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Author Topic: Workbench suggestions?  (Read 1086 times)
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Boston
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I have recently cleaned out my basement and now have room for an electronics workbench.  My current workbench I made out of wood and it is used for manner of things like sawing, sanding, soldering etc..

I am looking to get a second workench just for electronics projects.  
What does everone here use? Any suggestions or favorite workbenches?
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Kitchen work surface, its great stuff, sturdy and cheap.
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I used a cheap fire door and stained it! Four cheap legs from Ikea and a bit of edging strip to make it look less like a door and more like a desk.
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For my workbench, I took an old workbench that had been in my shop (came with the house I bought), and cut it down to make an "L-shaped" bench, with the top about 30 inches from the ground (fairly standard bench/desk height), and about 24-30 inches deep. Along the long side of the L (on the front edge) I put a long power strip. On the back-side of the bench, along the wall, I drilled out large holes with a hole saw for cords and such. The whole thing is supported and such with 2x4 edging and legs, and mounted with lag screws to the studs of the wall; I can easily stand on it (240 lbs - yeah, I'm fat - so what?).

Recently (several months back), I spent a long amount of time re-organizing my shop. Above the bench I put several shelving standard rails (dual-slot), and attached them to the studs (for strength). I added the shelving brackets, then mounted plywood shelved to them. IIRC, I have 3 rows of shelves. On the bottom of the first shelving row, I put in a small row of adjustable LED lighting, to augment the overhead flourescents in my shop; these allow me to put a "spot" of light on a circuit board or whatnot, right where I need it to work on the thing, that is brighter than the overheads (and less diffuse). I found them at Harbor Freight - they run off a set of AA bateries.

The first level of shelving is just above the level of the height of these 60 small-drawer Stack-On drawer units I have - these, and a few others on the shelf above them, hold a bunch of my parts. I also have other parts and things organized into tubs and bins that I bought at Walmart. One thing I did when I bought my tubs and bins and such, was to buy a whole mess of them at one shot, in three general sizes - one is "shoebox" size, one is a bit larger, and the last is really large (these last I store on a set of "gorilla racks" I bought at a hardware store - they hold larger items like computer motherboards, networking stuff, etc). The key was buying all the same brand, all the same color, all the same set of sizes - at one (well, took a few trips actually) shot; mainly because (though it is expensive) Walmart and others change their styles so much, that the next year you go to try to match things up - you can't! The Stack-On bins are for small components; I have one set for my electronic components (resistors, diode, transistors, ICs, etc), and another set for hardware (nails, screws, springs, etc).

If I had the money to do it over, what I would have rather done was use melamine shelving and countertop (ie, formica); with the plywood I have, it is old and greasy in areas (the original bench apparently was used to repair small engines, I think) - so there's the chance for splinters and such. Formica is smooth, and heat resistant. Then again, I don't worry about any damage to my bench, since it can't get much worse than it already is!  ;D

When I need a smoother surface to work on, I found these "cutting pads" of plastic at Walmart that came in different colors - so I can throw one of those down for that kind of work if I need it (generally only when I need to write something on a piece of paper).

Something else I did (not completely finished - summer hit here in Phoenix, and it got too hot for me to finish - maybe this winter), which may apply in your case if your basement isn't "finished". My shop was fairly unfinished - the drywall is bare, and the seams weren't even done. I ended up taping and filling the seams of the drywall, but at the bottom (floor plate stud), the drywall didn't meet with the floor (bare concrete - I would love to get flooring, but that isn't happenning - waaay too expensive, waaay too much work) - so I ended up putting down some strips of wood, along the edge, nailing them down, then using silicone sealant along the top edge and where it meets the concrete. This serves the purpose when I drop a part, it may roll under something, but it won't roll under the lip of the drywall, which was a problem before - it sometimes made a part hard to retrieve. It also looks better (somewhat).

Hope this helps or give ideas, at least!

 smiley
« Last Edit: August 19, 2010, 03:57:53 pm by keeper63@cox.net » Logged

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I have a couple sets of drawers, with a big piece of finished plywood on top.  Works fine, plus I get drawers.
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When I was doing a lot of board repair as a tech, I used to use benches with vinyl sheet flooring on them.

The surface is just soft enough so things don't slide around. If you get it in a light color, it's also easier to see small parts.
« Last Edit: August 19, 2010, 05:59:26 pm by BroHogan » Logged

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Phoenix, Arizona USA
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Quote
When I was doing a lot of board repair as a tech, I used to use benches with vinyl sheet flooring on them.

Hmm - there's a good idea. Maybe I will look into that this winter; perhaps I can get some "cutoffs" somewhere...

 smiley
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I use a wooden computer desk (which also has my computer on it) and for soldering I have a nice piece of SGL (solid grade laminate) lab grade which is highly heat/fire/chemical resistant. I am looking to get a whole custom bench top made out of it but it's very hard to cut (diamond milling bits) so I'll have to speak very nicely to a company I know to see if I can get ot cheap off one of their offcuts.

I think most people use whatever they can, see:
http://www.arduino.cc/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?num=1268626170/0

Mowcius
« Last Edit: August 20, 2010, 03:24:57 am by mowcius » Logged

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Wonder if something like synthetic granite would make a good workbench top?
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SGL is just as good.

It's a nice surface to work on too.

Or if you want something darker:
« Last Edit: August 20, 2010, 07:16:06 am by mowcius » Logged

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