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Ideas for a Multipurpose Garage Workshop?

Cliff posted more than 10 years ago | from the finding-the-perfect-workspace dept.

Hardware 55

WTFmonkey asks: "Having looked at several woodworking websites and magazines, I've got some good ideas for the woodworking part of my planned shop. Sadly, I can't find any shop ideas specific to electronics and computer repair. What is considered essential for a good workbench? Dinner-table height or counter-top height (I'm 6'2"), and what is an adequate depth? Lighting strategies, handy equipment, organization issues? To put it succinctly, what are the most comfortable and effective benches you've worked at, and why?"

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One tip.. (3, Insightful)

hookedup (630460) | more than 10 years ago | (#7941586)

You may want to have a rubber top of your work bench. Keeps things from slipping around, doesnt stain, and nonconductive :) If you can't get a bench with it built in, buy yourself a rubber mat, the type hockey rinks use would suffice.

Re:One tip.. (3, Informative)

mistert2 (672789) | more than 10 years ago | (#7941623)

I found that rubber truck mats from farm supply stores are cheap. They come in all sizes.

I like a good maple bench top is the best, think shop class pre-90's.

Re:One tip.. (3, Informative)

pagercam2 (533686) | more than 10 years ago | (#7942474)

Rubber is an insolator which means that static can't disopate, anti static bags have conductive stripes or surfaces to help conduct static away from sensitive parts, if you buy a real anti static mat you will find that it has a conector to gound the pad an remove any static. Using an insolator is a common mistake that should be avoided. Anti static mats are one option and the fact that they are soft allows one to press on boards for cutting and stops small parts from sliding or blowing away. Professional setups usually have some sort of masonite top and then an antistaic mat with grounding points for both.

Other that that, lots of electrical outlets is a must bolting down a few outlet strips works well escpecially if you can find the industrial sort where plugs are a few inches part, nothing sucks worse than having six outlets but only being able to use 3 because the plus and transformers are too wide and block outlets on either side.

Most people seem to prefer the raised workbench, but that requires a raised chair .....
I prefer a normal height table with as much depth a away from the wall, a few items like osilicopes, bench supplies and a PC take up a lot of space and while you don't touch them that often you still want them within reach, ossilicopes are ussually pretty long.

Some sort of tool holder is important, for screwdrivers, dental picks, pens, and all the little tools that you need to keep handy.

Lots of space is needed so you can leave out data sheets, manuals etc.. I have had good luck with two tables in a corner and a pivoting chair so that you can have as much stuff within arms reach as possible.

Re:One tip.. (1)

bastardsquadmuzz (573762) | more than 10 years ago | (#7944138)

Most people seem to prefer the raised workbench, but that requires a raised chair
I find when building computers that sitting at a chair limits me too much, as I must keep standing up to reach parts of the chassis or other tools/parts. I find that the easiest setup is a desk with anti-static matting, roughly 3' from the ground. A deep desk is good for fitting all the parts and the chassis on, and if you can get to all four sides of the desk then testing becomes a little easier. Power sockets all over the place and at least 3 screwdrivers (the number of times I've put a screwdriver down then forgotten where I left it...) are very helpful.

Think about what you're going to do... (2, Informative)

jonadab (583620) | more than 10 years ago | (#7941624)

> Sadly, I can't find any shop ideas specific to electronics and computer
> repair. What is considered essential for a good workbench?

Think about what you're going to do on this workbench, where you're going to
want to place things, and what you need as a result. For example, you will
very likely want to be able to slap a motherboard tray on there and have a
place to stick drives and a PSU where the cables can reach. Little shelves
for the drives maybe. Similarly, you're going to want a place to put a tower.
You'll want outlets of course and an ethernet jack or three. Very likely you
will want a KVM switch. Would it be handy to have a keyboard/mouse tray
that pulls out from underneath? Or are you the sort who wants those things
sitting on top of the bench? Where are you going to want your monitor? Plan
these things on paper before you start building.

Oh, and leave room for racks of screwdriver tips and things. Underneath is
probably where you'll put your boxes of cables and spare parts, but what about
screws. Hmmm... you'll want shallow spots to hold various types of case
screws, drive screws, and so on. These must either be central and easy to
reach or, better, movable.

