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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I think it is about time I changed my workbench for something more suitable for woodworking, and am looking for suggestions. Attached are some photos and a Sketchup drawing of my "workshop" if you could call it that - it is really a small corner of our back deck about 2.7m x 3.6m (9' x 12') where I can make a mess without upsetting my wife, well not upsetting her too much...

It is an old family home. It's been in the family for 100 years and now the council has put it under demolition control which is a fancy way of saying we can't do much to the building without getting their approval. We were lucky to get the back deck on before the demolition control order happened. Working on the deck has a lot of advantage. I can be out in the open without being in the sun, and large pieces can easily overflow into the yard etc. while I am working on them. However the room for equipment is very limited.

Currently I put a piece of MDF on the table saw and use that as a general work bench. I have a portable workbench about 600 x 600 (2' x 2') that I use as a vice when I need to hold things, and that is one of my major bugbears. The existing work bench has become a storage place for all sorts of things, including the drill press, and I am gradually working through sorting that out. It is a bit tidier now than when the photos were taken, but still too messy to actually use. The table saw is positioned with a bit over 1200mm (4') clearance between the blade and the railings, and with assistance I can cut full size sheets if necessary. However this leaves the minimum amount of walking room between the table saw and the bench - 650mm (26"). The router is mounted under the table saw extension on the bench side. All in all, it is a very compact workshop and I am constantly re-arranging the layout for whatever stage of the job I am at.

My jobs include a range of things like:
homewares such as shadow boxes, serviette holders​
coffee tables​
inlays​
bird feeders (get asked for them all the time)​
cabinets​
minor joinery and mouldings for house maintenance​

Any suggestions for the features I should build in a bench given the jobs that I do and the limited space? What I think I want so far are lots of holes for bench dogs with matching vices/clamps to hold small pieces, particularly for sanding, and a leg vice with supports that will hold panels vertically - Roubo workbench style. I don't want it blocking the door so maximum width is 1020mm (40").

Suggestions? Comments?

Darryl
 

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Darryl I'm sure there will be many suggestions.
 

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All committed woodworkers eventually face the challenge of building "their" bench. The one that will meet their needs over the long haul. Lots to think about for sure. I agonized over mine and eventually settled on this design for a lot of reasons. It is made of hard maple so it can withstand a good pounding. It has a leg vise which is inexpensive to make. It also has a surface vise which I bought, but it wasn't too expensive. Dog holes as needed. I also have a hold down which is not shown. The cantilever on the end is critical for clamping things to the bench. The shelf holds my most used tools, but could house storage cabinets as well. Of course yours would be smaller but 40 inches is a reasonable work surface. Good luck. I'm sure you will get lots of valuable input here.
 

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I think it is about time I changed my workbench for something more suitable for woodworking, and am looking for suggestions.

Darryl
Dumpster dove special???
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
All committed woodworkers eventually face the challenge of building "their" bench. The one that will meet their needs over the long haul. Lots to think about for sure. I agonized over mine and eventually settled on this design for a lot of reasons. It is made of hard maple so it can withstand a good pounding. It has a leg vise which is inexpensive to make. It also has a surface vise which I bought, but it wasn't too expensive. Dog holes as needed. I also have a hold down which is not shown. The cantilever on the end is critical for clamping things to the bench. The shelf holds my most used tools, but could house storage cabinets as well. Of course yours would be smaller but 40 inches is a reasonable work surface. Good luck. I'm sure you will get lots of valuable input here.
Dennis,

That is something like one of the configurations I had imagined. How do you find just having one row of dog holes? What about a tail vice?

thanks,
Darryl
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Stick,

interesting - with all those boards how do you get a flat surface?

Darryl
 

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My work bench is multipurpose. It serves as an outfeed table for the table saw, an assy bench, and anything else that comes along.

It is built like a tank. The top is heavy enough that it is not fastened to the frame. It is a solid core door covered with Formica. I drilled dog holes in it but they don't get used too often. Most of the time, they are in the wrong place. However, the Kreg track has worked out really well.

The frame is dual 2x4 construction. It has served me well for the past couple of years. As time permitted, I have added drawers underneath that hold all sorts of clamps.

It doesn't have the leg vise but somehow, I have managed. I might note that I don't do much hand planing.

Then there is the mobile workstation and the adjustable height/dual router tables. They come in handy all the time. The dog holes and slots are great for a variety of clamping possibilities.

And a cabinet for your drill press.

