Introduction: Workbench X - a Foldable Workbench Into a Garage or Workshop
How to build a workbench? Well, maybe my new garage workbench can spark some ideas.
Workbench X was born out of a need to have a new surface to work on in my garage/workshop. I quite like woodworking and DIY projects in general, but I don't have enough room to just fit a large traditional workshop bench in the middle of the room and call it success.
There were two choices - easy or complex. The easy solution would have been to have just two simple foldable stands with a piece of plywood on top of them. This is a fast and cheap option but I ended up going with the more complex option. Why?
The main argument for me ended up being that in the end even the easy/simple solution needs to sit somewhere if I don't need to use it. It will take space despite using or not using it. But maybe I can get a much better garage workbench with relatively small increase in size?
Another big selling point for me was that I do have some more specific functions/options in mind that I would like to add to this workbench in the near future.
Therefore it made sense to start with the right solution.
Step 1: Workbench X Must Do the Following
To me this workbench must offer:
1) take as little space as possible when folded and when in use it must offer as much top plate space as possible
2) be relatively simple to manufacture to keep the cost as low as possible
3) have dog holes for clamping
4) also have a surface without dog holes (personal experience is telling me that small things falling from the workbench is not fun, seeing them falling through the workbench is definitely not fun)
5) it must be high enough to minimize bowing while working
6) be movable yet as stable as possible
In total I think I spent more than a week in Autodesk Inventor figuring out how to make something that will fill these main demands. Eventually there was a result that seemed worth making.
So, lets build a workbench!
Step 2: Cutting It Out With a Cnc
I modeled everything in the Autodesk Inventor and therefore the cutting was a simple process. Also there are no complex 3d curves. Therefore nothing fancy in this step.
Step 3: Preparations Before Assembling
If the cnc cut quality is good then the amount of sanding is minimized but it is still important to sand the edges because melamine edges can be rather sharp and even slightly rounded edges slide better over other surfaces.
Because the cnc machine cannot cut all the holes for the screws I had to drill some holes myself and also I had to countersink the screw holes that the cnc machine did cut.
Some light sanding and drilling and it is ready for the next step.
Step 4: The Assembly
Everything is screwed together. This allows to replace parts if there is a need to redesign something in the future.
Tapered insert nuts and also T - nuts are used for assembly. Time will tell whether T - nuts will be working as well as I have planned. If not then I can later replace them with insert nuts.
A tip if something similar is made by somebody. When cutting the top surface with the cnc accuracy then add small non penetrating holes for dowels which can be used to align the parts of the frame that goes under the top surface plate.
If things before cutting are done well, then this step is mostly about accurate aligning and then some screwing.
Step 5: What Workbench X Ended Up Being?
What ended up being the solutions to those 6 main demands brought up earlier:
1) the top surface of the workbench has two parts. Most of the time only one will be used but when needed the surface can be doubled in width
When folded the Workbench X is 1500 mm long, 260 mm wide and 882 mm high. When unfolded the bench with one top surface in use is 1500 mm long, 550/650 mm wide and 900 mm high
2) the frame of the workbench and one surface plate is made out of 18 mm thick melamine covered birch plywood because it is durable, relatively cheap and easier to work with than steel
3) the dog holes are rectangular to be able to use regular F clamps because I don't want to buy specific tools. Also the sides of the rectangular holes give a straight edge/line to use with custom tools that I plan to make in the future. For example I am already finishing a custom made quick release bench vice design in Autodesk Inventor
4) the second top surface of the workbench is a cheap melamine chipboard. This is just a simple rectangle and it will be a surface that can be damaged. No drama when something falls onto it and I can accidentally draw onto it, drill or saw into it etc. When it wears out then its a simple case of unscrewing and turning it around or attaching a new one
5) I chose the top surface height to be 900 mm after testing different heights to find the one that suits me best
6) To achieve maximum stability I had to custom make retractable wheel assemblies out of steel because the space (height) for attaching them was very limited. But managed to figure the design out in Inventor
Step 6: Final Thoughts Before the End
The plywood top is 550 mm wide because this number was a balance between what is needed and optimal material use. The regular chip board side is 650 mm wide and you can notice the difference. Therefore I suggest the width to be 650 mm, there is space for 700 mm in the concept.
When workbench is folded then the width between the two top surfaces is 260 mm. I should have made the lower parts of the legs at least as wide, if not a bit wider. This would widen the distance between the wheels and therefore the workbench would be more stable when moving it around while it is folded.
Those retractable wheel assemblies were not cheap. There are other solutions to the problem which would be cheaper. I figured out some but for me it ended up being about convenience.
Despite those improvement thoughts I am happy with the result and I already have two diy furniture projects waiting in line.
Hopefully with this project I managed to spark some good work bench ideas in somebody.
Participated in the
CNC Contest 2020