Step 1: Table of Contents
You can find:
-Planning on steps 2-8
-Construction on steps 9-24
-Organization on steps 25-37
Step 2: Site Preperation
We were especially careful to sort through old pieces, parts, and hardware: our scrap drawers served us well in the project as we were able to find corner irons, odd-size screws, and other bits that saved us a trip to the hardware store. We now have 5 different bins of hardware, and another cabinet full of electronics parts.
Step 3: Skills Needed
If you are not comfortable with power tools, get proper instruction before attempting to use them. Also, electricity can kill you and/or cause fires if you make a mistake, so call a professional if you are not sure of your abilities in house wiring.
That being said, here are the skills we drew on in the process of building our shop:
-we needed two adults for many parts of the project, so if you are working solo, consider inviting a friend over for certain phases. The doors we used for benchtops, for example, weighed about 100 lbs. each before we cut them to size.
-ripping large pieces on a table saw
-cutting 2x lumber on a chop saw
-wiring hanging lights into an existing circuit
-shortening power cords with aftermarket plugs
-drilling holes into wood and plastic with power drills
-using a level, tape, framing square, and other measuring tools
-soldering and other electrical and electronic skills for the power supply project
Step 4: Zones
-soldering, uController programming, circuit testing, and electronics repair
-basic wood-based layout, repair, assembly (clamping/gluing), and finishing/refinishing
-general disassembly and repair of household appliances, cameras, etc.
Because of the electronics, we left major cutting and sanding tasks in the garage to minimize sawdust. Similarly, automobile and bicycle repair made little sense for a basement workshop, so we left specialized tools for these types of projects in the garage.
Step 5: Design
With a long wall available, we decided to make a 12-foot long bench with shelf storage underneath. We settled on on a 28 inch depth as a compromise between usable workspace and ease of reaching the pegboard above the work surface.
Because we're both fairly tall, and because we wanted a stool to fit comfortably, we set the benchtop height at 38 inches. Kitchen countertops are usually 36 inches, but that figure dates from the 1940s when a) women were the primary users of those counters and b) both women and men, on average, were shorter. We read somewhere that 42 inch countertops might find a following, but the point here is to build a height that fits your ergonomics, tasks, and taste.
The existing room was pretty dark, so we decided on two 4-foot fluorescent fixtures to hang above the 12-foot bench. Looking back, adding a third strip might have been a good idea: in a basement, it's hard to have too much task lighting. We left a 4-foot fixture hanging in the center of the room, and moved a second 4-foot fixture from the corner where the new build was to take place to a position across the room above an existing workbench.
To support the zone concept, we allowed room for leg clearance and deleted the middle shelf for 4 feet of workspace at the left end, with a computer shelf above with an undercabinet light to support fine work. In the middle disassembly zone, we provided space for a whiteboard and a high shelf for a camera and plastic bags; underneath, we included an empty drawer box for holding work in process off the bench surface. At the right end, we planned to mount a vise at the end near the storage shelves.
For the top surface, we decided on fire doors. They're sturdy enough to hammer on, smoother than anything we could build on short notice, and cost-effective: even doubling up 3/4" plywood would have been about as expensive and less solid.
Step 6: Materials List
-2x4x8 feet SPF (spruce-pine-fir) for shelf supports, legs, and braces (we used 12 pieces for a 12 foot bench)
-2x6x8 feet SPF for two middle legs (just one was enough)
-4x8 sheet 15/32" plywood. We wanted a smooth surface on one side, so we opted for grade A (best quality) on one side and grade C on the other (thus it's labeled A-C). C-D (or CDX) is rough but perfectly sound structurally. 3/4" plywood is stronger than we needed, heavier and harder to manage, and more expensive. OSB is generally less expensive, rougher, and can behave badly if water is nearby, but check it out as an alternative if you're interested. (We used 20 running feet of 2-foot-wide shelving, or just over a sheet, which yields 16 feet of 24-inch-wide material)
-1x2 pine (this ran along the back of the work surface to keep small pieces from rolling into a crack) 12 feet
-scrap 3/4" plywood, 2x4 cutoffs
-2 48-inch surface-mount fluorescent lights and bulbs. We chose bulbs with a color rendering index (CRI) of 90, which means that color differences are more discernible than with lamps of lower CRI scores. Compared with the bulbs already in the basement, the new ones with the higher number produced a more pleasing light.
