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Multi-Purpose Workbench Top for Small Condo Workshop

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Forum topic by scottkeen posted 01-03-2016 12:21 AM 1287 views 0 times favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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scottkeen

44 posts in 387 days


01-03-2016 12:21 AM

I’m going to convert the 2nd bedroom (11’6” x 12’6”) in my 2-bedroom condo into a workshop. It’s not a big space, so I’ve been getting small tools, like the DW745 table saw, a wall-hugger sliding miter saw, bench drill press, etc.

Along ALL the walls I want benchtops with storage underneath. The benchtops need to be multi-purpose. Some where tools will be bolted semi-permanently (like a sunken miter saw station). I’m imagining the benchtops will have dog holes to hold-down work and a front vise. I’d like all the bench tool surfaces and benchtops to be on ONE level plane, so that they also become the outfeed support for other tools. Like the bench with the miter saw station doubles as the outfeed for the router table station, etc.

In the middle of the room would be a movable island workbench with table saw station in it and the island workbench doubles as a a glue-up and assembly table. It would also be the same height plane as the wall benchtops so that they can be support for each other with larger work pieces.

The depths of the benchtops along the walls I’d like to keep to 24”-26”.

I know that making a workshop out of a spare bedroom is nuts, but it’s all I’ve got.

OK, with all that said…

What kind of multi-purpose workbench top would you use for the wall workbenches and the mobile island workbench?

My initial thought was laminated 2×3 for all the tops.
Then I thought about a glued stack of 4 sheets of MDF for the wall benches, and a glued stack of 2 sheets of plywood with a hardboard top for the island bench/assembly table.

Sorry for the long post. I’ve been agonizing over this for awhile and I’m at the point where I need to make the right decision and do it.


17 replies so far

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MadMark

977 posts in 914 days


#1 posted 01-03-2016 12:55 AM

How wide is the hallway door. This will be an absolute limit on sizes. Can you get 4×8 sheet goods in? If no, then rethink.

Center the ts in the room (on paper) and that sets the max infeed and outfeed. Instead of putting everything in the main room, i’d store power tools on interchangable plates in the closet and just use what is needed.

Sound & dust will be issues. Carpet needs to be remove before or it will be after. You can NEVER get all the sawdust out of carpet.

No 220vac limits the size tool you can run. You will also have outlet issues.

In a complex your neighbors might have issues.

Good luck.

M

-- Madmark - Madmark2150@yahoo.com Wiretreefarm.com

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scottkeen

44 posts in 387 days


#2 posted 01-03-2016 01:52 AM

Thanks for the concerns. Was hoping for ideas for bench top materials for multipurpose use, but I’ll address the concerns of having a small workshop in a condo :-)

The condo is a garden style building, there are 3 floors, 5 units total (2 up, 2 mid, 1 down). 15” thick concrete slab floors and walls between units.

The hallway door is 30” wide. The room also has a large french-door style window to the outside. When opened, it’s a 64” wide opening into the room. I’m not going to build anything large in this room, it’s mostly to make small stuff I need for myself or for family. A bookshelf, an end table, etc.

As for wrestling a 4×8 sheet in the room, that’s not going to happen. I’ve already decided that I have to break down the 4×8 into smaller pieces I need either at the lumber yard or outside the condo before I bring it inside. A couple of folding saw horses and a battery powered circular saw kept in my 4Runner for trips to the lumber yard. Yes, the 4Runner fits a full 4×8 sheet.

The table saw would be on a movable bench island, as I mentioned in my post. I figure that a 5’ long piece is about the maximum I can deal with. Any larger, and I have to take the table saw outside. It’s a DeWalt DW745 so it’s very portable.

Sound and dust will certainly be an issue. For dust control, I am going to run 2-1/2” dust collection ports to each tool station with blast gates, and PVC all running to a shop-vac. My shop-vac has a 2-1/2” hose and I’ll store it under one of the workbenches.

Sound control won’t be perfect. Fortunately the floors and walls are 15” thick concrete slabs. I never hear my neighbors, they never hear me. I used to have poker games all night long with 20 guys over and my neigbors said they never heard us! To be kind, my workshop closes at 7pm.

