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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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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


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.


And the other angle:


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

Next: The Swiss Army Table