Friday, July 7, 2017

...and the One Before That

Since my furnace was on hold due to weather, I decided I needed a proper work bench. All I had in my shed was a shelf (built by the previous occupant) that could barely hold itself up, let alone support any work. I'll need a sturdy bench to work on and to bolt the lathe to.

"Uncle" Dave to the rescue! "Uncle" Dave Gingery's Shop Notebook I contains a collection of projects and ideas he accumulated in his notebooks over the years, and includes workbench plans and a discussion of how best to adapt them to your needs that are well worth the price of the book.

The best kind of wood for this sort of project is free wood, and I can get broken pallets from work for free. I already had a circular saw I could make quick cuts (but not particularly straight cuts) with, and a miter saw I'd picked up at a too-good-to-pass-up sale price from Harbor Freight. But I was tired of propping my saw or my work on sawhorses or laying it out on the floor. Miter saw stands were expensive, and didn't look any more stable than sawhorses. It looked like I needed a workbench for building my workbench. I adapted Uncle Dave's workbench plans to fit my saw, my shed, and my pallets.

Here's the basic table. The base, legs, and top are salvaged pallet wood. The sides are fiberboard, and the drawer slides are 1x2s, both left over from another project. The pallets stacked next to the table provide an additional work surface and lumber storage. Salvaged pallet boards slide neatly into the space between the upper and lower surfaces of the pallets. I adjusted the height of the stack until I found the most comfortable working height for me—36 inches. Note that the table is lower than the pallet stack so the height of the saw's work surface will be equal with the pallets. There's another stack of pallets at the other end of the shelf for additional storage and to support especially long boards for cutting.

Dave's plans called for grooves in the sides, front, and back of the drawers to hold the drawer bottoms. I could set my saw to the proper depth for the grooves, but it didn't have enough travel to cut a groove the full length or width of the drawer. Jenn at Build Basic had the answer: 3/8 x 3/8 square dowels glued and nailed along the bottom edge of the sides, front, and back support the drawer bottom.

I used 1/2" finishing nails. Okay, call them "Bright Wire Brads". The important thing is that they're long enough to hold the dowels in place, at least until the glue dries, but short enough they don't come through the other side of the boards.

I knew it was important to make the joints square, but I didn't know how. I tried improvising with Legos, but the results were not good.

Again, Jenn had the answer: "Simply place a block (make sure it has a truly square corner) into the corner and clamp it tightly to each side." I'll do that when I build the big bench.

Because my drawers weren't square, it took several tries to cut and fit each bottom. Next time, I'll use a framing square, like Jenn recommends. Note the sides extend beyond the back. That's Uncle Dave's idea, so you can pull the drawer out far enough to expose all the contents without dropping it on the floor.

The drawer front is taller and wider than the sides. It serves as a stop when you close the drawer.

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