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Workbench For Local Makerspace

author-gravatar FistoRoboto Aug 11, 2017

The local public workshop lacked a decent workbench so I decided to help out and sturdy bench quick and on the cheap. Nothing fancy, fancy is the enemy here. After all, this is a public shop filled with people new to the hobby. I figured the first time anyone used it they'd end up routing a 1/2" groove down the middle of it and spill half a gallon of minwax dark-walnut stain over it.

So about $100 worth of Home Depot spruce 2x6's were purchased and i got to work. 

Turns out only getting to work on a bench a two hours a week makes it take a lot longer than expected. 

Photo of Workbench For Local Makerspace

The legs for this bench actually started off as legs for another bench that I was building in my apartment that I never completed. Mostly because I was tired of thickness-ing by hand. Like the rest of the bench, they're each made out of three sections of home-depot grade 2x6 eastern white spruce, only the finest quality wood for my benches.

Photo of Workbench For Local Makerspace

I skim planed the 2x6s to remove any egregious high-spots. In retrospect, I probably should have ripped the bevels off of the 2x6s before I laminated this up, but someone was hogging the saw for several hours and I was tired of waiting.

I also would have liked to have laminated it up into sections small enough to run over the jointer, but the jointer fence was broken.

I ended up paying for it later, there was almost a 1/2" variance in height across the bench.

Photo of Workbench For Local Makerspace

Just the idea of removing a 1/2" of stock by hand was making my tennis elbow flare up. I tried some really stupid ideas with a power planer involving extending it's sole with mdf that exacerbated problems. So I broke down and built a router sled. 

Aluminum router sled rails were a bad choice. I was convinced they'd be a better idea than 2x6's, after all aluminum extrusions usually have tolerances within a couple of thou. What I neglected to take into account was the lack of rigidity. Also 2" aluminum angle costs a hell of a lot more than another 2x6 would have.

Photo of Workbench For Local Makerspace

The legs, thicknessed, cut to length.

Photo of Workbench For Local Makerspace

So the thing they don't tell you about making a bench-top over 5" thick is apparent lack of any commercially available pattern following router bits long enough to route a mortise from both sides of the bench top. And I wasn't going to buy a chain mortiser.

So dull shop hand tools on spruce that was blowing out if you coughed near it...yay. 

After the blowout that happened with mortise #2 I almost bought a chain mortiser...

Photo of Workbench For Local Makerspace

Flattening the top. This time using hardwood rails. Turned out much better.

I probably should have waited until I had flattened the top to cut the mortises for the legs...but there was about a month gap where I was waiting for a new router collet and it needed to look like I was still working on it. 

Photo of Workbench For Local Makerspace

Tenons cut on the legs

Photo of Workbench For Local Makerspace

Test fitting the joint.

If you're wondering why it suddenly got 3 feet shorter, that's a tale involving the aforementioned broken router collet and crushed dreams that I could write a novel on. Suffice to say, my hopes of using this bench to test the usability and feasibility of a sliding leg vise were not going to come to fruition. 

Photo of Workbench For Local Makerspace

The framing hammer proved inadequate at encouraging the joints. I brought the "fine adjustment" tool to assist the fit. 

Photo of Workbench For Local Makerspace

By the time I had gotten two and a half of the legs in, I was a little short of breath. Also the rest of the shop was staring at me.

Photo of Workbench For Local Makerspace

Last one was the most stubborn of all...

Photo of Workbench For Local Makerspace

So I left it like this for the Wednesday class to gawk at. 

Photo of Workbench For Local Makerspace

The half laps for the long stretchers cut and cleaned up

Photo of Workbench For Local Makerspace

Laminated up thinner stock for the short cross-members.

Photo of Workbench For Local Makerspace

Goddammit I hate spruce. 

Photo of Workbench For Local Makerspace

Half Lap for the cross members. 

Photo of Workbench For Local Makerspace

Another pseudo dry fit now that all the lap joints are cut. 

Photo of Workbench For Local Makerspace

A couple of weeks went buy where I couldn't find the time to get back out to the shop. I knew I only had basic assembly left to do.

I spent 20 minutes trying to figure out what the hell this meant. I didn't have any other parts labeled with an "F" or "Foxtrot". Never did find out...

Photo of Workbench For Local Makerspace

Glued up and assembled. Shimmed some gaps. Flush trimmed the lap joints on my next visit. 

A step which I apparently forgot to take photos of is when I drilled the holes for the leg=vice and "parallel glide"

Photo of Workbench For Local Makerspace

The "Parallel glide" consists of a 3/4" threaded rod, a nylon nut (acting as a jam nut), a washer, and two hex nuts, one mortised into the chop, the other into a free spinning block of wood (as a replacement for the pin that would be used to stop the bottom half of the chop from flexing on a traditional leg vise)

Photo of Workbench For Local Makerspace

The chop consisted of a ~1.75" thick piece of pine, which I laminated so it was roughly 3.5" thick, then added another section to the top so the..."stop nut"?...on the threaded rod could spin freely when the vise was fully closed. 



And then I moved far away before I could finish the damn thing.  :/

Photo of Workbench For Local Makerspace

Oh well, onto bench number 4.

1 comment

I like the spruce. :-) Looks solid! 

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