Let’s face it. We’ve all been there. You’re at home plotting world domination and nothing seems to be going right. Between your particle accelerator, your not-yet-deployed Low Orbit Ion Cannon, your sidekick getting in your way, and the stand-ups of your arch-nemesis you just can’t keep anything straight long enough to make progress. This is what I’ve come to refer to as project-lock; too many projects and not enough space. Sure, if you were at the hackerspace you’d have tools and tables laid out and neatly arranged ready to prepare your diabolical creation… but you can’t go to the hackerspace tonight… It’s midnight and until you have masses prostrating themselves before you begging for their lives you’re still gonna have to get to work in the morning to earn the steak and taters.
Every mad scientist has been here and maybe even a few of the sane ones. You need a place to work at home free of clutter and obstruction. You need a place of solitude and contemplation. You need a place you can craft your master plan and assemble your death ray… or seduction ray… or something-or-other when you AREN’T at the hackerspace. YOU NEED…
I started this project when my lab was in utter chaos and this was a good first step to tame it. I started by measuring how much space was available for the location of the workbench. While making sure I allowed enough room for doors to open and close, and enough space to not impede thoroughfare I came up with what I expected to be the perfect size for this workbench in one corner of my lab.
I found a website (shown at the bottom of this post) which gave me a lot of good insight and actually helped prevent me from seriously over engineering and overbuilding the workbench. After reading through the article I put together a list of what I spare lumber and screws I had and what I would need to purchase.
There are a couple of good tips that I found that are easy to forget if you aren’t working with wood regularly:
- Take into account not just the total amount of wood that you need, but also what LENGTHS you need to get to make your project work. Sometimes you may be better off buying 2 12′ 2×4′s instead of three 8′ 2×4′s or visa-versa. Figure out what pieces of your project you can get out of one length of 2×4 and that will help guide you to the correct choice of what length to purchase. Knowing the lengths of wood you need to make your project work and not just the total amount of wood you need BEFORE you start buying lumber may save you some money.
- Draw out your plan on a sheet of paper in your best 3D to ensure that you have considered things like your front and rear ‘rails’ (to use the terms of the reference article) will actually be 3″ shorter than the overall length of the work bench IF the sides are attached to the ends of the front and rear rails rather than visa-versa.
- Consider in your dimensions that you can generally get a free cut or two at the hardware store of your plywood or OSB with its purchase. I’ve had generally good results with having them rip a 4′ x 8′ sheet for me if I’m not looking for a 100% perfect result. For my workbench it worked out great.
- Spend some time finding the straightest 2×4′s you can. Quite often many of the 2×4′s are bowed and filled with knots. Avoid these. A few minutes spent here will save you lots of headache later.
Measurements in hand and knowing what lengths I wanted I went to the local hardware store and spent a little more than the article suggests (screws are expensive)… and got to work.
Truth be told, the raw materials sat in my living room for about 2 weeks before I got around to it… but eventually I did follow through and here are the results.
I was AMAZED at how sturdy the workbench turned out to be. The articles recommendation for squaring it up worked like a charm. I’d never used OSB in a project before, but for the price and the results you can’t beat it!
A few weeks later a highly impressed buddy and I built a workbench using this same method for his garage with the same great success and about six months after building this I used the same plan to build a near floor to ceiling shelving unit.