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
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
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
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
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.
> 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!