|Project by jaysuzi||posted 05-09-2016 07:00 PM||5112 views||22 times favorited||15 comments|
I don’t think there is such a thing as a single perfect workbench, but I think this one will fit my needs very well. I have just recently relocated my shop from my basement to my garage, where I have a lot more room. In my old shop, the only working surface that I had was a 2 foot by 4 foot table that served as my workbench, assembly table, and outfeed of my table saw. For this bench, the following were the key factors that I was considering:
1. It had to be fairly big. This will have to serve as both an assembly table and workbench, and be big enough so that I can have multiple small projects going on at one time.
2. It had to be fairly heavy and have a solid vise. I do not do a lot of hand tool work at this time, but I do look forward to doing more. When I had to do something in the past, it was always a pain and the only clamp I had was on a small Harbor Freight workbench that I really just use as a table for my sanders. It never held things solid.
3. I wanted to have quick access to my most used tools, but also have additional storage.
4. It needed to be mobile. I will want to occasionally bring one of the cars into the garage, so I needed to be able to move the bench to the other side of the garage.
5. It shouldn’t break the bank. I knew I would spend a bit on this, but I was trying to watch what I spent.
6. I was not looking to make an heirloom. I wanted to get something built relatively quickly and that I wouldn’t mind abusing.
I spent a lot of time looking at different designs and watching different videos trying to get ideas of what I wanted and even looked at purchasing a workbench, but the ones for sale didn’t meet all of my needs. Plus, I wanted the challenge of building one.
My main inspiration came from two sources. The first one was Wood magazine Issue 166 November 2005. In reality, this is about 90% built based upon following those plans. The second inspiration is from Jay Bates of Jay’s Custom Design. He recently did a build of a work bench and used construction grade material. Well if it is good enough for one Jay, it’s good enough for another.
Here is a breakdown of the components:
1. Top: I followed Jay’s pattern here, but made mine from 2×4 instead of 2×6. I jointed, planed, glued up in 4 board sets (so that I could rerun through my 6” jointer) then into 8 boards sets (2 – 4 board sections) then 3 of those into the final top at roughly 32” wide. I cut it down to 7 foot to take out any snipe or issues at the ends. Unfortunately, I had a slight crown in the center (which I could probably have hand planed down) and a dip on one edge. A dip is a lot harder to deal with than a high spot. After watching a Marc Spagnuolo (aka The Wood Whisperer), I followed his method of flattening a work bench with a router. My dip was fairly significant, so I planned on doing the flattening in two passes. It was going great and I was working on the final pass when disaster struck. My router bit dropped from the collet. I didn’t realize right away and put a big grove across the width of my table. Well, that meant another pass and in the end, the top is less thick than I was originally planning, but it is flat and plenty sturdy for my needs.
2. Base: I followed Wood magazine plans fairly closely here with the design. It is done with split-mortise, through-tenon joints, so it can be done on the table saw without hand chisels. The stretchers are stub tenon along with mechanical fasteners, which required just a little bit of hand tool cleanup. The top and base are also held together by mechanical fasteners. This will allow me to take it apart if I want to move it, or upgrade the top or base later on. This design does not allow for leg clamps or clamping large pieces to the side of the workbench. For some, this would be a major design issues, for me, this is not a big deal. I work on small projects, and I have never had a need to do this.
3. Storage: I built an under-bench cabinet. Again, following the Wood magazine’s plans fairly closely. However, their design had doors on one half. I decided that I wanted 6 drawers instead. Then from watching Jay’s video, I decided to go with a split design so that I would have a set of drawers on each side of the bench. I think this will work out well. I haven’t figured out exactly how I will organize it, but feel I will dedicate sides for different types of work.
4. Addition storage: Also from Wood magazine was the idea of the hanging tool trays. This allows for a convenient place to put the tools instead of having them on the workbench. I made one for each side. For me, I like this design better than the split top bench.
5. Vices: I was heavily influenced by Jay on these. The side vice was bought on a whim. I hadn’t decided on what vice I would go with, when I watched Jay’s video. In the comments, he posted a link to the one he used. When I went there, Amazon had an open boxed one at a great savings. I picked it up. It is a 10 inch quick release, very heavy vice. More than I needed, but the price was right. The end vice is another recommendation by Jay, using bar clamps. For about $36 I got a very solid end vice that can open up to a crazy amount. I left the bars long for now and may actually use them for some glue ups.
6. Casters: I usually buy cheap casters and then am disappointed with them. I knew for this project I wanted something good, but also something that lifted up so that the bench sat on the ground. Woodcraft had a sale of these just at the right time,
7. Paper Roll: Since this will also be an assembly table, and even finishing table, I wanted to protect the top a bit. This is another idea from Jay. Having a roll of craft paper this handy will mean that I will actually use it.
-- Jay in Pennsylvania, http://hobby4charity.org/