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Work Benches
02-25-2015, 08:13 PM,
Work Benches
We need benches to keep our stuff and to serve as places to work on projects.
My idea is to have a bench at standing hight with storage bins at the bottom. It would have a power strip and a peg board behind the flat workspace. On the other side of the bench, there would be a whiteboard that could also serve as a projector backdrop. It would be on wheels so that it would be portable. This is my basic concept. If anyone could supply materials, suggestions, or support it would be greatly appriciated.
02-27-2015, 10:54 AM, (This post was last modified: 02-28-2015, 09:42 AM by david tremaine.)
RE: Work Benches
Is your name Eric? We spoke at the meeting on Wednesday, but I can't remember now.

Here is what I'm thinking - hopefully some of this will be useful.

The combination of features you're proposing seems like a neat idea for a home workshop, but I think a little overbuilt for a shared workspace, where different people will be using the same workbench/table from day to day, or even hour to hour.
In looking at pictures of other makerspaces/hackerspaces and Techshops, I see basic, sturdy, smooth-topped tables with 4 legs and no understructure (such as shelves or drawers). Also, most don't even have casters, which can have their own drawbacks.

Here are the properties I see being desirable in a workbench/table design for a shared workspace such as ours.

- strong enough to be hammered on top of, and have a vice mounted that can get wrenched on pretty hard, so a thick (1"-3") top and tight, well-engineered frame (probably wood structure with steel connections for longevity)

- pretty big - able to accomodate several people working on one project, or lots of parts and pieces splayed out on one surface (I'm imagining between 3'x6' and 4'x8')

- affordable, using free or cheap materials when possible (think wood and screws over steel tubing, osb over plywood, recycled lumber over store-bought) and probably a minimal amount of metal or purchased components/materials. Keep in mind, though, that a little steel can go a long way in strengthening a structure.

- multipurpose, able to accomodate a wide variety of activities, from electronics assembly to painting to carpentry, but probably not hot metalworking (which would deserve a separate work surface and work area, due to hazardous levels of noise, dust, fumes, and light).

- easily cleaned and prepared for the next person/group to use. A painted or laminated surface would, then, probably be preferable to raw osb or plywood, both of which are somewhat rough and dirty, and more susceptible to damage or spills and stains.

- flexible: usable by more than one person at a time, so being open on all sides might be desirable; able to be used standing or sitting, so open underneath might be preferable to having storage space. Having the option to easily attach and remove a pegboard/whiteboard, or a safety screen, to keep innocent bystanders safer from projectiles or dangerous laser light, or to keep mess contained.

also along those lines, it'd be great to have a design for a table/bench that's useful for more than one type of person. There could be as much as a two foot difference in height between the tallest person and smallest person wanting to use a workbench (or more, if young kids are ever welcome), so having legs with an adjustable height feature could be really awesome for those folks who don't fall into the average height demographic. I haven't seen this in pictures I've looked at of other shared workshops - I don't know if that's because it's difficult to implement (raising or lowering a heavy workbench one leg at a time could be difficult or dangerous if you don't have easy access to a sturdy jack of some kind) and maybe it's just easier to have different workbenches at different dedicated heights

- mobile: this one should be pretty easy, and probably won't require casters. I think we can come up with a design that's sturdy enough for most anything without being so heavy that 2 people couldn't comfortable lift it and carry it 50 feet over flat ground. If not, I've seen sources for 4" locking casters online that pencil out to around $4-5, shipped, when bought in quantities around 20 wheels.

- powered: in my imagination, each workbench would have a healthy-sized (8 plugs) grounded powerstrip capable of providing 15-20 amps (overkill in most scenarios) of 120v current. Electricians - would GFCI be a wise choice here? I don't have a good understanding of the technology.

- well-lit: the lighting in the Toolbox warehouse is fine for large-scale projects, but seems insufficient if we're working on small parts or fine details, or working inside a computer case. If there were a safe way to hang a 1 to 2 lamp 4' T8 fluorescent fixture over each workbench, I'd think that plenty?
02-27-2015, 03:15 PM,
RE: Work Benches
My $0.02:

First, I heard we may have something coming in June. Overall, I think getting together and making something before that would be good if we can raise the funds and materials.

A hammering surface and a smooth laminate or painted surface are mutually exclusive. It works for metal, but that gets expensive fast. I would suggest multiple benches. One with a plywood surface for hammering/painting that we don't mind destroying and occasionally replacing, then another that's laminate or painted for the delicate electronics stuff. This is something that would need to be self-regulated, though I don't think we have many hammering projects yet I can see us having them from time to time.

Multiple 2' x 4' benches would be more useful than a single 4' x 8' bench. More edge space, easier to move, easier to customize (i.e., 2x electronics benches, building bench, etc).

