Yesterday I finished the major work of getting the drawers, doors and back put on my workbench. This may not seem like a lot to most people but given my limited physical capacity it is a milestone event. The original bench that I purchased from Harbor Freight served well for my initial half-year to year period, but its lacks were becoming evident: too much sway when planing, too much shifting when doing any real work requiring lateral motion, and taking up a lot of cubic space while offering little storage of materials. Plus there was this bad amount of sawdust that infiltrated from the open back that had to be dealt with.
For the price and the intended audience of light use hobbyists and cartridge reloaders, the original bench is actually decent for such work. Try to do any planing of even a couple of feet of a 1x6 and you start to notice its lacks very quickly. That sort of sway was enough to start dislodging materials on its single shelf which was becoming a pain to deal with. If I had plenty of workshop space I would put it in a finishing area off to the side, but since it is the primary work surface that I use for just about everything, the problems needed to be addressed. Early parts of the add-ons I've covered before, which included 2x2 lengths at the front of the feet to give some rigidity to the overall structure. Putting in 3/4" plywood for the drawers/shelves, especially down the center and attaching those to the end legs and 2x2 supports has helped no end in all the sway and wobble problems. That being said, it was time to get the storage part finished and I had one false start on that (and have a bunch of stuff I will repurpose for a self-built router table) I was finally able to get down to the major cutting, finishing and assembly.
From the front this is what it looks like:
The top four drawers came with the unit. The next two are actually trays that fit under the drawers and only go half-way in due to the original cross support piece which I kept. Those are simple affairs made out of Luan ply with some white wood runners. They can take things like punches, thin files and the like, and are there to get the small stuff that tended to run around in big drawers into their own place.
All of the pieces have been sanded with progressively finer sandpaper (120, 150, 180, 220, 320) finished with a coat of tung oil at 1 part oil to 4 parts limonene and then gone over with 0000 steel wool replacement. Over that is a single coating of garnet shellac of 1 lb. cut with ample amounts of denatured alcohol on the brush to get a smooth coat for everything except the mid-cabinet doors. The one darker drawer has two coats due to scratching during finishing and needing to recover the the piece. The mid-cabinet doors are as yet uncoated and I want to see how they hold up for a bit before shellacking them. All of this is not meant to be a fine finish by any means, just some basic surface protection against some of the stuff that gets used in the shop. The shellac will take care of anything save alcohol based solvents and the oil will stop those. I really do like the garnet shellac, its a personal favorite of mine after working with the Mosin-Nagant rifle stocks. Just don't spill alcohol on it...
The cabinet doors are 3/4" ply with internal hinges for flush closing. The drawers are fronted with 3/4" ply and with white wood runners and 1/4" MDF bottoms. The bottom cabinet storage space is enough for smaller power tools, like jig saw, sander, driver, etc. with their carrying cases. The cabinet above those has some of the smaller finishing materials and things like sanding discs, and a bit of bulk storage for grease cylinders and such like. I'm hoping to get as much of that stuff in there as possible to free up shelf space elsewhere in the room.
The back is basic:
This is a single piece of 1/2" Baltic Birch ply from Woodcraft because my local Home Despot didn't have anything like it. Actually my local HD is pretty deficient in varieties of plywood, and if you don't want flooring or siding ply, OSB or such, then you are down to the "Sandee Panels" which I find don't take an oil finish all that well. This piece got the progressive sandpapering (after some trimming down to just fit in the back and then getting a bit of white wood flashing around the side edges for final fit), tung oil finish on both sides, garnet shellac on the back (really, no one is ever going to see the mess I made on the other side... which was the plugged side to begin with...), screwed in with some nice brass knock-down screws, and then finished up with a single layer of Minwax put on with 0000 steel wool replacement and then hand buffed with a cloth. With the wax just about any solvent should have a major problem getting through to the wood.
To do much of this work I needed an outside canopy deal (one of those portable garages from Shelter Logic) which I use half the frame to fit under the deck overhang, then festoon with tarps, only using the original end pieces front and back. If I ever have to hold a party out in the parking lot, I've got the perfect place to do it! As it is the thing keeps the elements off of any work pieces that need to finish out in the great outdoors without getting leaves and stuff on them. And its nice to drag the table saw out and work in the great outdoors where the sawdust goes into the general environment, too! That is damn handy.
Next up is a chiller box experiment utilizing activated charcoal (aka - fish tank filter charcoal), methanol, black iron pipe and copper tubing, a constriction washer, a vat of brine, a Styrofoam box, and a large ammo can used for mortar rounds to put the pipe into so it has a hot box. That and some outdoor shelving, some bricks and plastic sheeting should wind up the grand experiment to see if you can use the sun to chill through adsorbtion with a bit of Bernoulli's Law added in to help! I'm into final construction on that since it is a piece-together sort of deal, no real construction necessary.
After that is the next major construction project: the router table.
I find myself with long/wide pieces of wood to route and the little benchtop is nice, but wholly insufficient for such jobs. So time to custom build something to fit my needs. That will probably eat up my time for the rest of the year, but if it doesn't I need a miter saw stand and bench, a grinder stand and a few other odds and ends to finally start to clear out the rest of the space in the shop and concentrate it into purpose built work areas. A desk/workbench for sit-down fine work (like disassembling firearms and cleaning them) would be a major, major plus but that is at the end of the list because that can be done in a half-assed way just about anywhere.
Oh, and I need to get some EMP screens pre-assembled using aluminum mesh and whatever I decide upon to make for a quick to close shelter for things like refrigerators and other equipment. Until we get serious about ABM and our airborne laser program, we civilians will have to continue worrying about this junk and about punk rogue Nations out to knock things around starting with us. Wouldn't a competent political class be nice right about now? Let me know when you find one of them, wouldya? Because I'm not depending on them for any damn thing. I can only do so much to vote stupid out of office, after that it becomes time to prepare for the results of a century of stupid.
As I've said before: now is the time for doing.
Talk is cheap. Your life is precious. Some assembly required.