# My workbench build! Sorry long and lots-a-pics.

Discussion in 'Workshop Tips and Secrets / Tools' started by skeeter_ca, Sep 7, 2008.

1. Sep 7, 2008

### skeeter_ca

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Well, I have finished my work bench and I must say it turned out pretty darn good.

When I started looking at benches to build I knew I wanted something fairly large. It was going to be used to build my wooden amphibian, a Volmer VJ-22. The design of the plane does not require a very long bench to build the wings so I did not have to worry about having a super-duper long bench in my garage. I guessed that 4’x8’ would be a good size. I will be building some fairly large fuselage formers so a skinny table would not work well either. After some looking around on the web I found a post here on HomebuiltAirplanes forum, of course, by none other than our own “Jman“. The thread is called “Perfectly flat table designs”. On the thread it listed several different table designs by other people. After reading the entire thread I still liked the simple design listed on the very first post. I chose the design on the fact that it is simple to build and very sturdy. Jman said that he did not think it was very accurate but I beg to differ. My table, even after increasing the size almost four fold has only 1/16th inch in deviations over a 4‘ length. For my purpose that was very acceptable. With a little care it could even be better. After showing you what it cost, how I built it, and how I would do it slightly different, maybe you will agree. The original design was for a table size of 2’x5’. That was way too small. So being the simple minded person I am it was not hard to scale it up a little.

Below is a link to that design.

http://www.eaa1000.av.org/technicl/worktabl/tablefig.htm

Here are some pics I stole off the website (hope they don’t mind) to show you what the basic structure is.

By looking at the design above you can see the basic structure and how it is assembled. Just as the instructions say you build the table mostly upside down.

2. Sep 7, 2008

### skeeter_ca

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Below is a list of materials used to build my bench. I had to buy everything except the lower shelf plywood. For that I used the ¾” plywood I had previously used for a bench with two saw horses under it. It was sagging pretty good after a couple years of use. This is very important: When selecting wood I hand picked every piece and made sure it is very straight. Especially the 2x6’s. They are the key to making a straight work bench. Also I bought the best quality hardwood plywood top I could find. My plywood sheet cost $42.00. I made sure it was flat, smooth and free of imperfections. The total cost of materials was$140.00 in August of 2008. Use of screws are as follows: I Used 3” screws when joining end pieces, used 2 ½” screws to fasten studs together, 1 ½” screws to attach plywood tops. Finishing nails are used to attach side pine boards.

1 48”x96”x¾” Birch plywood (high quality, very smooth top)
1 48”x96”x½” standard plywood
80 #10 3” wood screws
50 #10 2 ½” wood screws
50 #8 1 5/8” wood screws
50 2” finishing nails
16 oz. Bottle of wood glue
1 small container of wood filler
6 ½”x2 ½” bolts
6 ½” nuts

2”x4” Cutting guide
#1 33”-33”-17 ½”-7”
#2 33”-33”-17 ½”-7”
#3 33”-33”-17 ½”-7”
#4 17 ½”-17 ½”-17 ½ “-7”-7”-7”
#5 45”-45”
#6 45”
#7 96”
#8 96”

3. Sep 7, 2008

### skeeter_ca

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To start I cut 4 of the 2x6’s into 7 pieces, each 45” long and laid them out as shown

Then I glued on each piece as I screwed them together with 3” inch screws. A very important note here. As I screwed the crossbeams to the side beams I made sure they were all level with the tops of each other. By keeping them all level at the top and using straight 2x6’s it makes the top very flat that the plywood lays on. I also made sure the corners were at 90 degree angles. I used a large square, but if you don’t have one you could use the 3-4-5 method. The 3-4-5 method is used by measuring 3’ off one corner then 4’ off the same corner the other direction. You then measure between those two points and if it is at 90 degrees it will be 5 feet. Adjust the beams till the correct distance is achieved.

At this point i placed the plywood over the top of the studs and screwed it down around the outside edges. I put glue on the studs before a screwed it down but I wish I had not. If I had not I could have unscrewed the plywood and shimmed under it to make the top perfectly flat (that was hindsight 20/20 tip #1). Also if the plywood sheet is just slightly larger than the frame, make it flush on as many sides as you can so it only overhangs on one or two sides. Those sides are then be sanded before fitting the side pine boards.

