June 11, 2016

Workbench: It Works If You Work It (And Build It)!!

After tackling the lumber rack, I began looking around for workbench ideas that would function well in my shop.  Given my available space, major tools already owned, and current skill level, I had a hard time finding something that would work!

My shop is a 17'x10' one-car garage with limited electrical; that is, there is one outlet in the ceiling (designed for a garage door opener), and one on the far back wall.  The ceiling is a good height (about 10'), and it has both a big garage door, and a regular door in the adjacent wall.  The lumber rack is installed on the same side as the door, which leaves me a 10' wall and a 17' wall available.

Before I got the ShopSmith, I had built a torsion box workbench.  Unfortunately, having no knowledge of what I was doing, I made several major errors.  Mainly, I didn't let the dimensional lumber dry and acclimate to my shop after bringing it home from the big box store.  The bench top was bowed, and the front rail had nearly pulled away from the bench make the tail vise and dog holes useless.  There were several other problems, but those were the worst.  You can see the disassembled boxes on and behind my lumber rack.

Once I got the ShopSmith, I knew that I wanted to make it the heart of the shop.  That means that the bench needs to be out on the periphery, along one of the walls.  I also wanted to keep it fairly simple, while still offering a lot of capability and options for "upgrades".  That was all fulfilled by this modular workbench.

At 16' long by 2' deep, it offers tons of work surface and fits perfectly in my shop.

It only looks like I'm working!

Tools!  Free wood!  Clamps!!

I made a fairly major modification, in that I have a radial arm saw instead of a miter saw.

Such table!

Very securely mounted to the wall

There are several parts of the build that I have not yet completed, but the main body of the bench is done, and that's what I needed.  Obviously, I won't be making the swing-out table saw component, which works as I'm using that space to store some found wood that have given me a few ideas.  I do plan on making the rolling drawers, the slide out hardware organizers and flip-up assembly table.  I will cover those in later posts.

One thing I added that I'm happy with is a power strip.  I cut off a length of 14g extension cord that included the male plug.  This runs under the bench to the left of the radial arm saw to the outlet on the back wall, then comes up on the right side of the saw and is wired into a multi-outlet strip.  Now I can use powered hand tools on that side of the bench without having cords all over the floor.