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MFT-Style Workbench

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MikeK

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1. Introduction

One of the items missing from my workshop is a large flat work surface that can be used for assembly and fabrication. I have a wooden Sjöbergs workbench, but want to reserve it for hand tool use. It's location makes it of limited use since it is against the wall and I can't access it from the far side. My wife saw me struggling with one project and asked how I planned on building her bookshelves in such a small shop.

After a bit of discussion and brainstorming, we agreed that I could rearrange the basement and have the second 5x5 meter part that is adjacent to my shop. This would become my office, assembly area, hobby corner...man shed. While this will create maneuvering space, I still needed and assembly table. All of the powered equipment that produces lots of dust and connects to the large dust collection system will remain in the original shop, but the Sjöbergs bench, hand tools, drill press and smaller equipment that connects to the CT-36 vacuum will move to the other side.

I saw a thread on the Festool Owners Group (FOG) by AtomicRyan, where he documented his construction of a mobile workbench that uses a full sheet of 3/4-inch MDF for the top and aluminum extrusion for the frame. [Note: I will use the American English spelling of the 13th element in the Periodic Table of the Elements throughout this thread, as well as other words, so no corrections please. :) ]

Ryan called his project the BF/MFT Build. In addition to the thread on FOG, Ryan uploaded four construction videos to his YouTube site, The Garage Journal.

Here is the first of the four videos describing his construction, as well as the problems he had with the CNC shops making the 20mm dog holes in the MDF sheet.

Figure 1.1: YouTube video Part 1 of 4 from The Garage Journal

After watching these videos, I knew I wanted to build a smaller version of the BF/MFT. My MFT-style workbench would be 1x2 meters and would have some storage for my commonly used Festool equipment and layout tools. I watched Ryan's videos several times and made notes of his mistakes and lessons learned so I could avoid them, or at least try.

Ryan used the 8020 aluminum extrusion that is available in the U.S., but difficult to find in Germany. However, there is a similar source in Germany called item24 that has a great assortment of material, as well as an online engineering tool to design anything from their inventory of parts. The UK affiliate is Machine Building Systems in Ripley.

The item24 engineering tool is cumbersome to use at first and lacks the sophistication of AutoCAD, but it works and is part of the item24 enterprise that integrates the sales, machining, packaging, and shipping departments. I was able to design this workbench in about an hour and rotate it around in 3D space before going to the next step and creating detailed engineering drawings.


Figure 1.2: Screenshot from item24 engineering application

As each piece of aluminum is added to the drawing, the software automatically identifies the drill points, adds the hardware to join the item, identifies the thread size for tapping, and builds the bill of material (BOM). For example, when I selected the locking castor and attached it to the bottom of the frame, the software automatically added the two M8 screws and T-nuts to the BOM. When one of the 920mm sections of extrusion was attached, the software added the standard clip and M8 screw, M8 threads for the screw, and 7mm through hole for the hex key access in the adjoining part. If I moved this part along the other piece, the holes moved with it. The parts count was updating as I added new material, and I was able to make quick QC checks during the design. In a couple of places, the vertical sections didn’t register with the horizontal section, and I could verify this because the mounting hardware count didn’t increment as it should. A quick digital jiggle of the part, and it joined correctly and the parts count incremented.

When I was satisfied with the design, I went to the next step to create the build package that would be used by item24 to develop the cost. The output of this process was a 26-page PDF created by the engineering software. I downloaded the file to perform a thorough QC of the workbench and found two more areas that had not correctly joined each other. It was easy to go back, make the correction, and continue. The PDF included the manufacturing sheets for each piece of 40x40mm and 80x40mm extrusion, dimensions for the CNC cutting and drilling, an exploded view of the workbench, and step by step assembly instructions unique to my design.

Here is one of the pages from the 26-page PDF that shows the exploded view of the workbench frame as designed and ordered. I later added two more horizontal pieces (part number 3v) to support the top.


Figure 1.3: Sample page from item24 engineering PDF

My cost for the complete kit as shown, plus some extra T-nuts and screws, was €1,460 (about £1,307 today), which included VAT and shipping. This does not include the cost for the 19mm Valchromat top, 10mm plywood shelf, 12 and 15mm plywood for drawers, shelves, and partitions, the drawer slides and other assorted hardware. I could have bought the extrusion in 3-meter sections and done all of the cutting, drilling, and tapping myself, but this is something I am quite comfortable paying for and letting someone else deal with the cleanup.

