It’s something that every home shop enthusiast dreams of having. If you aren’t careful, it can become an obsession – much like the White Whale was for Captain Ahab.
I’m talking about the Ultimate Workbench.
What Is An Ultimate Workbench?
While we all have a picture of what the ultimate workbench looks like, it’s likely we aren’t picturing the same thing. It’s really a very personal decision. For most people, the ultimate workbench is a place where you can keep all of your tools stored and ready to go. Personally, I have a lot of large, fixed powertools. I want a place for my miter saw, drill press, and ideally 3D printer. I like to use them, and it’d be great to have a fixed location for everything.
It’s likely to be different for you. If you have different tools,and work on different projects you’ll want easy access to the tools you use most.
I think the easiest way to sum up this bench – it’s an oasis from the chaos of the average shop or garage, a place where you know exactly where your tools should be found.
Build vs Buy?
Look, I feel like I have to at least bring it up. I’m guessing most of you here really like building things out of wood. So the idea of just buying a product rather than building it from lumber is foreign to you.
I get it. But there’s also some of us, that like to build things but either lack a lot of time, or are more into metal or electronic projects. I took 3 years of electronics for my shop class in high school, so I had to learn woodworking on my own. I understand.
For this group of makers, I think there’s a good middle ground. You still need to do thorough planning, but instead of building EVERYTHING, you buy some of the pieces to save time. Don’t let the purists scare your. It might be the legs, or a few countertops – the end goal is to get you to enjoy your hobby as soon as possible.
Steps To Building Your Bench:
1) Decide on the use case:
You need to decide on exactly what you want to accomplish with your new bench. The function should dictate the form. As an example, a mostly electronic-focused workbench will have different build requirements than one focused on carpentry.
2) How much space can you spare?
A workspace won’t do you much good if you can’t fit it in the space you have available. A good approach if you don’t have much space available today is to make your system modular. Maybe a table saw isn’t practical today, but plan ahead and you can make it so your workbench can accommodate that addition in a few years.
3) Check out what others have done:
There’s no need to re-invent the wheel, or the workbench either. Once you know how much room you have to work, and what you’d like to fit in the space you can now begin looking at public plans. If you are really lucky, you’ll find something that fits your needs to a T.
Most of the time, you’ll need to combine the ideas from a few different plans. That’s easier than it sounds – we’re really just making a strong sturdy table so it’s a matter of working out the space for different tools you want to include.
Here are a few plans to get you started:
- Jamie Cunningham’s Ultimate Workbench .skl file. Here’s plans you can use in SketchUp or another program of your choosing. It’s designed to include a saw and router, but you can modify it as you see fit.
- Wood Magazine has a variety of different free plans. This one concentrates on having tools on the perimeter, with horizontal space in the middle.
- If you are going modular, this Easy Build Workbench should give you ideas. The instructions include all the materials and tools needed to complete the project.
- If you are looking for inspirations on drawer designs, Ryan Koltan has you covered.
- This heavy-duty workbench project uses iron bars with wood to help with rigidity – a concern if you are using a 3d printer of a decent size.
4) Buy Materials and Get to Building!
Once you have your plans in place, the fun begins. Head to your favorite hardware store, and pick up the required materials. After some hard work, you’ll have your own personalized ultimate workbench ready to be put to use.
If you have plans you have used that worked out well in your home, please let us know in the comments.