Planning to build a workbench area, need a lot of advice! - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 13 Old 02-18-2017, 11:56 PM Thread Starter
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Question Planning to build a workbench area, need a lot of advice!

I'll start off by saying I haven't really done any wood work in 20+ years, but I have a house and I have a little space in my garage that I want to build a proper workbench and storage area, and I need advice on most of it. I think once I have some feedback from the community I will attempt to use Sketchup to design what I want so I know what I need to buy to build it.

I recently have made a few purchases for this purpose and to continue projects into the future. I will make a short list of things to help understand what I will need or how I will best be able to store and use what I have.

10in portable table saw w/ quick stand
12in compound miter saw
Router with fixed & plunge ability
18v 18 gauge brad nailer
7 1/4 Circular Saw
18v drill
And a small variety of basic hand tools

Roughly I have a 9ft (deep) x 14ft (width) area, which isn't large by any means, it would be in the back of my garage and I still would like to be able to use my garage as a garage for my vehicles. I'm trying to understand the basics on what I will need.

My goal with this work area will be to tackle some small home repair projects and also for small modest furniture for the home and family like small bookshelves, simple tv stand for an older DLP projection tv, making some sort of shelving for a bathroom, etc.

I don't have a huge budget for this build or additional power tools so I am hoping to make use of what I have primarily, but I'm always open to suggestions. I will have to share this space with my stand up deep freeze which will chew up about 2ft x 2ft.

A few ideas I had (which might be poor planning) was to have the height at about 36in tall and maybe 36in in depth,and hoping to incorporate the table and miter saws as a part of the bench area to both maximize space and maybe use the bench as a bit of an outfeed table for the table saw since it is portable, I think the build will likely be sort of an L shape.

I would like to design something that has plenty of practical workspace without being cluttered but will also offer storage in some sort of combination of possibly top cabinets with a pegboard door to double as additional storage/hanging space, lower drawers etc

The problem is, I'm not an avid woodworker, so I'm trying to get a feel for what is a good idea or a bad idea when planning a work space. Since I don't have a specific use for this space I think being somewhat 'general' might not be such a bad thing. Another thought I had was my lighting isn't the best and was considering putting in some LED strips to bring in some bright light to the area.

Really I just need hints, tips, layout ideas or maybe inventive ideas that would allow more of my garage to be a workspace but then be able to tuck, fold, hide away when finished to allow it to still be a garage for vehicle storage.

I realize this post might be a bit all over the place, I've just been running this stuff over and over in my head for weeks and I need solid advice to point me to the right direction.

Thanks in advance or all the help!

To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson
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post #2 of 13 Old 02-19-2017, 02:58 AM
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Sounds like my beginnings. Advice. Make work bench same height as table saw. In this manner it serves as out flow for long boards or plywood. Bench is easly made with big box lumber ( 2 x 4' 4 x 4)
4x 4 for legs 2 x 4 laid edge to edge for 1.5" top or side to side for 3.5" top , plenty strong . You can lap joint stringers and cross takes. Lastly add rollers for mobility with means to elevate off rollers for work . Add vise or make a vise, drill peg holes for bench clamping and you good to go . Kentucky tom
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post #3 of 13 Old 02-19-2017, 05:23 AM
where's my table saw?
 
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Quick and easy work bench/table

If you want a quick and easy way to make a work bench, get 2 or 3 used legal size file cabinets from the thrift stores, a 30" wide solid core door from the box stores with blemishes OK, and set the door on top of the cabinets. Cover the door with a piece of MDF, particle board or plywood which will add thickness/mass and it can be flipped over when it gets nasty. I have about 5 of these in my shop. The drawers are heavy duty and hold lots of hand and power tools, saw blades, sandpaper other stuff. I paid $75.00 for the cabinets, less if you buy several!

You don't need a huge bench. For making mortises or hand chiseling you need mass and sturdy. You may also want a long table to stack stuff on.....? They are different! My table saw outfeed table is also a work table and assembly table. It's 10 ft long and sits on 4 file cabinets. My Maple laminated work bench sits on 2 file cabinets with wood vises at either end.




I have plans to make a sturdy hand tool bench using 4" square legs Oak and a solid laminated top, probably about 30" X 48" or 60". long. Something like this:


Planing the top smooth will require a large plane ......
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The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)

Last edited by woodnthings; 02-19-2017 at 05:39 AM.
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post #4 of 13 Old 02-19-2017, 10:32 AM
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Good to read you have a list of ideas and measurements for your WW area. Consider finding a book/magazine that describes building a small work area, including benches and storage. Planning lighting is also important especially when outlets are limited, and should IMO done BEFORE you begin any building or moving of "toys". Measure out the work area on paper you hope to utilize, as well as all larger items that will be sharing that area, which makes it easier to move items for a good work flow. Take your time, take some pics, & keep us informed of your progress. Be safe.
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post #5 of 13 Old 02-19-2017, 11:52 AM
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Everything you can on wheels.