To give an idea of the flash to bang on this part of the project, here is the timeline for the first order from item24:

6 October 2020: Submitted online design
7 October 2020: Received confirmation from item24 with the formal offer
7 October 2020: I confirmed the offer and submitted a second request for additional hardware (screws and T-nuts)
8 October 2020: Received confirmation from item24 with the formal offer on the additional hardware
8 October 2020: I confirmed the offer and requested the extra hardware be included with the first order
14 October 2020: Shipment of four packages from item24 received!

Now the fun begins...but first, here is the final product.



Item24-52.jpg

Figure 1.4: Photo of completed workbench
 

MikeK

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2. Design and Test Fit

Here are the four packages that arrived from item24. Three were delivered by a freight forwarder, and the smallest package came through the mail. The long package was the heaviest at 66 KG.


Figure 2.1: Photo of the item24 shipment as received


After unpacking everything for the inventory, I was happy to see labels on each machined piece that included the order number, part number that matched the exploded view above, and the item description. As expected, the shipment was complete and ready for assembly.


Figure 2.2: Photo of the item24 shipment ready for inventory


I assembled everything the same evening (please excuse the cluttered room). From start to finish, it took me about and hour and a half to complete the assembly. Nothing is torqued to specs at this time, and I have to take about half of it apart to install the partitions for the shelf and drawer sections. In typical German engineering, there were no parts left over. During the assembly, I dropped one of the frame attachment screws and it rolled under some shelves. This wouldn't be a problem because there would surely be spare hardware in the parts bag. I had to retrieve the screw from under the shelves.

I assembled the workbench so I could verify all of the internal dimensions before I start cutting plywood sheets. It's a good thing, because somewhere in my SketchUp plans I was off by 20mm in three places because I forgot to account for the center offset of the 40x40mm extrusion.

I was considering not using the center wheels on my tiled floor, but there is no rocking. The double-locking casters on the corners do a great job and it takes a lot of force to make the empty chassis to slide. Once it is weighted down with tools and wood panels, it will be more difficult to move.

This was also the time that I realized the spacing on the top horizontal support beams might be too much for the abuse I plan on giving this workbench. I ordered two more 920mm sections of the 40x40 extrusion, complete with standard hardware and machining. Because I was moving the two existing beams as well, I bought the drilling jig so I could drill the 7mm through holes in the long 80x40 extrusion. I could have done this freehand, but the drilling jig makes it a no-brainer; although it was an extra €115 (about £103 today). The total invoice for the jig, two extra pieces of extrusion, and two hex keys was €225.17 (about £202), which includes VAT and shipping. This order arrived four days after I created the request.


Figure 2.3: Photo of the assembled workbench frame


I bought the 12mm and 15mm plywood for the partitions, drawer slide support slats, and the three drawers on the end. I will be using 10mm plywood for the shelf under the top Valchromat panel and will work on the side drawers later. I am using 400mm full extension drawer slides for the Systainer shelves along the side, and and 500mm full extension drawer slides for the three drawers on the end. After I ordered the slides, I changed my mind and made four drawers for the end, so I had to order another batch of slides.

Here is the SketchUp view of the original design without the Valchromat top. I couldn't find suitable castors in the online 3D Warehouse, so please imagine there are six castors on the base. This view shows the revised horizontal support beams. These are placed so they are between rows of dog holes. The vertical slats build out the partition for the drawer slides.


Figure 2.4: Screenshot from SketchUp showing the original design with three end drawers


After taking inventory of my markup and measuring tools, I realized I needed three 100mm high drawers, and a deeper drawer for everything else. Here is the SketchUp view of the revised design. The hole in the side partition is for the electrical outlet I will install for utility power. There is a matching hole on the other side and another in the rear panel.



Figure 2.4: Screenshot from SketchUp showing the modification for the extra end drawer and electrical outlet port
 

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3. Milling Access Slots for Clamps

It's a shame to waste the 8mm T-track on every surface of the workbench, but most of them are closed at both ends where the extrusion joins another piece. To make these tracks available, I followed Ryan's advice and milled a keyhole slot in one end of each track. I have never done this before, but it turned out to be much easier than I thought it would be.