Changing height in a safe manner tends to be expensive though. If the legs are pipe, you can drill holes for pins and adjust ahead of time for classes for children, but it will generally be a pain to adjust for daily use.

GFCI should be standard on every bench. Only slightly more expensive and much safer. I would personally err on the side of caution with a 10A or 15A circuit breaker feeding a GFCI outlet on each bench (power strips connected downstream from the GFCI are also protected). Draw too much power, or accidentally shunt it somewhere else, and it'll shut down. Heck, if you want fancy, you can also control the whole thing with a light switch. Things like Tesla coils can be run on something other than the bench power.

We could put a frame over some of the benches for fluorescent fixtures, at the cost of vertical space. We could also put LED desk lamps on the edge to be positioned as needed.

Pegboard tends to only be useful if you've organized things (or have a specific vertical project in mind). Whiteboards are good. Having one bench setup as a teaching station with the whiteboard above the tabletop would allow for both projector use and hands-on props while teaching. Both limit how many people can sit around a bench though, so there is the trade off. I do like the removable walling idea if we can implement it simply.
02-28-2015, 09:42 AM, (This post was last modified: 02-28-2015, 10:39 PM by david tremaine.)
RE: Work Benches
Acting on a tip from a friend, (Bart Templeman, a local woodworker who has his shop in East Central,) I went to check out a demolition salvage yard near Earthworks yesterday.

A couple of old guys are running the business, still doing demos every day in their 70's. They bring materials back and sell them out of their yard for dirt cheap. I'd include the name and address, but I don't know either. If you're interested, PM me.

Materials I saw there pertinent to this conversation: (all lumber had nails that needed to be pulled)
- good, straight 2x4's, 6'-8' long, $.50/ea
- good looking 2x8's, 10's, 12's, in lengths more like 16', at $2-$5/ea
- plastic-laminate particle board, looked like 5/8-3/4" thick, sheets maybe 4'x6' at $3 or $5 ea
- a couple of big, beat up moving dollies (hunk of plywood with casters bolted on bottom) for $10 a piece
- T8 fluorescent light bays $10/ea, with bulbs. Some had frosted covers, some were open bulb with the plastic grids that narrow the viewing angle to reduce glare
- 4 or 5 sheets of 5/8-3/4 OSB in good condition, I think he said $5/ea
- There was a big stack of used plywood, probably 5/8, full and partial sheets, that he said would be available in a couple weeks at $3/partial and $5/full sheets. A little rough around the edges, but very reusable for something like shelving.

I'm going to go back with cash on Monday and load up on stuff that might be useful for benches. I figure $40 could buy enough materials to try some different workbench ideas out. I can bring a chop saw and a drill on Weds, and a circular saw to rip the laminate to benchtop size. Anybody interested in having a go at this?

Browsing through pictures of wooden workbenches on Google, I found this design, which has SvenBob's idea for useful shelf underneath, but looks like it has enough benchtop overhang that a person could still sit at it on a stool . Also, the overhang makes it easy to clamp something to the bench from any side. Only thing I don't see here is a way to prevent lateral sway, which could be achieved with some plywood triangles inserted strategically between legs and benchtop, or some steel brackets in same location.

Another thing I like about this design is the clean look, with the 1x2 trim around the edge. Seems to me that by painting the trim edge and the bench structure, and by planing & painting/staining any lumber that goes into the structure, we could achieve a clean, bright, professional look (which, after seeing this guy's workshop, I am totally into)

[Image: 173961.jpg]

We'd need something good and thick for the benchtop to be strong enough for this style. If we could glue a sheet of laminate-particle board and a sheet of osb together, or build a benchtop base out of 2x12's and screw/glue a sheet of laminate/pb down on top...

Svenbob, what if we put some square holes in the benchtop, that footposts for a pegboard/whiteboard/protective sidewalls could be dropped into?

Anybody else seen bench designs you like for Spokane Create?
02-28-2015, 09:38 PM,
RE: Work Benches
Nice find!

Rough sizes on the moving dollies? Those might make good bases for movable benches.

2x4 crossbeams would also work for lateral bracing. Plywood backplates would make for a very strong bracing.

Basic box-design bench on one of those dollies with a dual-layer top (either double plywood, or plywood + laminate) roughly 4' x 6' using leftovers from the plywood as bracing would be about $25 each. Not bad at all.
03-04-2015, 12:37 PM,
RE: Work Benches
I'm going to head over there today and make a pile to bring to SC this evening. There will be a fair amount of nail pulling to do, I suspect...

Arthur, I don't think the dollies would be good candidates for bases, due to being beat up and probably bigger than the tables we're talking about, but also for lack of having locking casters. I'll try and take some pictures of them to post, in case they spark an idea for anyone.

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