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Work bench construction/purchase/repurposing ideas?

Posted: Thu Mar 19, 2020 8:02 pm
by Alphaville
Looking to build or buy a work bench with work surface approx 8’by 2’ or 3’ (2.5m by 60cm-1m) to be shared by 2 adults of different heights (1.82, 1.60m aka ~6’, 5’2”).

Desired qualities:

Height around 36” (91cm) (“counter height”). Adjustable would be nice but is not essential.
Easy to assemble/disassemble (impermanence is a thing)
Sturdy (no wobbling)...
...but light enough for moving.
Reasonably priced (free is best)
Can’t be bolted to wall (apartment rules forbid).

Thinking currently of buying 2 of these:

46 in. Adjustable Height Work Table
https://www.homedepot.com/p/301809931
$179 each with $55 shipping (to avoid coronas)

If I buy, I might try one first and think about the 2nd one later... hmmmm...

Can something like this be... “ERE-sourced”? Or would you just buy it and move on with your life?

Freecycle? (I have no car to pick up).

Re: Work bench construction/purchase/repurposing ideas?

Posted: Thu Mar 19, 2020 10:00 pm
by Gilberto de Piento
It's kind of a classic thing to build a woodworking bench as a first project but you are looking for some extra features.

Re: Work bench construction/purchase/repurposing ideas?

Posted: Fri Mar 20, 2020 7:23 am
by Alphaville
Gilberto de Piento wrote:
Thu Mar 19, 2020 10:00 pm
It's kind of a classic thing to build a woodworking bench as a first project but you are looking for some extra features.
Yeah, I’m thinking more of a multi-project bench (or benches) than a woodworking bench per se.

Expected functions:

-Office overflow
-Bicycle repair
-Art making (painting, collage) [there’s already an easel]
-Indoor gardening
-Computer & electric repair
-Kitchen auxiliary
-3D printing? (maybe in the future)
-Other/open

Wheels would be nice too, to push around to different areas as needed.

I’m not in a hurry to get this, just looking for a sense of direction.

Re: Work bench construction/purchase/repurposing ideas?

Posted: Fri Mar 20, 2020 8:30 am
by basuragomi
I was quite impressed with this workbench. A whole bunch of features you can copy or delete as your needs demand.

Re: Work bench construction/purchase/repurposing ideas?

Posted: Fri Mar 20, 2020 9:29 am
by ffj
I wouldn't buy what you have linked. Not when you could buy a sheet of plywood and ten or twelve 2 x 4's and achieve the same thing quite easily for a much smaller price and the satisfaction of having done it yourself.

There are tons of plans out there for workbenches. The one basuragomi listed is pretty cool but advanced, so don't think you need a fancy setup to do work. It's pretty nice though.

Re: Work bench construction/purchase/repurposing ideas?

Posted: Fri Mar 20, 2020 9:56 am
by jacob
@Alphaville - That's not a workbench, that's a table on wheels. Any table could serve.

I spent years (literally) thinking about the optimal design for a workbench while abusing a black&decker workmate. I've read 4 or 5 books specifically about workbench designs so apparently this is a common affliction (for woodworkers) similar to thinking up the perfect toolbox or chest. In reality, many woodworkers never get around to actually building it, making do with ... well, one book listed a pro who used an old door screwed into a couple of saw bucks.

OTOH, I finally built a Nicholson style bench (btw sturdy and light are usually mutually exclusive) which you can see in https://www.dr.dk/drtv/se/staa-af-hamst ... ivet_78056 (@1:45) ... I should have done that years ago!

If you want a cheap table (that's not on wheels) put a piece of plywood or melamine on two smaller tables. My desk uses two folding end tables that supports a piece of laminated plywood. I built two boxes to raise the plywood to the right height. The end tables I used happen to be at the same height, but different heights could be accounted for by different boxes.

The most flexible solution I can think of would be to build two sawbucks and then screw a piece of 3/4" plywood on top of it. When you move out, just unscrew it again. If you want a more "solid" surface, take two pieces of 3/4" and glue them together. Or three.

For the 2x4 approach, go to youtube and watch very many people build a bench with a chopsaw and a bunch of lag screws over a few hours. The result will be rather sturdy but also heavy.

Re: Work bench construction/purchase/repurposing ideas?

Posted: Fri Mar 20, 2020 11:12 am
by Alphaville
@jacob - Yes, I noticed in the video @basuragomi posted that Thomas the carpenter had everything in his workshop but the bench itself, hahaha. And it’s a glorious beast, but really not for me. Oh, I see your bench!

@everyone

For my apartment: I hate tables because they require chairs. I’m looking more for a counter. And since the table would be shared by a shorter than average and a taller than average person, adjustability is a plus. (Average is 5’3” to 5’9” and we’re both outside this range, lol.)

Counter height + adjustability limit market choices steeply. A $700+ Varidesk is too rich for my blood and too precious to do certain types of work on it.

I built a counter once with 4x4s plus planks for my cabin kitchen, and it was *heavy* and wobbly and had usability problems.

I repurposed the wood for something else and ended up buying a stainless steel kitchen work table. It handles everything from fire (I’ve lit it on fire) to sheep blood to bleach. It was around $150 and I’m sure it will outlive me.

Right now I’m looking at this: *as a model*, rather than a “thing to buy”
52 in. Adjustable Height Workbench Table with 2-Drawers in White
https://www.homedepot.com/p/307723266

It looks better than the black one, it’s a little wider, it’s got drawers, it’s adjustable, etc.

Remember I won’t have this shoved away in some garage but my wife and I will have to be looking at it every day from every angle of our studio apartment. Aesthetics are important in this scenario.

If I did metalwork I could construct something closer to what I want with tubes, a hacksaw, some files, a drill, casters, a prefab plank, screws, and a welder. I like metal more than wood, actually.

But wondering if the ROI is worth it because it’s a one-off rather than something I need to make more of.

Now If I were a bicycle builder, I could use those metalwork skills over and over... but then I’d have to move to a more industrial kind of place. Which I might do eventually, just not this year or next.

Re: Work bench construction/purchase/repurposing ideas?

Posted: Fri Mar 20, 2020 11:17 am
by jacob
Also, consider making some gridbeams and building it out of that. The adjustability would then be inherent to the design. I have no personal experience with gridbeams, but it's a cool design.

Re: Work bench construction/purchase/repurposing ideas?

Posted: Fri Mar 20, 2020 11:23 am
by Alphaville
jacob wrote:
Fri Mar 20, 2020 11:17 am
Also, consider making some gridbeams and building it out of that. The adjustability would then be inherent to the design. I have no personal experience with gridbeams, but it's a cool design.
Oh nice! Same as the Ikea Ivar system. Great idea.