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Old 4th May 2010, 9:47 AM   #1
aXLe Thread Starter
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Default Building a workbench

I've been doing quite a bit of electronics work lately, and decided that a permanent work area was required where I can leave the gear set up and can work AdHoc without have to haul everything out everytime I needed to work on something.

I looked around the place to see if there was something I could buy, and most were pretty expensive, so I decided I may as well build one.

So, I decided on a few basic parameters to guide the design :

1. Size - 2400 x 800 was decided for the top area. I wanted it to be a height you could work at either standing, or seated on a tall stool, so I decided the top should be at least 950mm high.

2. Storage - I wanted underbench shelving, but I also wanted to be able to sit right up to the bench, so the shelving had to set back.

3. Backing - I wanted to have a backing board to stop stuff falling off the back of the bench, and also to which I could mount powerpoints/powerboards.

4. Steel frame

I then set about drawing it up in Solidworks :



I've used 25 x 25 x 1.6 for most of the frame, with 50 x 25 x 1.6 around the top - this spreads the load across the front of the bench to the outside legs (since the centre leg is set back), and also part of the weight of the shelves effectively hanging off it - again spreading the weight to the outside legs. Should be strong.


Last edited by aXLe; 4th May 2010 at 8:45 PM.
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Old 4th May 2010, 9:55 AM   #2
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looks pretty good, is that sketchup? turn perspective on if you can, looks "odd"

what material is the base made out of? whatever it is I would add diagonal bracing straps/bars.

make sure you use decent melamine with a rounded edge for the top, i made a desk out of raw MDF once and it was horrible, the surface got marked really easy and was really itchy.

For height, try packing up whatever you are using as a work surface currently (put phonebooks or similar on top and try soldering) and see whats comfortable.
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Old 4th May 2010, 10:02 AM   #3
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Next step was to work out the steel requirements, and order it. Metalcorp had gal tubes on sale (was cheaper than painted - $13.50 for a 6.5m length of 25 x 25 x 1.6) so the total steel cost was around $85 (the 50 x 25 x 1.6 was $33 for an 8m length).

I picked it up, along with some gas for the MIG and a new cutoff wheel and set to work cutting all the lengths. and laying it out.

Laying out the centre frame :



Tacked :



My MIG - great little unit and relatively portable too :



End frame - need 2 of these :



Half a bench (almost) :



Joining the sections together :



All joined and welds painted with gal paint :



After the first coat of paint (and my trusty assistant):



I decided that adjustable feet would be useful to be able to level it up, so I capped off the leg tubes, and then drilled a 13mm hole in them and welded an M12 nut. The M12 bolt becomes the adjustable foot - I might add a pad to the bolt head yet



Next up is another coat of paint, and fitting the workbench top. I picked up a 38mm laminated benchtop from bunnings for $99 - my other option was to use a couple of layers of MDF or yellow tongue flooring board which would have been a bit cheaper, but the laminated top should work nicely.

Then I'll fit the shelving and a backing board and its usable

Last edited by aXLe; 4th May 2010 at 12:25 PM.
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Old 4th May 2010, 10:07 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by oculi View Post
looks pretty good, is that sketchup? turn perspective on if you can, looks "odd"

what material is the base made out of? whatever it is I would add diagonal bracing straps/bars.

make sure you use decent melamine with a rounded edge for the top, i made a desk out of raw MDF once and it was horrible, the surface got marked really easy and was really itchy.

For height, try packing up whatever you are using as a work surface currently (put phonebooks or similar on top and try soldering) and see whats comfortable.
Yeah - I thought about diagonals, but it doesnt need it - solid as a rock. The base is 25 x 25 x 1.6 mild steel, with 50 x 25 x 1.6 around the underside of the bench surface.

yes - MDF I've heard can be awful if unsealed - another reason I ended up getting a laminated top.

The height should work out pretty well, though I'll have to buy a decent seat now (a tall one).

Last edited by aXLe; 4th May 2010 at 8:52 PM.
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Old 4th May 2010, 11:10 AM   #5
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very neat build there... any finished pics?

I want your MIG only got a shitty gassless one here.
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Old 4th May 2010, 11:13 AM   #6
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awesome work bench where do we place orders??
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Old 4th May 2010, 11:16 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by de_overfiend View Post
very neat build there... any finished pics?

I want your MIG only got a shitty gassless one here.
Thanks

The last pic is how it currently stands - this week I'll get some more paint and fit the benchtop.

The benchtop I bought is 2400 x 900 and has a rounded edge on both sides (sold as an island benchtop) so I need to trim one side off, but first up I'll finish painting the frame so I can trial fit the top

I bought some basic white melamine shelving from Bunnings that I'll use for the shelves underneath - should do the job nicely, but I need to cut them to fit as well.

Last edited by aXLe; 4th May 2010 at 11:21 AM.
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Old 4th May 2010, 11:20 AM   #8
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Looks damned good - where the hell where you the last time I had to have half a dozen of these made up here in BrizVegas a few years ago?...

