Introduction: SuperMatt's SuperBench : Bench / Workbench / Desk / Storage

see also :
SuperMatt's SuperBlackBox :


In the past I have been possessed of huge shops - the biggest probably 3000 square feet when I ran a tech company in Silly Valley in the late 1980's early 90's. A few years ago I had a 400 sq foot one complete with $40k CNC milling machine.

Alas - those days are gone LOL

Now I have a corner in an apartment. And I move a lot. Not like you probably think 'a lot' - like a new place to live for every year of my life (like 50+ new places on 3 different continents). And I have to move FAST. No I'm not a spy or criminal type - I'm a hired gun software engineer and an assignment can end on Friday and I need to be ready to go to work the very next week in a state far far away. So we are modern day nomads now.

This is by far the best small bench I have EVER used or for that matter ever seen. And it is simple to build, cheap and easy to disassemble - and did I mention is looks GREAT ! (Far better than my crappy fotos can show). And look at all that storage !

Step 1: Tools

Tools :

Best part - pretty much none. A hammer of some kind is nice. I have my son's hammer in the foto but a nice small rubber hammer is best for assembling the shelving. And a pocket knife - in this case a leatherman.

That's all.

Step 2:

Materials :

Here's what I hate about most Instructables - as good as most builds are, if I see something cool, I want to DUPLICATE it - which means I need to find whatever parts the author has used. Not always so easy to do. So I'll try to do better.

1) Wire rack shelving. Best place I found these was a Target. Lowes has them, Home Depot has them, heck Amazon has them. They are pretty standard fare - come in 3 & 4 foot widths. The one in the fotos is 4 feet wide, 18 inches deep. Each shelf is rated for 200 or 300 pounds - that means I could put 3/4 of a ton on one of them (not that it seems like such a good idea). The shelves have little plastic widgets that snap on the grooves on each vertical pipe. They hold very well and I've never broken one yet. Best part is the manufacturers of the ones I have purchased all seem to include one extra set of widgets so if you lose some, you're still ok. On sale I have seen them as low as $40, but last time I think I paid $55 for a 6 tall foot version at Target. YMMV

These come in black white and chrome BTW - I have versions of all of them. All are quite nice looking.

2) A board. In this case a 16" x 48" pine shelf-type board - 3/4 inch thick. Lowes has them, HomeDepot has them. I think I paid $5 last time.

3) zip ties - called nylon cable ties on the can of 500 I bought for $10 years ago.

4) standard 4 foot fluorescent shop light. Same places as the rack - I paid about $10 with bulbs for mine.


Optional :

5)  IKEA Grundtal magnetic knife racks - these are the bee's knees.

I am of the camp that tools need to be as easily accessible as possible - so anything made of steel gets snapped (?) to these stainless steel magnetic racks. Made for the super-kitchen for holding knives - these are super tool holders. Takes a lot of work to pull something off one of these babies.

6) surge strips (as many as you want).

Step 3:

Assembly :

1) Assemble the rack. I generally put one shelf as low as it will go - this is done first - having the shelf at the very bottom allows you to insert your feet when you sit at the bench - allows you to store stuff where you dont put your feet and makes the rack more stable. The next shelf up will hold your bench / desktop - you put this one where it feels most comfortable when you sit. The bottom of this shelf is 25 inches off the floor for me. The third shelf is about 57 inches and the top shelf is 6 feet. These racks can come with either 4 or 5 shelves. You may end up with an extra. I have seven of these racks in my 700 sq foot apartment (a white one for storage as an example at the end - they also hold my triple 20 inch computer monitor setup and the SWMBO's computer setup as well). They hold everything - so an extra shelf just ends up somewhere else.

2)  The board is not going to fit on your designated bench/desktop shelf. Don't worry - that's why you have a knife. You could be totally anal retentive and saw it or cut it with a drill - or you could whip out your pocket knife and start carving a small arc on each of the four corners. My arcs are about 1-1/2 inches long and about half an inch in depth. Carve till it fits. Took me about 3 to 5 minutes for each corner.

3) Lay board on designated bench top rack

4) Take the shop light out of the box, insert the bulbs - plug it in and test it to make sure it works. These should come with small chains to hold them up. I hooked mine towards the back of the 3rd rack (the one over the benchtop).

5) use zip ties to attach the Grundtals and the surge strips wherever they work for you. I have one surge strip on a vertical rack pipe and the Gruntals are scattered all around the front of the rack.

Step 4:

The End.

Sorry if the fotos are not so great but this really is a nice setup. Very convenient to use. Easy to attach things to, lots of storage, a breeze to move and looks pretty decent. If your bench ever gets too dirty / corrupted (my daughter writes all over mine) just flip it over - or head to the hardware store and spend $5 to get a new board.

Total cost : somewhere between $50 and $100 depending on how good of a shopper you are (or zero if you can find one of these racks on freecycle or a curb somewhere).

And one last tiny little rant - you will notice that I did not ever, anywhere in this screed use the word 'G R E E N'.

There is a reason for that.

All the projects we love to do use energy - energy to mine the iron ore that makes the steel copper tin chrome - energy that moves the trains carrying the ore - energy that fuels the blast furnaces that smelt the ores into usable iron - or cut the trees in the forest for the wood for this bench. Energy for the manufacturer to make the wire rack, energy for the plastic in the surge strips, energy to move the knife racks to the IKEA warehouse. Energy to create the shoelaces in the shoes that cover your feet as you pedal that aluminium bicycle (lots of energy to create that) that you use to scan the curbs as you pedal around your town looking for a free rack to snag.

We use lots and lots of energy every time we create something. And that can never be green. Oh, one particular method of creation may be slightly more 'effiicient' than another - using less energy than another, but EVERY project contributes to the increase in total entropy in our local system (the planet Earth).

If you wish to be truly G R E E N - the very best thing you could do today is to sit on your sofa and not move a muscle. So I am not Green (and neither are you).

For those of you who are interested about Entropy - in THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT SCIENTIFIC PRINCIPLE that underlies all of pretty much EVERYTHING in the universe - please go read Jeremy Rifkin's & Ted Howard's book : Entropy: A New World View (written in 1980).

End of rant (did not mean to offend anyone - just so very tired waiting for the word Green to jump the shark).

Enjoy your SuperBench :)


"Optimism, pessimism, *** that; we're going to make it happen."
-- Elon Musk     after the SpaceX launches went 0 for 3

Share Your Space Challenge

First Prize in the
Share Your Space Challenge