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Thread: Building a workbench

  1. #1
    Focused kbasa's Avatar
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    Building a workbench

    OK, so all the melamine shelving I'd put up 6 years ago came crashing down this weekend. That meant that after I got home from St. Louis, I spent the rest of the day cleaning up all the stuff in the garage, sorting it all out, going to Home Depot and getting started on putting up some new shelves.

    The shelving missed all the bikes, with the exception of the top plate, which caught itself on the passenger peg of the airhead. This saved three helmets from crashing down onto the ground at minimum and kept the shelves from crashing into the GS, which would have fallen over, taking out the RT and the VFR at maximum.

    The VFR is now in the atrium, hiding. Wierd. Pics later. Anyway, on to the real purpose.

    One big difference between the old setup and the new is that I'm going to install a nice big workbench. I've got a basic design sketched out, but am wondering what folks are using for a top surface. I had a masonite surface on my last decent bench, but wonder if folks have had experience with anything else.

    Also - Concrete, Corian, Formica and the like are Right Out. I'm going to be yanking a CB750 motor apart and the surface should be able to withstand a motor getting dragged around on top of it, with the attendant oily bits erupting fluids.
    Dave Swider
    Marin County, CA

    Some bikes. Some with motors, some without.

  2. #2
    I would go with the masonite. Countersink the screws for a smooth working surface. Laminates are not going to hold up and are difficult to replace. In a year or two, unscrew the trashed masonite and replace it. You might want to think about how you attached the shelves. Perhaps some re engineering should be considered?

  3. #3
    Focused kbasa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeoffMiller
    I would go with the masonite. Countersink the screws for a smooth working surface. Laminates are not going to hold up and are difficult to replace. In a year or two, unscrew the trashed masonite and replace it. You might want to think about how you attached the shelves. Perhaps some re engineering should be considered?
    Yeah. Total re-engineering is in order here. I used melamine and eventually the stays at the top pulled away from the wall.

    This time, I'm constructing boxed 2x4 panels, sheathed with ply and screwing them together like cabinets. It should be much stronger. One of the items I had stored in two big boxes was most of a CB750. I'm going to try and turn it back into a bike so it's easier to store.
    Dave Swider
    Marin County, CA

    Some bikes. Some with motors, some without.

  4. #4
    Don't forget your towel
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    As I finish up my new shop space I've been thinking about workbenches too. For design ideas and possibly plans for the home built bench, go check out your local library. Over in the periodicals section one can often find an assortment of "handyman" and woodworker type magazines with feature articles on how to build benches and even outfit an entire shop space.

    Don't even pick up the copy of "Woodenboat" you'll find down there in the "W" section unless you have time, $ and drool to spare.

    Back when I was a builder of theatrical scenery we used both masonite and metal covered bench tops. Masonite holds up well to most things and is easily replaceable. But it soaks up fluids so I would recommend spending the money on a nice sturdy metal plate to use as the work surface of your motorcycle bench.

    A nice 1/8" thick piece of cold rolled steel will last forever and doubles as a ground if you want to do some welding. Or you could go upscale and visit your local restaurant supply house and pick up a stainless steel work surface...ooh la la...come to think of it we have a couple of used restaurant supplies shops here in Seattle I might have to go visit next time I'm over there.

    Steve

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by KBasa
    I'm going to be yanking a CB750 motor apart and the surface should be able to withstand a motor getting dragged around on top of it, with the attendant oily bits erupting fluids.
    Dave - one thing I saw a tuner friend of mine do was use 2x4s to make a rectangle that fit around the cases so that they didn't slide all over the place. He would screw them down onto his plywood work table and then remove them when not needed. He had boxes for each type of motor he worked on... much cheaper that mechanics stands.

    Another suggestion is to look for a company that sells old kitchen equipment. For years I had a set of stainless steel units that served very well as a working surface. Got them for the princely sum of $75.

    Ian
    Go soothingly through the grease mud, as there lurks the skid demon.
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  6. #6
    andy45320
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    Built mine about 4 years ago...2x4' and used and 3/4" masonite sign board for the top (a full sheet size so no cutting involved). I just counter sunk drywall screws into the top of the 2x4'. One other suggestion if you go with open framing like mine is to put a single shelf on the bottom, and build it to height of some rubbermade containers that I could stow things in (think storage bins). That way you still have space below to put heavy stuff on the floor. Works great for me. I also put up a full sheet of pegboard masonite right above it (matches the full size sheet width of the top) and spray painted it white and painted the base and shelf with kilz. I bought some shelf brackets from homestupid so I can just put smaller shelfs on the pegboard.

