|Project by Jim Bertelson||posted 05-05-2015 12:20 AM||4194 views||18 times favorited||30 comments|
This project is for a mobile, stowable, and flexible bench system, particularly adapted to smaller shops.
In my La Conner vacation home I have a modest stationary bench that sits against the wall. However, it is only accessible from the front, for all practical purposes.
Like most woodworkers, a workspace that allows access from all sides, is frequently required. It needs to be away from walls and other large floor mounted tools. Also, a somewhat lower height is frequently needed for assembly.
But a rigid limiting factor exists in my small shop. The shop must be stowed into a small area at the back and one side of the garage. At night, two cars are parked in the garage. Therefore, like all the big power tools, additional benches had to be mobile and easily stored in a relatively small space.
I turned to the FWW Archive and found a candidate in the 2008 Tools and Shops issue. Two pedestals supporting two torsion boxes seemed to be adaptable to my needs.
A number of design changes were required.
I made the pedestals of different sizes, although the same height, to allow nesting.
They are both large enough to be used alone as a work surface when the complete setup is not needed. The legs are at a 5 degree angle to the vertical to achieve stability, as per the article. I installed self-leveling feet on the legs, with a large slip over rubber foot to grip the floor.
The angled legs and the rubber shod feet make the pedestals unusually stable.
I shortened the torsion boxes to 6 feet for ease of carrying and for ease of stowing. This is more than adequate for a limited shop intended for smaller projects.
I also modified the torsion boxes so that they had clamping lips in all possible positions.
Internally, there are multiple cross members in each box.
The two torsion boxes together make a 24 inch wide work surface, perfectly level.
To further facilitate stowing and moving, I placed wheels at the ends of the benches and the torsion boxes.
It turned out that the easiest way to store the pedestals was nested sitting on one end.
This eliminates trying to lift one bench over the other. It also makes the smallest possible footprint.
Construction materials were 3/4” birch veneer plywood, with all edges covered with 1/8” pine strips, my standard style for shop cabinets, benches, and large fixtures. Most of the construction is glue and nails, although the pedestals were reinforced with screws to survive the expected abuse.
While working, I frequently use just the pedestals alone.
When the torsion boxes are needed, they are clamped together, and clamped to the pedestals with quick clamps.
The pedestals alone are very stable.
The torsion boxes may also be set apart to allow cut or rout through actions.
With the torsion boxes clamped to the pedestals, the practical effect is a massive nearly unmovable bench system.
I usually set the pedestals like you see in the pictures, with the boxes to one side of the pedestals, so that the exposed part of the pedestals becomes additional work and storage area, particularly appropriate for placing the tools in use.
I find this system to be very flexible and useful, actually better than I thought it would be.
To put the pieces away, the torsion boxes are put away first, holding one at a time like drunken buddies stumbling our way out to the awaiting taxi. Can’t imagine why I pictured it that way…..(-:
Then the large pedestal is placed on its end, and the smaller one is upended and slid inside of it. Then both of them are wheeled over nested together to the storage area. All quite fast and easy.
If there are questions or you are interested in detailed dimensions, I would be happy to oblige.
-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska