I’m stuck with a project, and could use some inspiration. If you want to skip all the background information, scroll down until you see “Let’s Brainstorm!” in big bold letters and you see this rendering again.
I wanted to turn my 2-section tool box workbench into a larger corner workbench.
I recently ordered some more 80/20 t-slot aluminum extrusions for 2 projects. In that last “back to the drawing board” post, Visbert talked up the benefits of 80/20’s 2020 extrusions, which are based on their 10-series 1″ extrusions. The 2020 extrusions are doubled up in both directions, for a 2″ x 2″ footprint.
I had built my cabinet from 15-series extrusions – 1.5″ x 3″ for the legs, and 1.5″ x 1.5″ elsewhere.
Visbert had some great points about 2020 extrusion benefits. Since I’m bound to have more 80/20-based projects (I love working with the stuff), I figured a comparison was in order.
I wanted to build a parts cabinet, for my Sortimo T-Boxxes, and the 2020 extrusions seemed fitting.
The 15-series extrusion with its 1.5″ base worked better for my drawer slide dimensions. My working plans for a large corner workbench involve anchor fasteners, so I figured I’d do a rebuild of the tool cabinet I built and was already using to store some tools in.
The plywood drawers are still unfinished. I first started working on them in July and glued them up in September. Yikes! I guess I’ll finish them when I start working on the next set of drawers.
Here is what the tool cabinet looked like:
Why is it titled Mach 1? Did I mean Mark 1?
And here’s what the new one looks like:
This version, Mark II?, is build using 80/20’s anchor fasteners. I opted to have them machine the anchor counterbores, because my drill press is buried and I need this bench up and running soon.
The 2020 extrusions work well for the parts cabinet build – I’ll try to take a photo of that soon, but I really like the 15-series extrusions for the workbench. The fasteners are larger, and since I use 1×1 profiles for the 15-series (1.5″ x 1.5″) instead of 2×2 for the 10-series (2″ x 2″), I need half as many fasteners and half as many counterbores.
Price-wise, one 15-series double anchor is around the same as two long 10-series double anchors.
Since the 15-series extrusions work better for drawer slides, as in the 3/4″ front-to-first-slot spacing is easier to work with than the 1/2″ front-to-first-slot spacing in the 20-series, I’ll likely use it for the workbench build.
I also decided to go with load-bearing columns. Earlier plans called for 7-foot long base footprints, with vertical sections being reconfigurable by sliding columns left to right. But it seems more complicated, and less customizable.
If I design and build the workbenches such that the columns bear all the weight and horizontal sections are for stability and squareness, I can reconfigure things more easily later on. Add more legs, and I can split 2 connected workbench sections into separate tool stands or drawer units.
I partly wish I went with anchor fasteners earlier on – here’s more info if you’re curious. I used structural brackets because they’re easy to install, and easy to move around. But ultimately there was a lot of hardware involved – a LOT. It was great for prototyping, but some aspects were difficult to install, and I had to make design compromises.
With the new design, I carefully measured and calculated how much front-to-back spacing was needed in order to line up the drawer slides’ mounting holes with the vertical t-slots of the workbench legs.
It turns out to be 10-5/16″, which I rounded slightly to 10.313″. I ordered these parts from 80/20, pre-cut to fit, and they replaced the 12″ extrusions I had used. Don’t worry, those 12″ pieces will be reused – that’s the beauty of 80/20.
I was able to reduce the depth from 18″ to 16.3″. The top might still be 18″, but I like the idea of having a slimmer workbench against one wall, and a wider one against the other.
Going with anchors allowed me to reclaim some extra space. Not enough for my 8th-built shallow drawer, but enough for a pull-out mini work surface. Maybe I’ll use it as a tool photo platform when every other work surface space is cluttered with tools and project pieces.
That brings me to my dilemma.
One workbench section has a 24″ section, and will have a 28″ section for holding wider stuff. Right now it’s 24″, but I want to add a few inches to insure at least 26″ of inner drawer width.
So one 24″ bank of drawers, and a soon to be built 28″ bank of drawers. That’s on the right. It’s 16.3″ deep.
For the left, I’m thinking a 24″ bank of drawers, plus 2x 15″ drawer banks. Maybe 18″ and 12″? I’m undecided.
How to connect the two?! There needs to be some separation, otherwise opening any drawer closest to the corner will smack into the drawer pulls on the other side of the workbench. I need maybe 2 more inches diagonal.
If I widen the gap to 6″ left and 6″ right, it creates a diagonal gap of 8″ and change. I can use the 6″ spaces for small shelves to hold stuff, but what about the corner area? Open it up to create a big space for misc. stuff? But that’s going to result in a lot of wasted space for rarely accessed stuff that I should probably store elsewhere.
Do I close it up and use concealed hinges to create a lifting workbench top section, that can reveal hidden storage? How often is my workbench going to be clean enough for me to lift up part of the top?
If I connect the 2 parts of the workbench as close as I can, maybe I just write off that corner space? Space is going to be wasted no matter what.
What if I make it a cabinet instead of a drawer section? 12″? 15″ width? And then that could be used to shove stuff into corner shelves.
But again, if I have a very deep corner section, and a small opening to load it up with, will I waste so much space that I may as well just seal it up in order to maximize my drawer count?
What to do about that corner?!
Here’s what I’m going to do: I’m going to finalize the parts later this week and then order the rest of the workbench parts, excluding the corner-related segments.
This is also why I like the idea of floor-to-worktop legs idea, rather than adding support feet to a box. If I use 80/20 to build workbenches for the garage, I might go for the elevated box design style. But for this smallish space, ~7′ x 7′, designing and building the bench up from sections is proving to be easier and quicker. I can do things one step at a time.
Right now, there’s a Gladiator workbench in the space. Its legs are around 16″ from the wall, and all that’s kept there is stuff I wanted out of the way. I don’t consider it used storage space. That’s why I’m reluctant to space things out such to improve access to the corner storage.
I’m strongly considering SOSS concealed hinges (not inexpensive at $28 via Amazon), maybe with gas springs, to create secret access to an enclosed corner storage compartment. Maybe I can store tall stuff in there, such as my photography soft boxes and tripod, or I can add a shelf and use it for certain pieces of equipment.
Hmm… imagine that – I raise the lid, pull out a hose, and use a hidden dust extractor or fume extractor for soldering. I planned to keep my units in a different corner or the room, or shelf, but maybe they can fit within the corner space. Hoses aren’t exactly easy to store anywhere, and these tools need airflow and ventilation to operate, so they couldn’t work with the hatch closed or sealed.
Once I have the workbench sorted out, I’ll turn my attention to cutting a new top for my Ikea Galant desk. It’s an L-shaped desk that’s 31″ deep and 63″ wide in the long direction, and 48″ wide x 24″ deep in the short direction. It worked in my old workspace but is completely impractical with my current setup. If cutting a custom top won’t give me ideal results, I’ll fashion something else out of 80/20, and will connect it to the left side of the workbench to wrap around the other corner.
Phew, that’s a lot of words. I’ll clean up some more so the next post is mostly photos.
The left workbench is going to be around 22″ deep, and the right one is around 16″ deep. Add a few inches, and we’re talking about a maybe 25″ x 20″ x 38″ tall space – not a trivial volume to just seal up and ignore.
How do you make good use of corner spaces? Any ideas for me?