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Making A Quick, Simple and Strong Workbench

Recently a friend of mine got in touch and asked me for help building a workbench.  He wanted something simple and strong to fit in to a space in his garage and he sent me these dimensions. 
 
So I did a drawing on SketchUp, I designed a simple frame made from basic 63mm x 38mm construction timber these are more commonly known as 3x2s, although they actually measure less than 3 by 2 inches.  I also worked out a cut list and worked out that we needed 7x 2.4m lengths of the 3x2s to complete the frame which Steve bought new. 
 
For the top and the shelf, I already had some salvaged pieces of 18mm plywood which I found dumped by some bins, they were painted and a bit dirty on one side, but fairly clean on the other side. 
 
Free plans showing all the dimensions and a cutting list will be available on my website if you're interested in building this bench.
We started by cutting the outer leg pieces to length. I used the mitre saw to cut all of the pieces for the frame to the right length based on the drawing. 
 
Next we cut the inner leg pieces which would later support the apron rails, or stretchers that would support for both the shelf and the worktop.
 
I set up a stop block at the mitre station to cut these pieces to a consistent size.
 
And then we cut the apron rails or stretchers to length.
 
So these are the pieces we cut, the four pieces on the left are the aprons and on the right are all the pieces that would form the legs.
 
So we positioned the small pieces flush with the bottom of the outer leg pieces, then used an offcut as a spacer to get the distance correct for the apron rails, and applied wood glue.
 
We drilled some holes with a countersink bit and screwed the pieces together.
 
I marked up with a pencil some positions for the screws just so they were centred and spaced equally apart just for aesthetic reasons. 
Next we applied glue and added the apron rails which we attached with 2x 60mm screws. I used a large sash clamp to hold the pieces in place
 
Then we cut some shelf supports that would go in between the apron rails to support the shelf and the main worktop.
We used up some of the short scrap pieces of the 3x2s by ripping them in half to create some cleats.
 
These were then cut to length and glued and nailed to the sides of the shelf supports and would later be used to attach the shelf and worktop from underneath, so we pre-drilled the holes for that.
 
Then we cut the side pieces for the frame.
 
Next we did a dry assembly of the frame just to check we were on track with our measurements for shelves and started cutting the plywood to size starting with the main worktop.  Because these were salvaged pieces I first checked to find a corner that was a perfect 90 degree angle with a framing square and then I took all my measurements from that corner.
 
I set up a straight edge to cut it to the correct width.  My straight edge was a bit too short to use clamps so I got Steve to stand on one end instead.
 
I made the cut with my cordless circular saw.
 
And then I could cut it to length.
 
Then we cut the shelf to the size we wanted.  And to fit this piece between the legs, we needed to make a few cut outs. I used the jigsaw for that and a speed square to mark them up,  And that fitted in place just fine.
 
We wanted to cover the plywood edges at the front of the workbench to make them more hardwearing.  I had some reclaimed pine bed slats which I ripped to strips of 20mm on the tablesaw.  Then I glued and brad nailed it to the front. 
 
And for the worktop we did the same again except we also mitred the corners and did the sides of the worktop as well as the front to give it a cleaner look.
 
I used a block plane just to break the hard edges of the trim pieces.
 
Then we went to Steve's to assemble the bench.  We could add the shelf supports with glue and 2 screws on each side. There were two for the worktop and two for the shelf.
 
And then we could add the side pieces which would also support the shelf and worktop.
 
THen I tipped it on it's side to add the shelf and it was quite a tight fit now so I used my body weight to force it in.   
 
I could then add screws through the cleats in to the plywood to secure the shelf.
 
We didn't add wood glue here as we thought it would be useful to be able to replace the plywood at a later date once it gets worn out.
 
And then I added the top, making sure it was nicely centred on the frame.
 
We then offered up the workbench to the space and we'd deliberately left an overhang at the back of the shelf and worktop so that we could fit the bench around the brick pillar along his wall. We marked up where the pillar was on to the shelves, and cut it out with the jigsaw.  So the pillar stuck out 12cm from the wall, so we'd left a 12cm overhang between the edge of the back of the shelves and the frame to account for that.
 