Oh, and make it out of non-conductive materiels.

Re:Think about what you're going to do... (1)

pyite (140350) | more than 10 years ago | (#7949298)

Oh, and make it out of non-conductive materiels.
No, no, no. Conductive is your friend. You want static dissipation. Having a nice and grounded table is good.

Re:Think about what you're going to do... (1)

jonadab (583620) | more than 10 years ago | (#7967368)

> Conductive is your friend. You want static dissipation.

You don't want to short things out. Having a nice ground handy would be good,
but you don't want the whole bench to conduct current, especially the surface.

height? Neither (1)

B00yah (213676) | more than 10 years ago | (#7941647)

Get an adjustable height workbench, with mountable bins. Most catalogs have them, and they work really well whether you need to be standing elbow deep in a machine, or just sitting through an install. Include a monitor arm with keyboard tray, and you're set.

Re:height? Neither (2, Interesting)

NoStrings (622372) | more than 10 years ago | (#7942827)

If you have the room, you might want to use 2 benches. I have one tall bench (good for use standing or sitting on a stool) & a desk that can be used sitting in a regular chair. This is in my basement, and the way its set up, the desk is away from the wall (next to a telepost). This works great because I can easily access the back of any boxes I'm working on simply by walking around the desk - no need to swivel the computer around, pushing other stuff off the desk, tangling cables, etc.

What are you standing on? (1)

mistert2 (672789) | more than 10 years ago | (#7941658)

If you are actually going to use your workshop for extended periods of time, do you want to stand on cold cement? If you are in California ..maybe, International Falls..No Way.

I recommend at least a piece of plywood on the floor in colder climates. I like the Epoxy floor covering for clean-up .

I prefer carpet (1)

MarcQuadra (129430) | more than 10 years ago | (#7958284)

I prefer to carpet my workspace for warmth (Rhode Island, is 25-degrees right now) and comfort. If you lay down a dark carpet that extends a few feet beyond the work area in each direction over hardwood or cement you can hear if a screw gets away and which direction it headed.

Workbenches (3, Insightful)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 10 years ago | (#7941666)

Be plentiful with power outlets. My office has a workbench with a whole lotta plugs right along the surface of the table. Be mindful of wall-warts (Power supplies with huge ass bricks) as well.

Here are some pointers (1)

HotNeedleOfInquiry (598897) | more than 10 years ago | (#7941687)

You can't beat Masonite for a good light work benchtop. If you were doing heavy metal, I'd suggest something else, but for electronics and wood, Masonite is best.

For the height, first pick your chair. I like roll-around stools so I need a high bench height. Pick your chair, sit in it, measure from the floor to about 2-3 inches above your lap. Thats the bottom height. If you're doing electronics and need to use a microscope (don't laugh, I do), you'll have to take that into consideration.

As to the depth, what's the deepest piece of test equipment that you'll be using? Figure that plus however much bench space in front of it you need. 2 feet for test equipment should be fine unless you have old Tek 7000 series scopes then you need about 2.5 feet.

I've always wanted to use the pre-fabbed masonite countertops that you see at Home Despot and such. If you could find one deep enough, I think it would work well.

Re:Here are some pointers (1)

mistert2 (672789) | more than 10 years ago | (#7941717)

I will second the masonite. You can always tear it off and put on a new sheet when it gets toated. Stuff is cheap. Tempered masonite is the best.

I would buy the sheet at your local lumber yard, if they will cut it to the size you want with their panel saw. Countersink a couple of drywall screws in the corners and done.

Be a real geek! (1)

RealityMogul (663835) | more than 10 years ago | (#7941696)

Build you own workbench out of Lego's!

Re:Be a real geek! (1)

RedWolves2 (84305) | more than 10 years ago | (#7942498)

AOL CDs will work too!

Phone, electrical, LAN (1)

mistert2 (672789) | more than 10 years ago | (#7941701)

I moved half of my workshop into a back bedroom so I can have a phone line, decent lighting, electrical outlets, and LAN connection. I fix a lot of crappy computers for people to keep out of landfills, and I just need phone lines, ethernet, electricity and lighting.

