The tiny shop chronicles: #4: Shrink the workbench

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Blog entry by SnowFrog posted 09-06-2011 06:46 PM 5742 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: Priorities Part 4 of The tiny shop chronicles: series no next part

Shrink the workbench (if you can call it that, it more a table top right now)

OK no lynching, it is not an actual proper workbench! ;-)

Sounds counterintuitive, but it is actually too big for a tiny shop. It is there only because I reused what I had without any changes. I recycle this from the time I made concrete countertops for the kitchen. This one and a few more held the molds where the concrete was curing before being moved and installed into the kitchen. Fundamentally a sheet of ¾ inch ply, re-enforced sitting on sawhorses. It was sturdy enough for the 2.5 inch x 24” x 8 ‘ slab of concrete but surprisingly, not for woodworking. It’s too light and bounces when trying to do stuff on it. So really, it is for light duty work. You can see it on Pic 3 of my Workshop. I have asked one of my friends who sometime does Kitchen Renos to keep an eye out for me for old kitchen cabinets I could use along one wall for storage, but until he comes through, I need a temporary solution.

The main issue, it is too deep! It is 36” deep. So when I am in front, I can’t reach the wall behind. Also the sawhorses below actually take a lot of floor space I could use for other things. So I will cut it down to 24” and try to mount it to maximize access to the space below. I’ll use the 12” cutoff as a shelf just above it to help de-clutter the top. As I have yet another one just like it outside that is just sitting there, I was thinking to actually using that also to sandwich a few 2×6 to create a kind of box to put some drawers in it. Attached to the wall, it will more like a cantilever countertop/bench. Nothing fancy, practical all the way! Normally I would just build the stuff and not bother with drawing for this simple kind of stuff but since I chose to “chronicle” and to leave traces behind for others with tiny shop syndrome to benefit then I feel compel to provide at least rudimentary drawings until I can actually build the thing. For those who remember, my time in the shop is far between and generally short.

The drawers are likely to be very simple pine box on hardwood runners, with some hardboard dividers to be added at a later time. I’m thinking at trying my dovetailing jig with this. I never got to use it where I was suppose to so its kind of just sitting there begging me to use it. I reckon it would be a lot of fun and another skill to add to my apron badges

By the way; in the plans for this improved shop, there is no “real” traditional workbench. It is not multi-function enough for the space it eats up. The function of a workbench will be carried out by this “counter” and item 10 below – Outfeed/workbench/Assembly table

I would hope I can mount the countertop without having to use front legs, to keep the floor clear but I am not sure I can find a way to mount it to the wall securely enough so that it is does not bounces even worse than what it does now. I have seen a posting here just like it a little while back while researching Torsion Box but is was an old posting and for the life of me I can’t find it anymore. So if you know what I’m talking about points me in the general direction please.

-- One can dream, about a passion not yet fully fulfilled!

3 comments so far

View dpop24's profile


115 posts in 3080 days

#1 posted 09-06-2011 07:46 PM

Loving the blog so far. I’m currently condemned to a tiny corner of my garage right now – about 80 square feet so I definitely feel your pain. I had only benchtop tools and store them on shelves, then when I need them I pull the needed tool down and drop it on my very tiny portable tool station. Suffice it to say that any ripping or long miter/cross cuts happen in the driveway!

I’m very excited that when we finally move into our new house in a few months that I’ll be moving the shop into a DEDICATED workspace that will be around 240 square feet – still small by most standards but it’s going to be expansive from my perspective! I’ll be watching your blog for more space saving ideas.

There are some other outstanding small shop set ups that other LJ’s have put together. I spend lots of time going through the workshop pages for inspiration.

-- If it ain't broke, take it apart and find out why

View Brett's profile


950 posts in 3270 days

#2 posted 09-06-2011 08:53 PM

Thanks for sharing your progress. I used to be a a small space myself. Don’t give up and just because you arrange the shop one way today doesn’t mean that you can’t change it again tomorrow. I think that with most shops, they are a work in progress.
I know that in my shop, I have to store non-woodshop related items and I built shelves up high on the walls to store them and to give me maximum floor space for tools and workspace. I am in the porcess of rearranging my shop and I think that I am on to a set up that should be productive for what I like to do. One thing that helped me was to eliminate anything and everything that I didn’t need or use in the last year. Sometimes it is hard to do that but I really freed up some valuable space and now my shop is better organized (not perfect by far), feels larger, and is easier to keep clean.
One thing that I just recently did was to paint my walls a light color. I didn’t gain any space but it sure did make it feel a lot larger and brighter than it did. I also added a window which was a huge mental boost too. Just haveing some more natural light and being able to look out makes the space feel larger.
Keep up the good work and keep us posted.

-- Hand Crafted by Brett Peterson John 3:16

View Don Butler's profile

Don Butler

1092 posts in 3907 days

#3 posted 09-07-2011 02:37 PM

My workspace isn’t so tiny (20×28), but it has to be condensed to allow parking space for our car every night.
As a result, I have never had a proper workbench.
I used to toss a piece of plywood onto two horses. It was a poor substitute for a bench. Too wobbly, not necessarily flat and definitely not as sturdy as one would wish.
Eventually I designed a dis-assemblable (is that a word?) table, as illustrated in my blog:
and in this youtube video

It stacks only six inches thick when stored and I take it down every day. Not bad. Sort of like a Shopsmith in that one needs to acquire the habit of assembling and disassembling (I’m pretty sure THAT’S a word). Due to my age it also had to be light enough for me to handle.

I hope you can find a similarly useful solution to your workspace problems.


-- No trees were damaged in posting this message, but thousands of electrons were seriously inconvenienced.

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