And it fitted in place nicely.
 
This was a nice quick and simple project and the total cost of materials was £21, that was for the 7x 3x2s.  Everything else was either salvaged or stuff I already had in the workshop.
 
If you'd like to build your own then full drawings, dimensions and a cut list will be available on the Resources page of my website.
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Perspex Sharpening Station

In this video I use some reclaimed perspex to make a sharpening station to hold my sharpening stones/plates.

I used perspex rather than wood as I use water to lubraicate my plates and stones and I didn't want a material that would absorb the water.

I use the following products for sharpening, and as you see at the end of the video I get pretty good results with these.

Draper Honing Guide: http://amzn.to/2rIhK9h (Amazon UK) http://amzn.to/2reUdvx (Amazon US)

Taidea 360/600 grit diamond plates http://amzn.to/2toED25 (Amazon UK) http://amzn.to/2rIolkm (Amazon US)

King Japanese 1000/6000 Whetstone: http://amzn.to/2shn7cH (Amazon UK) http://amzn.to/2qEpTaE (Amazon US)



Green Polishing Compound: http://amzn.to/2ro1do1 (Amazon UK) http://amzn.to/2qEzvCq (Amazon US)

I first cut a piece of perspex on the tablesaw to the size I wanted the station to be which in my case was 460mm x 280mm (as I wanted it to fit inside my drawer.

Then I ripped some more strips at 20mm to create a border which would hold everything in place.

I used super glue and spring clamps to stick the border on.  Super glue works well on perspex but it can make it go cloudy - not a problem in this situation as I wasn't worried about how it looked, it just needed to function. 

I soon ran out of spring clamps so I used bulldog clips.

Next I cut and glued some spacers in between the plates/stones to position everything where I wanted them - I wanted everything placed so that I could fully use each the surface of each plate or stone to sharpen a chisel.

I cut a few mor spacers to hold the stones in place at the top so that they wouldn't move forward/backwards.

I did some sanding to ease over the sharp edges.

Next I cut a length of 40mm square pine to size to mount on to the bottom of the perspex.  I drilled pilot holes, and countersunk the holes to get the head of the screws below the surface of the perspex. The purpose of the piece of pine on the bottom was purely to make the station mountable in a vise.

At the end of the video I give a quick demonstration of my sharpening method using the station.  

I'm happy with how it turned out, and it was made entirely from reclaimed/scrap materials so it didn't cost anything.

Images: 

Simple Panel Cutting Jig for DeWalt DW745 tablesaw

In this video I make a simple panel cutting jig for my tablesaw the DW745 using salvaged materials.

Finishing The New Workshop Layout - Workshop Re-Model Episode 8

Last in a short series about re-modelling my small workshop space.

In this video I make a simple box out of some salvaged OSB to store wood.  Simple butt joints, glued and screwed, and I added some castors to the bottom just because I had a spare set which will be useful if I ever need to move it around.

Then I start work on my second tool wall.  The old wall wasn't insulated and it was looking really messy, and as I had enough salvaged OSB to clad the wall I took the opportunity to insulate the walls and start from scratch.  I used plasterboard on the lower half of the wall and made some simple skirting boards out of pallet wood.  I filled gaps with decorators caulk and then painted everything with white satin paint to make the walls clean and bright. 

At the end of the video I talk about a few other changes I made - clamp storage, tool wall etc. and finally show some photos of the new workshop space.

 

Images: 

Mitre Station Support, Clamp Storage & Tool Wall - Workshop Re-Model Episode 7

In this video I make a simple unit to support material at the right hand side of my mitre station while I make cuts that also holds some of my clamps too, and I start my first of two new tool walls.
 
I used some scrap blockboard and melamine to make a simple unit mounted on castors which sits about 1cm below the height of the mitre saw’s base so that when I cut material, the offcut doesn’t fall on to the floor of the workshop.
 
