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Mobile Workbench for Power Tools

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  • Mobile Workbench for Power Tools

    This is a new workbench I just built. It's a lighter, mobile workbench that is better suited to the type of woodworking I do. It's not made for heavy hand tool work, but it's perfect for assembly, light planning, sanding, etc. There are a couple of nice features built in. There is an internal dust collection system - one side of the bench houses a shop vac, which is enclosed for noise reduction, while the other side houses a small cyclone Dust Deputy, and a pull out dust bin. There is a vacuum switch on the outside, which turns on when the tool I'm using is turned on, and turns off when the tool is powered off. Works great!

    Finally, the top of the workbench, houses an internal clamping system made from standard 3/4" pipe clamps. A few 3/4" dowels with some 3/4" ID plastic tubing rings for bench dogs complete the clamping system. I also built a couple of filler strips to complete the bench top, when I'm not using the clamps. It's also taller than a standard workbench, i.e. it's 34 inches high. It's the perfect height for working with power tools. I'm not a giant at 5'9" and it works great for me. Easy on the back. It also works pretty well as an outfeed table for my table saw, if I can remember to remove the bench dogs before I start cutting!!

    The entire workbench is built out of 3/4" plywood (I used Birch plywood) and drywall screws. The joinery is very simple - just butt joints with some reinforcing cleats. No gluing, either, which came in pretty handy for me. When I built it, I wasn't especially careful in which direction I mounted the top. Turns out when the bench was positioned the way I want to work with it, the dust port was on the opposite side from my table saw. Sooo, I would have had to run a much longer hose around the back of the bench, to the table saw. That might not matter to you, but I've got a small shop, and clutter matters. The whole bench top is built in layers, but when assembled it is one solid unit. That unit gets screwed into the base through a couple of cleats. All I had to do was unscrew those drywall screws, turn the top around 180 degrees, and screw it back in. Much cleaner, and worth the time for me.

    Note, this is NOT my design. I took this from a magazine article in Fine Woodworking. They call it "The Wired Workbench." It's not a complete set of plans in the article, but there are enough pictures, illustrations, and explanations to figure out how to build it. It cost me about $300 to build, including the cyclone and the vacuum switch. It's 3 sheets of plywood (I have the cutting diagram if anyone is interested. The article did not include one. I used a free version of MaxCut, which turned out to work great - very little waste, and I still have almost a 1/2 sheet of plywood left.), a couple of pieces of scrap 1/2" plywood, and screws. I already had the pipe clamps and the shop vac.

    I didn't have a dedicated workbench here. I had a great one that I had built at my previous location, but no room for it here. So I was working with a makeshift bench top on a pair of saw horses. I really enjoy working with this new bench.

    "Nothing would be done at all if a man waited until he could do it so well that no one could find fault with it."
    - Cardinal Newman

  • #2
    You'll probably be wondering soon, "Why didn't I build something like this sooner?!"
    For a small shop, the built-in dust collection will be a great feature.


    • #3
      That is a great workbench! With 3 sheets of ply it must weigh a bit - the only reason you say "It's not made for heavy hand tool work" must be because of its dedicated castors; I'd think with a small change to make them retractable, it would be plenty solid.

      I like the detailed thought you put into this (yeah sure, FWW gave you the idea, but you gave it life) and that bit about not using glue strikes a chord - how I have wished for that flexibility on occasions in the past! The clamping and the built-in dust collection are really wow! Which vacuum switch did you use?

      You mentioned MaxCut before too, and I just downloaded it - seems like a pretty robust software. I have always used CutList, a software from a bygone era that is highly simplistic but works well. I'd like to try this out now - but maybe looking at your cutting diagram might shorten the learning curve - how do I get it from you?

      Great pictures too - and we can see that 'small shop'; you have optimized well.

      Thanks for posting!
      It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
      - Aristotle


      • tmaceroli
        tmaceroli commented
        Editing a comment
        My email address Send me an email and I’ll return the MaxCut files for this project. I’m away, though, so it might be next week before I send them.

    • #4
      Good looking workbench, Tony. I would consider adding some banding around the outside edge of the top and base to keep the plywood from splintering.
      Don, aka Pappy,

      Wise men talk because they have something to say,
      Fools because they have to say something.


      • tmaceroli
        tmaceroli commented
        Editing a comment
        Yep, I did that. Photos were pre-banding.