I ordered two 8mm four-fluted TiAlN end mills (titanium-aluminum-nitride) for use in my OF 1010 router. The cutter fit perfectly in the Festool 484176 13.8mm copy ring for the OF 1010.

I made the template so I could mill two pieces of extrusion in the same setup. Unlike Ryan's design, I started the cutting about 10mm from the end of the extrusion so there were no extra gaps at the points where the extrusion intersects another piece. The long slot accepts the Festool clamp and the larger hole accepts the head of an M8 carriage bolt. The square shank of the carriage bolt slides in the 8mm slot and prevents the bolt from turning. This will be useful when making custom fixtures. I used a scrap piece of 12mm plywood so I could recess the screw heads that attach the template to the extrusion.


Figure 3.1: Photo of the routing template


Here is the finished template showing the slots to be milled and the four recessed holes for the T-track hardware. I later drilled a 6mm inspection hole between the cutouts so I could align the ends of the two pieces of extrusion. The pencil lines are the alignment marks I used for the jigsaw when cutting the keyhole. I used Forstner cutters for the two ends, and cut the rest out with the jigsaw.


Figure 3.2: Photo of the item24 completed routing template


Here is an image of the template from the bottom, showing two pieces of extrusion ready to be cut. The plywood cleat keeps the center of the extrusion in line with the keyhole and makes it easier to fit the parts to the template.


Figure 3.3: Photo of the bottom of the routing template


The OF 1010 handled the cutting easily. There were three cutting passes and one cleaning pass. I applied a little paste wax to the template to make the router slide better.


Figure 3.4: Photo of the milling in progress


Another pair of vertical support extrusions are done. After cutting a total of 22 keyhole slots, I broke the edges with a few passes of 320-grit sandpaper.



Figure 3.5: Photo of the final pair of extrusions being milled


This is a closeup of the 80x40mm extrusion on the ends of the workbench. Now I can assemble the chassis for the next phase, which includes dry-fitting the partitions.



Figure 3.6: Photo showing a closeup of the keyhole slots milled in the extrusion
 

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4. Preparing Plywood Partitions and Panels

Now it's time to cut the plywood for the partitions and drawer slide slats. Here is the 12 and 15mm plywood cut to dimension. The partitions will ride in the 8mm channel, so each edge will require a 10mm wide rabbett with different depths, depending on if the partition is an inner or outer.


Figure 4.1: Photo of plywood cut to measure


I used my router table to mill the 10mm rabbet into the edges of each partition. The Jessem Clear-Cut guides worked surprisingly well in keeping the panel firmly in contact with the fence and table top during the cut. I didn't have any problem feeding the panels through the cutter. The three inner partitions have rabbets on the bottom and two sides, but not the top. The 10mm shelf will ride on the top of these panels. The side panels and end panel have rabbets on all edges because they fit in the 8mm slots on all sides. I sanded everything to 150 grit and used Titebond II glue and brads to hold the vertical slats to the partitions. After stacking the freshly assembled partitions on the floor, I loaded them up with about 300KG of weight overnight.


Figure 4.2: Photo showing rabbet being cut into partition edge


The last dry fit to make sure everything fits as designed and locate the outlet boxes for the dual receptacles. The rabbetted corners of each panel that fit in the channel had to be cut off in order to clear the joining hardware for the extrusion. I will take the top section apart so I can remove the partitions for painting. There will be a cable access groove in the middle of the top edge of each partition so the electrical cable can run down the center of the workbench and attach to the underside of the 10mm shelf. The two additional support beams for the Valchromat top panel are seen in this photo.


Figure 4.3: Photo showing fitting of partitions in the frame


Views of the receptacle boxes. The top drawer slide is well below the bottom of the box. The back of the box will not interfere with the side drawer panel.



Figure 4.4: Photo showing electrical box position



Figure 4.5: Photo showing electrical box and duplex outlet position




Figure 4.6: Photo showing duplex outlet on end panel



Closeup view of the front right corner of the workbench showing the number of clamp access slots. The extrusion is loosely fitted, but will be better aligned during the final assembly.



