Introduction: Tough Cheap Work Bench (My Bowling Alley)
I noticed some discountinued flooring at my local big box store and saw the opportunity for a new bench in my future. It was relatively inexpensive and easy to do. Plus it looks like a bowling alley, how cool is that???
Step 1: What You Need...
- Look for the solid or real engineered version. In my opinion it will give you the best work surface and will last the longest of the options I found. For the small area of a work bench it really does not take that much material.
- I opted to go the cheap skate route; my usual modus operandi... I looked that the local flooring stores for close outs. They had the best price per foot but wanted me to buy whatever they had left, which was usually 2 or more boxes more material than I needed. So I started looking at the home stores and big box retailers. Eventually I found some on clearance. It was solid bamboo for about $15 a box. I bought three but could have gotten by with 2. Yours will vary. My bench is 2' by 22'.
- You can use what ever wood you have laying around. I did not have enough of any one type to get it done so I bought some 19/32" sheathing plywood. I think it was about $17 per sheet. I needed a little more than 2 sheet so had to buy 3.
- I put a cleat around the edges to use as a ledger. I used a combination of 2"x2" left over from another project and I ripped some 2"x4" lengthwise for the rest.
- I used a combination of deck screws and misc screws from my misc. screw box to mount the ledger and attach the base to the edges.
- For attaching the flooring to the top I used construction adhesive and a brad nailer.
Step 2: Prep and Ledger
First things first, I had to clear 17 years worth of junk off the wall of the garage. No small feat as you will see in the before and after pictures.
Dimensions and planning:
- Since I had to buy a full 3 sheets of plywood to complete the job, I decided to follow all of the contours of my wall. Since the peg board has evolved from dumpster dive parts and misc. installation over the years; it has several dimensional differences off the wall. Your build will go MUCH faster if you just stick to a straight bench.
- Next I set my height on the tallest tool box I was going to use underneath as the base for the bench. I used a combination of tape measure, laser level, and 4' construction level to lay out my line on the wall.
- NOTE: Very important! Your garage will no doubt have a gradual slope away from the house. Take this into account as you lay out your dimensions. I knew this, but did not really notice how significant it was until I was trying to squeeze my last tool box under and it barely fit.
- Pretty straight forward: Start with one end and keep laying in the boards along the edge. Keeping a close eye for level.
Step 3: Top It (Gorilla Glue and Nail It)
- I cut the plywood to size and screwed it to the ledger about every 1'-2'. I used an assortment of deck screws and what ever was in my junk screw box.
- The flooring is tongue and groove so I started at the wall and worked my way to the edge. I used the recommended stagger from the flooring instructions just as if it was a floor. I dry fit the whole thing before I attached any of it to the plywood.
- Once all the cuts were done and I was satisfied with how it fit, I started attaching it. First with glue, then nails. I used liquid nails construction adhesive in a caulk gun, Gorilla glue would work great too but I was all out. I do not have a flooring nailer and my brad nailer made it tough to get precise nail placement on the tongue. I quickly gave up and used my brad nailer to nail from below into the planks (bamboo is wicked hard wood!!!)
- Note: The glue and nails was probably over kill, but I over engineer everything and never have anything fail.
- When all is said and done the bench is about 1 3/4" thick which is nice and solid.
- In my case, I have the bench supported by 2 tool boxes, 2 sets of drawers, and a fridge. If you do not have anything to put under you will need to build legs or corbels. There are some great bench designs on instructables you could use.
Step 4: Before and After
Here is the final product. I still need to put a permanent edge on it. I used a router with a flush bit to get the edge nice and crisp. I am undecided if I want to put a hard plastic trim like ABS or a hardwood edge. Until I decide it is "finished". I am almost good leaving it as is, but my obsessive compulsive nature will force me at some point to finish it.
- You will notice the far corner was haven for junk. Usually a stack of storage boxes for a later Ebay adventure, or left over parts from another project.
- The work surface was a mix of 2 roll away tool boxes and a make shift kitchen counter on top of 2 stack of drawers. It worked but was a pain when I had to work with long pieces of material. Also had no real desk space. Not to mention the small bits that would fall between or off the back.
- End to end worktop bliss.
- I now have a proper desk area, with proper seating (see my instructable for the chair).
- It even feels bigger since the work surface is all one height, all one color, all one material...
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