Now I flipped the whole thing over so it is upside down.

4. Sep 7, 2008

### skeeter_ca

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I cut 6 2x4’s out 33” long using the cutting guide listed above. I stood each one in a corner and one on each side of the center cross stud. The center legs have been added by me because the table is much longer than the original design. Added glue to the side that will touch the table top frame and used 2 ½” screws to hold them together.

Then I cut 6 2x4’s upper leg doublers out 17 ½” long again referring to the cutting guide. Added glue and screwed them to each one of the legs I just installed making sure they rested against bottom of the benchtop frame.

Once all 6 legs have the 17 ½” upper leg doublers installed I placed a 2x4 96”s long on each side, glued and screwed them down.

5. Sep 7, 2008

### skeeter_ca

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Here I am suppose to cut 3 2x4’s 45” long for the bottom cross braces. Installing each one on the ends of the table, just inside the leg level with the long braces I just installed prior. Unfortunately I purchased the incorrect amount of 2x4’s and could not install them till I went back to the Homedepot. (Hindsight 20/20 tip #b) The pictures show the outer braces missing at this time. I did install the center brace. Since the legs in the center are staggered on each side of the bench top 2x6’s the center brace gets glue and screwed in on opposing sides of the legs. After that I cut out the lower leg doublers and made them just slightly longer than the rest of the leg. They ended being about 7” long. The remainder will be cut off after installation. Make sure you add a lot of glue to the side that goes against the leg near the bottom and screw down. Used 3-4 screws at the bottom of the lower leg doublers but kepted them from the center where the adjustable legs will go into the wood.

Now I used a sabersaw to cut off the excessive wood on the bottom of each leg and sanded them level with the main legs. Boy was it hot!

Adding adjustable legs are not required but are recommended. If you decide to install them use the easy inexpensive instruction described. I used a ¾” wood drill bit to drill a hole in the center of each leg ½” deep. Then I drilled a ½” hole in the center of that about 2-3” deep. I took a ½” bolt 2 ½” long and installed a nut on the end. Placing the nut and bolt assembly over the hole I just drilled and drove the nut into the hole with a hammer. The wood crushed aside and the nut sunk into the leg. Hammering the nut down until it bottoms out in the hole it was very rigid and secure. No glue or epoxy was needed. The bolt can now be adjusted up or down to level the table top. I screwed the bolts down real low and now there ready. Like I said easy and cheap!

Last edited: Sep 7, 2008
6. Sep 7, 2008

### skeeter_ca

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Now I flipped the table over. Stood back a second and admire this nice big solid table.

I took a belt sander and sanded any of the plywood that overlaps the 2x6 frame. Sanding it even with the frame. Now to add the side boards. These board are very important as they protect the edges of the plywood which are easy to damage and then they start to splinter. Ouch! Some of the boards were not perfectly straight even though I picked out the best I could find. Added glue and nailed the board against the side with the lowest part of the top edge even with the table top. Some of the board was above the table top but I will take care of that soon. Measure the ends of the table I cut 1x6’s for them. Glued and nailed just like the side pieces.

I took a couple days off from working on it and look what happens. It didn’t take long for my kid to start using it.

7. Sep 7, 2008

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Skeeter, thank you very much for this thread. It's so easy to get so absorbed in designing and building an airplane that we neglect (or skimp) on the essentials. I really appreciate this info; even if it's not strictly original, it's much more useful now that someone has stepped up and said "I did the research, and this way works."

8. Sep 7, 2008

### skeeter_ca

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Now is the time to clean up the top. I Took the belt sander and sanded the edges of the pine board top edge till they were level with the top plywood.

I cleaned all the dust off and could see gaps between the plywood and side boards. I took some wood filler and packed it in the gaps and let it dry. Taking a finishing sander and sanded down the filler level with the wood. I did the screw holes too while I was at it and the side boards. She’s really starting to look like a top rate table. I built the shelf underneath in two sections. Taking out my tape measure and measuring the lower shelf braces. Measuring from the inside of the end legs to the center of the center cross brace. Cut a piece of the ½ plywood and slid it under the table till it hit the center leg on the other side. I marked the plywood to cut away the area hitting center leg. Removed and cut marked area off. Slid back under the table and used 4 screws to hold it in place. Ditto for the other half.