I like non-halogen bulbs on goosenecks on my work table, and regular light bulbs in enameled metal lamp shades above my head. I don't have as much flickering of light.

I would recommend an ogg/mp3 jukebox with a tv tuner card to watch The Green Bay Packers play. Maybe even a radio, but electronic RF can be a killer.

At work I have a microwave and frig too.

Re:Phone, electrical, LAN (1)

eagleyezx (470483) | more than 10 years ago | (#7944210)

And I hope that you will be watching the PHILADELPHIA EAGLES kick some cheesehead kiester later on today. Philly doesnt take to kindly to outsiders coming in to oust us from the playoffs...

-Proud Eagles Fan

Re:Phone, electrical, LAN (1)

mistert2 (672789) | more than 10 years ago | (#7944340)

I hope that it is a good game. I think both teams have had a Great season. I will be cheering for my Packers. Have a beer for me, and may the best team win.


Re:Phone, electrical, LAN (1)

eagleyezx (470483) | more than 10 years ago | (#7954201)

Yeah, it was an awesome game. Wasnt there myself, but have a few friends who were. It was a real nailbiter, and the entire game kept me on the edge of my seat. Maybe next year Packers, maybe next year.....

What I use for repair (4, Insightful)

UserChrisCanter4 (464072) | more than 10 years ago | (#7941818)

While this is not necessarily what I'd recommend for serious metal work or case modding or anything, the following is basically what I'd want in a computer area in my garage (a place where I could repair, upgrade, build, tinker, etc.). It'd basically jive with what I have at the repair center I work at.

First thing: get yourself an anti-static countertop. If you poke around, you may find that it'll cost you basically as much to get a decent anti-static counter as to get a halfway decent metal or laminated wood area. Static isn't a huge deal where I live (my part of Texas is humid enough that I never even bother at the house), but it is nice to have, particularly if you are in an area dry enough to worry about it. I actually prefer a countertop over a desk-height area, with a nice bar-stool height rolling chair. I'd go for flourescent lighting for power consumption, and get a good pull-down incandescent (the hooked sort that have a semi-retractable cable to take them up out of the way when not needed) for when I really need some brightness.

Get a large file cabinet. Fill one drawer with a big-ass, multi-tier toolbox with the assorted big 'n' small screwdrivers, nut drivers, pliers, dremel bits, etc. that you need. Get one of those small, sectioned tackle organizers designed for small hooks, flys, etc. Use it to compartmentalize your screws of different size and type. Fill another drawer with large capacity file dividers (the big, say, 2" sort), and fill those file dividers with anti-static bags with spare components (the assorted video, LAN, RAM, etc. that you might use for trouble shooting). Get some of the gallon-size freezer bags and use them to organize your cables. Unless it's something very non-prone to tangling (IDE ribbons, for example), stow each cable in its own bag. File these.

Get a cheap CRT, a keyboard with zero "grandma" buttons, and a basic, 2button + scroll optical mouse. If possible, have both KB and mouse use USB with PS/2 adapters, that way you're set for whatever randomness comes onto your bench. Get a cheap set of speakers (but make sure they're powered units). Run these into a KVM switch, and have a throwaway old machine with a big-ass hard drive in it for when you need to dump everything off for whatever reason (or preferably, have a file server and never have to worry). Get a cheap 10/100 hub (not switch) for checking LAN functionality and for the occasional time when you might want to sniff packets coming off of a machine you're troubleshooting. Oh, and order a notebook IDE->full-size IDE adapter. You never know when you might need one, and although they cost next to nothing, I never seem to be able to find a local vendor that carries them. If you're planning on, I don't know, tinkering with the neighbors machines for the hell of it (God help you), I'd tell you to snag a cheap PCI IDE card with a couple of controllers, for those times when you need to pop a drive in to pull some data off or check whether the problem is drive, board, or cable.

If you're the type of person who tends to work on a lot of things at a time, just pick-up a wire rack shelf to have some place to stow projects while you work on them.

Note: A lot of this applies to the fact that I work on other people's machines day in, day out. I don't have anyhting near this level at the house, but if I were going to build a small workshop anyway, the costs for equipment mentioned here would be in line with what I'd expect to spend.