Good luck building your new bench. I hope you get some inspiration you can adapt to your bench.
Mike
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
Thanks Mike, lots of ideas for me to chew over. I didn't think of putting T tracks in but that looks like a good idea. How do you find the stability of the adjustment bolts on the legs? I will be putting the bench onto a timber floor, so I couldn't use bolts directly, but the idea is worth pursuing. I'm just wondering if over time the table might rock as the bolt gets a little more room in the bolt hole.

PS - I seem to end up with small parts to sand (10mm thick for the current job) which are difficult to clamp. That's why I am looking at bench dogs and clamps that will hold them sideways.

Darryl
 

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Thanks Mike, lots of ideas for me to chew over. I didn't think of putting T tracks in but that looks like a good idea. How do you find the stability of the adjustment bolts on the legs? I will be putting the bench onto a timber floor, so I couldn't use bolts directly, but the idea is worth pursuing. I'm just wondering if over time the table might rock as the bolt gets a little more room in the bolt hole.

PS - I seem to end up with small parts to sand (10mm thick for the current job) which are difficult to clamp. That's why I am looking at bench dogs and clamps that will hold them sideways.

Darryl
The bolts are 5/8 inch. I glued two nuts into each of the legs with the Gorilla glue. They aren't going anywhere, nor do I believe they will wear out. The setup is solid, and easy to adjust.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
The bolts are 5/8 inch. I glued two nuts into each of the legs with the Gorilla glue. They aren't going anywhere, nor do I believe they will wear out. The setup is solid, and easy to adjust.
Thanks - that explanation makes sense. How far apart are the two bolts and how did you lock them in position so that the threads aligned?
 

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The ones at the top which make up your work surface. I thought I could count about 6 plus the edging.
12 plus the edging...
it's 40x102"
all the material was "rescued" from a dumpster...
the side vise like Dennis' hadn't been installed yet...

built the frame that is the base and inlaid a piece of 1/2" ply...
the frame for it is ripped 2x6's put together as joist w/ a rim....
joisting is 12" OC...

same for the top...

the one thing that was paid close attention to was the all the rips/pieces were cut and tuned to be hyper straight..
the boards you see as the top are/were rejected/defective sticks of Maple and Oak flooring...
Cleaned up the flooring to quality and installed it w/ cleats as "T&G flooring" on an exceptionally flat base...
touched up the flooring for flatness w/ a Bailey #8...

As for level..
built it in place and controlled top's flat/level by precise leg lengths....

the drawers are all flooring scraps and old paneling...
drawer glides from cannibalized kitchen cabs...

corner joints are all mortise and tenon...
perpendiculars are dadoed and doweled...
No nails.. used deck screws, GRK's and Timber Mates for screws...
PL Premium Construction adhesive instead of wood glue...
 

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Thanks - that explanation makes sense. How far apart are the two bolts and how did you lock them in position so that the threads aligned?
I drilled a hole, then chiseled out the shape of a nut. I ran both nuts onto the end of the bolt, applied glue, and hammered it home. After the glue dried, I backed out the bolt and cleaned up the foamy overflow with a sander. They are glued in back to back and the threads are aligned.

It really was easy to do. That is some awesome glue.
 

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Lots of good suggestions. A bit different suggestion; consider building a custom stand for the table saw. Leave a little chamber underneath for dust collection and cut out an opening for dust to fall through into that chamber. Under that, have a cabinet area, preferably with drawers, but at least with doors so you can put some tools and accessories inside and a bit out of the weather. Make sure the cabinet height lifts the table above the railing so you still have the overhang.

I'd make sure the bench had plenty of storage space underneath so you can clear some additional clutter. I think your wife will be much friendlier to your woodworking if you are able to put things out of sight.

In the area by the door, consider building a large cabinet to go above the work space you have now. If the rules don't allow attaching a cabinet to the wall, build a one piece, free standing unit which has supports attached to the base for the cabinet above. This will give you lots more storage space. I would also consider finding another spot for the compressor and repositioning the saw to the right a bit. This could give you a little more room to the left for making cuts, or for installing some sort of folding work table with cabinets underneath. If this cabinet folding table are slightly lower than the saw, it might work.

The big thing to me would be the payoff with the wife being happier if there is less visible mess. My wife is very happy for my new shed because it will greatly reduce the mess in the home office. Peace at home is a good thing. Be sure to let us know what you come up with and post a picture. Many of us have the same kind of situation and are always looking for solutions.
 