-1/4" x 2 1/2" lag screws (we went through about 50 on the front legs/rails and assorted other uses)
-1/4" x 3" lag screws (for the back rails - we used about 25)
-2" fine-thread drywall screws (a handful)
-1 1/4" star-drive exterior screws (about 25)
-4" square-drive deck screws (4 - not worth buying a whole box)
-assorted plastic bins for storage
-drawer boxes salvaged from an old built-in cabinet
-25 feet of 14-2 with ground electrical wire
-two salvaged fire doors
-24" x 36" whiteboard
-2 plastic organizer cabinets
-two 4-foot outlet strips (Tripp Lite PS4816)
-two 4' x 4' sheets of pegboard
-pegboard hooks/screws/spacers/tie-downs in accessory kits
-two 2" corner irons
-4 foot x 1/2" iron pipe
Power supply parts:
-old, working PC ATX power supply
-plastic project box
-6 female banana plugs
-heat shrink tubing
-120 volt 10 amp SPST switch
-3 feet 18 gauge solid-core wire
Step 7: Tools
-10" table saw
-10" compound miter saw
-14v. cordless drill-driver
-6" orbital sander
-3/8" socket set (including drill adapter)
-1" spade bit
-1/8" drill bit
-various bar clamps
-6' step ladder for hanging ceiling lights
For the power supply, we needed some additional tools:
-7/8" step bit
Step 8: Suppliers
-the 48-inch outlet strips were from Buy.com (currently $37.24 apiece with free shipping)
-fire doors for the bench tops were bought at our local ReStore for ~$40 each. Habitat for Humanity operates ReStores as a way to recycle building supplies, raise money, and increase awareness. Here's a ReStore Directory by state
-a parts cabinet, a Craftsman tool chest, and a tool drawer organizer came from Sears
-the whiteboard came from a big-box office supply store (about $30)
-we found a used oscilloscope on eBay
Step 9: Lighting
Step 1: Power up worklight, turn off circuit breaker, and remove bulbs from existing light.
Step 2: Open fixture to see existing splices.
Step 3: Strip new wire, thread through hole in fixture, and add to wire nuts.
Step 4: Affix cable to ceiling joists with cable staples.
Step 5: Wire new fixture at desired location on ladder.
Step 6: Fasten new fixture to ceiling as desired.
Step 7: Repeat steps 2 through 6 with additional lights.
Step 8: Check to see that all connections are mechanically tight and that no copper is visible except the ground.
Step 9: Turn on circuit breaker.
Step 10: Test with bulbs in place.
Step 11: When all bulbs light, turn off breaker, remove bulbs, then replace covers and bulbs.
Step 12: Turn on circuit breaker and re-test.
Step 10: Cut List
A) Table saw
1) Because we a) wanted greater knee clearance under the work surface and b) had to clear a surface-mounted plastic pipe on the wall (it comes from the furnace humidifier), we ripped 2x4s on the table saw to get 2x1 3/4" stock.
2) We ripped the 4x8 plywood into 2 24" x 8' shelves
3) We reconfigured a 4'x4' (16 square feet) pegboard into a 3'x4' plus a 1'x3' (adding up to 3' high by 5' wide) plus a 1'x1' scrap.
4) The fire doors were different sizes, and added up to 13'6" in length, which caused clearance problems. On the table saw, we ripped them both to 28" deep and in one case, made a slightly unpleasant discovery: in the recent past, some fire doors now resemble drywall in that they feature a cement core. The saw made quick work of the cut, but the dust was extremely thick. After ripping the wood door to width and while it was still outside the house in the garage, we sanded off the old finish on the better side with an orbital sander.
5) We ripped scrap plywood to size for two shelves that were mounted above the workbench: a laptop shelf was 13"x24" and a shelf for tape measures and other items that didn't hang well on the pegboard measured 6"x12".
B) Chop saw
1) For the 12' shelf rails, we used an 8-footer plus a 45-inch piece. Combined with two end pieces at 1 1/2" apiece, that adds up to an even 12 feet. Some 45-inchers were the ripped 2x4 while others were full with 2x4s.
2) The end pieces (6 of them) were 25 1/2" each, spanning the 24" of the shelf plus the front leg on each side.
3) At roughly the 4' and 8' marks of the rails, we included a cross brace so that the plywood shelves could join on a solid surface. These pieces, 4 in all, measured 21" (24 - (1 1/2x2)).
4) 2 front legs at the corners were 2x4s cut to 36". The middle legs were 2x6 because the rails needed a base on which to join. Technically we only needed one 2x6 but we used two for symmetry.
5) To support a computer shelf on the wall above the work surface, we mitered 2 2x4s at 45-degree angles. In addition, we cut 2 12" 2x4s, one as a screwdriver rack and the other as a cleat for the tape measure shelf.
Step 11: Layout
**IMPORTANT: For this technique to work, we had to remember to work in a mirror image from what we saw on the wall since the legs stand outside the shelf: if the legs were inside the rails, we'd have had to make 1 1/2" x 3 1/2" cutouts for the 2x4s and 1 1/2" x 5 1/2" cutouts for the 2x6s.
