Workbench ideas please

I'm building a fixed workbench for the toolroom, 18mm ply on a frame of 3x3s of pallet wood. Shall I leave the ply as is or varnish it, or floorboard paint? Ideas on accessories etc, (I have an old vice somewhere) [george]
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On Fri, 29 Mar 2013 20:42:52 +0000, george - dicegeorge

It depends, in my opinion, on how you intend to use it. If your main use is metalwork then, unless you like the 'lived in' look, a protective coat to keep out grease, oil and metal debris seems like a good idea. If you are planning to use it for hand woodwork then there are advantages in leaving it as bare wood.
I also like the idea of sacrificial surfaces. In the case of a woodworking bench with raised surfaces and a shavings well sunk behind/between, those raised surfaces can be made reversible or replaceable. If you plan to leave the top as the complete, flat sheet of 18mm ply then I think there are advantages in making it reversible.
Nick
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Always spray booth paint of course...
Brian
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wrote:

The easiest/cheapest way to make a light bench is to buy a substantial secondhand wooden table and strengthen it it up with some rails and braces (Pallet wood?). Put what ever on top suits for the work intended. I wouldn't worry about the finish, it will get wrecked anyway in a few weeks.
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On 30/03/2013 08:48, harry wrote:

I made mine out of old kitchen units, with some old worktop on top. Lots of storage, and I didn't have enough units to go all the way along, so there are gaps.
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I've made only two benches over the years. In both cases I made a frame and then the boards that form the shaving-trap area are just dropped into the frame, so they can be removed. Sometimes it's useful to be able to hang some part of something one is working on down the void behind the main front beam of the bench.
On my current bench I have even tried (with only partial success, because I was making the thing with bits of wood that were lying around so sizes of things weren't always convenient) to make these removable boards serve a second function. They're sized so that they are longer left-right than the front-back depth of the shavings area. When one is lifted out it can be turned through 90 degrees then laid on top of the bench bridging over the gap between front & back of the bench thus providing a totally flat surface (rather than as normal the bench having a raised front and lower shavings area). The underside of the removable board has bits of 2x2 screwed to it so that they wedge into place against the inside edges of the front & back beams of the bench, so the 'lying on top' board won't swivel in place. The intellectual challenge in doing this is trying to find some way of making those bits of 2x2 also not impede the boards' placement when they are in their normal left-right orientation in the shavings area. This is harder than it might otherwise be because I didn't think of this idea before I started to make the bench...
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On Sat, 30 Mar 2013 13:29:35 +0000, Jeremy Nicoll - news posts

Photographs puh-lease! ;-)
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See: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/ptv59gpqonmbnfp/gEaI2kIUIZ#/
Some of these pics were taken when I was making the bench, and shelves in the shed; some were taken a couple of hours ago.
P01 shows the bench's frame; because I put it in a relatively flimsy shed I started off screwing a roughly 1" thick plank to the shed floor, so that all the brackets etc that would later be screwed to the floor would have a much thicker bit of wood to grip. As you can see I used some pretty business-like right-angle brackets to support other joints. The frame, once built, has proved to be gratifyingly solid.
P02 apart from the bench I wanted to use some ikea wooden shelf units (the robust ones they no longer sell) and spare shelves as a basis for the shed shelves. In this pic the tall shelf unit is positioned against the side wall of the shed (held in place mainly with cable ties so there's just a little 'give' if needed). I fastened rails and blocks onto it and the far away window surround so that...
P03 two ikea shelves can drop into the position above the end of the bench. If I need the space at the far end of the bench for something I'm working on the shelves are dead easy to remove.
P04 in the back corner of the shed the square slatted shelves are also from the ikea units range, and they also lift out if needed. The white contiboard shelves are held in place mainly by their weight, but also there's a batten on the end of each one that tucks over the "F" and "H" planks.
P05 the contiboard shelves along the back of the shed are suspended from timbers at the roof; every joint in the supports is pivoted because they are put together with bolts; they could be undone if needed. The reason for suspending the shelves is - of course - so that there's complete free access to the ladder sections kept below.
P06 the end of the workbench, viewed from the shed doorway. You can see that the nearest part of the surface is only about 8" wide. It slides out (towards the doorway). I've been meaning to fit some bolts to it so it can't slide accidentally, but haven't done so yet.
The brown plastic fan vent on the outside wall has a anti- back-draught shutter on a pivot inside it, but most of the time it can't pivot because a piece of foam rubber blocks the inside of the duct on the back of the vent. If the foam rubber is removed one can pass a 13A plug through the vent easily. I have external power points on the house wall opposite the shed, and can use this vent to bring a power cable in without having to lead it through the door (handy if working inside on a cold day, or wanting to leave the shed locked).
P07 that part slightly slid out.
P08 that part removed.
P09 the next board along lifted out of the frame
P10 that board rotated 90 degrees. I need to confess that when I turned it over to photograph the cunningly positioned 2x2 battens I found none. I'd forgotten that the intellectual challenge I mentioned (which I do remember) wasn't ever resolved... Although I said I'd not thought this all out before I started to build the bench, I think I must have thought of some of this because that board exactly fits (at the back) between some of the timbers on the shed wall and it's exactly the right length to come to the front of the bench.
When the board is dropped into the frame there's currently nothing to stop it sliding to the right (and then falling out) except the small section shown in P06/07/08, which is why I always planned to have it lock into place. To stop it sliding to the left...
P11 shows the middle board (which does have battens screwed to its under surface) which is not able to slide sideways, so the boards to each side of it are constrained.
P12 shows the middle board out of the frame. The battens are 'sexed' so that it's always put back in the right orientation so it lines up nicely with the boards to each side (yes, that means the saw cuts between the boards are a bit wobbly!).
The wider board to the left of the displaced middle one (ie the one with all the clutter on it) also comes out and can be rotated and refitted. There should also be an end section in the void at the far end of the bench, but I haven't made it yet.
P13 shows a couple of other things. The rail running along the rear of the shavings area has a gap behind it. Although you might think this is just because the rail bridges the ends of the wall timbers nearest the bench, I chose to do it this way and not fill in (or make use of) the extra depth between the wall timbers. The gap also allows (on occasion) power cables to come up from or pass down below (to the brown fan vent, or a fan heater on the shed floor), and - more to the point - it means the rotated boards (which lie on top of it) can - when I finally fit them - have battens screwed to them that tuck into the space behind the rail. Also, whereas in P01 the 'window ledge' is just as the shed supplier provided, in this picture you can see I screwed a couple of roughly 1" square battens onto the front of the ledge. That made the ledge wide enough to take a mug of tea. I deliberately made the front batten slightly higher than the other so that screws, drill bits etc can be dropped onto the back part of the ledge and will not then roll off.
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On 30/03/2013 08:48, harry wrote:

