Our Budget Workbench

This was actually a bigger problem than I expected.

We needed a good sized workbench that was very solid and sturdy, and at the right height. The sizes was important because we needed enough room to have the cutting station but also area for project setup, kiln shelf preparation, general design work and what ever else came up. Room in the studio wasn’t a real big issue, but we had to consider future improvements and decided not take up too much space.

It needed to be sturdy and stable. In other words, something that felt good and solid so cutting and working on it was done with confidence, and with stability so it didn’t move at all. The height was a huge issue. Prior experience with standing and working at a normal table height for extended periods taught me the importance of working height. That aching back is something I didn’t want to be repeating.

We really couldn’t find any ready-made workbench with the width we needed, and couldn’t afford to have one custom made. So, what do we do? Well, the solution sort of just presented itself.

Ann was scanning through an online classifieds site and found a large very solid and sturdy kitchen table for just $40. If it was as good as it looked it could be a great solution, as long as I could somehow make the height right. On inspection it turned out to be a excellent solid table with a thick top and very substantial solid legs. But the height was still an issue.

So I thought about it a little and a plan was hatched. We purchased the table and headed home.

At home I had a lot of bits and pieces of timber and other items left over from making the studio.

So have a look at this photo and I will explain. Yes, the table is sitting on a strange looking platform, but it works beautifully.

Our Work Bench
Our Work Bench

Have a close look. The legs are sitting on 100mm (4 inch) square pieces of good solid hardwood that I recycled from a rotten old deck we have. The ends of the timber were water damaged and rotten, but after trimming off the ends I was left with some really good solid timber. You can see how I shaped the ends to reduce the chance of tripping over them, and if you look closely they have small pads under them to raise them slightly so they didn’t sit flat on the floor. With the slightly uneven floor this helped the whole assembly sit firmly on the concrete floor. The pads were simply small square pieces of 20mm hardwood, again recycled from another project.

I made four of these main base supports and then using more recycled timber made up a rectangular frame. The base supports were laid up so the table legs would sit on them correctly, and the frame was then attached to the top of these with screws. I then cut a piece of old peg board from the original wall and screwed this to the frame. This all resulted in a good sturdy base for the table, with storage space under. A coat of paint and voilà.

This was all measured, cut and assembled so the table would sit perfectly on the base. Because of the weight of the table it sits solidly on the base and does not move. If movement does become a problem I have large furniture cups (for protecting polished floors) that I will screw to the base for the legs to sit inside. The pegboard platform makes great storage for lighter materials. We plan on storing primarily packaging under there.

The table is now at the correct work bench height and after using it for a period I can confidently say it works beautifully. No back aches, it stays solidly in place and I am sure will last many years.

If you are wondering, the purple mats were purchased at a local hardware for a few dollars each. They are actually interlocking mats meant for an exercise platform but they work great for padding the concrete and help immensely when standing at the table for a long period.

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