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Here’s a bench I've been working on recently, inspired by potting tables and a great article from redndahead. Buuuut, I’ve tweaked the design a little to feature extra storage and what I believe is a few handy additions- accessible shelving, a pin board and desktop compartments. I don’t just mean a shelf for storing your nik naks on after a day’s work, or something that’s a strain to reach. What I mean is a something you can sling your tools on whilst you go, reducing the likelihood of clutter.

As for the desktop compartments idea, it offers convenience and sections to scoop little fittings into.

The design of this bench is fairly simple: very few tools required, butt joints at each corner and constructed using the most basic of carpentry techniques.

Step 1: Inspirations

(A) Potting Tables: The thing I love about these, is that they can be constructed from old decking boards and scrap timber- as long as the pieces have been pressure treated for outdoor use. A neat little workstation for potting, pruning and storage.

(B) Packing tables: Whilst working at a packing firm, I wrapped all kindsa goods at a desk like this one. Notice how the flat packed boxes, envelopes, hand tools and tape are stored on convenient shelving? This meant that, for the most part, your desk would always be clear and ready for big loads. The designer has gone a few steps beyond and devised cling film and bubble wrap dispensers too… Not something I’ll be considering, but I admire their ingenuity.

Step 2: Tools, Parts & Cutting List

I've detailed the Cutting List in Image 2, but as far as tools go:

The Basics: Pencil, Try Square, Saw (Cross and Rip), Sandpaper, Centre punch, Tape Measure, Drill blade set etc.
Fasteners: Nuts, Bolts, Nails

Step 3: A Helpful Jig..

Whether I’m cutting a number of pieces or marking pilot holes, I use a Counterbore Jig to keep the template piece aligned with the new pieces. I’ll admit I’m a sucker for neatness and the positioning of screws and nails doesn't always matter, as long as the pieces to be joint are.. well, joint. However, “It’s the seemingly unnoticeable details on a piece of furniture that impress a customer,” as my old boss would say. I think he was burdened with the same demons as me, but anyway, you might be surprised at how handy a jig like this can be.

Step 4: Framing (Part 1)

You can use screws and bolts for a structure like this, but personally I find it much quicker to hammer a few nails into pilot holes. The ribs will support the table top proportionately and play a big part in one of the storage solutions I’ve come up with, in Step 9.

Step 5: Framing (Part 2)

A similar process, although the front piece is set back a little to provide some leg room.

Step 6: Sub Assembly

I’d recommend getting someone to help you at this stage. But if you don’t have a kind relative, spouse or someone bored enough to watch you swing a hammer about; nail the frames to the legs before you drive the bolts in! So it doesn't fall apart whilst you’re putting it into a position to be drilled.

Step 7: Creating the Work Surfaces (Part 1)

(A) This is a piece of scrap wood that I used as a measuring rod, before taking the markings from the rod to the panel itself. It’s not critical to do this, but I wanted it to sit as flush as possible on the frame.

Step 8: Creating the Work Surfaces (Part 2)

Load the top pieces, keeping them nice and tight’ as you go

Step 9: A Desktop Storage Solution

Image 1: As you can see, one of the top pieces has much smaller pieces fitted to it; which were cut precisely to fit the gaps in between the ribs.

Image 2: Now, those smaller pieces were made using one long length of timber (B) which I marked using a makeshift measuring rod (A).

Mark the locations of the ribs on said length of timber, and number them too (vital!) because no matter how tidily you made the frames in Step 4, those smaller pieces won’t all be the same size and you might need to identify which piece goes where.

Step 10: Shelving & Pin Board

Shelving
What I propose is a box like form that’s deep enough (and strong enough) to hold most hand tools. I made mine using dowels, then reinforced the joints with screws.

Pin board
When I’m working from a design, I think it’s nice to have it mounted; within view and not creasing under the weight of the tools I’m using. A strip of aluminium plate has been added to the back of the pin board, so it won’t bend under the strain of use.

Step 11: Complete

As always, feel free to leave a comment if you're unsure of anything :-) Ta

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Bio: My main interest is traditional jig design- making apparatus that'll benefit a process and give me the effect I'm looking for. I have ... More »
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