Introduction: Building a Wood Lathe Work Bench With Drawers Using Recycled Vintage Lumber
So I have been having problems storing all my wood turning junk lately, it seemed like all those little pieces were getting lost in the clutter, I needed a storage solution and I needed one fast but I did not want just anything I was holding out for something great that would last a lifetime and work really really nice.
Well I was at a garage sale one day and my wife spotted a set of metal drawers and convinced me to spend the $10 that the guy was asking. I paid the man and went to lift the drawers and nearly pulled my back out, these things are thick solid steel and the set weighs about 80 pounds. The drawer slides are silky smooth ball bearing slides and lock in place nice and tight. A little research revealed that these are custom drawers made to be installed into work vans so they have to be heavy duty and these things are brand new! I guess you could say I got a steel :)
I was using the drawers without a top for a while and the top drawer was just filling with shavings and dust. I finally broke down and had to build a top which is what this instructable is covering. Looking around the shed the only wood that really stood out to use for a benchtop was a pine 2 by 10 I had. This was not just any pine board it was one of the support boards from my old Delta 1460 Wood Lathe. The Delta 1460 wood lathe is an antique lathe built in the 1940's, I have been using this lathe since about 1999 until I recently upgraded to a new Woodfast lathe. The Delta was a sweetheart machine but I could not get anybody to pay me a decent price for the lathe craigslist so I did the unthinkable and parted the machine on ebay. I really did not want to ship the iron legs or the wooden boards due to their size so I kept them and decided it would be nice to use the wood to make my benchtop since it had wood turning sentimental value. This pine is from the 1940's and has very tight grain and just looks really nice compared to what I could buy at Home Depot or Lowes.
So what do you need to do a project like this, here are the tools and materials I used in this project:
Pine Board 2 X 10 about 60" long (You can use any type of wood you have)
Set of Drawers (these could be metal or wood, just recycle something from craigslist or a garage sale)
Varnish (I used Polyurethane)
Cheap Paint Brush
Table Saw and/or Circular Saw
Drill and/or Drill Press
1/2", 3/4", 1", and 1 - 1/4" drill bits
Awl, Punch, or Nail for marking holes
Sander/s (Belt or ROS is fine)
Square and Straight Edge
Step 1: Sawing the Pine Boards to Shape
Since my drawers are about 12" wide and my pine board is 9.5" wide I am going to have to glue the boards up to get the width I want. In order to glue them I need a good straight edge to glue so I drag out the table saw for that part. You could do this with the circular saw but since I have a table saw I will be using it. I would like the work bench to over hang on the sides and rear so I can put some holes to hold stuff so I decide to go with two full widths of the board to make the bench.
I start by cutting the board to 9" wide just cutting about 1/2" off one side, this gives me my straight glue edge. Since the drawer unit is about 19" deep I cut two pieces of pine from the board 22" long, that will give me a 3" overhang at the back and double the 9" width gives me an 18" wide bench top for a 12" wide drawer unit which will give me an even 3" overhang on both sides of the unit as well. As you can see in the pictures I used my circular saw to cut the pieces to length.
Now that everything is cut I can proceed to the next step, gluing up the top.
Step 2: Gluing and Finishing the Bench Top
I do not have any clamps big enough to clamp the bench top so I had to use wedges and the bench dogs on my black and decker work mate. This worked, barely, but I would recommend people use good pipe clamps if possible.
Once the top was glued together I used the belt sander to level top top and take it to bare wood. Sorry I forgot to take a picture of this but I basically just sanded everything smooth with the belt sander. Once the top was sanded I put a couple of coats of polyurathane on it before I realized that I still needed to drill my holes. For the readers I recommend drilling before putting the finish on.
To make sure my holes were straight I made a scrap of wood with marks on it where I wanted my holes, I was drilling a series of 1/2", 3/4", 1", and 1 1/4" holes so my holes spacing varied based on the hole size. The template/stick for the holes is sometimes referred to as a story stick, you can see in the picture that I clamped it to the top and used a awl to mark where the holes would go. Once I had both rows of holes marked I simply drilled the appropriate hole where I marked it. Look at the picture below and you can see my nice even holes working from smaller to larger front to back. At this point I put on another coat of poly and make sure to get some in the holes to keep the wood protected.
At this point I was just sitting back and admiring my work, I was also ready to quit and move on to another task but I was able to dig deep for the motivation to finish the project.
Step 3: The Finished Product in Use!
So did I finish it! You bet and here it is, the fruits of my labor and I personally think it looks great and it works great too. All the holes are great to store chuck keys, knock out bars, chisels, tool rests, and more. Now I know not everybody is going to find a great set of drawers at a garage sale but do keep your eyes open and I highly recommend a good solid bench top to sit beside your lathe, it is one of those things I never knew I needed by I cannot imagine living without it now.
In the second picture you can see that I have this thing loaded up, I have about fifty pounds of chucks and faceplates in the top drawer and it still slides smooth as silk! I did add some non skid drawer lining material in each drawer so add another $10 to the project to make this a $20 instructable!