Re:What I use for repair (1)

bhtooefr (649901) | more than 10 years ago | (#7941923)

Also, get an AT to PS2 adaptor - I came across a rig that was the right price, but uses an AT keyboard... arrgh! My Model M is even PS2 (I think you can get an AT cable for it, but I'd rather get an adaptor)!

Re:What I use for repair (1)

UserChrisCanter4 (464072) | more than 10 years ago | (#7942655)

So right. I was actually going to stick in a tip to pick up those goofy adapters, but I got called away for a moment, then forgot when I had returned to finish the post.

I do keep some around for repairs, but it's generally a non-issue. 9 times out of 10, I simply refuse to repair or upgrade anything with AT, since it basically means "old crap that's not worth the time I'll sink into it trying to get some random PCI USB card to actually work".

Work Bench ... (1)

altp (108775) | more than 10 years ago | (#7941830)

Several Power Oulets, both above and below the benth.

at least 1 switch above the bench, I would put a small one (4 port) below as well.

cable holes on either end of the bench, and prolly on in the middle (along the back of it obviously) to string up a monitor/keyboard/mouse.

A good desktop computer with various removable media (zip, cd-rw, diskette, etc...), so that you can get drivers from the internet to whatever your working on. LCD monitor on a swing arm. Wireless keyboard and a trackball for a mouse (trackballs are still usable when space gets tight).

Storage bins for screws, terminators, etc ... something better than the old coffee cup i have on my desk ;-)

The rubber surface mentioned above is a good idea. I keep a handful of cardboard laying around to put motherboards on while I am testing, but rubber would be nicer.

Good, directional lighting.

Lastly, I would put a narrow ledge behind the main surface to hold soldering tools and such. Keep them seperate from the rest of the shelving you might have so that heat doesn't become as big of an issue.


Re:Work Bench ... (2, Informative)

TykeClone (668449) | more than 10 years ago | (#7942138)

You can't overstate the value of good lighting - I've got a halogen worklight right above my compeuter work area, and it helps alot.

Best bench ever! (1)

jptechnical (644454) | more than 10 years ago | (#7941872)

Well for a budget anyway.

Work Bench (put in your zip for the price and details... 98022 works if yours doesnt) []

Just hang power strips and cables and tools on the peg board. 15" crt on the top on either side and a couple cheap KVMs and you can service 4 towers on this thing at once.

I have used these in my business and other companies I have worked at before for years.

Re:Best bench ever! (1)

MImeKillEr (445828) | more than 10 years ago | (#7942158)

Wow, and to think the 8' one a buddy of mine and I built cost about 1/2 that and took us maybe 2 hours max from start to finish (complete with pegboard and outlets).

You must have: (1, Interesting)

Pantheraleo2k3 (673123) | more than 10 years ago | (#7941909)

-Music. Whatever kind you like. Preferably off of a HDD MP3 player

-TV. If you want it (sports?) Not a must-have though

-Stable box. You can play your MP3s from it. Use for downloading drivers, etc

-Generic K, V, & M. Nothing with special drivers. USB and PS2 for the K and M sound good

-KVM Switch. Go from your stable box to whatever your playing with. Put the cable in an easily accessible place

-Outlets. Can never have too many

-Light. Can never have too much, IMO

Just remember what YOU find comfortable.

Are you willing to build one? (2, Interesting)

nathanh (1214) | more than 10 years ago | (#7942109)

I have some ideas after using several inadequate electronics benches. Some of these ideas I've put into practise but some are still on my wishlist.

Make sure the bench is not too deep. Deep benches accumulate more clutter and it's too difficult to reach the back to retrieve things. Sit down and reach across a table; the depth you can reach to is how deep the bench should be.

A bench is most useful when you can use it sitting down or standing up. So make the bench high and get a stool, rather than making it the height of a desk and using a desk chair.

Powerpoints! Lots of powerpoints, each with their own indicator light and switch. These need to be off the bench and within arms reach.

A grip (ie, a vice) on a movable arm. This can be mounted to the side of the bench, just so long as the arm reaches to where you work.

A shelf about 1 foot above the bench to hold all your test equipment, power supplies, etc. It must be within arm's reach so not too deep and not too high.

