Hardly sim-related, but I’m too excited not to share, so humour me.
My long-term wish of having a decent workbench is progressing reasonably well.
I recently put a new roof on the garage and lined and painted the inside, so everything is ready for a little workshop…and of course at the heart of every workshop there is a good workbench.
I haven’t built a workbench before, though, so every step is an adventure.
The ready frame:
Testing the location:
The top will be laminated from framing timber, which needed to be ripped with a skilsaw and a guide first on one side to get rid of the rounded edges - the ripped timber is on the bench here just to test - not attached yet:
The next step was to build a jig for the neighbour’s old drill press - I’m attaching the top together with threaded rods for the glueing and the holes for the rods need to line up reasonably accurately.
Drill press, threaded rods and the ripped timber all ready for drilling. The random offcuts were drilled through first to make sure the jig was working as intended and that the drill bit used was big enough that the rod fits through multiple pieces in a row.
The progress is slow but I’ll get there. I have a beautiful old Record vice that I’ll need to tidy up and route a space for once the top is ready.
Awesome! I have a similar design but the top of my bench is mostly plywood. Which is not great
Yaay I now have a new thing to build. I have always wanted to have a nice workbench and now I have inspiration Thanks
I did a good hunt around for sash clamps from friends and family yesterday and found enough to start glueing the laminated benchtop.
The polyurethane glue I’m using expands when curing, so you need to clamp the living daylights out of the workpiece or the glue will push the pieces apart as it cures and you won’t get a good hold.
I’ll glue the top one seam at a time to get the best alignment possible - the more flush the surface is to begin with, the less planing and sanding I’ll have to do later.
I laid down some baking paper first to minimise mess and avoid things getting stuck in the wrong things.
First glue seam in progress:
I also need to figure out what product to use to clean up the old Record vise. There’s a lot of greasy sawdust and a bit of surface rust to get rid of but she’ll clean up fine I reckon. Either way, the glueing will take me a couple of weeks at my slow pace (4 hours cure time per seam) so I’ll have plenty of time to sort the vise out.
That’s going to be a very sturdy bench!
I did something similar on my terrace table, last year.
It had a nice alu frame, but a crappy table top.
I just used wood screws to attach each part to the last. I guess you could do the same, to keep the parts tight, while the glue cures?
Nice! That’s a tidy looking outdoor table. I could do that - I think I may try to keep it screw free now that I have gone through the trouble of finding a ton of clamps though, haha.
The nice thing about not having screws in the top is I don’t have to worry about where the screws are when I’m installing the vise(s) and drilling dog holes etc.
I’m probably going a bit overkill here with the sturdiness - but I wanted to have a really stable working surface that I can take with me when I move house etc.
Edit: oh - wooden screws! I missed that on first reading. Now there’s a thought…
I edited that to wood screws. I still meant steel screwes, for wood.
That’s a good point! But you could still apply glue, and then screw the parts together and remove the screws when cured. But now that you’ve got clamps you’re better off using those!
Well, a “few” months have flown past but this week I borrowed some long sash clamps from a friend’s old man who is a retired piano maker - finally finished glueing the bench top!
I ran the electric planer over it a bit to get the biggest height differences out but it’ll be a few afternoons of sanding next to make the surface nice and level.
Of course, you can’t get to this point without starting to look at the bells and whistles to attach to the bench.
I’ve decided to flush-mount the vise - it’ll be a bit of extra work to fully hide the rear jaw etc. but it’ll look nice once all done.
Another little detail I am pretty sure I’ll add in is a little flush-mounted bench stop for planing and sanding - I just love the mechanism too much not to install one:
Then I’ll need to figure out where and how many dog holes to drill…and judging from woodworking forums, that’s serious business worth arguing about and if you ask 10 woodworkers you’re going to get 11 answers.
Bearhedge, you’re most likely possessing a bunch more shop skills than I, but a swivel vise seems to be indispensable. Will you be mounting one of these in addition to the flush-mounted vise?
Never seen one before, but yeah… A must have!!
Yes. This is my only workbench so I want to be able to make the top flush for large workpieces - I’m currently looking at options re how to have a swivel vise mounted so that it can be removed when not in use.
One simple option is a wooden T-shaped base for the vise, which can be fastened on the bench with the face vise. The other option I’ve seen is a metal mount that sits flush with the surface (a bit like the bench dog above) - you slot the vise into the mount and tighten it on with a screw. A bit more work to install but quite neat.
Instead of trying to sand some 3-4mm of material out, I decided to borrow a router and make a jig for it to do the whole surface before sanding. Pretty happy with the result - sanding will be quite quick now.
Aaaah…! Now I know how I’ll route the inside of the SimBox lid!
Yep that’ll work! MDF slides better than ply or particle board. Just make sure your router bit has enough length - I used 18mm MDF and almost ran out of reach.
A bit more work done. Vice slot cut (which was interesting - I tried routing it but ended up doing a plunge cut with a skilsaw instead. Slightly risky but I was careful and went slowly).
I’m about 80% done with the back jaw of the vice - a bit more shaping to do. Oh the sawdust mess! Fun, though!
Vice soon ready to install:
Also, I drove down to Carbatec (woodworking shop in South Auckland) and did some shopping:
Quite a bit of progress this afternoon! Got some lag screws and a bit of plywood and got on with making a packer for the vice.
I drew the outline of the vice on the ply and cut 2 pieces roughly to size. I needed a packer 30mm thick so I bought one 12mm sheet and one 18mm sheet.
There’s a few different layers of screws to go into this piece so I went a bit overboard with the marking - but I didn’t want to stuff it up and accidentally drill a hole in the wrong place:
Glue and screw, then cut to size:
Drill countersunk holes with a spade bit:
And finally drill 12mm holes for the main coach screws:
Final fitting before attachment and a bit of light planing to level things out:
Packer attached. I messed up by drilling the first hole too big, but luckily had a spare M10 lag screw lying about, which fit (the other lag screws are M8).
Next it was time to drill pilot holes for the big coach screws and crank those in:
Fit and attach the wooden rear cheek over the jaw:
Flip the bench top over (man it is heavy):
Rough first planing with the electric planer:
Second round of planing with the hand planer and a bit of sanding:
Started hand planing the face - quite a bit to do on that yet and I’ll need to re-countersink the screws deeper before I can finish. Still, quite a bit of progress done in one afternoon.
I even got a little bit of entirely voluntary cleaning help!
Any workbench of value is.
And they actually enjoy it…!
How and why do we take that away from them?
In the end, I went with plywood cheeks for the vice:
Finally it was time to attach the top to the legs:
The last step was to attach the drop-down casters:
They work as advertised!
The idea is that the bench can be moved easily despite the heavy weight, but it sits on its legs during work for stability.
All done! Beauty shot of the business end:
All in all, I’m stoked to have it finished. Of course, now that I have learned during the build, I’d like to do another workbench and do it all better, haha…