I made a simple rack inside the unit to hold my F clamps by cutting some slots in to another piece of blockboard and this was mounted inside the unit.  Then I added some narrow pieces of wood to stop the clamps rocking forward/backward which would also hold my spring clamps.  I also mounted a couple of simple plywood pieces to the side to hold my long reach C clamps.
 
That was the clamp storage/mitre station support sorted.
 
Next I mounted some sheets of reclaimed OSB to the wall of my workshop which would become my main tool wall near my work bench.  This wall was already insulated.   I had a few cuts to make to fit it to the wall as there was a power socket and light fixture in the way.  I made the cuts with the jigsaw and then mounted the OSB to the workshop wall uprights with screws and coated it with a few coats of white satin paint. 
 
Due to the walkway around my workbench being quite narrow, I only mounted things to the toolwall that would not protrude too much as I don’t want to be knocking things off as I walk by – things like rulers, squares, hammers, handsaws etc.  everything is held in place with drywall screws only – no fancy French cleats or anything.  Screws had worked fine for the past couple of years to hold everything, and nothing ever fell off the walls, so I saw no reason to complicate the job in hand!
 
Once the boards were mounted, I added decorators caulk to the gaps just to improve aesthetics.
Images: 

New Mitre Station (part 3 of 3) - Workshop Re-Model Episode 6

In part 3 I begin by making a new fence for the mitresaw.  Originally I was going to make one using wood, but while I was in my local DIY shop I stumbled upon some lengths of aluminium angle which were relatively inexpensive and it occurred to me that it would be worth using that instead as it is perfectly straight.  
 
I decided to fit this not only to the worktop of the mitrestation, but also to the saw itself to replace the existing mitre saw fence.  
 
I cut the aluminium to length with a hacksaw.  Then I marked up where to drill holes for the bolts very carefully using digital calipers.  I centre punched with an awl, applied oil and then drilled the holes with a 10mm drill bit.  The bolts were 8mm but I wanted to have some room for adjustments which would enable me to get the fence at a perfect 90 degree angle to the blade.
 
Next I fitted the fence to the mitre saw on one side and squared it up to the blade using a framing square.  I propped open the blade guard using a wedge of wood.  When it appeared that the fence was at 90 degrees to the blade, I secured the bolt on the other side and I could then do a test cut.
 
I swapped the blade out as I didn’t want to cut through aluminium with my new blade, and then I made the cut.
 
Next I made a test cut, flipped one of the pieces by 180 degrees and pushed both pieces up against the straight fence and there were no gaps inbetween the two pieces which told me that the cut was accurate at 90 degrees – I was surprised to get this right first time as it’s always taken me a few attempts in the past!
 
Then I secured the rest of the fence down to the worktop by drilling pilot holes, counter sinking, and adding screws.
 
I bought a metallic faced, adhesive measuring tapes by Kreg.  Rather than fitting it to the front of the fence I decided to mount a piece of wood to the back of the fence, and fit the measuring tape to the top of the piece of wood instead because I was worried that by applying it to the front it would affect the cutting accuracy.
 
I ripped a piece of wood to slightly below the height of the fence to leave space for the thickness of the measuring tape and attached it to the fence again with screws.  It was important to countersink the holes again so that the head of each screw was set back from the front of the fence so that it wouldn’t affect the accuracy of cuts.  I also had to cut away some material from the piece of wood for where the bolt heads were on the mitre saw using a forstner bit. 
 
To make sure that the measuring tape would stick effectively to the wood I applied some pva glue to seal the wood.  That worked well.
 
Next I started making a stop block.  I used a scrap of mahogany and a Stanley knife blade to make a measurement point marker.  The stop block was cut to an L shape at the tablesaw.  
 
I re-shaped the Stanley knife blade to the shape I wanted on the belt sander then I spray painted the tip of it black, and used epoxy to glue it to the stop block.
 
Then I could stick down the measuring tape to the piece of wood. I realised that I would need to offset the tape by the distance between the measuring pointer on the stop block which was just over 4mm.
 