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Hello Darryl, Just from a purely safety point of view, I would get rid of those house bricks you're using to raise the saw surface over the railing height. Please use something with a larger surface sitting flat on the floor. I saw a similar situation a while back that ended in pain for the operator. Otherwise, good luck with the makeover.
 

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I drilled a hole, then chiseled out the shape of a nut. I ran both nuts onto the end of the bolt, applied glue, and hammered it home. After the glue dried, I backed out the bolt and cleaned up the foamy overflow with a sander. They are glued in back to back and the threads are aligned.

It really was easy to do. That is some awesome glue.
Here are a few more pics of the leg adjusters.
The bolt is 5/8 dia x 3 inches long. A total of three nuts and one flat washer were used for each leg.

Hope this helps.
Mike
 

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Back again with more... Actually, you have a fair amount of space there. Give a thought to adding a post to the outside edge closer to the edge of the stairs and carry the boards over further. This would better define the space.

You have a lot of scraps laying around (don't we all). You might find a couple of trash cans for storing those scraps in one place. Instead of a heavy work table, you might consider a torsion table. Its a light framework with ply on top and bottom. Very rigid. You can add some some heavier pieces or reinforce the ends or edge to mount your vise(s). Cut some hand holes here and there and you have a folding workbench that can be stored vertically when you don't need it, or could be pulled out into the open space for assembly work. This will give you access to the saw as you're fitting pieces together. You could salvage an old folding table's folding legs and attach them. If you make a really light weight table of 3/8ths ply, you could add 3/4 ply where you mount the legs, which would save weight. If you use thin ply for the top, you could add narrow strips of hard wood between the framework where you can drill holes for bench dogs. If the table is 5-8 feet by whatever width you want (say, 30 inches), this folding table could easily fit between the posts on the left side of the saw. If you want, you can use some 1/4 inch, high density MDF, like what they used to call Masonite, on the top. Screw it on so you can replace it when it gets too badly marred.

I see the open porch as a real potential problem if it rains. Whatever kind of bench you make, its going to deteriorate if you let it get wet. So I'd figure out a way to keep it dry. If you use the folding table idea, you could get some heavy plastic (the fabric hotels use to block light and add insulation is a good choice and easily available) and make a simple cover to encase the folding table while it stands vertically. The same stuff can be used to cover other surfaces you want to keep dry. Don't forget to lift the stuff you want to keep dry off the floor where there is sure to be standing water and splashing. Strips of bare wood will wick the water up, so maybe some plastic or a very well coated strips of wood?

If rain is a problem, I've seen several restaurants that use roll up. clear plastic screens attached to the outside of their buildings. Because it rolls up, and is not "permanent" it probably won't violate the new rules and is mostly out of sight when rolled up. With a radiant heater, this temporary enclosure could allow you to work outside more comfortably in bad weather. This is very thick plastic material, maybe 12 oto 20 mils or more. Thin plastic will break down in a wind.

That same fabric could make a cover for the table saw and benches as well, although if you have humidity, you'll have to find a way to keep moisture from condensing on metal parts, maybe some spacers in a light frame with the fabric stapled or glued to it so the cloth protects without touching the metal, and with sides that hang down a few inches past the edge of the table. Hope I'm making this clear.

Roll around stands and cabinets will also work well in this situation. Your drill press could sit on one as well as sanders and even a small band saw. Roll em out to use, roll them back when you're done. That way you can expand to the whole deck when you need to, then compact down to a small area when done. Lots of projects here. Too bad you didn't enclose the deck in the first place, oh well, just requires more inventive approaches.

Sorry for the novel, but I like problem solving.
 

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Darryl; "...I'm just wondering if over time the table might rock as the bolt gets a little more room in the bolt hole."
If you're talking about leg height adjustment, use inserts or drill out and chisel the shape for nuts...epoxy the nuts into the recess.
I've done the bolt thing for levelling my big 4x8 outfeed table; never had an issue with the holes getting larger. Cheap and practical solution for levelling.

Mike; I love that rolling kickspace storage container! Brilliant use of dead space.
(Great place to put all those items that I buy then can never find again...;) )
 

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Hah! Mike beat me to it...
"...A total of three nuts and one flat washer were used for each leg."

Mike; I only see two nuts (per bolt). Are you doubling up the outer ones to lock the adjustment? Theoretically that's what you've already done by tightening the outer one against the epoxied one(?)...
 
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