"He Wears Black and Has a Beard"

CrapWorkbench: The Building

Toby Roworth

Sep 10, 2018

This week, finally, I've built a thing.
Every workshop needs a workbench, and I've been putting off several other builds until I had this vital component of the 'shop. In the traditional WBHB style, it's nothing fancy at this point, just enough for me to cut wood and screw on, and so it has been given the honour of being called CrapWorkbench. I also build an adjustable trestle a month or so back, but that write-up will wait until I've built the second, as the first wasn't a great build.

For now, the plan is to build my basic shop kit from cheap lumber, with simple screwed & glued construction. I don't have the equipment or, more importantly, this skill/patience to do fine joints, so I've keeping it very functional. When I get a proper 'shop, with table saw, planer etc, some fancy project might start happening, but that's not yet.
I started with a 2x4' piece of ~18mm ply, then cut some 2x3s to form a frame around it to add some stiffness. These were glued, and then screwed, using some clamps to hold the pieces in place whilst I put the screws in.

All the screws are Torx heads - I cannot recommend Torx screws highly enough, especially since moving to a country where Phillips is still standard. Pozidriv, which is significantly better, was patented back in 1962, and still hasn't caught on, despite being commonplace in the rest of the the world. On a site recently I saw hundreds of Philips screws, and nearly all of the had destroyed heads. Torx screws are almost impossible to cam out of, and require much less axial pressure to drive. In the US Lowes has a decent range available, and in the UK Axminster have a good range available.
Once the glue has dried, I'll take the screws out and plane the edges smoother, and chamfer or round the edges. I'll then put the screws back in to back up the glue joints, although this probably isn't essential.
When I cut all the timber to length, a gave the cut edges a quick chamfer with an orbital sander, and then on the bits that would become the feet I gave them a more generous fillet, as I'm bound to drag it along something I shouldn't at some point.

The legs were glued on all three sides that made contact, and then clamped right into the corners of the work-surface. I then piloted a screw through each side, so I could remove the clamps to put a second screw in. I made the assumption that the edges were pretty square, as the timber itself was pretty square, and was screwed in tight to the flat top, so used this inside corner as a square reference. To my surprise, the legs actually sat level when I flipped it over - there's a first time for everything. However, the balcony I'm using as my workshop has a significant rake to it, So I'll probably be adding some adjustable feet at some point.

And with that, the workbench was made. It's really nothing exciting, but gives me something to build other things from, and is surprisingly solid. If it gets a lot of use, I might brace the legs toward the bottom, but for now I don't think that's essential. I might add a vice at some point, and maybe throw some sort of finish on it. It was simple enough that I only needed four tools to build it, and could've got away with two - a circular saw and drill/driver would've been enough, but the impact driver and sander were both a great help. Cost was about $25, not including screws (probably about the same again, but these go toward many projects).