Tuesday, October 8, 2013

More Work Bench Stuff - the raised bench

   Last spring my lower back began to plague me as only a back pain sufferer can fully understand.  For a few weeks I was knocked totally off my feet and even now I have Okay days, and not so Okay days.  For a month or so I have been able to be fairly active, though sitting for any length of time or working bent over is a real challenge.  In the last few weeks I have been making small boxes and small toy projects for the grand kids, both things take me into the shop and had me bent over the work bench fussing with wee bits of wood and glue or sitting on a stool working at the bench with wee bits of wood and glue.  In both cases, ouch.  I tried a compromise where I used the Kreg Klamp Table as a raised work surface and that was an improvement but not a true success.  The Klamp Table is a resource better used for its designed purpose than as a half baked work bench.

  This latest round of small jobs made made it clear that I needed to get serious and build a higher bench, Or Something. I though that I would build a new bench from the ground up but  I have opted for "Or Something".  After working on a box sitting on wheeled  bench/work table for a week I decided on a height and also decided that I needed a fairly large, very solid work surface upon which I could sand, saw and glue without being hunched over if I was going to enjoy my workshop again.

   I decided that I liked the low wheeled work table that I had built about ten years ago.  It is solid and has plenty of storage as well as a wood working vise attached to one corner.  Taking that table apart would be a labour, rebuilding would be an expense and the whole thing would have been an aggravation I didn't welcome.  |My Wife had the idea or some sort of raised platform that sat on the work table.
   So, first I experimented with the Box.  The Box is just a 10 x 18 x 16 box I made from plywood with a handle,  that I use as a solid base to stand on while working on walls in the house.  The Box gives me height enough to paint etc. and is solid enough for me to use as a basic saw horse when working on site too.  I even made the Box air tight and drilled small holes in one side and put a 2 1/4 hole in another side so that I can use the Box as a sort of down draft table dust collector when I hook my big shop vac to it.  The major use for the Box now,  Kieran stands on it when he works with me in the work shop. Alas the Box was too small a work surface and there was no easy way to secure it to the work table top.

back view
  I took the basic idea of The Box and built a raised section to go on my work table/bench is 40 x 20 x 10.5. I used left over 2 x 10 and off cut plywood to make the bulk of the work surface.  I put a piece of rough cut elm across the back to tie the legs to the top and stop the whole thing from twisting when in use.  I now have a working surface that is 44 inches off the floor and most importantly it is tall enough that I don't have to hunch over to work.

front view

   I need to order a couple of C clamps to hold this bench addition in place.  C clamps aren't quick to use but they can clamp with incredible force.  It made the addition as solid as I could and still keep it open so that I can put tools underneath when not needed and also so that it would not be too heavy to be lifted on and off the bench when need be.  There are still projects that will need the full single level work space of the lower table.  The finish is Minwax paste finishing wax, quick, cheap and easy to renew when needed.  I plan to use this raised bench section for fine work with hand tools, gluing clamping and finishing so it won't get too beat up too quickly, I hope.

   I left the edges open so that I will have space for clamps.  If the edges aren't  stiff enough I will reinforce then with hard wood trim like I did along the back with the elm.  Currently the work position is an improvement  over everything else I have to work on, in fact I am writing this blog using this bench as a stand up desk.

   Shortly I will rebuild my standing desk to match in height and sturdiness  so that it will be a better place to work too.


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