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Small workbench recommendation: Buy or DIY?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

I live in a NYC apartment and am looking to install a workbench.  We were able to acquire the one bedroom apartment next door to our existing apartment and have combined, and will convert the former 1BR small kitchen into a very small combi work/mud/storage room.  The relevant dimensions of the room are approximately 61" x 69", but the bench can't have a depth of more than 22.5".  

 

I'd like to have a space to attach my ski vice (Toko World Cup), have room to store basic tuning tools as well as bicycle tools, and just have a place for small projects.  I'm not especially handy, so no major projects.  The rest of the room will have shelves for storage to get the clutter out of the rest of the apartment.  

 

Does anyone have any recommendations for whether I should just buy a pre-made 5-foot workbench, or build something myself?  (Most of the pre-built benches I've seen are too deep for this space.)  Does anyone have experience with Sears, Home Depot, or elsewhere for pre-built options?  

 

If building it, does anyone have specific ideas for someone who isn't an experienced woodworker?  Although I've designated this space as the man cave, I'm not sure my wife buys it 100% and I have to get the job done quickly and well. 

 

Thanks!

 

PS: No need for dedicated beer storage, as the kitchen is right down the hall.  

post #2 of 16

I don't have a definitive answer for you but some things to consider:

 

You will appreciate whatever bench you go with being attached to the wall/floor.  Gives it a solid feel

Making something to your exact dimensions is as easy as a mylar or some sort of manufactured board the length and width you want, cleat along the walls and then a support leg or two.  Will be solid.

You can put shelves above and below.  Anything below needs to be protected from dripping wax.

You'll also want a place to put one ski while you work on the other one.

You need an outlet CONVENIENTLY located to the work; preferably up high for cord maintenance

If you know someone remodeling their kitchen, offer to haul away a cabinet or two and counter.  You'll have to trim the counter to fit but they usually work nice in shops.  The lower cabinets will be to wide but the upper cabinets will be a good depth for under and over the counter.

Make sure you have good lighting too.

 

Have fun,

Ken

post #3 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by L&AirC View Post

I don't have a definitive answer for you but some things to consider:

 

You will appreciate whatever bench you go with being attached to the wall/floor.  Gives it a solid feel

Making something to your exact dimensions is as easy as a mylar melamine or some sort of manufactured board the length and width you want, cleat along the walls and then a support leg or two.  Will be solid.

You can put shelves above and below.  Anything below needs to be protected from dripping wax.

You'll also want a place to put one ski while you work on the other one.

You need an outlet CONVENIENTLY located to the work; preferably up high for cord maintenance

 

Wax drips /and/ steel filings.

 

You don't need a deep bench for ski work at all - 12" will do.  

2 of my benches are made from pieces of an old waterbed that had approx. 2x10 sides.

post #4 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by L&AirC View Post

I don't have a definitive answer for you but some things to consider:

 

You will appreciate whatever bench you go with being attached to the wall/floor.  Gives it a solid feel

Making something to your exact dimensions is as easy as a mylar melamine or some sort of manufactured board the length and width you want, cleat along the walls and then a support leg or two.  Will be solid.

You can put shelves above and below.  Anything below needs to be protected from dripping wax.

You'll also want a place to put one ski while you work on the other one.

You need an outlet CONVENIENTLY located to the work; preferably up high for cord maintenance

If you know someone remodeling their kitchen, offer to haul away a cabinet or two and counter.  You'll have to trim the counter to fit but they usually work nice in shops.  The lower cabinets will be to wide but the upper cabinets will be a good depth for under and over the counter.

Make sure you have good lighting too.

 

Have fun,

Ken

 

What?  You don't like the challenge of using a plastic sheet as a tuning bench?  At least I knew it started with an "M" and fortunately you knew what I meant. beercheer.gif

post #5 of 16
I used these plans as a basis for my very cheap but sturdy and functional DIY tuning bench. You should be able to modify it to meet your needs.
http://ana-white.com/2011/03/simple-potting-bench

My camera is chi-chis arriba, or I'd post a pic.
post #6 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by L&AirC View Post

I don't have a definitive answer for you but some things to consider:

 

You will appreciate whatever bench you go with being attached to the wall/floor.  Gives it a solid feel

Making something to your exact dimensions is as easy as a mylar or some sort of manufactured board the length and width you want, cleat along the walls and then a support leg or two.  Will be solid.

You can put shelves above and below.  Anything below needs to be protected from dripping wax.

You'll also want a place to put one ski while you work on the other one.

You need an outlet CONVENIENTLY located to the work; preferably up high for cord maintenance

If you know someone remodeling their kitchen, offer to haul away a cabinet or two and counter.  You'll have to trim the counter to fit but they usually work nice in shops.  The lower cabinets will be to wide but the upper cabinets will be a good depth for under and over the counter.

