In another time, in another life I will have the space and the need for the type of cabinet maker’s workbench we see displayed in these forums. Until then I am confined to a smallish basement. Let me clarify that smallish means roughly 12’ square with a 7’ ceiling and a sloped floor that is home to a sump pit that takes up a 24” diameter cover as well as the piping to to expel the water above grade. Toss in some shelves for tools and paint cans, a table saw, a chest freezer, some canned goods and remove portions of useful wall with an electrical breaker box and the crawl space access as well as an external door into a cramped stairwell and you might start to understand that smallish really means laughably small.
Now, I’ve never let impossible circumstances be much of a deterrent to me. After checking the floors and realizing that only the first 12” off each wall is flat before sloping rapidly to the sump and that I had roughly 6’ of wall space where I might be able to stuff a workbench and not create an inescapable tomb I set about to find some inspiration for the type of bench that would work in these conditions. Behold, the Super Simple $50 Workbench . This fit the bill perfectly, although after reading the comments I was prepared to put down more like $200 to adjust for inflation.
The comedy of errors begins on the first (of many) trips to the local big box Orange Borg to get the lumber, screws and a shop light. Measuring the inside car I determined that I was gonna have to get 6’ 2×4s not knowing that they don’t sell such a thing. I adjust my board count up to accommodate using 6’ 2×4s. Once I get to the store I have the guy cut the plywood down per the plan (which you may note is a “no waste” plan). I find the 1st pile of 2×4s and start loading them on the cart. After I checkout and get to the car is when I realize I just bought 8’ 2×4s so I head back in and determine there is no such thing as a 6’ 2×4. Very well then, as I said, impossible circumstances do not do much to deter me.
I learned that if I drive seated low in the seat and my head hanging out the passenger window and one arm used to keep wood from crushing me I can, in fact, fit 20 pieces of 8’ 2×4 and significant pieces of 3/4” plywood and pegboard into my car. After unloading the car and carrying all of this material downstairs into the basement I was plain tuckered out.
A few days later I got the opportunity to start cutting the wood to length and here the comedy of errors begins. I learned the following lessons in relatively short order:
1. When you measure a length and draw a line and then proceed to cut exactly on that line you will cut your length 1/6” of an inch too short because the saw kerf if 1/8” of inch. This lesson will be learned in various shades over the course of this project.
2. There are two different varieties of 8’ 2×4. The expected 96” variety and the unexpected 93” variety that are more often called “wall studs” that are cut short to allow for header and footer boards in wall construction. Now, dear reader, I am certain that this is trivial knowledge to you but it was not reveled to me until I got through cutting the “no waste” plans and should have been left with 5 pieces that were 27” long and yet they were mysteriously only 24” long. Only when I returned to the store for more lumber did I see that there were 2 piles of 2×4s. At first the only difference I could discern was the price and that I had certainly bought from the more expensive pile the 1st time. Very well, I would be buying form the cheaper pile this time and then I discovered the length discrepancy and rejoiced in the fact that I had paid more for less wood the 1st time.