Outdoor workbench

I had a few questions about setting up a small outdoor shop for use with handtools and portable power tools. I'm breaking them up for efficiency.
I need to find a workbench that I can use outside, so it must be portable and/or weatherproof. A store told me a Vika bench (portable, link below) might work, but I was suspicious about it being heavy and stable enough to clamp things for planing or sawing with handtools.
Is there someone who sells something more permament that you could put a vise on and leave outdoors in the Northeast US weather cycle? Maybe a phenolic or laminate tabletop and a set of powdercoated steel or aluminum legs?
Ideas welcome.
http://www.vikausa.com /
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Sledge Hammer wrote:

You might consider something like this:
http://www.iedu.com/DeSoto/Projects/SawHorse /
and build a top to suit the work you want to do (I have a 1.5"x36"x72" recycled maple desk top that I sometimes use as a work surface).
The three-legged design assures that they /can't/ wobble.
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Morris Dovey
DeSoto Solar
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Morris Dovey wrote:

I love that horse, Mo. [can I call you Mo? :-) ]
But I could get it to wobble, trust me. I have a penchant for pushing things to their limits. You should see how much lumber I can fit on my minivan luggage rack. :-)
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-MIKE-

"Playing is not something I do at night, it's my function in life"
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-MIKE- wrote:

Thanks. You can call me anything, but it might be like calling souls from the briney deep - the real challenge /could/ be to hear the answer...
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Morris Dovey
DeSoto Solar
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Morris Dovey wrote:

You're weird, aren't you? I like that. :-)
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-MIKE-

"Playing is not something I do at night, it's my function in life"
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-MIKE- wrote:

Now that's just not PC. In newspeak, I think outside the box. ;)
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a vise is important, I would figure out a way to make the vise removable. Bring it inside when finished using it.
I grew up on a farm and we had outside benches. Nothing fancy though. They were made from construction grade wood and considered temporary. I have an old wood box from my last house sitting out back now. It is just pine 2 X 12's nailed together with 3/4" plywood nailed on the bottom/top. It has sat through several mild winters with little sign of wear, etc.
If I am doing any kind of precise cutting or routing, I cover this surface or some sawhorses with a cutting table or other boards. If it has to sit outside, I would just make it sturdy and cheap. Any metal or tools will be stored inside.
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Sledge Hammer wrote:

I have one of those, got it for $89.95 when Costco first brought them in. Woodcraft wants like $150 for them, yikes. However I'd be reluctant to leave it outside if rain was possible, that particle-board work surface is probably not going to like getting really wet.

How about a commercial food-prep counter, the kind with a stainless-steel top? Used store/restaurant fixture outlets should have some reasonable deals on something like that. Throw a bar-b-que cover over it when you're not using it and it should stand up pretty well.
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I do all my woodery outside 'cos I've got no shop and the tiny house is full of no-room. My "fancy" bench is a beech laminate job, cost me 30.00 in a sale at B&Q. It's quite sturdy and very pretty (it looks just like a big version of a kid's toy workbench( and is ideal for hand tool work. Next to it I've a couple of knocked-together ply-topped benches and an old desk on which sit sliding mitre saw, drill press, belt sander, a very basic saw table, band saw and a scroll saw. Then there's a couple of saw horses with my router table top sat on it. (I usually keep the routers inside.) I've got a _massive_ record vice (vise ?) out there too, wrapped in greasy plastic and waiting for installation, but so far I've been using the toy workbench vice quite happily.
The whole lot lines up against a fence to which I've stapled good quality plastic tarp. The tarp hangs over the tools and benches to near the ground at the front. The front edge has pieces of mdf (about 4 by 2, 3/4) stapled to make a sort of hem weight. This is absolutely essential to prevent blowing around and works very well. Before I attached the weights I had terrible problems keeping anything covered. Now it's fine in all but the strongest winds when I'll chuck a plank or two on top for extra ballast. There's a sort of drip strip at the top edge to try and prevent water creeping down between the tarp and fence. It seems to work.
To use it, I just lift the front edge up to uncover whatever sections I need. It keeps dry, though there's slight surface rust on the cast iron drill press top so I WD40 any exposed ironwork now.
In heavy rain water sometimes pools on top because the tarp is not dead flat as it drapes over the tools, but with the weighted hem, most of the hollows pull out and it's not really a problem. Without the weighted hem, this was a MAJOR hassle.
For occasional use, it works out very well. Unfortunately it nearly always rains whenever I plan to do anything at all, so if it ever stops raining enough to undertake the work, I intend to build a shop. I'll still be leaving a bench by the fence though.. I like working outdoors.
oh - if all I've needed to do is chop a length of wood or drill a couple of holes, I have been to known to go outside - damn the rain - and just stick myself under the tarp long enough to do the job. No good for anything protracted (dust) but OK to trim the odd stick. Everything's floodlit on intruder sensors and that's enough light to work anytime, noise allowing.
BTW the benches rest on bits of brick etc. on the ground. I _was_ going to sit them on pressure-treated "skids," running fore to aft but so far there's no sign of anything rotting. I suppose I ought to, though, if it ever stops raining for long enough for me to fit it in.
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Nice, is that the 10"?
(10" jaw width, they open to 15")
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Stuart Winsor

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On Mon, 24 Nov 2008 17:13:42 +0000, Stuart wrote

without going out in the rain and checking, I think it _is_. If not, it's certainly an 8+ or whatever the next 'un is. I could extort confessions from a mammoth with this thing, should that ever prove necessary.
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Actually it's 10 1/2" and the next one down is a 9" which opens to 13" and then you get the 7" which opens to 8". There are different variants with and without the quick release, and with and without the dog on the front jaw.
Stuart
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On Tue, 25 Nov 2008 16:16:11 +0000, Stuart wrote

OK, I've been and measured it.
10 1/2" it is! Quick release an' stuff.
The screw will certainly go out to 15" but I didn't actually open it right up
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Beautiful isn't it :-)
I'm in the process of building a new bench and it was originally designed for a 7" but then I got given a 10 1/2". I've even had to take a little off the back stretcher of the bench because it's so long. In case you didn't know, the weight is 35lb though I haven't measured it.
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Stuart Winsor

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We had a sturdy Picnic Table with a vise bolted at one end for many years. The large top surface is just right for 4'8' panels. Because it is multi-level, with the lower benches, it was pretty versatiile as a sawhorse. Combine that with a couple of Milk Crates and the possibilites are endless. Keep the vise loosely covered or painted and the screw greased. And, of course, you can entertain on it when the job's done.
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<html><tt>"I would have trouble with leaving a vise outside in tnewinter and rain. "</tt><p><p></html> We never really did have any problems with that, and I am rather careful, too. But even here in Michigan's snow and rain, all we ever did was paint it every couple years, slap a gob of grease on the screw occasionally and it was fine. If your vise has a wood handle, you can replace it with a pipe and caps.
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