Figure 4.7: Photo showing corner assembly
 

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5. Painting, Electrical Distribution, and Assembly

The first coat of light gray paint on the partitions after two coats of primer on all surfaces. All external surfaces, those that can be clearly seen, have two coats of light gray paint, with sanding between the primer and first coat. All internal surfaces have one coat of gray. After all, it is a workbench, not a piece of fine furniture.


Figure 5.1: Photo showing the painted partitions



As stated earlier, my original had a 100mm, 150mm, and 212mm full-width drawer on the end. After inventorying the tools I know I will be putting in these drawers, I changed the design to three 100mm drawers and a 150mm drawer on the bottom. I didn't have enough 500mm full-extension slides when this photo was taken, but I pre-drilled the holes for mounting the slides when they arrive. Although not shown in this photo, I installed the lower drawer slides for the Systainer shelves on the other partitions. It is much easier to install the slides when the partition is accessible. For the rest of the slides, I'll use pieces of appropriately sized plywood as a spacer for each additional slide using the bottom slide as the reference.



Figure 5.2: Photo showing side panel with opening for duplex outlet



With the partitions installed, next comes the electrical distribution. There are three duplex outlets and a junction box in the first open bay if another outlet is needed. This is on today's menu, but I forgot to put the junction box and Wago connectors on the table. This installation is fully compliant with German local code, so please use what is appropriate for your location.



Figure 5.3: Photo showing electrical distribution components



The electrical distribution is installed and tested. When the 10mm catch shelf is installed, I'll dress up the cable between partitions and attach it to the bottom of the shelf.



Figure 5.4: Photo showing electrical distribution



I later added a 3-outlet receptacle to the interior panel under the junction box. This provides the power for the VAC SYS vacuum pump.



Figure 5.5: Photo showing electrical distribution junction box



I couldn't decide which cable management method I wanted for the cable, so I left it for now.



Figure 5.6: Photo showing end panel and cable



The 10mm catch shelf and the rest of the extrusion is installed. To cover the edge of the plywood, I attached a continuous length of aluminum angle to each edge. The local hardware store sold exactly what I needed in 2-meter sections, so I bought three sections and cut them to fit. The long pieces are held to the edge with small countersunk wood screws that fit in the gaps of the 8mm inner channel. The shorter pieces on the end are epoxied in place.



Figure 5.7: Photo showing catch tray/size]



In this photo, you can see the bottom Systainer shelf slides along the side.




Figure 5.8: Photo showing side view of workbench
 

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6. Valchromat Top Preparation

Time for the top. I found a local source for the Valchromat, and surprisingly, the vendor had five or six different colors in the 19mm sheets, but I went with black. The Valchromat is more dense than normal MDF and is moisture resistant. An added benefit is while it looks like MDF, the dust from cutting is not toxic and it does not appear to be as tough on the blades as MDF.



Figure 6.1: Photo showing top cut to size



Dog holes drilled and chamfered in the Valchromat top. The UJK Parf Guide System Mk2 made this very easy, but time consuming. However, unlike Ryan's issue with two failed CNC shops, I succeeded in the first attempt. I had all of the 3mm pilot holes drilled in just under an hour, but it took just over two hours to drill the 20mm holes, chamfer the holes on both surfaces, and lightly sand the top surface.

The Valchromat is brittle, and almost every hole had slight breakout on the bottom from the 20mm cutter. I didn't notice this with normal MDF. The cutter made nice crisp edges on the entry surface, so no complaints. The UJK chamfer tool dressed up the edges, but it would be nice if the chamfer tool could be used with a variable speed drill instead of by hand.

The design of the 20mm cutter in the UJK Parf 20mm cutter makes it impractical to use a backing board for the process. For the next version with Valchromat, I'll flip the board over after I've drilled all of the 3mm pilot holes. Then I'll set up the 20mm cutter, but only cut a little of each hole, similar to the scoring blade on my Minimax saw. I hope it is many years from now before I get to test this for my workbench.

After finishing the holes, I checked the accuracy in ten places around the surface with four dogs and my TSO MTR-18 Triangle. As best as I can tell, everything is square. The 500mm slides arrived, so I installed the missing pair.