  7. #7
    K12KOOP
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    Metal workbench surface

    Dave,

    Go to the local sheet metal shop or HVAC guys and get a sheet of sheetmetal cut to size. It will last for ever and is handy for using torch and stuff. In time it will get scuffed up but will still be there for you.

    Koop

  8. #8
    Loose Cannon flash412's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KBasa
    I've got a basic design sketched out, but am wondering what folks are using for a top surface. I had a masonite surface on my last decent bench, but wonder if folks have had experience with anything else.
    Build the bench top out of 5/8" chipboard. It is cheap and STRONG. Then, tack a layer of whatever you prefer on top of that. Personally, I like to have a few carpet scraps handy that I can put on the bench under a motor to make it easier to slide around. They're also great when you're disassembling a carb (for example) or working on electronics or anything else with small parts. When the tiny bits hit the carpet, they STOP... instead of shooting off into far recesses and hidden crannies.
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  9. #9
    GIZMO
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    Quote Originally Posted by flash412
    Build the bench top out of 5/8" chipboard. It is cheap and STRONG. Then, tack a layer of whatever you prefer on top of that. Personally, I like to have a few carpet scraps handy that I can put on the bench under a motor to make it easier to slide around. They're also great when you're disassembling a carb (for example) or working on electronics or anything else with small parts. When the tiny bits hit the carpet, they STOP... instead of shooting off into far recesses and hidden crannies.

    I did a variation on this and it has worked quite well for me over several years.
    I glued two pieces of 3/4" chipboard together, glued a piece of masonite on top and trimmed the outer edges with strips of oak mitered at the corners. Looks nice and while heavy when it needs to be moved it is very, very solid.

  10. #10
    Focused kbasa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gizmo
    I did a variation on this and it has worked quite well for me over several years.
    I glued two pieces of 3/4" chipboard together, glued a piece of masonite on top and trimmed the outer edges with strips of oak mitered at the corners. Looks nice and while heavy when it needs to be moved it is very, very solid.
    I like this idea. I had a stand that could hold a bike and that was how I built it.

    The carpet ideas are nice too, flash. Thanks.

    I hadn't thought of the stainless tables. I might be able to get one for less money than what the lumber would cost, so some pricing is going to be needed.

    Here's what it looked like when we started sorting it out.


    Dave Swider
    Marin County, CA

    Some bikes. Some with motors, some without.

  11. #11
    GIZMO
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    Quote Originally Posted by KBasa
    I like this idea. I had a stand that could hold a bike and that was how I built it.

    The carpet ideas are nice too, flash. Thanks.

    I hadn't thought of the stainless tables. I might be able to get one for less money than what the lumber would cost, so some pricing is going to be needed.

    Here's what it looked like when we started sorting it out.


    Yikes! What a mess to come back to, good luck with getting it sorted out and getting your bench built.

  12. #12
    Focused kbasa's Avatar
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    Here's what we managed to get accomplished yesterday. Just a spot for the riding gear.

    I'm going to build a shelf that rests on the top of this to carry the saddlebags. It'll extend on down to the right to another set of shelves that will carry the the camping stuff.

    Dave Swider
    Marin County, CA

    Some bikes. Some with motors, some without.

  13. #13
    Focused kbasa's Avatar
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    Oh, the VFR is in teh atrium now. This is the view from our kitchen. I had to turn on the sparkly lights and all.

    Dave Swider
    Marin County, CA

    Some bikes. Some with motors, some without.

  14. #14
    Rally Rat colt03's Avatar
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    Dave,

    I made a workbench from a set of plans the Stanley put out back in the 80's. Basically 4x4's on the corners and the top is one sheet of 3/4" ply cut in half and glued and screwed together. That makes the top 1.5 " thick and it is pds. ( pretty Darn sturdy).

    Good Luck.
    Craig Cleasby
    South Windsor, CT
    1996 K1100LT
    2004 R1150GS
    Yankee Beemers

  15. #15
    Don't forget your towel
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    For some design ideas try this:

    http://www.freeww.com/workbenches.html

    From the simple to the cool.

    Steve

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