Make sure you have good lighting too.

 

Have fun,

Ken

Great ideas above.  I lived in an apartment some time ago and was dating a designer who tried to make multiple uses for some furniture, an idea that I still use. Consider building the work area as suggested above, with drawers/shelves/filing cabinets below it. If you arent that handy, just bolt the top into a couple of matching filing cabinets and you have a cheap bench. You can drill holes for special tools or vices on the top and store it all under the bench when not in use.  Under my garage workbench I keep a bike truing stand, power tools, the ski turning stuff, etc.  Everything from tuning tools to the drill press can be easily attached or taken down to make room for the next project.  I actually found a used IKEA kitchen station thing with a flat butcherblock top on Craigslist.  It has built in heavy duty drawers and cabinets. I drilled a few holes in the top to attach my drill press and jig saw and was good to go for a lot less effort and less cost than building one from scratch.  Maybe you can find a used narrow piece of furniture that will work.  If not, building it can't be too difficult.

 

Since you are in a tight space, consider a two foot magnetic strip somewhere above the bench.  It will keep those bike parts, files, tools, etc. from getting lost.  Remember also to have some ventilation when waxing.

post #7 of 16

I'm in 1200 square feet with a family of 4.  I rigged a portable tuning set up over the washer and dryer.  Wax and p-tex drops pop off the porcelain just fine when cleaning up.

post #8 of 16
Thread Starter 
Thanks very much everyone. After listening and looking around, the current plan is to get a solid piece of wood/butcher block and install it as a shelf supported by strips of wood along the walls. I have an extra wall shelving system that I will put above for general storage, and will eventually get some cheap cabinets to go below for more storage. I like the idea of a magnetic strip too, and maybe a pegboard. After doing some more thinking, the depth of the shelf has to be bigger so that my skis can go out the door because the space is too tight for my 175 skis.

There is an outlet on that wall below. I'll run a power strip up from there.

I'm not concerned about dripping wax or filings. (I've waxed in my kitchen/living room without any problem). In my experience the wax shavings from scraping can make the floor wicked slippery though. (Maybe I could put some mylar down for floor protection!) Ventilation is a concern. Since this was a kitchen, there is a vent in the room that goes to an exhaust fan on the roof, though I'm not sure the fan is always on. I'll keep the door open and use another fan if needed. I'm not using fluoro wax, so it will likely be mostly hydrocarbon wax, so no seriously poisonous fumes.

I'll try to post a photo when it's done.

Ethan
post #9 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by ADKS View Post

...and maybe a pegboard. 

 

I would definitely add the pegboard!  You would be surprised how useful it will be; it allows you to keep all sorts of needed items stored safely out of the way and yet also within very easy reach.

I had a 4'X8' one on the wall of my last house above my work bench and found it so handy that I immediately added one to the workspace of my new house.

 

Since you have 22" of depth to play with, I would also go more than 12" deep...18"-20" maybe.  You don't want to be constricted moving around, but you don't want to have a constricted work surface area, either.  12" may be O-K for ski-tuning, but you did say you want to use the space for other minor household projects also.

 

Any 'ol way, have fun with it!

post #10 of 16
Thread Starter 
It will actually have to be a full 24" deep to be about flush with the door so the skis can stick out. Off to the hardware store now!
post #11 of 16
I'd make the top from a couple pieces of 2X12 and use two door hinges to attach it to the wall studs. A couple swing-out braces on hinges could hold it up when in use.
post #12 of 16
Probablya bit late now but, given your space restrictions, using six or holmenkol tuning table which you can fold up and Al's mve out to middle of space to allow skis to fit might have a made more sense. You could build a narrower bench for other uses that the table could fit under when not in use
post #13 of 16
Thread Starter 

Still a work in progress, but taking shape.  I got a 3/4-inch sheet of furniture grade plywood and had them cut it to size, and bought a 2x2, also cut to size in three pieces to use as the shelf bracket.  I screwed the 2x2 into the three walls, and rested the plywood on top of it.  I was going to screw the plywood into the 2x2s, but instead, I think I will get some hinges so I can flip the shelf up and out of the way if needed.  I will also cut the remainder of the 2x2 to use as support legs for the unsupported side, so I can press down on the surface more.  I will also probably put a few coats of polyurethane on everything.  I'm generally very pleased--my first dedicated man-cave work area!

 

Thanks for all the great suggestions!

 

 

 

post #14 of 16

Looks good!

 

Karl
 

post #15 of 16
Now that is making use of a small space! Nice job.
post #16 of 16
Thread Starter 
Thanks! All it needs now is some snow....
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EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › On the Snow (Skiing Forums) › Tuning, Maintenance and Repairs › Small workbench recommendation: Buy or DIY?