A flouro just below the shelf to illuminate the whole bench. Make it bright. Put a thin strip of wood in front (attached to the shelf) so the flouro doesn't shine in your eyes.

A second much brighter lamp on a movable arm (eg, halogen). Attach it to the shelf to keep the bench space clear.

A vertical rod coming out of the bench, off to one side, to hold spools of your most commonly used wires, solder, etc. About a foot long is all you need.

Attach a raised lip (about 1cm high) around the entire bench. There's nothing worse than crawling around the floor trying to find tiny pieces that rolled off the bench.

A kickback across the back of the bench. Same idea as the lip but go all the way up to the shelf. It stops tools falling behind the bench.

A sliding drawer under the bench, off to the side, with compartments to store all your most commonly used tools (eg, side cutters, needle noses). Btw, don't go overboard with things under the bench (eg, drawers, cupboards, etc) because they just get in the way of your legs.

I hope some of this has been helpful.

Tall Height Help (2, Informative)

akudoi (568104) | more than 10 years ago | (#7942199)

I'm 6'4 and I can tell you DO NOT put it at counter-top or table-top height. I dont know how much of a difference 2" will make. But I find that my back really gets sore after in the kitchen for longer periods of time.

I recently built a work bench in the garage for multi purpose things and I set it fairly high up. So that if I'm standing at it with my elbows bent it feels confortable. I'd say about 2" - 4" below your elbow. Trust me, you dont want your back bent if your going to be standing there working.

Also, I got a bar stool for it too. Since it's so higher up if I have the urge to sit down I can still get that "table-top hight" feel.

Re:Tall Height Help (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7943545)

42 inches for the countertop, put the outlets at 60" and be prepared to argue with the electrical inspector over it.

those are the numbers im using for the work areas of the house i'm building; dipshit rural inspector had a fit over the outlet height and wound up requiring about $1,000 of other bullshit in retailiation when i showed him the code he was supposedly enforcing _didn't_ have anything to say about how high you put your outlets.

About elbow height is good (1)

spineboy (22918) | more than 10 years ago | (#7944165)

That's where most surgeon operate, and that's where efficiency experts found that people are most effectively are able to work. Get a tall chair so that when you sit the bench remains at the same relationship to your elbows when you sit or stand. I'm 6'4" too and I would love to have a "higher" house/workshop too, the kitchen sink is just too low.

Re:About elbow height is good (1)

NateTech (50881) | more than 10 years ago | (#7945198)

My wife's parents and sibling are all about as tall as you guys. If you ever get a chance to purchase/build your own house, look into raising everything. They did this customization to their home to everything from the kitchen counters to the bathroom toilets, and loved it.

Electrics (2, Insightful)

ColaMan (37550) | more than 10 years ago | (#7942475)

Don't forget a big-ass emergency stop switch in a very obvious position, that does the *whole* bench.

This way when (not if!!) things smoke you only have to slam that button down to switch it all off, rather than the find-the-right-powerboard-that-feeds-the-burning-i tem approach.

Oh, and a good residual current device (earth leakage) can save your life as well, so don't forget that.

Experience from Laboratory Construction (2, Informative)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 10 years ago | (#7942527)

Most of this comes from building biomedical research laboratories, but the principals still apply. I'll go from top to bottom.

1) Ceiling/Lighting: A light colored ceiling will help with indirect lighting. A couple of coats of paint will make a HUGE difference in how you see things - literally. Use long, narrow light fixtures - fluorescent, cool white. The fixture should be over the benchtop with the outside edge of the fixture lined up with the outside edge of the benchtop.

2) Shelving. Use unistrut/kindorf strut as shelving standards, mounted verticallt to the wall every +- 4 feet. Mount about 12" off the benchtop and run to within 1' of the ceiling. Mount these as securely as possible, as everything alse will hang off them. Now mount shelves or even cabinets using shelf brackets and spring-nuts. One neat trick is to have the depth of the shelves increase as they get closer to the ceiling. Top shelf for big, light, rarely used stuff, bottom shelf for every day small stuff.

