Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Work Bench Solutions

  There is a saying, 'if you can't raise the bridge, lower the water'. That little maxim is meant to inspire thinking that is 'outside the box'. You are to think of a valid but unlikely solution to a problem.

  A while ago I solved the problem of misaligned table tops not by shortening the tall table but by fitting thicker than usual floor pads to the short table.  I gave the lower table lifts.

  As you know I have serious and ongoing back pain issues, issues that are really aggravated by working bent over. Until you get into a situation like mine you have no idea how much of the work in a shop is hunched over and twisting.  I have my semi-movable work table upon which I do nearly all my woodworking. This work table is very heavy and stable but now too low. I have made a couple of smaller bench accessories that raise the work surface which helps but they are too small.  My original thinking was to make a larger accessory and affix it to the bench,.  Ah Ha! don't raise the bridge......

work table up on blocks
  Using four 10 inch cinder blocks I was able to raise the work surface and extra five inches. The bench no longer rolls  but....I seldom moved it anyway.  I am going to take the casters off and use them somewhere else and get a couple of more blocks to add to more stability. This raises the bench too high for most people's comfort and well above the recommended height but it allows me to work longer with less pain.  I continue to cope with my back pain without drugs, and want to keep that way. 

  Another solution that I have worked the details out on in the one dealing with large sheet stock.  In an ideal work your shop is large enough that you can cut large pieces of plywood on your table saw, or you have a panel saw set up. My shop is in the basement and doesn't have space for either of those solutions.  If I worked with sheet stock regularly I would beg, borrow or build a panel saw, no question.

 To cut the 1/4 plywood for the drawers for the small cabinet in the photograph I turned my raised work table into a giant clamping table.  I clamped a couple of long boards across the work table and clamped the piece of plywood to the boards.  I then clamped another board close to the cut line to give the thin plywood as much support as possible.  I cut the plywood using a hand saw.  For very thin plywood a circular saw to aggressive, and cutting with a good hand saw means that there is virtually no tear out, therefore less wasted material. 

  My current project is a three drawer storage box for art supplies. Although the inner drawers will be mostly plywood, the box  will be mostly cedar, keeping it light and aromatic.

  Cheers ianw

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