I tested the accuracy of the stop block by setting it to 600mm and cutting a piece of wood, and then confirming with a tape measure that it measured exactly 600mm – and it did, so no further adjustments were necessary.
 
Next I fitted my dust collection hoses to both the saw and the belt sander mounted underneath the mitresaw cabinet.  I can then use the shop vac on either machine by swapping from hose to hose.
 
That is the mitre station complete.
 

 

Images: 

The New Mitre Station (part 2 of 3) - Workshop Re-Model Episode 5

In part 2 of the mitre station build, I started by fitting some structural supports/spacers to the mitresaw stand.  These would make the structure more rigid and also ensure that the space between the two panels would be evenly spaced so that I could later fit a drawer in the space.
 
Next I made a hood for the mitresaw to help contain any dust that my shop vac doesn’t catch.  I used some salvaged blockboard to make the hood, and another piece of white 1 inch thick melamine for the top.  I needed to cut away some of the material with the jigsaw to fit around both the workshop wall uprights and around a plug socket so that it was still accessible.
 
To fit the mitresaw to the melamine top, I made sure to position it so that all the tilt and pivot functions worked as they should.  Then I drilled pilot holes and added bolts, washers and nuts to secure the saw to the worktop.  The bolts I used were too long so I used an angle grinder to cut them to the right length.
 
I made the drawer for the mitresaw cabinet from some more blockboard and a piece of low grade plywood for the bottom.  I used the same method as I had used for the drawers in my tablesaw stand, however this time it didn’t go as well as the drawer was about 1mm too wide.  I tackled this by removing the drawer runners, running the assembled drawer through the tablesaw to trim off 1mm from one of the sides, and then re-fitted the runners.  This worked well.
 
For the drawer front, I used some more poplar that came from some salvaged pallet collars which would match the pieces I used to trim the plywood edges on the rest of the mitre station.  There were a lot of imperfections and knots in the wood so I ripped the best pieces on the tablesaw and glued up a panel big enough to use for the drawer front.
 
Once the glue had dried, I ran the panel through the thickness planer to clean it up and attached it to the drawer temporarily using hot glue until I could secure it permanently with screws from the inside of the drawer.
 
I made a handle for the drawer from another poplar offcut, ripped at an angle on the tablesaw to form a “finger pull” shape.
 
I finished the drawer front with some boiled linseed oil
 

The New Mitre Station (part 1 of 3) - Workshop Re-Model Episode 4

In this video I start making a new mitre station for my workshop to create space in the corner for a wood storage bin, and also to make it a little slimmer so there would be more walkway space.  
 
I dismantled my old mitre station and re-used most of the material for the new one.  
 
I started by screwing a horizontal support piece to the uprights of the workshop walls.  
 
Then I built the frame for the storage shelves (where I will store power tools and short scraps of wood) and worktop (where my belt/disc sander will be).
 
I added a trim to the plywood edges using some salvaged poplar.
 
Next I started to build the unit that the mitre saw would sit on.  I had some white 1 inch thick melamine which I cut to size for the top and some salvaged plywood as a side panel.
 
I used a straight edge and some sheets of paper as a "feeler guage" to make sure that the mitresaw table and the worktop were perfectly level with one another until it was as accurate as I could get it.
Images: 

Mobile Tablesaw Stand for DeWalt DW745 (part 2 of 2) - Workshop Re-Model Episode 3

In this video I make a back panel for the stand out of some low grade packaging plywood.  I did this mainly to stop some of the dust getting in to the bottom section where the shop vac and jigs will be stored, but it will also add rigidity to the stand.

Next I fitted the shop vac hose, using a hole saw drill bit.

I cut some pieces of poplar in to 10mm strips, cut them to length and glued and nailed them to the front edges of the stand mainly to hide the plywood edges for aesthetics.

I went and bought some epoxy coated drawer runners so that I could fit a couple of drawers to the front section.  Unfortunately they didn't come with any instructions so I measured the thickness of them with digital calipers, and then used that to calculate what size I would need to make the drawers.

