Monday, August 14, 2017

The Workbench, Part 2

The previous occupant divided our basement into mostly small, oddly-proportioned spaces. One space just off the laundry area is too narrow for most uses, so we use it for storage. I sorted through it, removed a lot of clutter, and consolidated the rest, freeing up a space 5 feet by 12 feet. I designed my workbench to fit this space.

First I constructed slide members, rectangular pieces that support the bench top and hold the drawer slides. I wanted them to be 30" x 33" but particle board wider than 18" is pretty rare in RTA furniture, so I built each member from an 18" piece and a 12" piece. The boards at the top and bottom are pallet boards 1.25" x 3.5".  I'll add the drawer slides later.

Since the back would go against the wall, I had to start with the front side down and attach the back rails first.
I hit on the idea of using concrete blocks both to square up the assembly and to space the slide members. That meant carrying 36 blocks down to the basement. Was I sore afterward! I haven't brought them back up the stairs yet. I wouldn't recommend this method, and I certainly wouldn't do it again. It worked, but the blocks are just too heavy.

Here is the bench with the back rails attached.
Then I had to roll the bench upright. I managed to do it alone, but it would have been much easier with a strong helper.
Then I squared up each slide member and screwed it to the lower front rail. That held it square while I attached the upper front rail.

Somehow, three of the slide members ended up too tall. I sanded two of them down, but the third was much taller. I tried cutting it down with my circular saw, but that didn't work very well.The best tool for the job turned out to be a wood chisel.

Here is the wood for the bench top. South Bend recommends that a bench top lathe be bolted to a wood bench with a top at least 2" thick. I'm using pallet boards on edge. Even after sanding it level the top will be about 3" thick. I think that's about as rigid as I can get with a wooden bench. I started the top Sunday afternoon. I'll finish it next weekend.

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