Share whatever tool you can with another tool. I have a 3 drawer cabinet that is used for my miter saw. It has a fold down wings. It also has a fold down router table in the back.

Fold down and fold up work bench instead of some monstrosity of a 8' or 10' long bench.

I didn't see a compressor on your list. Anyway, if possible move that to the overhead. A small pancake could be used. Even if you decide you don't want to hard pipe it in place a couple 50 foot hoses will serve nicely.

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post #6 of 13 Old 02-19-2017, 03:01 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kentucky tom View Post
Sounds like my beginnings. Advice. Make work bench same height as table saw. In this manner it serves as out flow for long boards or plywood. Bench is easly made with big box lumber ( 2 x 4' 4 x 4)
4x 4 for legs 2 x 4 laid edge to edge for 1.5" top or side to side for 3.5" top , plenty strong . You can lap joint stringers and cross takes. Lastly add rollers for mobility with means to elevate off rollers for work . Add vise or make a vise, drill peg holes for bench clamping and you good to go . Kentucky tom
I measured my table saw last night and it is 36in, which is what I planned to have the table height at, maybe reducing the top to max out at about 35 3/4in to account for the level of the floor in relation so it is not proud of the table saw. I don't intend on making this 'pretty' by any means worried more about strength and functionality, but I will say I think I will want to add some sort of overhead or under counter drawers and shelving for ease of use. You mention rollers, which I hadn't originally put thought to, but then you say to elevate them for work, and I'm not sure I understand that concept. When I think of rollers it would be some of the large rubber ones that can lock. Could you elaborate a bit more?

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Originally Posted by woodnthings View Post
If you want a quick and easy way to make a work bench, get 2 or 3 used legal size file cabinets from the thrift stores, a 30" wide solid core door from the box stores with blemishes OK, and set the door on top of the cabinets. Cover the door with a piece of MDF, particle board or plywood which will add thickness/mass and it can be flipped over when it gets nasty. I have about 5 of these in my shop. The drawers are heavy duty and hold lots of hand and power tools, saw blades, sandpaper other stuff. I paid $75.00 for the cabinets, less if you buy several!

You don't need a huge bench. For making mortises or hand chiseling you need mass and sturdy. You may also want a long table to stack stuff on.....? They are different! My table saw outfeed table is also a work table and assembly table. It's 10 ft long and sits on 4 file cabinets. My Maple laminated work bench sits on 2 file cabinets with wood vises at either end.
This is definitely an approach I hadn't thought of but it would surely be a nice budget option, however I think that would be a lower work surface than I was hoping for. And after watching several videos about making a workbench many people have noted making the top and securing it in a way that makes it easy to flip or replace and I think I will try and implement that workflow into my bench. I had been thinking about making a secondary table that was mobile and sturdy for construction and support of larger projects. But currently I'm focused on the main work area and a secondary table once I get a feel for how my bench is working for me to be able to correct potential mistakes with a secondary table.

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Originally Posted by woodchux View Post
Good to read you have a list of ideas and measurements for your WW area. Consider finding a book/magazine that describes building a small work area, including benches and storage. Planning lighting is also important especially when outlets are limited, and should IMO done BEFORE you begin any building or moving of "toys". Measure out the work area on paper you hope to utilize, as well as all larger items that will be sharing that area, which makes it easier to move items for a good work flow. Take your time, take some pics, & keep us informed of your progress. Be safe.
Can you suggest some books or magazines with that specific topic in it? Currently electrical is my one big concern as my garage only has 1 outlet (who thought that would be a good idea?) and its on a 15amp gfi breaker and many of the tools are 15amp also. I have tested my tools to make sure they don't pop the breaker during power up but have yet to test under load. I would love to bring in a 30amp service but the box is on the opposite end of the house and there is no cheap option to bring in additional power. So, for now I'm a bit power starved and I haven't decided how, or if, I am going to handle it. If I can use a single tool at a time then I think I'll be ok, but keep in mind I have a deep freeze on the same circuit. This concern is what lead me to plan to use some LED lighting as its very bright, long lasting, and uses a lot less power.

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Originally Posted by subroc View Post
Everything you can on wheels.

