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What would be your ideal workbench?


jay5
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I recently made one:

It has a 2' X 4' top, which is a melamine covered particle board. The top also over hangs the main frame by 3" all around, enabling me to use a portable bench vise and C-clamps without the main structure of the bench getting in the way. It is devided into two parts, one section has two shelves, the other has three, and there is no back, because of the way it is situated in my shop, I need to access it from both sides.

I am thinking about getting one custom made at my work (furniture manufacturer), because there are some styles of furniture we make that are really nice looking. If I did I'd get a 2" thick bullnose Knotty Pine top, with lots of distressing, so it looks like it was my grandfathers work bench, or something. We'll see.

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I have two workbenches, one inside and one outside. The inside one doubles as my dining room table. It has a wing that swings up and locks into place for more room. I also have tools pretty much everywhere around the room, in drawers, in boxes etc. I think I know where everything is... I use the inside table for all my fine work, wetsanding, soldering etc.

The outside bench is about 10 ft. long and about 3 ft wide. I built a canopy over top with 2x2's and that corrugated plastic roofing material. I covered the surface of the bench with galvanized sheeting and I placed a big ol' bench vice right in the middle. Under the bench is lots of storage space for paint, sanding etc. materials and I made sliding doors to cover. All the expensive tools worth stealing are stored in the house.

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My ideal workbench would be blonde with huge......

Oh You mean to work on guitars..Duh :D

I just built one, I'll have to get pix. It is 2 feet deep, 4 feet wide, 3 feet tall. It has shelves underneath with doors covering them. On top I put a shelf only 8 inches above the work area. The shelf houses 4 electric outlets(when I wire it). The shelf is also a place to put my soldering iron rest. I screwed a large magnet into the front of the small shelf to hold little parts. I also drilled several holes through the shelf to hold tools. It is a stationary bench.

I'm going to build another of the same dimensions sans the shelves and doors. This way I can move it. It will reside as a seperate entity until the 2 foot depth of my main table is not enough. I can but them up to each other for a 4foot by 4 foot work space.

That is my ideal space.

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The only thing I can think of that I think would be of good use (at the moment, I just woke up!) ...is to use one of those laminate materials for the top that glue doesn't stick to (can't remember the name), so you can easily scrape your glue drizzles off over and over again and keep the top smooth and clean with little effort.

If I were to build a workbench at this point, I would incorporate big deep well-built drawers on roller glides that could hold my power tools easily w/o a lot of cramping, and slide open w/o straining or breaking the bottom out of them.

Actually, I would find it agreeable to find several old workable file cabinets (the 1/2 sizers) and put my top over those, you can find those cheap at auctions. Cheap works for me, and they have deep roller drawers. Maybe 2 or 3 on one side, 2 or 3 on the other side with an opening between them for your chair, using something like 1 X 6's screwed down to the top, then covered with the topper that glue doesn't stick to. To me, that would give you the most bang for the buck for the floorspace. Instead of having legs and a lot of unused space underneath, the space is used up with big deep drawers that would be a valuable addition to the workbench itself. Leave a little overhang on the edges for the vise and other whatnots...

I also saw a trick in one of my Erlewine videos where Dan uses paper towel cores (the cardboard tube) ...he slits a slice out of it lengthwise so he can get his fingers into it and keeps all of his baby food jars for staining stacked up in those things. Pretty neat trick.

Baby food jars are an indespensable part of my operations, they are sooo perfect (and usually free if you can find a friend of yours having a baby :D ) .

I have 2 full-stack separate top and bottom Husky tool cabinets on wheels just for guitar stuff, that helps me a lot.

I'm different than a lot of guys tho in that I don't really like having so much big stationary floor-standing power tools taking up the real estate, I actually don't have a single one. All my power tools are power hand tools that can be stored away out of site and I prefer it that way, it keeps my operation small and nimble, and I like it that way.

I try to keep my operation as 'virtual' as possible, where it doesn't take up much space at all, if you walked into my house you wouldn't even know I build guitars...at least you wouldn't know it by a big room full of equipment anyway, cuz' I don't have a room like that...but yet I get tremendous bang for the buck from what I do have, what I do have I really get the maximum use out of it, so I always have that in mind when perusing a new tool.

That's why I use a portable scroll saw that doubles as my bandsaw with a quick blade change, and I can do the most intricate scroll-saw cuts too...for about $100.00 and portable instead of a $600.00 floor-standing bandsaw.

My spray equipment is very small and portable, I cull the woodpile often and throw away anything that doesn't 'really' have any present use to keep the pile down to it's smallest size possible. I've learned to throw away some very nice woods because I figured out that I would rather have a small woodpile rather than a huge overbearing pile of cutoffs hanging around, no matter how nice those cutoffs might be.

I know this is more than a workbench recommendation, but what I'm trying to get across is the total 'outlook', or 'philosophy' of my operation, there is a common thread running thru all of my purchases, and if you're looking to 'gear up', it might help if you know what 'your' philosophy includes. My philosophy fits my needs perfectly, and I am aware of it also, and it comes out whenever I am thinking about a new tool or piece of wood or project or whatever. If you're not concious of your philosophy, you might find yourself buying things that don't really 'fit' your operations.

I am not trying to be a full-time luthier, I am very happy being a 'backyard builder', and all my tools and tool selections reflect that outlook. Your outlook may be very different, but defining your outlook for what you want will help you gather the 'right' tools and workbench items that will suit you the best.

A bunch of floor standing tools would just really get on my nerves more than anything, I have found ways to get around having to have tools like that, I've found an 'alternate' way to do most operations, and that way agrees with my lifestyle more than having a big shop room.

Hope that helps in some small way. B)

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