The drawers were a very simple construction - 18mm plywood (thicker than needed, but it's what I had to hand and I wanted to use up the offcuts) glued and screwed butt joints, and a plywood panel glued and screwed to the bottom.

The drawer fitting went smoothly apart from that there wasn't quite enough clearance between the two drawers, but I used the tablesaw to cut a few mm off the top of one of the drawers and then re-fitted - problem solved.  

Next I could add the drawer fronts, for which I used some oak veneeered plywood offcuts.  I positioned them where I wanted them using hot glue, and then I could screw them on from inside for extra strength.  I used a steel ruler to space the drawers apart.

I made some drawer handles for the drawers using some offcuts of mahogany ripped at an angle on the tablesaw to create somewhere for fingers to grip.  I glued and clamped these to the drawer fronts.

I added some boiled linseed oil to finish the drawer fronts, and they looked pretty nice.

 

Images: 

Mobile Tablesaw Stand for DeWalt DW745 (part 1 of 2) - Workshop Re-Model Episode 2

In this video I start making a mobile stand for my tablesaw the DeWalt DW745 as part of my workshop re-model to achieve a new layout.
 
My old mobile stand for the tablesaw had been thrown together quite quickly and so there were a number of improvements I wanted to make for the new version.
 
I started by designing the stand in 3D using SketchUp to get an idea of what I could make from the materials I had.  As usual, I just wanted to use reclaimed materials, stuff I already had in my workshop.
 
I’ve created some free plans showing full dimensions and a cut list – this is available on the Resources page. These plans are optimised – i.e. any mistakes I made during the build process, I have rectified for the plans.
 
I wanted the following:
· For it to be the same height as my workbench, so that I could use my workbench as an outfeed table
· An extension table – this would give me more work surface in the workshop and also makes it easier to rip larger sheet materials on the saw
· Space for my tablesaw jigs – like my cross cut sled, frame spline and tenon jigs
· A couple of drawers for tablesaw accessories – wrenches, push sticks, angle guauge, inserts etc.
· Space to introduce a new shop vac to the workshop – one that will be permanently hooked up to the tablesaw
 
It was a challenge finding a 30 litre shop vac that would fit on the stand underneath the tablesaw, as I was restricted to 523mm height, and a lot of the manufacturers don’t list the dimensions of the products they sell on their websites!  But eventually I found one in my local ScrewFIx – a Titan 30 litre 1400 watt machine.  It would only fit in the space without either the handle attached, or the wheels – I opted to take the handle off, and add the wheels to the bottom – and that just fits inside nicely with about 5mm height clearance.  
 
I started by cutting the plywood panels to size based on the 3D drawing I’d done – there are 5 panels in total (excluding the back panel which is optional) and I used 18mm thick material just because that’s what I had. I didn’t have quite enough plywood to make the whole thing so ended up using a piece of melamine for the central shelf.
 
With the panels cut to size, I could then assemble.  Simple construction - butt joints, drilled pilot holes, applied wood glue and used drywall screws (again, just because that’s what I had available).  I used a speed square to keep everything square and measured carefully to ensure that the tablesaw’s table and the extension table would sit at exactly the right height that I wanted based on my drawing.
 
I re-used the castors from my old tablesaw stand on the new stand – these were screwed in place and I used some brass washers to get a bit more purchase.
 
For the top section where the drawers would be, I wanted to ensure that this was spaced accurately so I cut a couple of scrap pieces to use as “spacers” – it worked out really well.  I also ended up using the spacers as kind of a cleat type thing (not sure how better to explain!), to attach the worktop from underneath.
 
For the extension table, I used a scrap piece of kitchen worktop that I had left over from my kitchen re-fit earlier in the year.  It was 40mm thick.  I cut it to size on the tablesaw.  
 
I used some pieces of wood that I’d salvaged from an old futon bed some time ago to make a trim for the extension table to hide the chipboard edges of the melamine worktop.  I cut 45 degree mitres and glued and nailed them in place. 
 
This build will continue in part 2 when I will make a back panel for the stand, add a trim using some poplar to hide the plywood edges at the front, and build and install the two drawers.
 
Images: 

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