The building of a workbench – Part 1

Here’s a few words of advice. Before you try to build a big solid workbench do two things – build a pair of sawhorses so you aren’t trying to assemble it by kneeling on a concrete floor (ouch!) and plan the silly thing!.

I have wanted to build a bench for a few months, because my little one has too much sideways give to plane on, and because I was always putting tools down on the floor because I’d run out of bench space while in the middle of something.

I’ve decided on a 1400mm long x 500mm deep x 800mm high bench with a frame of construction pine and a top of 50mm thick merbau I picked up cheaply from the local timber yards scrap pile. It’s got a decent bow in it but currently has two heavy toolboxes on it to correct that flaw.

It’s a shallow bench but I’m concerned about making it deeper as I’m going to have to replace my old car in the near future and want something bigger, and so want this bench to still fit. It’s a good width, about half the width of my garage, and that height is right for me.

I started building it yesterday with planes to make it deeper with a tool well in the middle so got the legs ready, got the top box built, then realised that I didn’t like my construction methods and that I didn’t want something quite so space consuming. So it’s all been pulled apart, the top glued up into one panel and now it’s sitting on top of my portable bench so I can consider exactly what I want to do.

I’m thinking laminated pieces of construction pine (90mm wide so 90mm x 90mm posts) with notches left out to form lap joints. I’m not sure yet whether I want a fixed bench or locking casters, I’m actually thinking the later even though it’s going to have a little more movement because the back wall of the garage slopes quite quickly forward and I’m going to have a hard time leveling it there anyway, so why not make it mobile so I can wheel it to the flat under the window and enjoy the view of the garden instead?.

Back to my words of advice to finish. I’m only in my early thirties and working on the slab floor to build this killed me, I was so sore overnight it wasn’t funny. I’ve been putting off building sawhorses for some reason but I think they are a necessity for this project so I’ll have a go at some next time I’m in the workshop.

The second is obvious from my above words and echoes that old saying – “If you fail to plan then you plan to fail”

Until next time



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