Figure 6.2: Photo showing top with dog holes



I made a slight correction to the table surface while I was marking the holes for the screws and T-nuts. While the dog hole grid is accurate, the baseline I used for the first ten holes was off by about 0.5mm from the first to the tenth hole...or the width of my pencil mark that I used for the reference line. This meant the overall difference was about 1mm over the 20 holes along the long side of the table. As a result, the 10x20 grid of holes was very slightly skewed on the Valchromat board.

I fixed this by trimming the four edges of the board to give a 2mm offset from the outer edge of the aluminum extrusion using the dog holes as the reference. If I do this again, I will use a marking knife to establish the baseline for the first row of pilot holes.

There are eight M6x25mm screws, with 18mm flat washers, holding the top to the frame. After centering the freshly-trimmed board on the frame and clamping it in place, I marked the location for each screw 20mm in from the edge of the aluminum. This is the center of the channel. I used a 2mm drill to make a pilot hole in the Valchromat and an 18mm Forstner cutter for the screws and washers. Then I finished with a 6.5mm drill for the through hole for the screw. I made a dimple in the bottom of the channel with the 6.5mm drill so I could identify the location for each of the T-nuts.



Figure 6.3: Photo showing top with fence and guide rail



When I ordered the 60x30 extrusion for the fence, I had not decided where I was going to put the guide rail, so I ordered a 2-meter section and will use the excess on another fence project. After cutting the extrusion to length, I trimmed the end of the fence so it fits under the FS 1400/2 guide rail. There is 11mm of extrusion remaining on the trimmed section, and I didn't want to cut it lower and risk breaking it off. The thinnest plywood I cut is 12mm, so this easily fits under the guide rail when the height is set. If I have to cut thinner stock I have sacrificial OSB sheets that I will use to put under the stock.

I used a Trend CSB/AP30584 tungsten carbide tipped blade to cut the aluminum extrusion. The 84-tooth blade is 305mm in diameter with a 30mm arbor hole. This blade fits my Minimax SC2 Classic table saw and Dewalt DWS780 miter saw. The extrusion was very easy to cut on both saws without using any lubricant. Breaking the edges and cleaning up the corner took more time than making both cuts with the saws.




Figure 6.4: Photo showing closeup of fence modification
 

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7. End Drawer Fitting and Fitout

Each end drawer is 883mm wide and 500mm deep and made from 15mm plywood. The drawer fronts are made from 12mm plywood. Three of the drawers are 100mm tall, and the fourth drawer is 150mm tall. The drawer pulls are from the same vendor as the extrusion, and the drawers are recessed so the handles do not extend past the end of the frame. Since this is a workbench, and not a Chippenmike™ piece, I didn't finish the drawer carcasses.



Figure 7.1: Photo showing end drawers



Here are the contents of the first drawer. I used Kaizen foam for the lining of each drawer, and cut around each of the tools.



Figure 7.2: Photo showing first Woodpeckers drawer



Contents of the second drawer. The Woodpeckers kit for the Domino came in a Systainer, and I didn't see any point in cutting Kazien for the contents, so I trimmed the Kaizen around the foam insert and declared victory.



Figure 7.3: Photo showing second Woodpeckers drawer



Even with the shortcut of using the Woodpeckers insert, this drawer took the most time to prepare because of the angle clamp cutouts.



Figure 7.4: Photo showing second Woodpeckers drawer in progress



Contents of the third drawer. The longest guide rails for the TSO parallel guide kit are too big for the drawer, so they are on the catch tray.



Figure 7.5: Photo showing TSO Products drawer



The fourth drawer waiting on me to decide what to put in it. Not shown in this image, but I have some of the SE1 heads for the VAC SYS in this drawer.



Figure 7.6: Photo showing empty drawer



The fence, FS 1400/2, and the long TSO guide rails fit on the catch tray when not in use.




Figure 7.7: Photo showing storage for longer items
 

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8. Systainer Tray Preparation

The next project is to make the sliding trays for the Systainer cases. I am using 19mm plywood from scraps, and these will be mounted to the 400mm full extension slides along the sides of the workbench. Since I don't have a CNC machine (yet), I used an 8mm cutter and the 11mm copy ring on the OF 1010 router.

This is the routing template I used to make the 8mm deep recesses for the Systainer feet. The plywood cleats are glued to the 12mm MDF (more scrap) to ensure each of the 405x400mm trays are similar. Since I didn't want to be bothered with chiseling out all of the corners, I extended the router bit to ensure the corner of the Systainer feet had clearance. The shelf stock fits between the cleats, then I turn the entire fixture over and clamp it to my workbench for routing.