You must be a very sloppy worker Harry. I've had work surfaces last for many years in a factory environment.
Colin Bignell
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I covered mine using some high quality lino offcuts from relaying a TV studio floor, and used hardwood edging. Easy to keep clean.
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On Sat, 30 Mar 2013 11:06:00 +0000, Dave Plowman (News) wrote:

Talking of high quality offcuts, and apropos of very little:
Our old conservatory is floored with offcuts from the last resurfacing of Victoria Station.
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On 30/03/2013 11:33, Bob Eager wrote:

Platform or track?
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On Sat, 30 Mar 2013 11:47:09 +0000, polygonum wrote:

LOL!
Concourse...
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On Friday, March 29, 2013 8:42:52 PM UTC, snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:

18mm ply seems overkill, 18mm chip would do. Whatever you use, a disposable layer of something on top is good - even if its just 3mm card. 12mm chip as a disposable layer is freer and more fireproof.
NT
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On 29/03/2013 20:42, george - dicegeorge wrote:

From 'toolroom' I presume a metalworking bench. In that case a good 4" vice is IME essential, although 18mm sounds a bit light to me. I would cover it with a renewable surface of lino or varnished hardboard.
I took three benches home when I closed my factories. One has a heavy duty steel frame, with a 25mm ply top covered with lino. That was what I considered to be a standard workshop bench. Another has a 1" square tube base with a 25mm thick sheet of polyethylene screwed to it. It is remarkably good for doing messy jobs, as nothing sticks to the surface. The third is all steel and is great for rough work.
Colin Bignell
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On 29/03/13 20:42, george - dicegeorge wrote:

Thanks for all the advice.
No, its not for metal work, its mainly for woodwork and glueing things and taking things to bits etc.
Yes, I think the ply is too good for the job, probably replace it with 18mm OSB and then on top a sacrificial layer of Hardboard
I've never heard of a shavings area or of removable boards, what are they and how are they more useful than a flat stable desktop?
[george]
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Nor had I, but it's a good name for the lower part of the workbench that's behind the solid front part (where your vice would be attached, work G-cramped on etc). My father used to carve a lot and the area behind was nearly always full of spare tools and chippings and shavings.
I suppose he really only used the front beam of the bench for supporting whatever he was working on; apart from when he used a vice, blocks of wood were clamped to that front surface.

If you're working on some awkward-shaped item you might want to drape some part of it over an edge. It helps to have more than one edge to choose from. In my case I might clamp work to the top of the bench, but also to a cross-strut or a leg, depending on what I was doing.
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For planing lengths of wood the front surface would normally have a *stop*. This can be a 3"x3" block of hardwood let into the surface or an adjustable stop which can be raised or lowered from below.
Adjustable toggle clamps are available for holding the other end. They attach through a threaded insert in the bench top.

Don't rebate your woodworking vice rear jaw into the bench skirt. It may look nice but it will trap your fingers when you clamp up the work. Do fit sacrificial cheeks to your vice; protects the work and your tools.

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Tim Lamb

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On 29/03/2013 20:42, george - dicegeorge wrote:

A local Technical college decided to get rid all of it's 1950's benches ... these were 20' long solid oak top, frame, legs .... in 6' modules. Free to anyone who wanted them.
I had a few of these ... the bench is still in use for me (used and abused) 20 years later.
I also had several extra bench tops, planed up they made superb seasoned oak for shelves & the like.
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wrote:

I'm afraid this is one of those " for f****'s sake" situations - it's a workbench, not a dining room table ! It wants to be as solid as possible, and quite frankly if the top is made of thick pine (8" x 3") as mine is, then the front (ie in front of the shavings area!) gets a power planing every ten years when I remember to take out any minor irregularities. And do I notice the difference after doing this - no, not really, but it does look better and therefore works better !!
I really can't see the point of sacrificial surfaces, and I very much doubt any true joiner would either. A right amateur concept.
Rob
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