Posted by John 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.
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.
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!