Renovation of my old work bench
Hi there Fraternity
As you know the last few weeks have been hell here in the U.K. weather wise. I know itís very selfish, but I had an inkling my wife would take full advantage of the adverse weather and drop in temperature to finish me off, which was endorsed by watching her clear a path through the snow to my workshop, for my next or in this case, last woodworking project.
So, as you will know my last letter to the column was how not to make a sharpening jig, which while photographing the experience brought my attention to the state of my workbench.
Now itís about 25 years old made of mainly red wood with MDF inserts, and to be honest I never really liked the design. It is extremely sturdy, well made and very true in every direction, but I like wells. And this is almost completely flat. I am forever having to move tools etc out of the way or end up pushing them over the edge. So, decided to do something about it.
The centre of the bench consists of two layers of 18mm MDF sheet. I removed the top one and my new well didnít seem to deep. I could not remove the second one as I would have been left with just a gaping hole. So, removed both 6x2 edges and cut the removed MDF into strips and refitted 6x2ís This gave me a decent depth. Now when I complete any project I hate to use it as it gets dings and scratches etc. so I decided to make a sacrificial well and cut a piece of 6mm ply which as you can see is held in situ by the two 25mm strips. Just remove 4 screws and you can just slide it out. As a secondary thought I went on to E Bay and purchased a roll of fine ribbed rubber sheet for about £20 2.5x1.2m which I cut to the actual size of well and it will do me twice, itís also a great protection against damaging or blunting tools. That was a good move. So good does it work I do not need the 6mm ply. I wish it had been available in brown to match buts needs must.
Lastly I was in a dilemma as to the actual working surfaces i.e. the 6x2ís. Now they had an extreme case of acne. I had butchered them over the years, but they were part of the history of the bench and just replacing them I felt was losing something of the character of the bench, so spend the best part of a day boring dozens of holes and plugging with dowels.
Then sanded back, unfortunately this ended up with a white finish, so 3 coats of antique pine satin stain and thatís it.
Now I know there are lots of you out there probably thinking that my actual work surface is somewhat narrow, but thatís what I had to play with and as you see from the last photo I recently built an over large table saw out feed table, which I have to admit has become a second home to the deference of my main workbench, itís just fantastic to work at but a little low. I deliberately never included and vices, itís purely for layout purposes or. Hold downs.
I think it still retains some of its character and I promise not to abuse it, well not right away. Now Iím bored. Wife wants picture frames, which require a highly defined sense of accuracy on these mitre corner joints. Well lads you saw my bench before renovation, how refined can I be, about to find out.