Operation : Workbench (Part I)

Building a basement workbench has been on my to do list long before we moved into the new house. There's a little extension off the basement under the sun room that's about 14" by 16" - perfect for a workshop-slash-man cave. I've had it kind of set up for a while (i.e., I had an old desk I could chuck tools on), but long term, that really wasn't going to cut it.  What I wanted was a real workbench, some extra storage, and a change to organize everything a make the space my own, instead of a random jumble of "where did I put that whingding?"

This weekend, I finally got the time to make that happen!

The focus of the workshop, of course, is the work bench.  Because of a contractor mistake, we ended up with two kitchen countertops - one without and eating ledge (which is what was initially shipped to us), and one with an eating ledge (which is what our contract called for, and which was installed). The first countertop was propped up against a wall in the garage, and... our builders did not want it back, and didn't really care what we did with it.

Seriously.  As far as I could tell, the cost of shipping it back to their home offices in Ohio, storing it in a warehouse, and keeping it there until someone wanted the exact same configuration and finish as we selected was just not worth the trouble.  So when we pointed out the error to them,  they ate the cost, shipped us a new counter top, and wrote off the old one.

Which left us with an extra counter top.  As soon as I realized that, I realized that I wanted to - nay, needed to - use it to build my basement work bench.

It was, as they say, a moral imperative.

With that in mind, on Friday night, I ventured into the realm of workshop construction.

Step one was to build a couple of support boxes for the countertop.  I had originally thought about getting some used kitchen cabinets to use for this, but (a) even used kitchen cabinets can be more expensive then a couple of 2x4's, and (b) I wanted to do it now, when I had the time, instead of three months from now when I finally found the right cabinets cheap enough.

Since we already had a bunch of random length of 2x4's left over from construction (yeah, we dumpster-dived to save a bunch of wood they were simply going to trash!), I really only needed a few extra to let me make the longer sections.

So, here in pictures, I give you Operation : Workbench!

Doing the main framing for the first support box. This was the trickiest bit - if I screwed up the smaller support box, I could slap together another one without too much trouble.  Mucking up this one would mean another trip to the hardware store.

Ready for assembly.  Internal supports added because I want to turn add supports for shelves,  and then turn these into cabinets with real doors.

Putting it all together!  That's a pretty box, and it's even a good approximation of plumb, level and square.  Constructed from 2x4's and 10d nails. Cuts made using a pencil, carpenter's triangle, and a mitre saw.  Surprisingly low tech.

We had some salvaged 2x2's last year that turned out to be exactly the right height to use for the smaller support box, because they came from a former neighbor's workbench.  Serendipity!

Smaller support box assembled.  No, it's not pretty, but hey - it's a work bench.  It'll do.  I'm thinking that once I get an internal shelf in, I'll use this for storing paint, stain, and the like.  We have a lot of excess paint that the builders left us sitting under the basement stairs right now. It will be nice to get them out of the way.

Support boxes placed, and countertop installed, thanks to the timely assistance of the lovely Mrs. Robb and Eldest Daughter! Which makes a nice end to a evening's work.  Except... I need to find a better place for the couch.  Yes, I have an old couch in my workshop - it's my dog's bed.  Keeps him happy, because I GET TO SLEEPS ON TEH COUCH?  YOU ARE TEH BEST HOOMIN EVAR!

Now, here's where I wanted to put the couch: on the opposite wall from the work bench.  Problem is, there's a mess of lumber scraps there, though, as any fool can plainly see.

Remember when I said we went dumpster-diving to save wood the builders were just going to throw out?  The majority of that pile is made up of 4' to 6' long pieces of of stained oak trim.  You can't really see it in the picture, but there's also four SIXTEEN FOOT lengths of stained oak trim there as well, along with a couple of nice, heavy lengths of 2x6 and 2x8.

On top of that, I have two 30-gallon tubs filled with smaller (2" to 6") oak scraps, and a 4' by 8' by 4' high pile of 2x4 scraps, 2x6 scraps, and plywood sections sitting out in the barn.  And all of that, honestly, was only the better half of what was left over from construction.  I really could have built my entire workbench from oak scraps, if I wanted to... but I have projects for that stuff in mind, and really, why waste good oak?

What I needed to do was find some way to get that lumber out of the way...

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