Workbench Redux

7 05 2012

Back in September of 2010, my dad showed off his carpentry prowess by building me a workbench in my garage. I noted this in a blog post titled Built Dad Tough. The skill is starting to rub off.

I took a somewhat spontaneous break from my bar to build a workbench in our utility room. It started for two reasons. One, I had a miter saw in my basement that I was borrowing from a friend for the bar, and I figured I’d at least cut the lumber I would need for the workbench. The other reason was that Melissa wanted to clean out and organize the utility room once and for all. That room has been an unmitigated disaster that has essentially resulted from dumping anything in there to get it out of the way as we built the basement. It was very dusty and very cluttered in that room. I knew I wanted a workbench in there, and the shelf shelf will be a help as well.

I took the overall design pretty much directly from my dad’s design. I built the two frames for the top and the shelf, and assembled them into the wall. The key, according to my dad, is having the top frame sit directly on top of the legs, as opposed to having the legs come up the side. This gives the bench the greatest strength; when doing something like pounding a nail or putting a load of weight on, the stress will be directly over a straight 2×4 which would be much stronger than a if the top was screwed to the legs from the side.

Now I just need to get a plywood sheet to rip and screw into place. That could be an adventure all it’s own.

The student has become…well, still not the teacher, but maybe a B student instead of a C student.

Built Dad Tough

7 09 2010

So anyone who knows me knows that I am not exactly the most handy guy in the world.  What might surprise you is that my dad is indeed quite handy, and it’s what I aspire to become like over time.  From what I understand, my dad wasn’t much different than I am when he was my age, but through interest and will forced himself to learn what he needed to know in order to save money and get jobs done.

That’s where this latest installment picks up.  One of the things my garage still lacked was an adequate work space, specifically a counter top surface from which to work.  Some might call this a workbench, as do I.  Among the things my dad has taken on in the past, he built himself a workbench in his current house, and he built a workbench for my sister and brother-in-law several weeks ago.  Not that I was necessarily waiting my turn, but knowing that he had this ability, I figured I’d have him come and help me achieve this structure.

My garage has a nice bump out that almost seems like it was intended as a spot for a work area, and this was the canvas for my workbench.  Essentially, I have three walls independent from my main garage with which to work.  I had in mind about a 6 foot long workbench with a metal cabinet I had to sort of book end it in an L shape.  Well, my dad had the idea of just making an L shaped workbench to take advantage of the space there, and in turn would give me twice the counter space.  So we began.  We headed to Lowes to raid the lumber yard, and returned ready to build something.

On top of all this, my parents and brother and sister all chipped in to buy me a new circular saw, which we put to good use.  My dad did the designing, and most of the measuring, and let’s face it, most of the thinking.  But we basically screwed together a bunch of 2x4s to form two shelf frames, screwed the first shelf into the wall, attached the legs, and then screwed the top shelf into place.

We used plywood then to top each shelf, and this caused one moment that showed how much I have to learn about DIY projects and carpentry.  The plywood sheets we bought were 8×4, meaning the width was 48 inches.  After the top shelf frame was up, I measured the width and it came to 24 3/4 inches.  I scratched my head and then measured the plywood again; still only 48 inches — two sheets of 24 3/4 inches would mean that 48 inches would be too narrow.  More head scratching.  I told my dad that I thought we had a problem, and he said we were fine.  More head scratching.  I measured the bottom shelf frame; 23 1/4 inches.  “Well that’s strange”, I thought as I did the math.  “That equals 48 inches.  Dad, did you plan that?”  “Of course I did.  Do you think that was just pure chance?” my dad responded, realizing that the final quarter had just fallen on my busy working thinking machine.  Wow, how did I let that one fly past me so badly.

So anyway, we fit the plywood sheets in place and I had fun drilling holes and screwing in the last screws on what I can (sort of ) say is something a built from scratch with my own two hands.

Phase one

Phase two

...and phase three

As a side note, that last picture shows off my newest toy, the circular saw, as well as a tool box I made in shop class during my freshmen year of high school.  Maybe it was a sign of things to come.

So that’s how this chapter goes.  I solved two problems, I needed a counter top workspace, and I needed some shelving.  This takes care of both.  One of the exciting things about this is that while my dad has built a couple of workbenches before, this is his first L shaped workbench.  So I truly have a one of a kind, limited edition workbench in the Dad brand, the first of it’s kind in the L series.  Here’s to all the projects that will take place on this piece over the years!

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