3) Electrical/Communications: Across the bottom of the Unistrut standards, run surface mount electrical raceway aka Wiremold. Try getting the stuff that has 2 separate raceways - 1 for wire, one for communications.

4) Mechanical services: Compressed air is always good, both for blowing out cases and quickly cleaning your benchtop.

5) Benchtop: If it was a lab the only choices are epoxe or phenolic resin. For you, go with masonite, for all the reasons others have mentioned. I'd advise against rubber or metal. Rubber is irritating when trying to clean, and also hinders repositioning stuff on the benchtop - everything must be picked up, not slid. As for metal, it's too hard; if you drop something, you want to damage the benchtop, not the component.

6) Bench Components: Generally use standing height (36" +-) components. That way, you can alternate between standing and sitting on a high stool. If you use cabinets, leave a "kneehole" where you can sit and put your legs.

7) Floor: Smooth and cleanable is the key. We use a lot of vinyl tile in labs, wiht seamless sheet vinyl and engineered epoxy coatings where there are special requirements. Epoxy painted concrete is good. Stick with light colors with a light pattern: dropped components will show up well, but the patterning will hide the dirt.

8) FIRE EXTINGUISHER! Mount at waist level near the door you would use to exit in a hurry.

9) Misc: Task lighting, vise, etc.

Re:Experience from Laboratory Construction (1)

pyite (140350) | more than 10 years ago | (#7949455)

3) Electrical/Communications: Across the bottom of the Unistrut standards, run surface mount electrical raceway aka Wiremold. Try getting the stuff that has 2 separate raceways - 1 for wire, one for communications.

No, no, no. Data Cabling 101: Never run communications copper parallel (when its not separated by a considerable difference) to line voltage. Any throughput you might have had will be shot to hell from the EMI generated by the line voltage. If your data cabling must be near your power cabling, use ONLY 90 degree crosses.

Re:Experience from Laboratory Construction (1)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 10 years ago | (#7950141)

EXCEPT when the data cabling if fully shielded by the grounded raceway around it. The raceway I refer to is specially made to do just what I'm talking about. in dex_family.asp?major_system_id=1

5400 is good, but the ALA4800 is the stuff. The pre-wired stuff is great, too.

Re:Experience from Laboratory Construction (1)

pyite (140350) | more than 10 years ago | (#7954068)

Alright, fair enough. It's just that the vast majority of installations use plastic wiremold, which, IMHO, is awful stuff.

Considerations. (3, Insightful)

/dev/trash (182850) | more than 10 years ago | (#7942528)

Have you considered how you will keep the sawdust from leaving the woodshop side and entering the computer side?

Re:Considerations. (1)

dynoman7 (188589) | more than 10 years ago | (#7942911)

dust collection

air filtration tm

Re:Considerations. (1)

dynoman7 (188589) | more than 10 years ago | (#7942955)

actually...I just thought of another consideration...power interference. What impact will his shop tools (e.g. table saw, band saw, dust collector, etc.) have on his computers that are running in the same room? I'm not talking about everything running on the same electrical circuit...I'm wondering about interference due to proximity...those tools put out a lot of energy and they have been known to mess up wristwatches.

Re:Considerations. (1)

mistert2 (672789) | more than 10 years ago | (#7944379)

As long as you have good power going to your outlets, you won't have a problem. I have had two houses with would/electronics benchs. One place I put up a bisqueen wall to seperate the two, and my new one I would throw the bisqueen over the top of my electronics. The cover the electronics worked better than the bisqueen walls.

The National Electric Code (NEC) probably wants you to have your table saw, drill press, bandsaw,... on seperate circuits. Realistically, you just have your big equipment on wheels, so you can roll them over to the "good" circuit. I suppose if you are rich, you just get a bigger power drop in your workshop. Remember the wheels should become immobile before using (locks, brakes, removable).

It is not a bad idea to have the woodworking EQ on a different branch (not just circuit). Some EQ draws a lot of power when starting.

the kitchen table (1)

microcars (708223) | more than 10 years ago | (#7942848)

no matter how many workbenches I build or buy, I always seem to end up at the kitchen table or the dining room table...

We have an old huge Library Table for the "dining room" but it ALWAYS gets covered with projects.

hey, its comfortable.

