Garage work bench

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Old 05-04-14, 02:06 AM
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Garage work bench

Hello,

I'm looking to build either a stand alone or floating work bench in my garage. I do a lot of DIY stuff so I need something that is versatile. The only thing I can't see myself doing at home is welding, but that's only because I don't know how to do it. Yet. Anyhow, what would be a good option for the material for the top? I would like something that would be easy to clean, but sturdy. I would like to be able to use it to rebuild carburetors, but I also do electrical work and would be soldering as well. I'm leaning towards butcher block, but that can be pricey. Any thoughts on the matter?

I suppose I should mention that I rent, so if I were to put in a floating bench, I'd be less willing to invest heavily. I guess I'm just trying to make out a pros and cons type of list.

J
 
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Old 05-04-14, 04:23 AM
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Welcome to the forums Jenn!

I'd either use plywood for the top or steel. Steel is best if you take up welding. You can apply a couple of coats of poly to plywood which will make it look decent and easier to keep clean, could also prime and coat with oil base enamel.
 
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Old 05-04-14, 04:46 AM
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I built my top in two layers. 3/4" plywood for the base layer then I put a layer of 3/4" MDF on top with screws in countersunk holes. This provided a nice smooth top that is very solid and can be replaced if needed. I put several coats of motor oil on the MDF which soaked in a provide good moisture resistance against spills and wood spills don't stick.
 
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Old 05-04-14, 04:49 AM
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PD - does the motor oil leave any residue that would transfer to you or what you are working on?
 
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Old 05-04-14, 10:33 AM
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I don't think it's commonly available anymore but when I built a bench for my garage back in VA, I used 3/4" ply as a base, then topped it with 1/2" tempered hardboard (like thick pegboard w/o holes) screwed to the plywood. Hard as a rock (heavy too), you could beat on it all day with no damage. Oil and water resistant also. It was dark brown of course, so depending on what I was working on, I'd have to put a light colored piece of plywood or something under the project.
 
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Old 05-04-14, 11:51 PM
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I worked in a shop once with a really long, black bench. Horrible. I lost stuff all the time on that stupid thing. As much as I love them, tiny screws and black tops are not kind to me lol. I like the idea of doing a layered top and I'm also wondering if motor oil would end up transferring in any way. I suppose I could stain it and get the same result right?

I don't own any power tools besides my drill. I know I can rent most of what I need at Lowes or Home Depot, but in your opinion, what are the must have's? Most of the stuff I get into is automotive and low voltage electrical (I like to fix small electronics). I used to repair full size arcade cabinets for a living, and I always wanted to build a few of my old favorites, which would require some wood working tools. With this bench I want to build, what should I buy equipment wise, versus renting?
 
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Old 05-05-14, 05:09 AM
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IMO a skil saw and speed square are a must have. Not much automotive use but I'm sure you'd not regret buying them. There are a LOT of other woodworking tools that are nice to have but a saw and speed square [helps you make straight cuts on 2xs along with angles] is a good place to start.

I painted a new house for a lawyer that had a 2x4 and plywood work bench built in his garage - I had to stain it and apply 3 coats of poly
 
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Old 05-05-14, 07:33 AM
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If you do not even own the tools to make one you may want to consider just buying one.
Work Bench from Northern Tool + Equipment
 
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Old 05-05-14, 10:43 AM
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No, the motor oil does not. I let it soak for a week and left the piece outside in the sun on nice days. Then when I brought it in I scrubbed the top with a dry, clean rag to remove any oil on the surface. I do mostly metal work so a slight oil residue was never a concern. If you're into wood working though I might consider just leaving it dry or using a more proper oil (linseed?).
 
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Old 05-05-14, 10:56 AM
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Boiled Linseed Oil. Old timer friend of mine puts it on all his shovel, pick etc. handles. Looks nice.

Have to be careful though. Any rags soaked with this stuff can burst into flames so you don't want to throw them in the garbage can.
 
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Old 05-05-14, 11:25 AM
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Had a real woodworker on our staff when I managed some barracks. Older guy, but real good with his hands. He built a small chest of drawers for a co-worker using solid oak stair treads. Finished it with a coat of clean motor oil. Kinda smelled for a few days, but wasn't oily at all after it had dried. Of course it weighed about 200 lbs.

As to tools, a skill saw and a speed square as mentioned. I have 2 speed squares, one 7" and one 12". Nice to have a choice sometimes. A combo square is also nice for marking and running long lines. A jig saw comes in handy quite often also.

You might consider going whole hog and building one that can be rolled around. Heavy duty casters of that sort aren't cheap though. Seems like I also saw plans for one that was relatively easy to adjust for height. Nothing worse than having to lean over to work on a small project, or having to stand on a ladder/or stool for a large one.

I know this may seem kinda low rent...but I have one "bench" thats nothing more than a pair of bi-fold hollow core doors on top of 2 adjustable height Stanley Fat Max aluminum and plastic saw horses. Plenty of strength for most projects and I can adjust it from about 32" to 40". Add the door and the overall max height is about 42". Whole thing was about $100 and can easily be carried in one trip to the site. Stores easily because everything folds up.
 

Last edited by Gunguy45; 05-05-14 at 01:39 PM.
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Old 05-05-14, 01:04 PM
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boiled linseed oil

It's important to cut linseed oil in half [or more] with mineral spirits [paint thinner] Linseed oil doesn't have any driers in it so it mostly dries by absorption with the excess wiped off. Applying unthinned linseed oil results in oil that doesn't suck up good and stays tacky on the surface.

I know a lot of farmers that use burnt motor oil as a coating for barns and fences but mostly because it's a cheap/free coating they can use to protect the wood.
 

Last edited by marksr; 05-05-14 at 03:01 PM. Reason: fix typo
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Old 05-05-14, 01:57 PM
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I like to use solid core commercial doors for my tops. If your lucky you can find one without the knob/strike holes. Drive around until you see a dumpster outside a commercial building.
 
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