enough to leave it out). So I am dolling up the stand, using oak veneer ply for the mount, birch ply for a shelf I installed in it, and…......well you know… will have to have veneer edges on the shelf at least. And I am considering another shelf, and some shallow sides to the shelves… know…..LJ style, and it will need dust control, and a complete electrical hub. Actually I got the drill press moved over, since the mount is done, but I am working on wheels for the back so it will be mobile when tilted, doing the Sketchup design for that. Then comes all the other stuff. Ain’t it fun….......(-:

But wait….....there’s more…...

I am actually in a complex upgrade with my table saw, building an overhead shelf unit (meaning attached to the ceiling), with edging and all of course…......whose clandestine purpose is the mount for a movable….....meaning x,y, and z guard and dust collection. The problem is….....I have to keep the saw running while I modify the guard and dust collection….....without compromising safety. No compromises with the TS. But I decided I had to speed up the process, so I got a compressor and some nail guns, and I needed better sanders, a 12 inch Delta disk, and the Rigid spindle/belt combo…..but they had no place to go until I moved the drill press to a semi-permanent stand.

It’s a tar ball.

Your mods on that stand are very symbolic of my drill press mods… it steals a new home on that scrollsaw stand.

Glad to see you are keeping up the LJ traditions. They are important you understand…........

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4174 posts in 3164 days

#5 posted 01-05-2011 06:39 AM

Oh, and I am using the shelves, drill press mount, and the wheel mount boards, to stabilize the frame of the scroll saw stand. I think you are going the right way. Any thing you put on that stand, see if you can make it stabilize the stand structure. I am drilling holes right through the stand members into the wood. Then putting in sheet metal screws or bolts according to the structural needs. If you do that, I bet the vibration will disappear…..........

.......have a good one….....

....and thanks for thinking of me…....Happy New Year…......


-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View dbhost's profile


5712 posts in 3232 days

#6 posted 01-05-2011 07:05 AM

I take a slightly different approach than Alaska Jim does on edging shop jigs and tables… Instead of gluing up some oak edge banding (which is a great idea BTW…) I have been doweling on walnut scrap as edging… But it’s because my cheap self has the walnut scrap…

I really like the add ons you made for your stand, they really make it work for you! As I mentioned in your review post, the stand is just a hair short of where my back would be happy with a grinder (I have my grinder base at 36” off the ground to keep from stooping and I am VERY comfortable using it). I admit, I have back trouble. A couple of options to make this arrangement taller come to mind. A ballast box sort of mobile base could get the whole shebang off the ground another 4” for those of us with a taller build and lousy backs… Another option would be to build another drawer box, immediately below the grinder itself.

Overall I would have to say you did an excellent job recovering the otherwise wasted space in the openings of a tool stand. Most of these things are just wasted voids… And the shelf the grinder mounts to looks like you have ample room if you wanted to install a Wolverine jig or similar setup for sharpening… All in all a most excellent setup…

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18271 posts in 3676 days

#7 posted 01-05-2011 10:38 AM

As has been said the resonance issue can be interesting. In the mean time, stretch a bungee cord in front of the drawers to keep them from falling out ;-))

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Mark Colan's profile

Mark Colan

211 posts in 2845 days

#8 posted 01-05-2011 02:37 PM

@dbhost, you may be a bit taller than me (5’10”) if you’re bending over too much. Or, as you say, it may be your back. BTW the oak edging came from trimming a piece of red oak. I needed just an eight of an inch off. With a 3/32” blade, this left a surprisingly complete band only 1/32” thick. I also use scraps of red oak, especially for more important edges (like my table saw revamp project). I’d be glad to use walnut edges if I had walnut around!

-- Mark, hack amateur woodworker, Medford (greater Boston) MA

View Mark Colan's profile

Mark Colan

211 posts in 2845 days

#9 posted 01-05-2011 02:40 PM

@kunk, I did think about putting rubber under the edge of the grinder before tightening its bolts down. What material did you use that was 3/8” thick?

-- Mark, hack amateur woodworker, Medford (greater Boston) MA

View Mark Colan's profile

Mark Colan

211 posts in 2845 days

#10 posted 01-05-2011 02:42 PM

@Topamax: the bungee cord is a great idea! I was thinking of a stick, but the bungee cord is better.

-- Mark, hack amateur woodworker, Medford (greater Boston) MA

View Mark Colan's profile

Mark Colan

211 posts in 2845 days

#11 posted 01-05-2011 03:05 PM

@Oluf, you raise a good point about the sparks and sawdust. I try to keep the sawdust under control, and don’t always succeed.

While grinding, my hands get hit by the sparks. They don’t seem all that hot – I think they give off their heat during the time they are glowing – and that tends to be only the first 6 to 18 inches of their flight. But it IS worth keeping in mind.

-- Mark, hack amateur woodworker, Medford (greater Boston) MA

View SPalm's profile


5320 posts in 3882 days

#12 posted 01-05-2011 03:31 PM

Hey Mark,
My first thought was also individual corner isolation. Rubber grommets came to mind. They actually make vibration mounts for motors, but I can’t seem to find any on the web right now. You maybe could try four pink erasers with a hole through them. It is going to be a trial and error thing. You got me thinking…


-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View Mark Colan's profile

Mark Colan

211 posts in 2845 days

#13 posted 01-05-2011 03:49 PM

@Steve Palm: Thanks for the ideas. I’m going to try fastening the unfastened ends of the boxes to the stand first, then I’ll try dampening with some kind of pads, rubber, or erasers.

-- Mark, hack amateur woodworker, Medford (greater Boston) MA

View JamesVavra's profile


304 posts in 3316 days

#14 posted 01-05-2011 05:00 PM

I had a similar issue with a grinder on top of a cart that I built. I ended up installing an old mouse pad (1/4” thick neoprene) between the grinder and the cabinet. Worked like a charm.


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