Monday, August 22, 2011

More surface to put stuff...

...  I mean to work on.

I was able to get a work top on one of the benches today and to add some storage space to keep some organizers. 

First, I will show how I make my work benches.  They are really easy and work well on a finished wall or open framing.

I start with a simple frame for the top made from 2x material.  I use 2x4's for supporting bench top tools and I use 2x3's for actual work surfaces.  I think that even the 2x3's would work just as well for supporting tools as the 2x4's do.  If you decide to make some of your own, you can determine what suits your situation the best.

Here is a frame for a top.  I use two, 2.5" coarse thread screws at each butt joint.  That's it. 

This is an 8' section and I have a support every 2' for the top. I make them 21" deep. I will show you why down the page.

I make a level line at the height that I want the top at minus the thickness of the material used for the top.  I use plywood.  I have some 3/4", some 5/8" and some 1/2".  Again, you can choose what material and thickness you like.  I make all of my tool and work surfaces at 36".  That works well for me.

I use a temp support and a clamp to help hold the front of the frame work, like a leg, to get it level and screwed to the wall.  Make sure to screw into the studs. 

After the frame is secured to the wall and it is level in both directions, along the wall and coming out from the wall, I measure the length for each leg.  My floor is really rough and NOT level, so this is how I came up with building these like this and to keep even support on all of the legs.

 I secure each leg with three screws into each support and one from the front of the frame, for a total of 4 screws in each leg.  Having the legs like this is a bit of a weakness in this design, and some lateral bracing might be a good idea if the legs tend to get knocked around.  Benches with a lot of weight on them, like tools, stay planted pretty well and don't get knocked out of place as easily.

Now it's time for the top.

I use plywood.  For this top I used a 3/8" thick piece doubled over to make it 3/4" thick.  That is what I had on hand and I didn't want to go buy a new sheet.  I cut the top to 22.5" wide so there is a 1.5" overhang from the frame.  This is why I only make the frame 21" to begin with.  I like a ledge overhanging the frame so I can clamp to it if I need to.  I then take a 2x3 and cut out a rabbet that covers the edge of the ply and extends the clamp edge to about 2.5". 

Here is a picture of the end to try and explain better.

The rabbeted 2x3 is screwed along its length from the top and the bottom.  Glue would be a good idea here too, I didn't glue mine though.    I screw the top down to the frame along the edges and along the internal supports.  Now this thing gets really rigid and resists racking well. 

After the top is secured down, I like to add a hardboard top to finish it off some and help protect the plywood.  I used pin nails to hold the hardboard in place.  If the top gets too  beat up and needs replacing, all I have to do is pull the hardboard off, pull the pin nails and put a new piece on.  Simple.

In addition to my new work surface, I added some storage for some "suitcase" style parts organizers.  I made up a simple frame to support the "suitcases" and screwed them to the legs and the wall.

I plan on making some more just like this on the other end to hold 5 more.  These are really handy organizers and I like them a lot!

They are Stanley brand and I bought them at Lowes.  They have removable trays inside that makes them easy to use and the whole case is portable, which is nice when I have to take the items with me away from the shop. 

One more thing about this new bench, it also serves as a support table for my miter saw. 

I will show later how my miter saw set up works.  I made it simple and it takes up less space than a dedicated miter saw station. 

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