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Work bench design

 
pollinator
Posts: 164
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I have a folding table and a chest freezer that serve as my work bench currently. I wish to design a work bench for small round wood medium dimensional woodworking and light metal work and black smithing. Perhaps I'd use it for building electronics as well so I can get all my irons and powersulplies etc out of my bedroom.

Would it be best to focus on one bench per job or could I make an efficient incorporation of these things into one world domination appropriate tech birthing super bench?

What features would you include in your dream  incredi-bench?

I would like to incorporate....
Metal vise
Small anvil surface
Dog hole pegs (also a remove able surface to cover these holes)
Movable lighting
110 receptacle and USB power.
Drawers for hand tools
A wood vise
A magnet for holding small metal parts

What else could I include?
 
pollinator
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What space do you have avaiable?
 
Clay Bunch
pollinator
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I have about 15' by 10' available  id like to have a work bench that is about 12 ft long and the length of my arms deep. Hoping to make is modular so it can be moved but sturdy enough to run power tools and beat metal on. I plan to make it of the same height as my table saw and router so that I can feed them off it and put my stop cut on the table if needed.


There is more space on either end of the 15 ft but I wish to leave space to move pieces around when needed.
 
John C Daley
pollinator
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well black smithing is dirty and needs a heavy bench.
Light tin work and wood work may go together.
A wood working bench often has a lower section in the middle, have you thought of that?
wood work benches
 
pollinator
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Location: Chicago/San Francisco
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Here's a view based on my shop. You'll be way different, but might find some ideas. My main theme is to get working, get functional, with simple crude basics. Don't try for art. You'll make way better art after slogging through the process a bit. If you have worked a few years in a production shop and plan to create one of your own, most of this probably doesn't apply. I work what would charitably be called a "farm shop".

Metal tends to make an impression on wood benches. As in, they'll never be the same again. That's not necessarily a problem - life is hard and the job of a bench is very hard. However, setting the bench on fire is not helpful and that can happen with certain metal projects.

How do you work? IOW, do you leave projects lying half finished for days or weeks? While you get on to absolutely "YES Boss, Right Away" type projects. I do. I have 3 or 4 (or more) projects going at the same time, some waiting on money, some waiting on paint to dry, some waiting because the stove just quit and _that_ is more important. That requires more table space and separate tables often is helpful there.  

I weld only occasionally and do it outside, ad hoc. I braze more often and do it inside on my main assembly table but I'm always afraid to leave afterwards - did I smell smoke?  If you do hot metal much at all, a table with at least 1/8" metal top (before  you hit wood) is better. I guess you could keep a piece of plate on hand to put on the table to protect it. Or a dedicated metal table. This is stuff you just need to keep your eyes open for at farm auctions. Or make yourself if you going to do a lot of metal fab.  But metal work does way better on metal tables.

With me, light metal abuse happens on the main bench with the vise. If  you set up multiple tables, try to get another (good) vise or two. But the table has to be strong enough to mount the vise well.

Another space taker is a free standing 1hp grinder. I'm not a machinist or anything, but I use it enough that I recommend getting a decent one if available. It's probably more important than the table saw. Again, since it gets used often, it deserves it's own floor stand; also because that keeps it from cluttering up the bench. A pedestal type (as opposed to the splayed leg type) takes less space and is good enough for civilians. I think you'll find a grinder gets used a LOT.

Table saw extensions with folding legs that store away may be more practical than thinking you will clear that work table just to help rip a piece of sheet stock. I actually find clamps, straight edge and a good circular saw do a better job. For my use, a 10' x 18" lane behind the saw (alley through the material storage area), and 8' clearable in front, do pretty well. I have a couple pieces of 1x that clamp to studs cross wise at table height behind the saw if I'm going to do a lot of ripping. What this basic setup offers is a saw with a 2' square foot print that does yeoman service and I can move around if I need to. The chop saw lives against a wall with a drill press on the same wall about 4' away. If I'm dealing with long trim or something the drill press table gets set to the saw height. Usually the table between them serves as another work surface...

An assembly table, about the size of a door (! hmmm...) and higher than most people would think - say 40" or so - is a very useful thing. Bench dogs and such are nice, but  door on tall _strong_ saw horses with half dozen clamps that actually work, with their pads still intact, will a become a major, productive and necessary surface. One that you didn't spend much on and won't cry (much) to see die. Also, it will move easily... Temporary storage, buckets, rolling cabinets, tool boxes, crap, underneath.

This is redneck cheap/cheerful. For a while it can give you a complete working shop while leaving you to accumulate a little more money and refine your understanding of what your _work_ needs and wants. That only comes by slaving in your space doing the stuff you want the shop to do. I know it doesn't quench your desire for a major work of art (craftsman bench), but the bench will be the better for the seasoning when it comes.

The most/only really important thing for the bench to do is hold a solid standard vise while you crank or pound on some helpless piece of material. And that can be glued and screwed from 2x6 in a day or two. Then used for firewood with no regret when the time comes. The top s/b 2x, but you put 3/8" ply overlay on top and replace it someday.  Cross braces, heavy. That's abouat it. Space under. Old filing cabinets or such do pretty well as tool holders. Secure a 6-8" "splash guard" along the back of the bench so you're not digging for run-aways along the back wall all the time. I think my bench is 8', but I've only ever used about 4' of it because the family seems to find it suitable for various things...  Haven't seen the other end in years. <g>  Longer work just requires a little shoving around and listening to the moans from the former tenants.  

IOW, things can be flexible and still work well. Holding the bench off the back wall about 8" and putting a 12" shelf on the wall along the top of your "splash guard" gives you a place to put "tools in use". Or accumulate piles of crap. Depends. The space behind the bench can be good material storage for medium long stuff.