I’m ripping out all the carpet flooring throughout the condo and putting in laminate flooring. For the workshop, I’m considering putting in that hard dense rubber flooring they use in gyms. That should also help with some of the sound.

I have no problem limiting myself to 110 AC tools. All my tools are small. I’ve already run the shop-vac and the table saw simultaneously and the breaker doesn’t trip. The electrical panel is in the same room, so if I must have another circuit added, it doesn’t get any easier. There are 2 circuits unused on the panel if I need them.

Neighbors. My neighbors love me. I’m on the condo Board. We keep their condo fees low :-)

View David Taylor's profile

David Taylor

326 posts in 548 days


#3 posted 01-03-2016 02:16 AM

I think you’ll be able to use the 2 sheet lamination with hardboard top for everything. I would use hardwood plywood – even poplar ply from HD – my son built his desk from one layer of that, and it’s pretty strong. I think it would be plenty strong for bench use as a double layer with cabinets under it supporting it every couple of feet.

I like the idea. If my son (who is 21) had moved out before I built my outbuilding shop this past year, his bedroom was going to become my shop, with a lot of the same ideas. I’m in a separate house, so I wouldn’t have the condo issues, but it sounds like you mostly don’t either.

One thing to consider I just thought of, if you do have to do work outside, will the condo association be a problem?

-- Learn Relentlessly

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scottkeen

44 posts in 387 days


#4 posted 01-03-2016 02:25 AM

Thank David.

I think you ll be able to use the 2 sheet lamination with hardboard top for everything. I would use hardwood plywood…

With 2-sheet lamination and hardboard, would that be deep enough to have dog holes? These benches have to be multi-purpose. The same bench that has my 90-lb drill press on it also has to be the bench I use for sanding and planing.

One thing to consider I just thought of, if you do have to do work outside, will the condo association be a problem?

Nah. I am the condo association. I’ve been on the Board longer than anyone. I was the Board president for 7 years, currently just a member (3 member Board). Also, I often hear a table saw running somewhere on the property. People are having their units remodeled and we’re in an ongoing cycle with having the wooden walkways rebuilt for the buildings. I’m cutting off the power tools in my workshop at 7pm.

I used to build and sell poker tables, I probably built 2-dozen of them in my condo. They were 8’ x 44”, too big to shape the arc ends inside the condo. I used to drag my router and sawhorse outside and make my cuts. I did all the upholstery inside in the living room.



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scottkeen

44 posts in 387 days


#5 posted 01-03-2016 03:20 AM

Current temporary setup. Everything is on sawhorses. Everything is at the wrong height.

Let’s call this the ”Before” photo, before I build workbenches and put in flooring.

View MT_Stringer's profile

MT_Stringer

2851 posts in 2692 days


#6 posted 01-03-2016 03:36 AM

My work bench is also the outfeed table for my table saw (3hp cabinet saw style). It also is used for evrey project I build. Staining, assembly, whatever.

I have my saw positioned just inside of the overhead door. Anything longer than 48 inches requires the door to be raised. The table is 30×40 something inches long. T Tracks work great for holding stuff while I work on it.

Good luck with your shop build.
Note: Maybe some wall cabinets hung on a French cleat would help.
Check out my garage makeover. You might get some ideas that you can incorporate.
http://lumberjocks.com/MT_Stringer/blog/36520

My mobile workstation…
http://lumberjocks.com/projects/92907

And my work bench.

I have a helper for the tight spots! :-) Love that girl!

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

View MadMark's profile

MadMark

977 posts in 914 days


#7 posted 01-03-2016 05:37 AM

How are you planning to cut the oval top? Your ts certainly doesn’t have the cojones or the fence. Or do you cut the whole top & rounded ends with a jigsaw? It sure looks like a single piece sheet of goods to me.

M

-- Madmark - Madmark2150@yahoo.com Wiretreefarm.com

View scottkeen's profile

scottkeen

44 posts in 387 days


#8 posted 01-03-2016 05:51 AM

How are you planning to cut the oval top? Your ts certainly doesn t have the cojones or the fence. Or do you cut the whole top & rounded ends with a jigsaw? It sure looks like a single piece sheet of goods to me.

