The Ultimate Workbench

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4xFourex
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The Ultimate Workbench

Unread post by 4xFourex » September 17th, 2013, 3:28 pm

The time has come. I'm sick of getting kicked out of the kitchen for using the bench for projects, or working on the floor in the garage. So it's time to make a real workbench! I don't want just a standard box with a flat surface, I could find an old kitchen table for that. I want the ultimate

The question is, what sort of bits do I add? And when do i know I've gone to far?

So far, it has to have the following:
Draws the width of the bench, below the work surface. Handy for things you always use, but enough space below storing bulky things.
Peg board behind on one side, shelves on the other - Somewhere to keep 5 half drunken beer cans.
An overhead fluorescent light.
Vice mounting area
At a decent height. Something you can sit at weld. Beats standing and moving all the time.

And should I make the frame out of timber or steel?
Timber is lighter, possibly cheaper.
Steel I can get from work pretty cheap. Also good way to brush up on my welding skills.
Work surface will just be MDF.

So what would you build into your dream work bench? (other than a fridge and winch)
So many weekends, so many tracks...so little fuel!

The Black Mistress - 1974 Bitsa Landruiser fj45 ute: Holden 253 V8, Toyota 60s axles front and back, Mazda seats, Mistubishi seat belts, Ford thermo fans (almost installed). more to come...

kalla20
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Re: The Ultimate Workbench

Unread post by kalla20 » September 17th, 2013, 4:57 pm

I used to have a flexible work lamp on mine on those bendy pole things, after it broke I attached a stubby holder, works a treat. If ya get what I mean
Daihatsu Rocky 2.8 TD

Build Thread - viewtopic.php?f=187&t=147181

Timmo
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Re: The Ultimate Workbench

Unread post by Timmo » September 17th, 2013, 5:06 pm

Bench grinder, drill press and a small parts washing basin. I would also have half of the bench top made of thick steel where I plan on doing any welding.
Cheers,

Nathan

Screamin TE
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Re: The Ultimate Workbench

Unread post by Screamin TE » September 17th, 2013, 7:24 pm

As Timmo has said, if you want to weld on it, make the benchtop steel. Not only will it not burn, but you can clamp the work lead to the bench as well. Id probably make the whole lot out of steel actually.

I made mine out of timber but only because i didn't have a welder at the time.

nilla60
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Re: The Ultimate Workbench

Unread post by nilla60 » September 17th, 2013, 7:37 pm

A box with a flat surface is the best start point. I'm all for modular and have been slowly tweaking and improving my work bench over the years. I still have a pine frame, but next project will be to keep the existing 2" ply bench top and make new legs/frame welded up from section (Mythbusters actually have a pretty good sideline on welding videos http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EA1jeViV4l8 see at about 2 minutes for work benches). Just one horizontal shelf underneath that holds a separate set of drawers (from an old desk) and various tool boxes for to-hand stuff. Stonking big engineer's vice on the other corner. Extra fluoro batten directly over the bench and one of those work lamps around the vice. Shelf and modular storage under the window and off to the side instead of pegboard. Main tools supply behind me in an 8 drawer cabinet on castors.

Welding is separate. A 2x3' steel plate I lob on to a B&D Workmate. Mainly so I can move around the work, set up welding away from flammables and/or set up welding outside to further reduce fire risk.

Fixed tools like bench grinders are ideally on their own pedestals.

Timmo
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Re: The Ultimate Workbench

Unread post by Timmo » September 17th, 2013, 8:11 pm

Have you considered some second hand pallet racking as a starting point? Very handy stuff. Rated to hold something like 2.5 ton per bay and is height adjustable to whatever you want. Standard dimension is something like 2400mm x 900mm-ish so gives a decent amount of workspace.

If it were me I would probably give it a go. You could set it high enough to have a roller chest (or 2) sitting underneath with enough drawers for whatever you may may need. I would still keep all handtools in a dedicated roller chest/cabinet (as I have now) and save drawers under a bench for air tools and other odds and ends.

Seems it can be had cheap enough too;

http://www.ebay.com.au/sch/i.html?_trks ... &_from=R40

I agree about a separate welding area but it sounds like you are after an all-in-one solution yeah?
Same with pedestals for fixed tools. It is ideal and should be the first choice but only if you have enough space for them all.

