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Ethan from ‘One Project Closer’ Talks Workbenches

Posted by on January 31st, 2012

Today we’re lucky to have our very first guest post by Ethan from One Project Closer.  I’m totally impressed by the quality advice Ethan dispenses below.  I’ll be building a workbench sometime next month (hopefully) and I’ll be incorporating every one of his tips.  Check it out!

I feel like the workbench is the focal point of any shop because that’s usually were most of the action takes place. If I’m gluing the pieces of a new woodworking project, I’m at the workbench. If I need to use my vice or bench-grinder, it’s on the workbench. It’s also where I go for fresh batteries. I share all this because a good workbench can make such a huge difference. I would know; I’ve used good ones and bad ones. This guest post is going to focus on what I think makes a good workbench, and I hope you’ll add your thoughts too.

Mount a Power Strip

I mentioned that my workbench also doubles as a charging station. Manufacturers keep introducing new battery technology every couple of years, and that means I’ve got at least 5 chargers going at any one time. To keep all these batteries fresh and not tie up a bunch of outlets, I’ve mounted a power strip to the backside of my workbench. I’ve also seen power strips mounted on the underside of the workbench so that you don’t have a bunch of plugs protruding off the back. Either way, it’s very convenient and inexpensive to add one.

No Recoil, No Sagging

When my wife and I purchased our home, we inherited a simple workbench made from 2×4’s and plywood (which I later disassembled). Unfortunately, whoever made it didn’t bother to fully support the plywood and it sagged in the middle. Even worse, when I would hammer something, the entire bench would jump! The best solution I’ve found is to ensure your workbench is really well supported, and I recommend a torsion box design. Basically, you can create a torsion box by sandwiching the 2×4 supports with plywood. I’ve made two workbenches that feature a torsion box, and I’m amazed at how solid they feel.

Replaceable Top

This is a suggestion that I haven’t implemented yet but plan on adding to my current workbenches. Given enough time, the top of your workbench is bound to get stain, glue, grease and who-knows-what-else all over it. For that reason, consider adding a layer on top that is easily replaceable. Materials like Luan and Melamine are great for this application.

Mobile

Casters are another really easy add-on that I recommend. Pickup a few 3″ casters and you’ve got a mobile workbench that you can move as needed. Just make sure they’re rated for the appropriate weight. Whenever I need to break out the miter saw, I wheel the workbench over by the garage door to minimize sawdust in the workshop (a.k.a. garage).

 

There are tons of different workbench designs and styles out there, and I hope you’ll share what makes your workbench unique. What features do you love about your workbench?

One Project Closer is a website where Fred, Kim, Jocie, and I share home improvement how-to’s, tool reviews, coupons for DIY centers, and crafty projects. I hope you’ll stop by OPC for resources like installing hardwood flooring, crafty gift ideas, and more. We also provide a list of discounts for home improvement stores like this Home Depot coupon page. Swing by and say hello!

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  • http://www.ourhomefromscratch.com John

    Thanks again to Ethan! I’ve been staring at that first photo saying “have it, have it, need it, need it, want it, have it…”

  • http://www.oneprojectcloser.com Ethan@OPC

    Thanks for letting me post! I still need to build at least one more bench for my workshop and I'm always looking for new inspiration. Hopefully some readers will chime in with ideas of their own.

    • http://www.OurHomefromScratch.com John@ Our Home from Scratch

      What’s the next workbench for? Specific tool or just general work table?

      • http://Www.oneprojectcloser.com Ethan@OPC

        Next up will probably be something for a table saw. I'm trying to squeeze a cabinet saw out of a portable one :)

  • http://attemptsatdomestication.com Ashley@AAD

    I'll definitely have to share this with my husband! Our new house's garage has a whole wall of workbenches already put together, but it's going to need some major renovations and organization!

    • http://www.OurHomefromScratch.com John@ Our Home from Scratch

      Can’t wait for the house tour!

  • http://www.buffalo-roam.com Amy@BuffaloRoam

    Very nice! I've bookmarked this to show my husband later. I feel ohhh, about 100% sure he will want this exact space. Thanks for sharing!

    • http://www.OurHomefromScratch.com John@ Our Home from Scratch

      Only 59 more days!

  • Kristen

    I wish we had a garage or basement we could turn into this!

    • http://www.OurHomefromScratch.com John@ Our Home from Scratch

      Kristen, once you guys do, I’m pretty sure you’ll pass right by us. You guys do a quality post five days a week. I need the head start!!

  • http://www.casa-de-christine.blogspot.com Christine @ C-d-C

    Great tips! Thanks so much for sharing. Definitely pinned this to Pinterest for reference later. Shayne could use an area to keep all his tools!

    • http://www.oneprojectcloser.com Fred@OneProjCloser

      Christine, check out this full article on our site too: http://www.oneprojectcloser.com/how-to-build-heav… – lots of ideas for how to make a solid workbench and the source of inspiration for this post!

    • http://www.oneprojectcloser.com Fred@OneProjCloser

      Christine, check out this full article on our site too: http://www.oneprojectcloser.com/how-to-build-heav… – lots of ideas for how to make a solid workbench and the source of inspiration for this post!

  • http://www.thechanginghouse.blogspot.com TheChangingHouse

    Thanks for sharing! Great post!

  • http://hazardousdesign.blogspot.com/ Carrie

    Casters, power strips, a removable top…I so need to share this post with my husband!

  • http://Www.oneprojectcloser.com Ethan@OPC

    Thanks everyone for the kind words! If you have ideas to add, I'm all ears.