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Re: workbench

Subject: Re: workbench
From: Mike Sloane <>
Date: Thu, 29 Jul 1999 13:40:29 -0400
I envy you guys who have nothing more to worry about at their workbenches than 
light. I have half a dozen benches made from discarded kitchen cabinets, 2x4's,
commercial kits,  and some I don't remember. The problem is that I cannot fine 
of them - they are all under layers of Stuff. If I need to use a bench, I 
figure out
which one has the least amount of junk to be removed and go from there. (-:

Based on my experience with benches of all kinds and coverings, I would avoid 
tops: while they are easy to clean and don't absorb liquids, they allow stuff to
slide around and don't absorb shock. Also, any kind of shiny surface will 
light back into your eyes, making it hard to work with. I am partial to plain 
plywood, painted with neutral tan or gray porch and deck enamel if you are 
into being neat. The wood will absorb shock, prevent things from moving, and if 
drill or saw hits it, no damage will be done. When it gets too beat up to use (I
cannot imagine when that would be), just drop by your local lumber place and 
see if
they have any reject/damaged wood that you can buy  - there is always some 
And if you need to cut two pieces to get one good one, that won't matter.

Any workbench that has a vise, should be securely fastened to the wall and the 
lagged or bolted securely into the bench. Anything less will drive you nuts 
when you
do anything more than very light work.

As far as the construction of the bench itself, I don't think any of the 
benches are worth the kind of money they charge. Go the the library and make a 
copy of one of the designs you will find in a book, bring it home and adapt it 
your use. Frankly a workbench made from used 2x4's and 2x6's with a 3/4" plywood
top, bolted (bolted, not nailed) together, will outlast and outperform any of 
fancy catalog workbenches by a factor of years.

And I do agree about the light. I find that a regular 48" dual tube fluorescent 
fixture suspended at a height that will allow your head to clear works fine.
Remember that, unlike incandescent bulbs, fluorescent tubes fail slowly, so 
that the
tubes should be replaced every year or so, even if they are still working. I 
never tried halogen or other high-intensity lamps, so I cannot comment on them.

Mike wrote:

> <snip>
> My 5 keys to a good work bench
> 1. plenty of lighting
> 2. plenty of lighting
> 3. plenty of lighting
> 4. wide enough to do all your work
> 5. put some sort of surface on it so that it cleans up well (a friend of mine
> bought a piece of stainless for his work surface)
> I guess the #1 key to a good workbench is finding the time to use it!
> Chas.


Mike Sloane
Allamuchy NJ

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