At least as important as the the furniture is the light. (Really) You can't have too much. And the power. At least 4 2-gang outlets spaced about. More would be lots better. Unless you're working Amish with just hand tools? Even then, probably.

Materials storage within reach is pretty important too, but that's a layout thing.


Best luck. It's all lotsa fun.
Rufus
 
Clay Bunch
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It looks like mega bench will be several benches that can be moved if needed!

Aiming for practical and letting any art type bench follow in time is good advice.

I have a welding table I made that will be separate.

I love the idea of a cheap assembly table and a separate metal table for hot metal work. I do not want to be on fire watch for an hour after finishing a day's work.

Do you have suggestions for a quality grinder or table saw extensions that will last store easily and not break the bank? I've been looking at grinders but I have woodcraft desire and harbor freight funds.

I will definetly incorporate a te the back shelf you have described on at least some portion of the bench and perhaps leave open space on some to allow for medium long storage.

I have over head lighting to put in place that I found on a jobsite
I will add adjustable lighting and possibly magnification that can be moved around the bench.

As for hand tools I really appreciate them and try to lean on them for most things but do often resort to power tools.

I am an electrician so I have plenty of materials available for power. I've already got 4 circuits with 8 receptacles on that wall mounted slightly higher than I wish to build the back edge of the table.
Thank you so much enjoy your pie!

 
pollinator
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Have you considered looking at a restaurant supply store for your metal table?  They should know sturdy and cheap.  I know nothing of the following store except that they make it easy to find things, but something like this:  https://www.webstaurantstore.com/regency-24-x-48-18-gauge-304-stainless-steel-commercial-work-table-with-galvanized-legs-and-casters/600T2448GC.html comes in multiple sizes, has wheels, etc.

Also, sadly, I suspect many restaurants may not hold on much longer.  You may be able to find something like the above at auctions regularly soon.
 
Clay Bunch
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Those are really nice and I believe that you are correct about the restaurants closing soon. I'm not sure how those would do in the shop though. The metal is thin for mounting vises and pounding.
And I'd be worried about static discharge for electronics work on a table like this.

They may make good welding tables if they hold up to the splatter and heat but re as ly id like to have one of those tables for processing rabbits chickens and quail. My current camping table has a good sink in it but a plastic body and has many marks from my knife. That leads to difficult cleaning so I may get one for that purpose.
 
Rufus Laggren
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> what grinder

CL has always been my go-to for most stuff. Haven't looked at it since the frenzy started, though. Might be a while.

This site has mountains of info and also a Buy-Sell page. Started as a woodworking site and expanded a bit into metal. Addictive.
vintagemachinery.org   - Except  I can't raise it at the moment, even though it appears in a search. Seems it's dropped off the name servers which sometimes happens, though rarely. Maybe next week?

Bigger and stronger the better. Wider wheels are nicer. Needs to spin up quietly and not display  any wobble. If you see wobble (during start and stop, usually;  or you can hold a screw driver still and stable 1 hair from the side of the wheel near the outer edge and see if it bounces) you have to decide if it's the wheel or the spindle. Silent and smooth is beauty. More power means it does more work and it's harder to break. Decide before  you look at used what tool rests you require. I'm sorry, but I set aside the spark windows before I even plug in. Different habits, different history. YMMV.

You can try developing your search technique and look for the old stuff. There are often scrap dealers selling good machinery. That goes for for any old iron.

Table saw extensions you make yourself to suit your shop. X-braced 1x frames, small door hinges, 1/2 plywood - heavy is not always helpful, rigid is. Maybe adjustable appliance feet if your floor isn't flat. Or support it with a diagonal brace back to the bottom of the saw table - that won't ever change.  Depending on what you want to do and how often you can just screw something together once a year and attach it with brackets and bolts that you leave hanging off the saw for next time. Or you can use piano hinges and waxed formica top and go to town. But if you just want another 12" width, look on CL for the OEM bolt-ons. I bought a whole Craftsman saw once because I wanted the cast iron wings. $40. Swapped out the motor, too. I like old heavy iron, but if you're going to take the saw on jobs, you either go cheap shit or you get one of the imports - $$$.

For me, I have found jigs matter more than large extra table. Those you make yourself, as well. Unless you need to deliver yesterday.

I've been assuming you  know where NOT to put your fingers. DON'T FORGET IT!   Keep the walking/working paths clear as much as possible. Drop power cords from the ceiling if you need them in the middle.  

If EVER anybody or anything enters your shop and changes your routine STOP.  Distraction and interrupted patterns spawn disasters. Time out until everything is resolved and the alien has left and you're settled again. Really.

Have fun

Rufus
 
Clay Bunch
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I've picked up quite a few hand tools that are nearly impossible to find anymore just by searching Craigslist and I guess I should apply that  to power tools as well. I'm always afraid to use cl for motorized things for fear that I get a lemon.

I appreciate heavy tooling as well. I worked in the tool and die at Duracell just out of high-school and I've noticed that many of the shops I borrow from time to time have much less steady pressed metal parts etc.

I have jobs I've tools available at work so I am really looking for something that stays in the shop.

I appreciate your words of caution. I've had a friend come and help me in the shop and assumed his tool familiarity level incorrectly had a "near miss" as osha calls it.

Now thinking about the drop cords is a great thing. I want to get a locking reel cord or two and put in some overhead power. I always plan to get one but forget until I'm in the middle of a project that calls for it.

Thanks for your help Rufus.
 
gardener
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Clay,

I am not certain how much effort you want to put into fabrication, but I am in a similar situation, and I have seen a number of YouTube videos detailing numerous different specialized work bench builds.  Perhaps you could adapt one to your needs?

Eric
 
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