Workbenches

For about the last week I’ve been spending a little time each night working on building a couple workbenches.  The plans I used were created almost 15 years ago by some people in EAA chapter 1000 and can be found here: EAA Chapter 1000 Standardized Work Tables. A lot of online build logs I’ve looked at show these tables as being the first project other builders have done too. This was my first time doing anything like this so I learned a lot in the process. It definitely reinforced the idea that even though a particular tool can get the job done, a different tool may be able to get the job done better, easier, and faster. Here is how my benches turned out:

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I started off using a really old circular saw to try to make all of the cuts. I clamped a 2×4 to the plywood to give myself a guide to follow and this worked really well. Unfortunately I had a lot more trouble when I started cutting the 2×4’s.

The first big problem was that I had a LOT of cuts to make and even though I needed a lot of pieces that were the same length, I had to measuring each piece individually. I did the best I could to make sure that each piece came out the same length as the others but I wasn’t doing a great job. To try to make this process more consistent and quicker, I came up with the brilliant idea (or so I thought) to clamp together some other 2×4’s to give myself a guide and place an old stereo at the right position so that I could quickly make cuts of a specific length. Here is what I came up with:

The idea was to put the 2×4 I was cutting in the guide I made with the 2×4’s that are clamped together and slide it so that it was all the way up against the stereo. Then, I could make the cut using the 2×4 across the top as a guide for the circular saw. This way I wouldn’t have to measure each piece if I did this consistently every time. Unfortunately I just couldn’t keep all the different components from moving around so I gave up on this idea after just a couple cuts.

The second big problem was that I am terrible at making a good straight cut with a circular saw.  Here is a picture of one of the worst cuts I made. There was nearly a quarter inch difference between each end of the cut in this piece.

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I started to get a little discouraged at this point and realized that if I didn’t want to build the worst work benches ever then I needed to come up with a better way to cut the 2×4’s. I was really hoping to finish these tables using only a circular saw (and I’m sure someone with more experience woodworking could do a great job with just a circular saw) but I went out and bought a miter saw. This turned the tedious, frustrating process of cutting all the 2×4’s into one that was actually fun! I used the new saw to clean up every edge I cut so that they would be nice and square and made sure each piece was exactly the same length.

Despite the trouble with the circular saw I had a lot of fun building these benches. They aren’t perfect but I’m pretty sure they will do the job and will last a long time. The second one turned out better than the first one so if I ever need to build another once I’m sure it will turn out even better than these two.

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