Done this a few times for differing companies I've worked for/contracted to, so:

- Single frame at 2.4 metres is niiiiice (just don't clutter it up), but unless you're 100% adamant it'll never ever be moved I've have made it as two separate frames bolted together with a single laminate top across both. Obviously you've not going to be shoe-horning that one down a corridor to get it into the spare bedroom, yes?

- Hope your top laminate is white as well. Bloody annoying fumbling around trying to find that 0806 SMD part on a woodgrain or dark grey/black finish. Ask me how I know this... go on, I dare you.

- You need an overhead shelf for test gear 'n "stuff", something high enough to clear the top of what you're working on but low enough so that you don't have to keep stretching your neck up 'n down between probing the gear and looking at the test equipment screen/display.

- And wide enough so you can sit test gear on it but narrow enough so it doesn't loom over the top of the gear. Bracing the centre of this is a pain, so ponder hard...

- Or it's just for storing other "stuff" while you're working away on it - lids/cases tops, sub-modules on the boxen you're playing with, etc. Slight lip on the front edge and ends of this can minimise "Clang - Oh, Shit!" moments as well.

- Monitor stands sometimes make Not Too Foul CRO stands as well, by the way...

- Lighting under the shelf. Fluros/LEDs etc, preferably something that doesn't introduce buzzing/noise in the gear you're working on, and On/Off switch at each end as well. Lights on goosenecks at either end and/or on the middle of the shelf is more than slightly handy as well.

- Maggy Lamps. 'Nuff said.

- Foot rest. Unless your chair will be an up/down adjustable bar stool style ponder a foot rest. Trust me on this...

- Mains power. 240 volt outlets along the top and the front underside of the desk top, single ELCB etc in case of any "Oops, Angry Blue Genie Escaping!" moments and emergency stops (that don't drop the building power out - go on, ask me...) at each end and one in the middle under the front.

- "Electronics" power. If you're playing with a lot of 5 and/or 12 volt "stuff" then had a ponder about running a suitably serious PSU tucked right up underneath and 5mm banana sockets along the front of the shelf. With LED indicators and even a couple of panel meters to see the power is on as well as real-time voltages along the power rail. And panel meters so you can see twitches/spikes etc...

- Earthing/Grounding. Static discharge and connection points, both ends and along the front.

- Drawers. Cash Register ones make great test bench drawers, and really sexy when you run them off the PSU and have a magic button/sensor to open them... wave hand, "ding ka-ching!", tools available...


And seriously add up how much it costs overall then ponder making them for local electronics etc shops/businesses For Fun and Profit. You'll be surprised how many "professional" places have piss-poor workbench setups.
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Last edited by merlin13; 4th May 2010 at 11:25 AM. Reason: smartarsedry...
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Old 4th May 2010, 11:32 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by merlin13 View Post
Looks damned good - where the hell where you the last time I had to have half a dozen of these made up here in BrizVegas a few years ago?...

Done this a few times for differing companies I've worked for/contracted to, so:

- Single frame at 2.4 metres is niiiiice (just don't clutter it up), but unless you're 100% adamant it'll never ever be moved I've have made it as two separate frames bolted together with a single laminate top across both. Obviously you've not going to be shoe-horning that one down a corridor to get it into the spare bedroom, yes?

- Hope your top laminate is white as well. Bloody annoying fumbling around trying to find that 0806 SMD part on a woodgrain or dark grey/black finish. Ask me how I know this... go on, I dare you.

- You need an overhead shelf for test gear 'n "stuff", something high enough to clear the top of what you're working on but low enough so that you don't have to keep stretching your neck up 'n down between probing the gear and looking at the test equipment screen/display.

- And wide enough so you can sit test gear on it but narrow enough so it doesn't loom over the top of the gear. Bracing the centre of this is a pain, so ponder hard...

- Or it's just for storing other "stuff" while you're working away on it - lids/cases tops, sub-modules on the boxen you're playing with, etc.

- Monitor stands sometimes make Not Too Foul CRO stands as well, by the way...

- Lighting under the shelf. Fluros/LEDs etc, preferably something that doesn't introduce buzzing/noise in the gear you're working on, and On/Off switch at each end as well. Lights on goosenecks at either end and/or on the middle of the shelf is more than slightly handy as well.

- Maggy Lamps. 'Nuff said.

- Foot rest. Unless your chair will be an up/down adjustable bar stool style ponder a foot rest. Trust me on this...

- Mains power. 240 volt outlets along the top and the front underside of the desk top, single ELCB etc in case of any "Oops, Angry Blue Genie Escaping!" moments and emergency stops (that don't drop the building power out - go on, ask me...) at each end and one in the middle under the front.

- "Electronics" power. If you're playing with a lot of 5 and/or 12 volt "stuff" then had a ponder about running a suitably serious PSU tucked right up underneath and 5mm banana sockets along the front of the shelf. With LED indicators and even a couple of panel meters to see the power is on as well as real-time voltages along the power rail. And panel meters so you can see twitches/spikes etc...

- Earthing/Grounding. Static discharge and connection points, both ends and along the front.

