Monday, February 18, 2013

Every Garage Needs a Workbench

With the flurry of projects I've been doing lately, I decided it was finally time to build a workbench out in the garage.

I've been planning this bench for quite a while now -- sketching the design and figuring out the dimensions and so forth -- but never got around to actually building it until a couple weeks month-and-a-half ago.

(That flower was Jen's addition...)

The first step was to reconfigure the shelves we put in back when we bought the house -- taking the bottom shelf and moving it to the other side of the wall (to the left of the door).

Ignore the mess, I was in the middle of quite a few projects then...

Here, above where the beer fridge used to be:

Using the new Dremel tool I got for Christmas, the process was easy.

I had to slide my bike back a stud (so 16"), but everything fits nicely still.

And I ended up using some hooks to hold the bike rack and stroller up against the wall, which worked perfectly!

So now that the shelf was out of the way, it was time to build the workbench.

A BIG thanks to my co-worker's husband for lending me the tools to make this happen!

First, I took my 4' x 8' piece of 3/4" subfloor plywood and cut it in half length-wise.

That gave me the 2' x 8' piece that I would trim down to around 7' to make the surface of the bench.

I then cut an 18" section off the other half to use as the top of the little shelf I was putting under the bench. I didn't want it to stick out as far as the bench since I thought that might get in the way, so I decided to make it 18" x 24" instead of 24" x 24"; also, that's the biggest I could make it without having to run to the store for another 2x4, so yeah...

Next it was time to build the frame that would support the bench and shelf. For this, I just used 2x4's.

If we look back at the plans, I was going to screw the frame into the studs in the wall along the back and right side (the post would support the front left corner). The top would then be screwed into the frame.

Here's everything laid out before screwing it all together.

Since I couldn't find a small 4x4 post at the store (the smallest length I could find was 8', and I only needed 3'), I decided just to screw two 2x4's together.

Here I was seeing if 1.5" screws would work. I decided I'd better go with the 2" screws just to be safe (which of course meant another trip to the store since I didn't have as many on hand as I thought I did).

And after pre-drilling all the holes so the wood didn't split...

This thing was actually starting to look like something.

I attached the post to the frame using the garage floor to keep everything level (that way the plywood would lay flat across the top once I flipped everything over).

And I did the same thing for the shelf, but I didn't double-up the 2x4 here since it won't be holding that much weight.

Starting with the shelf, I began attaching the frames to the wall, using two 2" screws into each stud.

Finding the studs proved to be much more difficult than it should have been (notice all the little test holes??). Luckily once I found one, the rest were spaced every 16".

Once the frame was secured, I used the 1.5" screws to screw down the plywood top.

I repeated the same process for the larger bench, making sure everything was level (in all directions) before securing it to the wall.

Fast-forward a bit, and it's really starting to look like the drawing!

Once the workbench top was on and screwed down, the final step was to add a little trim around the top. I did this so a) my hands wouldn't accidentally scrape against the rough edge of the plywood and get splinters, and b) so screws, pencils, etc. wouldn't just roll right off the edge.

I just used a finishing nail gun to secure the trim.

Lookin' pretty good!

Notice how the support post on the shelf sorta bends to the right in the above picture? Yeah, that's because I used a piece of discount wood...

I still haven't put everything where it needs to go just yet, but so far I'm loving the bench!

I'm planning on adding a peg board behind the bench to hang tools and such on, and I might need to wire up a more permanent lighting situation (I just bought one of those portable 250W lights and hung it from the shelf above the bench for now, but I think a fluorescent would work a lot better).

Also, I got the idea from a friend to wire up some outlets to the front lip of the bench (instead of having to run an extension cord every time I need to use a tool), so that's definitely on the list of things to do, too.

Overall, I LOVE our garage now. We still need to go through and re-organize some of the boxes on the shelves to clean those up a bit, but as far as organization and functionality go, I really can't complain.

Especially compared to the mess that it was just a couple months ago.

Now I just need some more projects so I can put the bench to good use!

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