9. Sep 7, 2008

### skeeter_ca

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My table is done now. Just sealed it with minwax natural stain. I just brushed it on and let it dry for a day.

Here is the table in its final resting place.

I hope you enjoyed this build thread. If you have any questions or suggestions please let me know.

Skeeter

(One step closer to finishing my dream.)

Last edited: Sep 7, 2008
10. Sep 7, 2008

### Jman

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Awesome thread Skeeter. Turned out great.

You should have seen the look on the moving people's face when they saw my 15'x4' table yesterday during the pre-move inspection. They weren't too excited when they saw it...:gig:

11. Sep 7, 2008

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Jman, did you do a similar construction to this? I assume you used two pieces of plywood for the surface. Any problems joining them smoothly? Any more tricks to impart? I'd love to go to 12'x4' for my table, but thinking of sticking with 8'x4' to make things simpler.

12. Sep 7, 2008

### pwood66889

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And from the look of it, Skeeter, it'll double as a bomb shelter...

I did a table from a single sheet of 4 x 8 3/4-inch ply. Sawed from 2 1/2 feet on one side to 2 feet on the other. This resulted in 1 1/2 by 2 1/2 and 16 feet long. Got the idea from my Banty plans. Have it still in my "lair."

Percy in NM, USA

13. Sep 7, 2008

### PTAirco

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One thing I would always recommend to anyone building a bench is to leave the top protruding a couple of inches around the edge - it is so useful to clamp things to, you'll wonder how you ever did without it.

14. Sep 7, 2008

### Mike Armstrong

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Thanks Skeeter, nice table!

Mike

15. Sep 7, 2008

### George Sychrovsky

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Actually its not that great. The top should overhang about four inches and the low long shelf support should be on the inside of the legs, the same way the short support is. Both of these things for the reason to move your legs away from the table legs and the lower shelf , The way you have it now you will be kicking the table legs with your feet and knocking your shins against the low shelf supports as you work and move around, this gets very annoying.

16. Sep 7, 2008

### wsimpso1

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It is a substantial table, and for many tasks will serve you Skeeter well.

It sounds as if George is speaking from experience! I have had similar experience with a work table, and my subsequent tables were better tools.

For those of you building work tables, I have some suggestions...

A substantial lip for clamping around the edge is useful - most of us will need to clamp to the table sometime. I like tripling the thickness along edge.

Placing the legs inboard a little prevents barking of shins on the shelf and legs, and lets you balance more easily when working above the table.

I have seen tables that distorted over time. For some projects, the warpage is insignificant, but for others, it makes the difference. A high accuracy table with low warpage is done by using MDF for the top, bottom, edges, and spacers. The spacers run the length and width with pieces between them every few inches or so, and make up an "egg crate" attaching the top and bottom together. The trick of course is coming up with a flat enough place to assemble you sandwich, but with it all glued up, it is quite rigid and resistant to warpage. To have a lip, you either accept that the lip is sandwich thickness and rules out spring clamps and small C-clamps, or you build the sandwich with the top layer over hanging a couple inches.

Billski

17. Sep 7, 2008

### skeeter_ca

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Yeah, i thought about the overhang part. It seemed to much trouble to deal with at this time. I can still use my bar clamps to clamp on the underside of the table, but that would be limiting i agree. hopefully i can deal with the legs sticking out even with the table, so far not a problem. I already have visions of another table the same size perhaps, this one already is getting cluttered, but i guess that is the nature of things. Anything else?

skeeter

18. Sep 7, 2008

### George Sychrovsky

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No matter how many work benches you have and how big they are, your free working area is always exactly six square inches.
I have nine work benches and I cant find a piece of space to work on.

19. Sep 7, 2008

### RonL

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A nice straight 2X6 or 2X8 piece of oak, or any solid wood can be clamped on, using heavy gauge angle iron brackets attached to the board and C-clamped to the table. Easy to remove if the need should arise.

You have a good solid work bench, don't be afraid to use it in any way needed to get a job done. I see people make things so nice that they don't do things that might mess the finish up. (a tool is a tool, get the most out of it) That's my moto:ban:

Ron

20. Sep 7, 2008

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