Share whatever tool you can with another tool. I have a 3 drawer cabinet that is used for my miter saw. It has a fold down wings. It also has a fold down router table in the back.

Fold down and fold up work bench instead of some monstrosity of a 8' or 10' long bench.

I didn't see a compressor on your list. Anyway, if possible move that to the overhead. A small pancake could be used. Even if you decide you don't want to hard pipe it in place a couple 50 foot hoses will serve nicely.
The fold down wings is a pretty good idea, I had also considered attaching work surfaces to the wall to fold up when not in use to allow the vehicle to still park inside. I am wanting a handful of large and deep drawers for the larger handheld power tools, but I was really hoping to create some sort of miter saw station to attach the saw to and allow for 5-8ft stock to be cut without a lot of assembly or tear down after I was finished, but I'm not sure how I could make that work given my small area to work with. The compressor is one I've debated over, whether to use electrical plug in, battery, or pneumatic powered tools. Seeing as I'm already plug and breaker starved I didn't think a compressor would be my best option until I have some more money to throw at the root of the problem. But if I might ask why move the compressor to the overhead?

To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson
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post #7 of 13 Old 02-19-2017, 04:04 PM
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If you stick to it you probably already know you're going to run out of floor real estate sooner or later, probably sooner than later. I have, but have to readjust from time to time..
There are lots and lots of bench options out there. I don't necessarily think size is as important as stability. Build so it doesn't wobble and tip on you which probably means weight.
I built mine based on the Paul Sellers design and love it, but it did come with a few issues I had to learn to work around, but it has never once even come close to tipping over.
There are days I wish I had used a different design, but overall it works out great. It eventually ended up 5' long which works for me, but width is a tad too wide at 32" with a tool well in the middle that really does little more than collect junk for me.. Oh well..
It was the same height as my old table saw (junk Ryobi), but when I got the Craftsman I had to raise the saw to use the bench as an out feed.
Bottom line is that trying to plan space for limited space is a lot harder than it seems at first. I probably spend more time planning to make more space than actually making more space. The more stuff I acquire the less space I have.. Sound familiar anyone?
I forgot to mention that if you want a laminated top you might want to invest in a boat load of clamps at Horror Freight.. I keep telling myself that's the only thing I'm even going to buy there from now on.. Just keep telling myself that...

I figured it's time to change my signature so hold your breath. This is it.
Impressive, huh?

Last edited by allpurpose; 02-19-2017 at 04:08 PM.
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post #8 of 13 Old 02-19-2017, 04:18 PM
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If you haven't seen the videos on YouTube, check out these folks. There should be more ideas than you can shake a stick at...with demonstrations how to build them. Most of these guys (and gal) build stuff aimed at the average Joe.

Steve Ramsey
April Wilkerson
Jay Bates
Nick Ferry
Ron Paulk.
Earl Davidson Woodworks

And then there is my work bench of my dreams. I incorporated ideas from several of the folks listed above. This is an excellent work platform 36x60 inches.

More photos here -> http://www.woodworkingtalk.com/membe...ew-work-bench/
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post #9 of 13 Old 02-19-2017, 05:15 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by allpurpose View Post
If you stick to it you probably already know you're going to run out of floor real estate sooner or later, probably sooner than later. I have, but have to readjust from time to time..
There are lots and lots of bench options out there. I don't necessarily think size is as important as stability. Build so it doesn't wobble and tip on you which probably means weight.
I built mine based on the Paul Sellers design and love it, but it did come with a few issues I had to learn to work around, but it has never once even come close to tipping over.
There are days I wish I had used a different design, but overall it works out great. It eventually ended up 5' long which works for me, but width is a tad too wide at 32" with a tool well in the middle that really does little more than collect junk for me.. Oh well..
It was the same height as my old table saw (junk Ryobi), but when I got the Craftsman I had to raise the saw to use the bench as an out feed.
Bottom line is that trying to plan space for limited space is a lot harder than it seems at first. I probably spend more time planning to make more space than actually making more space. The more stuff I acquire the less space I have.. Sound familiar anyone?
I forgot to mention that if you want a laminated top you might want to invest in a boat load of clamps at Horror Freight.. I keep telling myself that's the only thing I'm even going to buy there from now on.. Just keep telling myself that...
Growth is inevitable in most hobbies, and I understand that from my love of building custom computers... I have a large area dedicated to my 'spares' and 'I'll probably use this soon' closets. That is also why I am trying to talk some of this out before I start hard planning anything, trying to throw out my ideas and see the feedback I get from those more practiced than I. I would hate to design something that sounds good in theory but in reality is useless. So far the comments have helped me to see a few things.

