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A website about how I set up my old, small, two-car garage for metal fabrication, carpentry and automotive work.

The Main Bench

Bencher-M

When it’s going to take some time, then this is the bench you’ll want to be working at.

This bench has good lighting, tools at the ready, a magnifying lamp, a bench vise, a drill press, and -- most important -- a comfortable place to sit. It’s the most-recent bench I’ve built for the place, and it replaces a much simpler setup that I’d had since 2007. The old bench was a solid core door sitting on top of a tool box.

OldBench-L

The new one was more complicated to build than you might think. The top is a slab of oak butcher block from Ikea. The base is made out of this Equipto cabinet.

Equipto-L

The tricky thing about the Equipto cabinet was that it came with nine drawers. I knew I wanted to cut a cabinet like this in half for my bench. But even though the overall height would work, a 4/5 split made the whole thing kind of awkward.

But I had an idea.

Chopped-L

Five on one side meant filling out additional space on the right. I knew I wanted my vise on that side, and that I could avoid the problem of a drawer sliding out to bump into the handle of the vise if I made the ‘false’ drawer right below it. I also had an old air hose reel that I discovered would work just as well mounted horizontally as vertically, so I got busy with the welder.

Reel-L

So that’s the air line (mounted sideways) filling up the extra drawer space. See the idea taking shape?

Up above, I wanted some small drawers to hold little things I used frequently. But I didn’t want to sacrifice any more of the bench’s top surface than I had to. So I cut into the walls, between the studs, for a place for half of the drawer unit to go. I shortened two rows of drawers so they could close even though they were right on top of wall studs.

WallHole-L

You can see the two lower cabinet halves have already been painted red, here.

For a chair, picked up an old Royal rolling unit. I had some leather left over from doing the interior of my track car, so it got reupholstered in race car black leather.

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Here’s the chair with its new paint and leather.

Leather-L

While I had the paint out, I also attacked a second-hand drill press made by Rockwell in 1973. When I got it, it looked like the kind of thing you’d find in a dark corner of a warehouse.

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Here it is shortened, cleaned up, painted and re-wired. I also made a new three-spoke handle and swapped in a push-button switch.

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My third vise is my favorite, a Wilton 9450. It’s got magnetic soft jaws in this picture.

9450-L

Here’s the finished bench. You can see where the air hose comes out. I also added some outlets there. The magnifying lamp is a second-hand Dazor. I rounded the corners of the bench top so it would interfere less with the opening of the cabinet door on the left side -- and also hit my hip less when I reached for tools in the Craftsman toolbox stack on the right. I also cut in the middle of the top (where the chair goes) to make reaching the pegboard up above easier -- and also so I wouldn’t bump into the chair when I walked past and it was pushed all the way in.

I’m very happy with how this whole work area came out.

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And the other angle:

MainBenchR-M


As always, you can click on any of the images for a larger version.


Next: The Swiss Army Table