Building a Top-Notch Workbench- for under $250 #3: Why I'm going to make a separate "power-tool workstation"

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Blog entry by Kenny posted 02-19-2012 05:56 PM 8603 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: More on what I want from this bench and why... Part 3 of Building a Top-Notch Workbench- for under $250 series Part 4: Wood has been purchased @ $108 total »

I know many of you likely use your workbench for both hand-tool and power-tool work, some because you lack the space for two dedicated stations, others because they simply have not seen the advantages of having a true “power-tool workstation”, and still others may not have a “true” hand-tool bench and use one “make-shift” bench for everything.
Myself, I fell into the third category for a long time, but all that is about to change. I will be making myself a ‘Power-Tool Workstation” before my hand-tool workbench is complete. Why? Because it will make many aspects of building the hand-tool bench much easier. I am not against using power-tools to build a hand-tool bench, and frankly, I feel a router can cut tenons faster and more accurately than I can on the large timbers I will be using, or at least clean them up after I remove the bulk with a handsaw and backsaw. It will also clean out a mortise faster than a chisel or brace and bit in most cases. The opposite may be true for some, but not for me.

I saw a video from Fine Woodworking a while back on their “Power-Tool Workbench”, and the idea really got me thinking. It sucks dragging a vacuum hose over the edge of a bench while sanding, as well it sucks being bent over while running an RO sander for more than five or ten minutes.(I have a really bad back, so it makes it worse)

Power tools work better when used on a taller bench than you would with hand-tools. They also have cords and vacuum hoses that get in the way badly if not dealt with. Then you have the problem of where to put the vacuum, it tipping over as you drag it around by it’s short hose, it gets caught on the vise handles, the list of downfalls to using power-tools on a hand-tool bench is almost endless.

The Fine Woodworking Power-Tool Bench solves, or helps with, most all of these problems in very convenient ways.
If you are not familiar with this “Power-Tool Bench”, have a look at the video on it HERE.

I’m going to look into building the top section into a downdraft table that I can plug my duct collector into while retaining the clamping system and contained shop-vac. I thing with a bit of careful designing, it will be possible. It may not be ideal, but it’ll will definitely be better than nothing!

I feel this will help me make the most out of my work-bench without needing to make sacrifices on it’s design to accommodate power-tool use. Let’s face it, hand-tool benches work best when they are a no-compromise design. And having a proper bench to help make the most of your power tools will make them work better for you too, and will help a lot when machining the parts and pieces for the hand-tool bench itself.

Thanks for reading. Until next time, stay safe in your shops and enjoy woodworking!

-- Kenny

5 comments so far

View Sarit's profile


549 posts in 3164 days

#1 posted 02-19-2012 10:01 PM

I would probably make a separate vacuum + dust deputy cart rather than putting everything inside the power-tool bench. The need for a 2 stage vac is universal around the shop and the base of the power tool bench is ideal for storing,... wait for it… POWER TOOLS!

View felkadelic's profile


218 posts in 2564 days

#2 posted 02-20-2012 05:01 AM

I would maybe consider a chamber for an air compressor (if you use air tools frequently)

View Kenny 's profile


260 posts in 2472 days

#3 posted 02-20-2012 05:41 AM

Once you’ve heard how much quieter that vac is inside the bench, and how nice it is to have everything all set-up and ready to go so you just plug your tool in, hook up the hose and go, I think you’d change your mind!

Shop-vacs are super loud and annoying, especially when you’re running it for extended periods. And keeping it in an enclosure like that will cut the noise in half. Making your work that much more enjoyable.

As well, I am of the belief that cabinets, drawers and shelves are for storing tools. Work-benches, as the name implies, are for working with tools.

Anyway, the point of this bench is to have a totally self-contained work-station that gives you all you need to make the most of your power tools in one place. No shop-vacs in the way to trip over.

Just my opinion.

-- Kenny

View 559dustdesigns's profile


633 posts in 3192 days

#4 posted 02-20-2012 10:19 AM

Hi Kenny your ideas sound great and I think your making a good decision building two separate benches.
I’ve brain stormed dedicated power tools work stations quite a bit.
I can’t think of the best way to incorporate a power cord chase, so there isn’t cords hanging off the bench clutering up the front of the bench.
I have been attending a woodworking class at a local community college, where the cords of all the power tools are cut short.
Every cord is about 12” long. My idea is to have a cord reel built into the bench so I could just peel out just enough cord and switch out tools quicker.
I kind of like the idea of only pluging in one tool at a time for safety.
I would like to store all my tools below the bench with easy access.
I’m just a little afraid that I’ll regret cutting off the cords.
Than I have to consider the plug connection hanging 12”s from the tool.
The last consideration would be, making sure the plug stays together until I wish to switch to another tool. What are your thoughts on cords?

-- Aaron - central California "If you haven't got the time to do it right, when will you find the time to do it over?"

View Kenny 's profile


260 posts in 2472 days

#5 posted 02-20-2012 05:24 PM

Me, I’m not cutting my cords. I like the idea shown in the Fine Woodworking bench where they have the raised rod at the back of the bench where you can attach your shop-vac hose and cords via small clips and an O-ring on the vac hose. If you watch the video in the link, you will see what I mean.

I had considered cutting all my cords to about 6” and using a cord-reel attached to the raised rod at the back of the bench, but something tells me that when the time comes and I need to use my tools off the bench I’ll regret my short cords.

For now, I’ll leave them long. Once I get the bench working, we’ll see if I change my mind.

-- Kenny

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