I have made a few at home for my vice and bench grinder. 3" Steel Pipe and some blank flanges either end to dynabolt them to the ground and mount the vice/grinder/etc. If you're handy with a welder it's pretty easy to do.
Cheers,

Nathan

4xFourex
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Re: The Ultimate Workbench

Unread post by 4xFourex » September 18th, 2013, 12:20 pm

Wow, didn't expect such good info. Cheers guys.
I would like to do the entire thing out of steel, including the benchtop, but weight is a bit of a concern. We're only renting, so at some point it will have to move...a square meter of 5mm steel is going to be bloody heavy! Unfortunately that's the same reason we can't dynabolt to the floor.

Cheers for the lighting advice Nilla.
Looking at a couple of work trolleys already for moving around as I need to. I'll just have to tie them off so they don't roll down the driveway. 2" thick ply? are you planning on parking a semi on that? A separate plate for welding is a good idea though.

Only thing I really like about a timber frame is it's easy to attach things to that aren't welded. Otherwise pretty set on steel.

Timmo good idea on a sperate chest for hand tools. I may look into that one day. Pretty thin tool collection at the moment, so drawers under will do for now. But what you have said makes sense. I'll try remember that in a few years when I have enough to fill everything up.

Cheers guys
So many weekends, so many tracks...so little fuel!

The Black Mistress - 1974 Bitsa Landruiser fj45 ute: Holden 253 V8, Toyota 60s axles front and back, Mazda seats, Mistubishi seat belts, Ford thermo fans (almost installed). more to come...

4xFourex
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Location: Brisbane, Inala Waters, QLD

Re: The Ultimate Workbench

Unread post by 4xFourex » September 18th, 2013, 12:22 pm

kalla20 wrote:I used to have a flexible work lamp on mine on those bendy pole things, after it broke I attached a stubby holder, works a treat. If ya get what I mean
I am imagining you hacksawing something in a vice while trying to catch your beer through a straw but it keeps moving
So many weekends, so many tracks...so little fuel!

The Black Mistress - 1974 Bitsa Landruiser fj45 ute: Holden 253 V8, Toyota 60s axles front and back, Mazda seats, Mistubishi seat belts, Ford thermo fans (almost installed). more to come...

Aussie_Dan
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Re: The Ultimate Workbench

Unread post by Aussie_Dan » September 18th, 2013, 12:39 pm

I've attached a couple of pics of the bench I made in my shed back in May this year.
It's made out of 50x50 galv fence post and the shelf frames were just made with galv fence rail.
Took me a couple of days of messing around to finish it but I am extremely happy with the area that I now have to work on. Had been living in this house for over 8 years before I got to making this bench. Thankfully we own the joint so drilling holes in the floor for dynabolts was not a concern. Being dynabolted to the floor and secured to the wooden frame of the shed, the bench is extremely sturdy.
The bench top is 19mm marine ply. It's quite strong and spill proof. Obviously not any good for welding but relatively cheap and strong enough for everything else. I welded a piece of angle to the bench frame, which my vice is bolted to, through the plywood bench top.
I welded dozens of small pieces of angle to the frame, which I have used 15mm chipboard screws to hold the bench and shelf tops down, by driving the screws up vertically, from underneath.
Maybe this will give you some ideas?
Good luck!
Cheers, Dan.
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4xFourex
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Re: The Ultimate Workbench

Unread post by 4xFourex » September 18th, 2013, 1:47 pm

Dan, mate, get out of my head! That looks great mate, pretty much what i have in mind, with a couple of changes. frame behind the shelf would go up higher to mount the light (as opposed to wall mounted), and the shelf would extend the whole way. But that's about it. How wide is your benchtop?

Mate thanks heaps for the pics. I'm busy drawing mine up now. (better than working :P)
So many weekends, so many tracks...so little fuel!

The Black Mistress - 1974 Bitsa Landruiser fj45 ute: Holden 253 V8, Toyota 60s axles front and back, Mazda seats, Mistubishi seat belts, Ford thermo fans (almost installed). more to come...

Timmo
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Re: The Ultimate Workbench

Unread post by Timmo » September 18th, 2013, 2:20 pm

Nice work there Dan, I like your style.
Cheers,

Nathan

nilla60
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Re: The Ultimate Workbench

Unread post by nilla60 » September 18th, 2013, 10:59 pm

4xFourex wrote: Cheers for the lighting advice Nilla.
Looking at a couple of work trolleys already for moving around as I need to. I'll just have to tie them off so they don't roll down the driveway. 2" thick ply? are you planning on parking a semi on that? A separate plate for welding is a good idea though.
2 x 1" sheets. Managed to score two and it seemed as good as place as any to keep the second sheet. I have another old carpenter's work bench I need a much bigger shed for and it has a bench top that is even thicker.