I’ve built and sold at least 2-dozen of these 8-foot poker tables in my condo.

I rough cut the arcs with a jigsaw, then use a circle jig with a router and trim out the arc. I plunge cut the straight inside cuts of the top rail with a circular saw.

I’m not building poker tables anymore, and if I did, I would make the cuts outside on sawhorses on my balcony. My inside workshop is for smaller items, items no longer than 4-5 feet.

I guess this discussion is about what I can and can’t build inside my condo. I was looking for workbench top suggestions. Oh well.

View MadMark's profile

MadMark

977 posts in 914 days


#9 posted 01-03-2016 04:27 PM

Benchtop, buy a 2nd hand fire door. They’re solid core, dense & stable. Use the knob hole as a wiring chase. Screw 2×4 on both sides of corner where bench goes with 3-1/2” #10 woodscrews. Support front edge with 2×4 legs. It’ll hold a ton, be stable as a rock and cheap on the budget.

M

-- Madmark - Madmark2150@yahoo.com Wiretreefarm.com

View paratrooper34's profile

paratrooper34

891 posts in 2413 days


#10 posted 01-03-2016 04:34 PM

The space you have is pretty small for putting in a full size bench. You can make a bench that is rather generic to perform multiple duties. This Japanese planing board would give you some flexibility for hand tool work yet would leave the bench open for other tasks to perform (assembly, finishing, etc). I am actually considering making one of these myself as they are pretty handy.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yc4XtJ4M5oE&list=PL86lqISCtD7qGdLJ1jtDhZ0WEjZQYJKog

-- Mike

View David Taylor's profile

David Taylor

326 posts in 548 days


#11 posted 01-04-2016 02:20 AM

The two sheet lamination with hardboard works well with dog holes I have Gramercy holdfasts that I used in my old bench for years that was exactly this kind of build.

-- Learn Relentlessly

View scottkeen's profile

scottkeen

44 posts in 387 days


#12 posted 01-04-2016 02:30 AM

Benchtop, buy a 2nd hand fire door. They re solid core, dense & stable. Use the knob hole as a wiring chase. Screw 2×4 on both sides of corner where bench goes with 3-1/2” #10 woodscrews. Support front edge with 2×4 legs. It ll hold a ton, be stable as a rock and cheap on the budget.

I like that idea. I’ll have to cut it down to 24” wide (I think they’re mostly 30”-32”, as the garage entry door?).

View scottkeen's profile

scottkeen

44 posts in 387 days


#13 posted 01-04-2016 02:33 AM


My work bench is also the outfeed table for my table saw (3hp cabinet saw style). It also is used for evrey project I build. Staining, assembly, whatever.

I have my saw positioned just inside of the overhead door. Anything longer than 48 inches requires the door to be raised. The table is 30×40 something inches long. T Tracks work great for holding stuff while I work on it.

Good luck with your shop build.
Note: Maybe some wall cabinets hung on a French cleat would help.
Check out my garage makeover. You might get some ideas that you can incorporate.
http://lumberjocks.com/MT_Stringer/blog/36520

My mobile workstation…
http://lumberjocks.com/projects/92907

Thanks. I will check out your garage makeover and mobile workstation. I think hanging cabinets would be a good addition. I have an outside storage shed on the balcony and put in a french cleat system to hang shelves and tools on custom brackets.

View scottkeen's profile

scottkeen

44 posts in 387 days


#14 posted 01-04-2016 02:34 AM


The space you have is pretty small for putting in a full size bench. You can make a bench that is rather generic to perform multiple duties. This Japanese planing board would give you some flexibility for hand tool work yet would leave the bench open for other tasks to perform (assembly, finishing, etc). I am actually considering making one of these myself as they are pretty handy.

Thanks. I’m watching the Japanese planing board video now…

View scottkeen's profile

scottkeen

44 posts in 387 days


#15 posted 01-04-2016 02:35 AM


The two sheet lamination with hardboard works well with dog holes I have Gramercy holdfasts that I used in my old bench for years that was exactly this kind of build.

- David Taylor


Excellent. Thanks.

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