I built one... (1)

dynoman7 (188589) | more than 10 years ago | (#7942884)

I built one for my office not too long ago: 85" long x 24" deep x 30" inches tall (standard height for most tables). I'd build one slightly taller for your needs. I made mine using face frame construction via pocket holes and a prefab glue up top from home depot. I added an extra half depth shelf under for all of the boxen, printers and scanners that I work with (keeps them out of the way). I have a large space dedicated to build area for new machines and an extra KVM cable for testing them out on an old monitor. The only thing I would change on the bench is to make it easier to do power (see earlier recommendations for a long power strip). I also keep all of my screws, tools, cable ties, standoffs, etc in a little storage case designed for bead craft (see your local fabric or craft store). I keep it next to the bench at all times. The case itself isn't all that big, but it holds all my stuff and the lid prevents contents from mixing from one cell to another. I do a lot of woodworking as a hobby and I totally recommend looking in any of the Shopnotes or Woodsmith mags (Wood too) for ideas on storage solutions for various parts and tools. Who might just turn a plan for a table saw blade storage system into a mobo storage unit! I'm building a clamp storage rack tomorrow before I go restore some lady's hard drive at work. Grrrrr...

Good luck and always count your fingers and your toes before and after each cut!

I got some ideas for ya (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7943478)

Well, let's see...

You should get a bucket and a mop to clean up after yourself after those let night pr0n sessions...

Insense burners so you can cover up your body odor when your parents come over...

And finaly, a mini-fridge, to keep all of your sugar fixes nice and cold. You got to pamper yourself, big boy.

Worktop height varies on the person. (1)

Valsgarde (677657) | more than 10 years ago | (#7944137)

For me in my last house, my computer workbench was between the height of my navel and sternum. high enough that I could see and reach into a case laid down on it's side without reaching too high, but low enough to reach the top back when a tower is standing. I built it out of OSB, and found some non-static "rubber" mats to top it with. don't forget to run plenty of power receptacles (or mount a good power strip or two) and phone jack, maybe an rj-45 jack also if you have your home wired for a lan. Also, you'll want to partition-off the pc section from the wood shop area. . . common sense stuff, but easily overlooked.

Don't Forget Ventilation... (2, Informative)

Ann Elk (668880) | more than 10 years ago | (#7946742)

...especially if you'll be doing any extensive soldering work.

Wrong group to ask (1)

FLOOBYDUST (737287) | more than 10 years ago | (#7946766)

First problem... The people you are asking know only two things... Keyboard and video screen..... Computer science and programmers aren't fixers. Call A EE. Oh I'm a EE and I'm OK I fix circuit boards and I desolder pins. I snip and jump I heat my wick I work in a laboratry. I wish I was ME just like my dear mama

Recycled solid-core doors (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7948245)

If you can get them, old solid core doors are a gread addition. You fix hinges in the usual places (a additional couple is a great help) and fix drop-down legs on the opposite side. Screw the hinges to the walls of your garage at the appropriate height. When not in use, you lift them up against the garage wall and fix in place using a slide bolt fixed to the wall locking into a hole neare where the lock mechanism was.

This way you get the benefit of additional work space, while still being able to pack things away and make space for the car (you know, the thing that usually lives in the garage :-)

Ideas for a Multipurpose Garage Workshop? (1)

unitron (5733) | more than 10 years ago | (#7948603)

"Ideas for a Multipurpose Garage Workshop?"


Full Bath


Multipurpose Garage Workshop (1)

Maechtig (617016) | more than 10 years ago | (#7953430)

In addition to the rubber mat on the workspace, get rubber matting to stand on, for comfort and insulating safety. Consider a workbench height of 34 to 37 inches. I google'd to a thorough site about work ergonomics: Great that you're thinking and planning all of this from the start. Good luck.

Consider splitting up you work areas (1)

nrrd (4521) | more than 10 years ago | (#7954053)

I recently split up my workshop. I do all the woodworking and metalwork in the garage, an I just moved my electronics bench into my office in the house. Wood, cars and metal work can generate a _lot_ of mess, but electronics is quite and "clean" and can be done in the house w/o too much trouble.

