As many of you already know, my shop is spread out between our carport, a small shed, and a deck in front of the shed.
For the last few years I've had an all steel table sitting on the deck for use as a workbench. It is 3' by 5' and very heavy. I've kept it covered in the past with a piece of 1/2" plywood, but between the intense Florida sun and heavy rains I've had to replace the ply every year. The heavy morning dew and condensation never dried out under the wood and before long the plywood was less than useless as a work surface.
This time I decided to try something different. Loading the wife into the Rodeo, we went to Lowes where I purchased 2 pieces of 2x12 12' long a couple of 1x4's at 4' and a 6' piece of 2x4. I also bought a large tube of liquid nails (the heavy duty exterior stuff) and a quart of their Cabit Marine grade Spar Varnish.
I had them cut the 2x12's in half so I ended up with 4 2x12's at 6' each. 3 pieces would be used on the workbench and the 4th would serve as a lower shelf for the wife's flower potting table.
Now understand that I am still recovering from a stroke since June and can not carry anything over 5 pounds. So my wife and the Lowes guy loaded the truck and my 21 year old and the wife had to carry the wood from the truck to the shed.
This project took five days to complete.
On day one, after getting the wood home, I glued up three of the 2x12's into a panel using the liquid nails that was wide enough to cover the table's 3' width. I also painted the table top with some Rustoleum that I had on hand. I'll need to get more to finish painting the rest of the table legs and bottom shelf.
On day two, I cut the 6' panel down to just over the 5' length of the tale. I did this because I did not want it to hang over the end of the deck or interfere with the shed door opening. My deck is 8'x8' and I need a little over 2' of that for the door to fully open.
On day three (after I'd given the liquid nails plenty of drying time, I cut the 1x4's and glued and screwed them to the bottom of the panel to raise it above the steel table top and allow air between the wood and steel so the condensation will no longer collect and rot the wood. I also cut the 2x4 down and added the two pieces to the ends of the table top, again using the liquid nails and long screws. Then I painted the bottom with some exterior latex paint that I've had on hand for several years waiting for that next project... Surprising it was still good.
Day four begins the fun part. I turned the panel over and began flattening the surface.
I filled the two knot holes and the valleys between the 2x12's with wood putty and sanded everything smooth.
Now for most of you this sounds easy. For me it was a chore that took almost half a day! My strength is not anything near what it was before the stoke and my balance is nearly totally gone. I've improved a lot , but using that belt sander became something one might see on America's funniest home videos as it promptly took off across the table dragging me along with it!
Once I had the top flat enough for my purposes, I applied the first coat of spar varnish, waited the required 6 hours and applied the second coat to the still tacky surface. With the second coat applied I had my son help me erect a kind of tent over it so the dew would not get on it while it dried over night.
Day five and the end is in sight! A little sanding with 100 paper and the third coat of varnish is applied and its really starting to look good.
All that remains is deciding on a decent woodworking vice that doesn't cost a small fortune and can be dressed in some way to withstand being out doors all year in the Florida weather.
Of course I now have a whole new problem. Its too pretty to get all scarred up! Just how long before you get past the fear of that dreaded first scratch on a workbench?
Notice the piece of protective hardboard under the chop saw?
BTW, that small box on the table took me over 5 months to make. It is just a test to see if I could still operate my machines as I went through therapy and regained some of my strength. I actually finished it yesterday and gave it to my son who thinks its extremely cool. Go figure...
Its made from wood reclaimed from pallets and some kind of extremely hard black wood I got from the exotic cut off bin at a local lumber yard.