1. I will likely try and design some modular/mobile work stations that will accommodate larger projects and if I have enough forethought maybe make them interchangeable locations depending on the task as hand. I will also likely use a folding wing design to maximize my work space and minimize the footprint when not in use. I want to make sure I plan for some growth, hence the overhead storage, I have 8ft ceilings So I'm hoping to use some of that space to provide storage for lesser used items so my common items can be on the lower shelving/drawers that are faster to access.
2. My grandfather used to tell me, there is no use in buying something expensive from the start. Buy something cheaper and if it wears out well then you know you need a higher end tool, if it lasts forever then you got exactly what you needed. So I am trying to take a minimalist approach as far as trying to buy tools and I'll also buy tools as I find a need that persists between projects (no need to buy something you only use once)
3. Size is only import in a few key ways, I need enough space to be able to comfortably work on my project without feeling crowded, hence my modular approach and to keep my footprint from overcrowding my garage.
4. I have a Harbor Freight in town and I've been told by many people that their power tools are generally garbage but that many of their hand tools are passable.

Your comment on the table you have being too wide is a good point, so I will try and either make sure my width is sized properly to let me work across the whole surface without causing strain.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MT Stringer View Post
If you haven't seen the videos on YouTube, check out these folks. There should be more ideas than you can shake a stick at...with demonstrations how to build them. Most of these guys (and gal) build stuff aimed at the average Joe.

Steve Ramsey
April Wilkerson
Jay Bates
Nick Ferry
Ron Paulk.
Earl Davidson Woodworks

And then there is my work bench of my dreams. I incorporated ideas from several of the folks listed above. This is an excellent work platform 36x60 inches.

More photos here -> http://www.woodworkingtalk.com/membe...ew-work-bench/
I'll be sure to visit these channels to try and gain more insight into the process. I have been watching a lot of 'This Old House' on YouTube and have found many good pointers and can see how many tools are commonly used to help determine what I need, if I need it, how is it used etc. It also helps me understand some of the design choices they make, having a logical point discussed is something I appreciate. And I understand what I am wanting and this show are different things.

An additional question or two:
Anyone find a good distance from their worktop and say the bottom of a top cabinet, or a good depth for an overhead cabinet? I am fairly set I want some for additional storage space but I would hate to put some in and find they are too low or stick out too far and impede my work.

The more I think about this and through the suggestions I really am coming around to a work space on wheels instead of a fixed point. It would also give me more freedom in my work area, would anyone make an argument for or against having a 'backsplash' area on the mobile pieces? Do you think it would help with ease of additional tool hanging or be a hindrance to the work area?

To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

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post #10 of 13 Old 02-19-2017, 05:53 PM
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The only reason I suggested moving the compressor to the overhead is not having it take up floor space.
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post #11 of 13 Old 02-19-2017, 06:57 PM Thread Starter
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The only reason I suggested moving the compressor to the overhead is not having it take up floor space.
Ahh ok, I wasn't sure if there was some sort of performance increase due to the elevation, but it is a valid point. I might try and plan an area that could later accommodate a compressor addition.

To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.

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post #12 of 13 Old 02-20-2017, 11:54 PM Thread Starter
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I've been thinking about this wing system, and I'm trying to visualize a good and strong/stable way to actually build it to be useful and not wobbly junk, does anyone have some schematics or pics they could offer? I mean I understand the basics of a hinged top board and something that would slide out to support it but all the ways I mull around doesnt really seem very stable or safe.

I think what I am asking is about the hinge and then how I would prop it up.. sorry for not having the best questions, my ignorance prevents me from asking a better formed question.

To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson
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post #13 of 13 Old 03-06-2017, 09:56 PM Thread Starter
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So this is the result of my first project in 20+ years, it's not perfect but it should serve as a nice way to give me room to work on more projects. I will put in a bottom shelf for a bit more storage. I got lucky and have a new neighbor building a new house a few lots away and I got all the 2x4's free, they had just used it for the concrete forms bracing, he said I was welcome to it. This varied a bit from my original plan but once I saw the base model I knew that needed to be my first project to allow me to better use my tools to create a more functional working area. and the best part is that I added the locking wheels which lets me move it to where I need it to be, and when locked doesnt move an inch.

I found a sketchup of the base design then made measurement adjustments to fit my needs, made it very nice to have the 3D model on my tablet to make sure I wasn't making any mistakes.

My remaining question on this is how, or what should I use to seal the top MDF to project it from moisture and to give it a smooth glide when pushing material through the table saw?
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To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Last edited by Techsniffer; 03-06-2017 at 10:01 PM.
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