Mobile Torsion Box Workbench

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Blog series by Ron Stewart updated 01-28-2013 12:22 AM 7 parts 236607 reads 25 comments total

Part 1: Background, Research, and Requirements

01-25-2013 01:08 AM by Ron Stewart | 3 comments »

This is the first of a series of blog entries describing a mobile torsion box workbench I recently completed. I posted a project summary a few days ago (Mobile Torsion Box Workbench). The overall series will cover construction plans and details, material costs, and odds and ends. In this entry, I’ll describe some of the factors and thought processes that led me to build this bench the way I did. Some Background about MeI’m an occasional woodworker. I probably average three or f...

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Part 2: Design and Features

01-26-2013 05:16 PM by Ron Stewart | 5 comments »

I ended up building a workbench using a Christopher Schwarz stand design (from his $175 Workbench), a torsion box top that I designed, fold-up casters adapted from another Schwarz idea, and levelers on the front legs. The overall bench is 71.75” long, 23.75” deep, and 35” high. I finished it with one application of Watco danish oil. I’m not sure what that accomplished, other than making the wood a bit darker. I may end up putting a light coat of wiping varnish on it...

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Part 3: Torsion Box Top

01-26-2013 09:45 PM by Ron Stewart | 6 comments »

The top of my workbench is a 4” thick torsion box: 3/4” birch plywood panels on either side of a frame of 2.5”x1.5” yellow pine members. When designing the top, these were my primary considerations: I wanted it to be flat and strong, and not too light. I wanted an array of dog holes. I decided that spacing them 6” center-to-center would be good enough for my surface vise. I wanted every dog hole to be in, or backed by, solid wood. That way, even if the h...

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Part 4: The Stand/Base

01-27-2013 02:51 PM by Ron Stewart | 3 comments »

As I’ve mentioned, the stand is essentially a direct implementation of Christopher Schwarz's $175 Workbench. My shelf is different, and I changed some part dimensions and locations slightly, but it’s the same stand. This rendering shows some details about the locations of the stringers and stretchers. It doesn’t show the location of the top-most hole in each front leg, but it’s 2” top-to-center. The stand required four 2”x8” yellow pine boar...

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Part 5: Making it Mobile (but Stable)

01-27-2013 11:04 PM by Ron Stewart | 3 comments »

After I bolted the top to the stand, I encountered a problem: the bench was solid, but it wobbled. Three legs touched the floor, but one hovered slightly above it—not by much (less than 1/8”), but enough to be annoying. No problem, I thought. I’ll just trim the longer of the two front legs. So I made a little jig to support my router so I could use a flat-bottomed straight bit to nibble off the end. That didn’t take long and worked very well. I fli...

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Part 6: Materials, Costs, and Sources

01-28-2013 12:00 AM by Ron Stewart | 2 comments »

The following table summarizes the project costs in different categories in U.S. Dollars (full-resolution image). I didn’t include sales taxes, shipping costs, or cost of the screws and other supplies. The cost of the basic bench is not too bad. Mobility (lateral, not just upward) has its costs. The Veritas products are definitely splurges. (But I had to have something to put on my Christmas list…)

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Part 7: Final Thoughts

01-28-2013 12:22 AM by Ron Stewart | 3 comments »

In some ways, building a workbench was liberating. I generally build furniture-type projects, where I agonize over every little flaw. With this project, I didn’t have to worry about little dents, minor tear-out, etc. Of course, I wanted to do a good job, but I kept telling myself, “It’s just a bench. It’s going to get dinged up eventually.” Having said that, I understand what leads some people to build showcase-quality benches that look nicer than most people&...

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