- Drawers. Cash Register ones make great test bench drawers, and really sexy when you run them off the PSU and have a magic button/sensor to open them... wave hand, "ding ka-ching!", tools available...


And seriously add up how much it costs overall then ponder making them for local electronics etc shops/businesses For Fun and Profit. You'll be surprised how many "professional" places have piss-poor workbench setups.
Thanks for that In my original drawings, I had built in 2 overhead shelves, but decided that it made the bench hard to move, so I've decided to use the Rubbermaid shelving system from bunnings, and mount that to the wall. So I'll have a couple of shelves above, and Rubbermaid also sell hooks, baskets, etc that you can add on.

I've got a decent magnifier lamp that I should be able to fit into the top of the tubes on the back - I've left those 3 tubes open at this stage for exactly that purpose, and I was thinking I could possibly plug another frame into it for some possible future add-on like LCD monitor arm, or a shelf or something.

Downside of the cheap bunnings benchtop was the colour - granite look that might be tricky to find small components on, but I'm thinking I can solve that with some light coloured antistatic mats?

Some great ideas there with the power and drawers and stuff - I'll have to think about that some more, but I do like the idea of a circuit breaker on the bench.

I guess since the bench is steel, it is relatively easy to add on little bits and pieces - I'll see how this one comes together - maybe I could do up a set of drawings for anyone else interested in build one similar.

Last edited by aXLe; 4th May 2010 at 11:53 AM.
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Old 4th May 2010, 3:37 PM   #10
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+2 million about drawers. It really cleans up the mess of tools you will inevitably build, as well as keep them free from dust and isn't an extra surface dust can settle on. The bonus is also that the surfaces that the tools would have sat on will be much easier to clean off because you can just brush everything off them and wipe it down. Keep the tool drawers partitioned and SHALLOW, otherwise there will be a tendency to dump new things in without thinking about how to put them.

I know shelves are classic equipment racks, but once again, every shelf surface is a place where you can pile crap on to forget about and dust to fall on. Some sort of non-intrusive cover for any equipment that isn't regularly used is a must.

Diffused light is good. Makes things more visible on circuit boards and the like. Light with good colour rendering properties is also good (so you can forget about most of the dirt cheap 'white' LED strips off DX).
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Old 4th May 2010, 4:12 PM   #11
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+2 million about drawers. It really cleans up the mess of tools you will inevitably build, as well as keep them free from dust and isn't an extra surface dust can settle on. The bonus is also that the surfaces that the tools would have sat on will be much easier to clean off because you can just brush everything off them and wipe it down. Keep the tool drawers partitioned and SHALLOW, otherwise there will be a tendency to dump new things in without thinking about how to put them.

I know shelves are classic equipment racks, but once again, every shelf surface is a place where you can pile crap on to forget about and dust to fall on. Some sort of non-intrusive cover for any equipment that isn't regularly used is a must.

Diffused light is good. Makes things more visible on circuit boards and the like. Light with good colour rendering properties is also good (so you can forget about most of the dirt cheap 'white' LED strips off DX).
Yep - I'm going to buy a heap of plastic tubs to go on the shelves underneath to keep everything clean. The bench will be going in my garage which means that creepie crawlies can pretty much come and go as they please if the garage door is open, so I want to ensure everything can be put away in sealed containers - I hate cockroaches getting into stuff.

I'll have to see what I can find in regard to shallow drawers for tools - that would be handy, and I could bolt it up under the bench.

Last edited by aXLe; 4th May 2010 at 4:35 PM.
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Old 4th May 2010, 6:09 PM   #12
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Looks hot, can't wait til I'm in a house where I can have a nice setup like that.

I assume you're familiar with the dangers of welding gal. Those fumes can be pretty dangerous.
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Old 4th May 2010, 6:47 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aXLe View Post
In my original drawings, I had built in 2 overhead shelves, but decided that it made the bench hard to move,
The way you've built it, you can easily build the overhead shelves as a separate unit and just slot it into the three verticals.

2.
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Old 4th May 2010, 7:18 PM   #14
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The way you've built it, you can easily build the overhead shelves as a separate unit and just slot it into the three verticals.
That's true - I could weld a 20mm tube inside a 25mm and it would be fairly stable so long as it slides a decent length inside the bench posts.

My wife likes the Rubbermaid idea for the overhead shelves - that was her idea actually. I'm happy to run with it as they are then fully height adjustable plus I can mix and match components. Not cheap though.

But I can use the other concept for other add-ons
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Old 4th May 2010, 11:04 PM   #15
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Is this overclockers.com.au or shedmodders.com.au... Just kidding, nice bench.

I need to fire up my project to build a set of metal benches in my small shed.



The shed is in a high wind area so I am going to make the benches and back boards metal supports one piece and bolt it to the roof walls to give extra strength. There are already 18 dynabolts holding the side panels down.

This is what I plan to do to allow me to have space/privacy to case mod




Thanks for the motivation.

P.S. Gotta love Google Sketchup for the free 3d tools.
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