For the electronics bench I'm using a hollow-core door and two trestles from Ikea. It's cheap and I can adjust the height to where I like it. (I'm tall, so I like most table tops higher than average.) I don't really pound on things when I'm doing electronics work, so the hollow-core door is more than strong enough.

I have my oscilloscope on a plastic roller tray with 5 or so drawers in it. The rollers are kind of cheap, but it lets me stash the o-scope at the end of the table, and roll it out when I need it, as well as a little extra storage. (I think it was from the container store. You said you were into woodworking, so you go that route, you should be able to make your own rolling chest or tray.)

I have a rally-style tool chest, with sliding drawers and all my hand tools go in there. All the loose components go into a little plastic chest with thirty or so sliding drawers (like what people use to organize screws and stuff). I've been fairly happy with that, but, for resistors and capacitors, I think I'm going to change to 4"x4" plastic bags that I can stick in a drawer. That way I can add resistors, for example, and easily keep them in sequence w/o re-organizing the whole thing.

As for woodworking, I'm converting my shop so that all the fixed-base equipment are on rolling bases. Well, almost everything--I have a 14" Logan metal lathe that will stay put. But I do a lot in the garage--between brewing beer & mead, metalworking, woodworking and my '65 Dodge Dart, there is no longer a whole bunch of room in my two car garage. The rolling bases will help a lot...

The first conversion, my table saw, will be built into a 5' long 22.5" deep table, on casters so I can roll it *under* my main work table, out of the way when I'm not using it. The idea is similar to the "Mobile BT3000 cabinet" at, but I've made a couple of additions to it such as a pipe clamp end-vise. The idea for rolling it under the main table came from a recent wood working magazine. I forgot the name, but it might still be out in the book stores.

Re:Consider splitting up you work areas (1)

WTFmonkey (652603) | more than 10 years ago | (#7955165)

Not a bad idea. I like the "clean-room" aspect of keeping electronics seperate from the rest of the projects-- I've got a '69 Chevy C-10 stepside, along with the tools so I know all about the mess.

I think I saw the magazine you're talking about; it was the recent "Tools & Shops" edition of Fine Woodworking. The problem I had with that design is that he had his tools resting on those rolling units, and open shelves and drawers on the side of them. No dust collection system is perfect, and that seems like a mess to clean. I'd at least put some hinged doors to keep the majority of the crud out.

I think I might compromise the two ideas (since there's not enough room in the house). I might put the electronics stuff in a smallish corner of the garage (can also do clean jobs like carburetor rebuilding there), and a freestanding bench (similar to the one that same issue of Fine Woodworking) in the middle for messy things like finishing, hand planing, bearing packing and so on. I like the rolling bases idea-- maybe not for large tools like the tablesaw, but it's perfect for drillpresses, bandsaws, planers (and if I plan right, I can use the bench as long-stock support for the tablesaw and planer... hmmm.)

But you reminded me that I forgot the single most important part of the shop: the brewery. I'll have to look into that.

Re:Consider splitting up you work areas (1)

nrrd (4521) | more than 10 years ago | (#7958190)

I'm not really big on the open shelves thing for wood working so I'm putting in drawers. The drawers on my table saw base are going to be more like a machinists chest, with a couple of 1"--1 1/2" deep drawers at the top, gradually getting larger further down. Once it's fully built, I'll post something to rec.woodworking.

As for the bench, I think that a rolling base is going to make cleaning up shaving and other junk a lot easier! I can just roll the whole thing to the side and grab the shop vac!

I like the idea of a fold-down top, but then, where to mount my vise...

both sides (1)

digitalsushi (137809) | more than 10 years ago | (#7954561)

the only thing I have worth adding that I find helps me get stuff done a lot easier is having the bench in the middle of the room, not against a wall. being able to walk to the back of whatever you're working on can save you many errors and perhaps some time, too. my office is also my bedroom, but being a nerd bachelor means this is just an office with a bed and a bin of clothes next to it. there's an 8x4' formica table at desk height. i find that keeping it completely clear and pulled out into the center of the room is the most likely way for me to end up doing stuff in that location. it dominates the room but it's a small price to pay if it helps motivate me in any noticable way.
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