I started a couple of woodworking projects this Winter designed to take my hobby outside when Spring arrived. For one thing the sawdust generated by my new table saw and any use of a router just wasn’t practical in my 10’x20′ main room. Dust collection using a 6 gallon ShopVac just wasn’t adequate and required that I literally needed to vacuum off my bed and hand clean my black computer table often. None of this must continue for a healthy lifestyle.
So I set about making plans for a portable workbench large enough to accomplish any woodworking task that I could fit through my 36″ new entrance door and storm door. I came up with a design after watching a YouTube video on a workbench kit available from Simpson Strong Tie, the WBSK Workbench & Shelving Hardware Kit. The kit comes with 8 steel brackets designed for use with simple construction grade 2″x4″s at $2.50 each. Plans are included with the kit along with a convenient cut list maximizing the use of the 4 boards necessary to complete a 4′ long 24″ wide bench standing 34″ high. The design incorporates a bottom shelf 24″wide by 4′ long, notched into the 4 legs. The top utilizes a second 2’x4′ 3/4″ thick sheet of MDF that is screwed to the frame below.
The resulting workbench is rock solid, of an ideal height and extremely flat, perfect for precise woodworking. It retains a 2″ edge all the way around the top for clamping purposes. Such a bench can be purchased online for about $1,400. I built mine for $80. I then spent another $80 to add cool casters that not only lock and swivel but raise and lower the bench 3/4″ off the floor, making the workbench totally portable. I can move this bench in any direction and guide it straight out my front door to an asphalt patch a few feet from my doorstep. I then lower that same bench to the pad where the 2’x4′ legs take over the support role. When finished working reversing the caster system lets me easily return the bench inside to its storage area in my living room.
I tried all this out with my completed bench as I built a second raised planter stand for container gardening. I carried out my DeWalt DW745 contractors saw and placed it atop my workbench. It was at the perfect height to use with my crosscut sled while cutting up the 2″x4″ pieces of that support frame. I also drilled all the pocket holes for the frame’s construction and screwed it all together. Keep in mind I built the prototype frame using a Japanese backsaw inside my apartment. Construction time was cut in half by being able to use my tablesaw outside. No dust collection was necessary. A simple wisk brush was used to clean the workbench & table saw so I could transport both inside. It all worked as planned, no mess, no fuss!
My next outside project will be to complete my new router table using my new outside bench, table saw and more 2″x4″s for the connecting framework to Melamine shelving I’m using in the router table construction. I’ll show you the completed router table in a future post. I want to also incorporate a power strip to my new workbench for any power tools I need outside. My table saw, router table, jigsaw table and electric hand drill would all reap the benefits of such an addition.
As time marches on these improvements to my workflow with the creation of ideal tools in ideal locations make each successive project better and easier to pull off. It’s all good, all fun and a whole lot cheaper when designed and built by me personally.