Figure 8.1: Photo showing MDF template with cleats


The first test shelf is done, and the Systainer fits perfectly.



Figure 8.2: Photo showing first Systainer shelf



Twenty Systainer trays ready for sanding and painting. I doubt I will ever use all twenty, but since I had the template and a rhythm going, I used up most of my 19mm offcuts that have been gathering dust for a year. I made three trays for the VAC SYS Systainers. These are the original version and have a different layout for the base.



Figure 8.3: Photo showing Systainer trays ready for preparation and painting



Some of the shelves being painted. The VAC SYS made the sanding and painting much easier.




Figure 8.4: Photo showing some trays completed
 

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9. Final Top Preparation

Rounding the turn to the home stretch, it's the part of the project I've been dreading. I need to cut a 5mm deep slot in the top of the Valchromat to hold the sacrificial HDPE strip. I determined the location for the strip based on where the LS 1400/2 Guide Rail meets the top. The edge is off center of a row of dog holes, so I measured the area to cut so it is symmetrical over the holes. This way, I can reverse the strip when it is used up and have a fresh surface for cutting.

Here is a photo showing the 6mm plywood strips I used as guides for the OF 1010. The blue painter's tape is an attempt to control breakout when I start cutting the Valchromat. It worked great. I only have two copy rings for the router, so the largest cutter I could use was 8mm. I had to make several passes to remove the 61.5mm wide path of material to a depth of 5mm.



Figure 9.1: Photo showing routing guide strips



And now the cutting starts. After the first edge cuts, I removed the blue tape as it wasn't needed for the rest of the cutting. I could not have done this in the basement with my previous Bosch GOF 1600 CE router. I would have needed extraction fans to clear the room from the fine dust from the Valchromat, but the Festool system is the best!



Figure 9.2: Photo showing routing in progress



Done! The edges are crisp and the width is uniform along the length of the cut. I had a small piece of the HDPE to check the progress of the cutting.



Figure 9.3: Photo showing completed sacrificial slot



One 61.5mm wide HDPE strip snuggly in place.



Figure 9.4: Photo showing the HDPE strip in place



Five replacements waiting their turn.



Figure 9.5: Photo showing spare HDPE strips



I was searching for methods to treat the surface of the Valchromat, since it won't absorb 15 coats of thinned wipe-on poly like Ryan used on his MDF top. Most of the methods I found were using hard wax oil, so I bought a can to test it on a small piece.

I used this offcut to test the UJK Parf MK2 system, and thought it would be a good candidate to test the oil. It has ten 20mm dog holes and one 18mm recess I made with a Forstner cutter to check the depth needed for the mounting screws and washers. I made two shallow saw cuts across the board to divide it into three sections. In addition to the oil, I wanted to try different sanding finishes.

The top section in this photo, with three dog holes and the Forstner recess, was not sanded. The middle section, with four dog holes, was sanded with P150. The bottom section, with three dog holes, was sanded with P150, P220, and P400. I then applied a thin coat of the wax and let it soak in for about ten minutes. After wiping off the excess, I let it dry overnight. I then added a second thin coat and wiped off the excess after about ten minutes. This is how the board looked about four hours after the second coat. I like the finish of the bottom section, so that is what I'll use on the top.



Figure 9.6: Photo showing finish sample



The final preparation of the top. I used a 45-degree cutter to put a chamfer around the edge of the Valchromat top, including each of the HDPE strips, then sanded with P150, P220, and P400 to prepare the top for the hard wax oil.



Figure 9.7: Photo showing prepared top ready for oil



The first of two coats is on and drying. I put blue tape around the perimeter of the aluminum extrusion and on the screws that hold the top to the extrusion. I don't want the oil to get on the screws or extrusion. It took 28 minutes from start to finish for the top and six minutes for the edge. When I finished the last section of the top, I wiped off the excess oil on the first half of the table top. Then I applied the oil to the edges. When I finished the edges, I wiped off the excess from the other half of the top.



Figure 9.8: Photo showing first of two coats of hard wax oil



The second coat of hard wax oil is dry and I started fitting the Dash-Board Guide Rail Brackets, fence, and tidying up the workbench. I'm not sure why this photo has a yellow cast to it, but here is the finished top with the Dash-Board guides loosely placed.