The last 2 minutes of the Mythbusters video has another good idea for steel frame tables. Two nested frames and two 4x8 tops that open out into an 8x8 big table.

Aussie Dan, love your workbench. Ideal, neat, plenty strong but not over engineered or over complicated.

Aussie_Dan
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Re: The Ultimate Workbench

Unread post by Aussie_Dan » September 18th, 2013, 11:16 pm

Cheers for the comments guys.
4xFourex, the benchtop is about 750 to 800mm deep from memory. It's a 20'x20' shed and takes up half of the back wall so must be just under 10' wide.
I've just given the old Ozito welder to a mate and bought a BOC Smootharc 130. Had I bought the Smootharc before knocking up this bench the welds would have been a lot neater and there would have been a lot less swearing heard coming from my shed!
Cheers, Dan.

4xFourex
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Re: The Ultimate Workbench

Unread post by 4xFourex » September 19th, 2013, 11:04 am

nilla60 wrote:seemed as good as place as any to keep the second sheet.
I like your thinking
nilla60 wrote:Two nested frames and two 4x8 tops that open out into an 8x8 big table.
I'll check that out, sounds like a good idea.
Aussie Dan wrote:the benchtop is about 750 to 800mm deep from memory.
That's about what I was thinking. Working on 800 deep for the cutting list.
Aussie Dan wrote:I've just given the old Ozito welder to a mate and bought a BOC Smootharc 130. Had I bought the Smootharc before knocking up this bench the welds would have been a lot neater and there would have been a lot less swearing heard coming from my shed!
I'm sure there will still be lots of swearing! I've got a 140amp mig from Supercheap. Only good for things like this really. I wouldn't want to be trying to weld 10mm plate onto a bullbar with it though. Be good to give it a decent workout finally.
So many weekends, so many tracks...so little fuel!

The Black Mistress - 1974 Bitsa Landruiser fj45 ute: Holden 253 V8, Toyota 60s axles front and back, Mazda seats, Mistubishi seat belts, Ford thermo fans (almost installed). more to come...

whizzo
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Re: The Ultimate Workbench

Unread post by whizzo » September 19th, 2013, 12:38 pm

The first and most important thing to realise is.....There is no such thing as the ultimate work bench.....just like there is no such thing as the ultimate too box or a number of other things.

Needs change, and what you thaught would work, so often does not.

The first and most important thing is that the bench needs to be strong enough for what ever you want to do on it.

If you are doing any sort of hammering, you need some serious rigidity..at least in one corner of the bench....strong leg directly under the corner...but you need some overhang...but only a couple of inches.

If you are going to mount a vice...again you need to have some serious rigidity. on that corner of the bench.

In my experience the hardest working parts of a work bench are the corners.....the more accessable corners you have on a bench the better.

We cant all have a bench in the middle of the room with lots of free space and 4 accessable corners.....but most of us can achieve a bench with 2 good usable and accessable front corners.

one with a vice the other with a flat surface...that allows work with left and right handed bits poking out.

I don't want grinders or machines on my work bench......they take up important working space a spray crap all over it.

I have my grinders and drill press elsewhere.

I don't weld on my work bench.....I don't weld in my workshop..its too easy for some dross, slag or sparks to ignite stuff that lies around.

I weld outside my workshop, mostly with the door closed....the welder lives just inside the door..I roll it out and shut the door behind it....that way any sparks and the like stay outside the WS......likewise I don't use a hand grinder inside the workshop.

MDF is not a good workbench surface, it simply is not strong enough and breaks up.

The best surface I have come up with is plywood with a solid timber front edge.
At least 15mm structrual ply.....a good hardwood 3x2 or 4x2 rebated at least 2 inches with the plywood glued into the rebate then flush sanded and the front edge edgerounded top and bottom.
Bring the front legs right up behind the hardwood and even get some support under that front 2x4.

You will mount your vices to that 2x4 and that is what you will pound on.

once you have sanded and flatened the workbench....give it a good coat or two of polyeurathance sanding sealer ( estipol sanding sealer)....let it cure and sand to 120G .......I'll then wax the surface.

This consolidates the surface of the bench, things don't soak into it so much and the surface will be harder and more durable.
The wax will seem to wear off pretty soon, but what remains tends to stop stuff sticking to the bench.


Oh hell there are books and magazine articles for days about work benches particulrly in the woodwork world.

One of the best things I have is a portable small bench that is a bit lower than usual work bench height..its about 600 x 800.... I can move it to where I need it get all around it.....make it beefy, but not to heavy to move around..I actually have 2.

cheers

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