Author Topic: Workbench - what type?  (Read 1322 times)

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Offline MikeWilliams

Workbench - what type?
« on: December 17, 2013, 09:54:48 AM »
I'm expanding my workshop into the adjacent garage for dirty work, keeping light work and machining in the existing clean(ish) area.  That means I need a new workbench for heavy jobs - like folding and bending sheet metal.

Most of the new ones from people like Seeley are steel framed and look a bit weak with legs from what looks like Dexion and MDF top, not the all-solid timber I was expecting.  Do these steel ones stand up to abuse?  any suggestions please?

I'm looking for 6ft - 8ft long.

Mike

Offline IanT

Re: Workbench - what type?
« Reply #1 on: December 17, 2013, 10:50:31 AM »
The main attribute (in my view) for a good bench Mike is weight. You want something that is pretty solid and where you can store any heavy bits you might have (metal stock for instance) under - all adds to the weight.

My benches are mostly built out of 2x4 rough sawn timber that is bolted together with M10 coach bolts. No need for any fancy joints (although feel free to make 'em if you so wish). The whole lot is made rigid by screwing a (low grade - e.g. fairly cheap) plywood 'plate' to the rear (and ideally the sides). I've used old scaffold planks for the bench tops with a renewable hardboard top (again just screwed on) but ply or chip boarding will also do. If you go for a 8' length (and 8x4 ply) you only have to cut the legs (Qty 6) and cross-members to height/length (allow the ply to stick up at the back to stop things rolling off).

From memory, most of my materials all came out of the skip (when I had an extension built) but it shouldn't cost too much to buy them new. I haven't costed it but Qty 4x8', plus Qty 6x6' 2x4 timbers, two sheets of 8'x4'x9mm ply would give you something just as good (better?) as most advertised "Workshop" benches, probably for less money. With a bit more effort it could also be made to fit a specific space/length and to match your height (top of vice ideally at your elbow height for instance) 

You can build a bench like this in an afternoon and it will last a long time and can be dismantled if required. Mine are over 20 years old and still solid. I've never even painted them, the only potential problem being damp up into the legs (mine have damp proofing felt pads under each 'foot').

Regards,

IanT       
Nothing's ever Easy - At least the first time around.

Offline MikeWilliams

Re: Workbench - what type?
« Reply #2 on: December 17, 2013, 11:06:36 AM »
Thanks Ian,

That's substantially like the one I made for my "clean" workshop and I hoped not to build another in December, but I think you are right.  Thanks.

Mike

Offline IanT

Re: Workbench - what type?
« Reply #3 on: December 17, 2013, 05:51:57 PM »
Even the "cheap" benches will probably set you back over £200 Mike and the ones I've seen are pretty tinny even then. I've got various 'wheeled' stands for some of my tooling (router table, grinding fixtures etc.) mainly built from Dexion lengths but the wooden benches are better where you are going to be hammering or filing (they don't move or vibrate/resonate).

I have a large Record vice at one end of my "dirty" bench (and it is very dirty) but there are various holes and other bits & pieces are often drilled/screwed on for other jigs/vices/fixtures/tools (anything in fact as required) and I don't worry too much about doing this. The hardboard has been changed once (when it got really chewed up).

Regards,

Ian
Nothing's ever Easy - At least the first time around.

Offline MikeWilliams

Re: Workbench - what type?
« Reply #4 on: December 17, 2013, 11:54:30 PM »
Thanks Ian,

My immediate and semi-permanent plans for the bench are a guillotine/folding machine, a large vice and centrifugal casting machine.  So jumping up and down on the guillotine and molten metal being dropped!

Mike