An alternative technique would have been to position the lumber for the front rails on the chalk lines, temporarily screw them to the wall, bolt the legs in from the front, then remove the temporary bolts. This technique has the advantage of more precise alignment of the lower shelf heights, but a) the bolts would appear on the front legs and b) the temporary bolts would leave holes.
Step 12: Affix Cleats to Wall
Step 13: Assemble Front Frame on Floor
Step 14: Join Front to Cleats
Step 15: Install Shelves
Step 16: Mount Doors
As there was a slight gap between the two doors and some surface scarring on the solid wood (left) door, we applied wood filler where necessary. After it dried, we treated the wood door with a coat of Danish oil. The right door's laminate surface is less pleasant to admire but is super smooth (either spray-applied polyurethane or plastic laminate) and it cleans up extremely easily.
Step 17: Laptop Shelf
Step 18: Backsplash / Power Strips
On top of this wood we mounted a 4-foot outlet strip at each end - the vertical clearance from the work surface makes it easy to grasp plugs when inserting or removing them. Each strip comes with a spring-metal clip that is screwed to a stud and then receives the outlet strip with a discernible "click." Because the strips come with 15 feet of cable, we shortened one with an aftermarket plug we had from a previous project before plugging it into an outlet near the vacuum cleaner tank. The other cable we left long, plugging it into an outlet below the bench (on a different circuit from the first strip) and gathering the excess length with a cable tie.
Finally we took apart a spare tape measure and screwed it into place along the bottom of the 1x2.
Step 19: Pegboard
Step 20: Cable Rack
Step 21: Whiteboard
Step 22: Screwdriver Rack
Step 23: Tape Measure Shelf
Step 24: Power Suply
This instructable provided good detail and we modified the plan only slightly by using a plastic project box as a breakout rather than trying to drill into a metal box full of components.
A great tool we used for the first time on this project was a step bit; ours was made by Greenlee. It did a great job of expanding small pilot holes to the 3/8" needed for the banana posts. The power switch connects to the IEC neutral rather than mimicking a PC "on" switch, which momentarily bridges the green wire to ground. The black tubing between the boxes is aquarium hose hot glued at both ends and bent with some help from the heat gun. Finally, the black box is held in place with double-sided tape.
We tested all the leads -- +12v, +5v, +3.3v, -12v -- on a multimeter and all voltages were accurate to .1v.
Step 25: Group Tools
-electronics (pliers, heat gun, wire strippers, solder supplies, etc)
-safety (glasses, ear muffs, masks)
-measurement (squares, rulers, layout tools)
-wrenches (open- and closed-end, sockets)
-painting tools and supplies
-precision tools (screwdrivers, dental picks, center punch)
Step 26: Hang Tools on Pegboard
Across the room on the 4'x4' pegboard, we mounted the long level, open-end wrenches, and sockets stored on spring strips. Clamps (wonderfully called "cramps" in the U.K. and Australia) went into drawers or onto the unused short end of the old workbench.
Step 27: Organize Shelves
Step 28: Parts Cabinet
Step 29: Reused Bookshelf
For supply storage, we used several techniques:
-plastic containers from medicine/food, often with a sample of the contents taped onto the front
-glass jars, which are wonderfully old-school but can break too easily
-original factory packaging, which often breaks down, especially as the box weakens when the contents are depleted.
Step 30: Fire Extinguisher
Step 31: Cleanup
1) a shop vacuum is located close by, tucked under the old bench with accessories stored a foot away on an open shelf
2) a large shop-grade trash can sits immediately to the left of the main bench
3) a broom and dust pan are mounted on the front legs of the main bench never in the way (because of the 4" overhang of the top) but always within arm's reach
Step 32: Pencil Holder
Step 33: Dis-assembly Aids
1) empty drawer boxes
2) a supply of plastic bags and a marker for labeling same
3) the whiteboard
4) an old digital camera on the tape measure shelf to photograph before and after images to aid memory later
Step 34: Shoping List
Step 35: Dremel Drill Press
Step 36: Vices
Step 37: On the Move
-The bucket holds long items (pieces of pipe, caulking guns, hand saws) that might not fit into a tool box. The handle is comfortable enough and the pockets make the tools on the outside very accessible. The bottom can get cluttered and full if you let it, and dirt and sawdust have an easy path in.
-The box has a removable top tray to segment the storage area. Tools are visible and protected from rain, dust, and dirt. The top includes small plastic bins perfect for small nuts, bolts, and electronics connectors, but finding room for a 5-lb. box of framing nails can be hard.