Figure 9.9: Photo showing finished top
 

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10. Guide Rail and Fence Attachment

I ordered a lot of long lead time items for this and other projects, which included the Dash-Board guide rail kit for the T-track. The Guide Rail Bracket Bundle from Rob Schumacher is a nice piece of engieering. Rob makes them by hand and builds them in batches, so expect to wait for them. There are two versions of the rail, but the difference is the workbench attachment. One version attaches to the Festool MFT/3 OEM side rail, and the other attaches to any side-mount T-track, which is what I have.



Figure 10.1: Photo showing Dash-Board guide rail bracket



Figure 10.2: Photo showing Dash-Board guide rail bracket



The workbench is complete and the tour begins from the working side. In the Systainer trays starting from the left top to bottom, I have the VAC-SYS SE1, VAC SYS Vacuum Pump, PS-300 Jigsaw, TS-55 Track Saw, ETS EC 150 Sander, and OF 1010 router. The FS 1400/2 Guide Rail is attached to the Dash-Board brackets. I can remove the guide rail and leave the brackets attached. When I put the guide rail back on, there is no adjustment required.



Figure 10.3: Photo showing working side of workbench



The bench dogs and Festool bench clamps are In the 100mm high drawer above the sander.



Figure 10.4: Photo showing storage drawer



On the end, is the cable storage for the power cord. I might use the open space to attach brackets for the clamps.



Figure 10.5: Photo showing end panel with cable brackets



Continuing around to the far side, I have the DF-500 Domino and Domino bin, RO-150 Sander, ZS-OF-2200M Kit, RO-90 Sander, and OF-2200 Router. The 150mm high drawer above the Domino is empty.




Figure 10.6: Photo showing other side of workbench
 

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11. Festool VAC SYS Modification

One last part to complete the workbench...for now. I use the VAC SYS for almost every project, so it will be one of the first tools I set up. Festool makes a metal tray that fits the MFT/3 side rail, but I don't think it will work on my T-track side rail, so I made a tray out of more scrap plywood. The M8 knobs were locally available, and I used a grinder to cut a groove around the threads to accept a C-clip to hold it to the tray. The M8 T-nuts have grub screws that lock the nut in place in the slot. The M10 countersunk screws will hold the VAC SYS SE1 head to the plate. The bottom M8 knob is intentionally off center in order to place the approximate center of mass of the SE1 over it.



Figure 11.1: Photo showing SE1 mounting plate and hardware



Since I'm not bashful about modifying my tools, I tapped the holes in the base of the SE1 with the M10 tap.



Figure 11.2: Photo showing modification of SE1



The plate is temporarily positioned, and in doing so I found I had misjudged the offset required for the Dash-Board bracket. No problem...drill another hole for the bottom knob and we will not mention this. Ever.



Figure 11.3: Photo showing SE1 mounting plate in place



I also used an offcut of the 5mm HDPE to make a temporary stop block to hold the tray while I put it on and take it off. This really needs to be about 15mm thick, but it works for now until I can make something better.



Figure 11.4: Photo showing support block



The SE1 is attached to the plate using the M10 countersunk screws. The clips that hold the knobs captive are also installed.



Figure 11.5: Photo showing SE1 mounting plate


The SE1 is in place and ready for use. The normal vacuum lines are too long for my use on the workbench, so I ordered some quick disconnect hose fittings.



Figure 11.6: Photo showing SE1 in place with OEM vacuum lines



The new fittings from PCL Air Technology in the UK arrived and were easy to fit. The OEM hoses will go in the SE1 Systainer for storage and use when I take the VAC SYS out of the shop. The new blue lines disconnect and will be stored in the bottom drawer on the end with the SE1 head adapters.



Figure 11.7: Photo showing new VAC SYS vacuum lines


Now the SE1 head stores easily with no hoses to get in the way.



Figure 11.8: Photo showing modified VAC SYS stored



Here is how the vacuum pump is powered. I added a three-outlet surface mounted receptacle to the partition behind the pump, so it remains plugged in all the time. I unplug it from the front when not in use to prevent damage to the plug.




