Introduction: Maximize Your Workbench
While my old workbench's used to be setup to my liking, as most garage enthusiast knows there is always room for improvement. My current setup was not efficient and wasted much needed space. Which is why I decided to remodel my workbench to maximize my space hopefully this can give some insight and ideas for your own workbench.
Step 1: Design/Things to Consider
Being only 18 I don't have alot of money so that played a big roll on how I designed my new workbench you could always go cheaper or more elaborate depending on your budget.
Being as I do a mixture of things in my workshop primarily woodworking/engine work I need to design my workbench to accommodate those needs. By following these simple steps you will be able to make a workbench devoted to your needs.
1.Know what works and what dosent.
2.What can be improved i.e Storage etc.
3.What type of projects do I do on my workbench.
4.How big/small do you need it.
5.Special features you want.
By asking my self these questions I came up with this.
1.My height of the left bench was perfect seeing as im 6'3. I need my toolbox close to the workbench. What didn't work was having the two workbenches split and having a bench top drill press taking up space.
2.I needed more worktop space and tons more storage. By separating my tool chest in two sections I can have one solid workbench.
3.I mainly do engine work/electronics on my workbench so I had no need for a woodworking vise etc
4.I wanted the whole wall one solid workbench and a taller then a average workbench.
5.Pegboard above one side and shelves below for storing parts during tear downs.
Step 2: Materials/Tools Needed
While I tried to reuse as much as I could I still needed to buy some things here is the list of what I used.
-Miter saw(could use hand saw)
-Impact driver(drill will do just fine)
-1 full sheet of plywood for the bench top I made my width 2ft so I could rip one piece down the center for both sides.
-1 full sheet of OSB for shelves ( I used my old bench tops)
-Lag screws for hanging ledgers
-1lb box of 3 inch screws
-1lb box of 1 1/4 inch screws
-4x4 post's for the legs
-2x4's for supports
-1x1 strips for pegboard backing(can be done different)
-Wall anchors for shelf
-Polyurethane for the bench top (optional)
Step 3: Deconstruction
This was fairly straightforward I was going to try and reuse as much wood from my old workbenches as I could to keep cost down and to stay green. Keep in mind you may have to work around things such as vents,dust collection, etc. My cats use a vent we cut out to go in and out of the house so I have to keep that in mind.
Step 4: Hanging the Ledgers
First step here is deciding your overall height you want your new workbench to be I wanted mine to be around 40" so I hung my ledgers at 39 1/2" yours may differ.
Next you need to find and mark your studs, they should be every 16" on center but if you have bump outs in the wall like I did they maybe be a little different around the bump .
You do not have to put shelves in like I did but space them according to your needs I made mine just a tad under half the height of the whole workbench
I drove a lag screw into every stud for both the top and bottom ledgers,unfortunately I forgot to take pictures during this step but you can still see the ledgers in these photos.
Step 5: Legs and Shelf Support
I decided to use 4x4's for my legs because I had enough of them left over from my old workbench and the extra strength couldn't hurt but you could easily get by with using 2x4's.
After having all the ledgers hung its time to brace the legs I used 2x4's for this.
I wanted my overall width to be 2ft so I measured accordingly and secured all the braces to the legs using 3" screws which was plenty strong. Depending on how much weight your shelves will be holding will determine your amount of bracing. Mine will hardly ever see significantly heavy weight so I only used one cross brace in the center.
For the shelf top I reused my old bench top which fit almost perfectly.
Step 6: Bracing the Top
Bracing the underside of your workbench will make it more strong and will help it from warping/bowing over time.
After I lucked out and found a 2x4 in my backyard that could span the length of my workbench I secured it with more 3" screws and was then ready for bracing the center.
For bracing I used 2x4's cut at 45 degrees as well as a straight piece for the center.
To secure them I screwed from the front and toe nailed the back braces making sure they stayed level with the top.
Where the two sheets of plywood where going to meet i added in a scrap 4x4 to give me ample room to screw them down to so the seam wouldn't be two noticeable.
Step 7: Laying Down the Bench Top
At this step your workbench is almost complete but its missing one vital part, the bench top. This step is pretty simple if you make your width 2ft.
All I had to do was mark a line dead center of the sheet and cut in the CENTER of the line being in the center of the line will make the sheets the same size.
If you have things to work around measure twice and cut once. I had two obstacles in my way the first was the bump out in the wall, the second was a notch for the garage door to close without hitting anything but neither of these where hard at all to work around.
Step 8: Adding "extras"
Three things I wanted on my new workbench was a coat of polyurethane, pegboard, and a long shelf.
First we will start with polyurethane, this step is totally up to you and its certainly not needed however after a couple years of abuse my old workbench was starting to flake apart. That is partly due to the top being OSB but nonetheless a couple coats of polyurethane couldn't hurt.
After filling any voids with wood filler I applied about 4 coats with a brush and built up a nice smooth layer which makes cleaning up oil etc a breeze as it dosent soak into the wood.
The second thing I wanted was pegboard, I don't have any photos of how I assembled it unfortunately but I can tell you how I did it. I had a couple spare pieces of pine left over from a project so I ripped them down to about the same thickness as a 1x1 strip from a home improvement store. I then in essence made a picture frame for the back of the pegboard with a extra strip in the center for support. Then found studs and secured it using 3" screws.
The last thing I wanted was a shelf for spray paint,stain,oil,etc.
This was very simple to do I just used wall anchors made sure it was level and mounted the brackets and put the shelf on.
Step 9: Organize Your Workspace
The Last step is to find a place for all your tools,parts,etc
After cleaning out my tool box of unneeded things its much more organized and dosent take up much bench space.
Having the pegboard to hang things from made staying organized a easy task. As well as having the blue tool holder makes keeping my tools at arms reach and organized during projects a breeze.
Lastly having the shelf to keep all my paint,stain etc in one place instead of spread out over the shop makes finding the right can simple and fast.
Step 10: Conclusion
After finding all the flaws in my old workbenches and rebuilding them into what I have now is a night and day difference in organization, efficiency and storage.
There still is a couple things I have to add such as another florescent light over the right side of the bench, fire extinguisher and maybe another piece of pegboard to hang parts on.
Overall time it took me was about a week and that was mainly due too laying down polyurethane on the top. Overall difficultly wasn't bad at all and is something your average handyman should be able to complete with basic tools.
But overall I am very satisfied with my new workbench and would like to see any pictures if anyone makes their own workbench's.
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