Figure 11.9: Photo showing VAC SYS power connection
 

pe2dave

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It's a shame to waste the 8mm T-track on every surface of the workbench, but most of them are closed at both ends where the extrusion joins another piece. To make these tracks available, I followed Ryan's advice and milled a keyhole slot in one end of each track. I have never done this before, but it turned out to be much easier than I thought it would be.

I ordered two 8mm four-fluted TiAlN end mills (titanium-aluminum-nitride) for use in my OF 1010 router. The cutter fit perfectly in the Festool 484176 13.8mm copy ring for the OF 1010.

I made the template so I could mill two pieces of extrusion in the same setup. Unlike Ryan's design, I started the cutting about 10mm from the end of the extrusion so there were no extra gaps at the points where the extrusion intersects another piece. The long slot accepts the Festool clamp and the larger hole accepts the head of an M8 carriage bolt. The square shank of the carriage bolt slides in the 8mm slot and prevents the bolt from turning. This will be useful when making custom fixtures. I used a scrap piece of 12mm plywood so I could recess the screw heads that attach the template to the extrusion.




Here is the finished template showing the slots to be milled and the four recessed holes for the T-track hardware. I later drilled a 6mm inspection hole between the cutouts so I could align the ends of the two pieces of extrusion. The pencil lines are the alignment marks I used for the jigsaw when cutting the keyhole. I used Forstner cutters for the two ends, and cut the rest out with the jigsaw.




Here is an image of the template from the bottom, showing two pieces of extrusion read to be cut. The plywood cleat keeps the extrusion in line with the keyhole.




The OF 1010 handled the cutting easily. There were three cutting passes and one cleaning pass. I applied a little paste wax to the template to make the router slide better.




Another pair of vertical support extrusions are done. After cutting a total of 22 keyhole slots, I broke the edges with a few passes of 320-grit sandpaper.





This is a closeup of the 80x40mm extrusion on the ends of the workbench. Now I can assemble the chassis for the next phase, which includes dry-fitting the partitions.


Are those aluminium extrusion 'ends' exposed? Potential safety hazard?
 

robgul

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Wow - that looks too smart to use and get sawdust on it! It makes my mobile bench made from Dexion look quite primitive.

And as George Clarke or Kevin Mcloud would say: ". . . and the budget?"
 

smackie

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Wow. That’s a really lovely workbench. Congrats! Got me seriously considering a similar thing for a wallbench as I need a way to incorporate storage for Systainers.
 

MikeK

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One fantastic WIP, well done. Just one other comment to make - can I please be a beneficiary in your will, pretty please?
:sick::sick::sick::sick:
:LOL:

Are those aluminium extrusion 'ends' exposed? Potential safety hazard?
With all the sharp objects in my shop, the extrusion ends are the least hazardous. However, I take your point. It doesn't show up will in the photos, but I did use some sandpaper on 80x40 top rail with sandpaper to break the edges. The vendor sells nice plastic caps for all of the extrusion, which I used on the drawer pulls. However, if I covered the ends, then I would have to mill eight more keyhole slots to regain use of the T-tracks.

Wow - that looks too smart to use and get sawdust on it! It makes my mobile bench made from Dexion look quite primitive.

And as George Clarke or Kevin Mcloud would say: ". . . and the budget?"
Anything worth doing, is worth doing to excess. :) The only part that will suffer from use will be the Valchromat top, and I don't plan on being gentle with it...it is a workbench. If it weren't for the dog holes blowing out during the drilling, I would be able to flip the top over and use the other side. However, the material is easy to fix with a sander, and the hard wax oil makes repairs easy to fix.

I haven't totaled the receipts, but I think I have about £2,200 in material in this bench, not counting the stuff on the slides or in the drawers.

Wow. That’s a really lovely workbench. Congrats! Got me seriously considering a similar thing for a wallbench as I need a way to incorporate storage for Systainers.
I used the solid extrusion for this workbench, but if I were to build a smaller workbench or a storage rack using the extrusion, I would use the light version that has more hollow areas. I knew this bench would be heavy, and didn't want to risk over-stressing the horizontal sections. The vendor has excellent technical specifications on all of the extrusion, including deformation under load charts for each family of extrusion.

Great Job Mike
Thank you!

Amazing, definitely the content I'm here for!
Thank you!
 
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