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Operation Musical Chairs

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DTR

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…… or how a crackpot scheme of workbench building, bandsaw repairs, tool swaps and storage juggling is keeping my brain occupied. I’m not really sure where I’m going with this thread, but if someone finds it helpful then that’s something. If nothing else it could be a lesson in what not to do.

My workshop, like many here I expect, evolved in ways that I never expected when I first started. When I took on more metalwork and bought a lathe, it got shoe-horned into a suitable gap. Likewise my wood stocks got left wherever there was space. I found I was racking up the miles just walking from one end of the shed to the other because stuff was all over the place. The other result of my wood and metalworking worlds being intimately intertwined was that everything got covered by sawdust, oil and swarf in equal measure.
Ultimately it was a situation that was less than ideal, but not so terrible that I couldn’t tolerate it. Naturally in my idle moments I fantasised about what I would do differently if I started again. However the thought of reorganising the current layout was too big to contemplate. A chronic lack of space (surely the lament of every home woodworker!) would mean playing a protracted game of musical chairs; a workshop-themed Tower of Hanoi puzzle made real. It could wait until another day……

Last year I found myself taking less and less interest in the shed. My Dad was ill and it was clouding both my enjoyment of the shed and my practical judgement. I was going in the workshop only because I felt I had to, not because I wanted to. The culmination for me was when I was machining a simple component (metalwork, sorry) and completely fluffed it. My brain was still fogged thinking about the visit I paid to my Dad the previous day. As it turned out, that visit was the last time I saw him. He died the next day.

After that I went into a bit of a funk. I lost all interest. Perversely the only thing that got me into the workshop was making an oak cross to mark Dad’s grave. The months rolled past until earlier this year I finally felt like I had to do something, anything. With a lack of inspiration, the only thing I could think of was to put my old dreams into motion and commence Operation Musical Chairs……
 

DTR

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My workshop is a 16’x10’ shed. Quite early on in the old layout I had built a long bench along the back wall, mainly for power tools (a plan that quickly went awry) and storage. The main problem was that it was built-in, permanent, a perpetual obstacle that could never be relocated. I resolved to make any future benches freestanding. To that end I bought some mechanic’s-type benches from Axminster to mount my lathe and mill on.

file.jpeg


file1.jpeg


I’m not sure how wise that decision was; the benches rack and wobble a little in use. Maybe I was being too optimistic in thinking that they would be as sturdy as a built-in bench? Still I wonder if I could have built better myself. On the plus side, the drawers and shelves are great for storage. Time will tell on whether these benches remain.

The old built-in bench was dismantled, mixed with some random offcuts, and recycled into a very agricultural shelving unit:

img_3331.jpg


To be continued…….
 

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AJB Temple

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Keep it up. My workshop is a mishmash of stuff too. Really I want to empty it out and start again. So good for you!
 

Fitzroy

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I built a new shed, and never quite moved out the old one, now the time has come for the old one to go and I’m having to have a jolly good sort out to avoid an overloaded shed situation. Painful, but necessary, and somewhat cathartic. Good luck

Fitz.
 

SammyQ

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Gawd...I wish I could get the time...I'm still working out of boxes, no bench, 9 months after moving. Aaarrrrgghhhhhh!!
 

DTR

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I should point out that the photos above were an afterthought and not in chronological order....... so they include things which haven't happened yet! In the photo of the storage unit, it's quite obvious where the former long built-in bench used to be. Also notice in the photos below how the background is invariably dominated by unsorted junk!

Anyway, with the long bench gone I now needed a new freestanding bench for general metalwork. I'm a big fan of the so-called English pattern; they're quick, simple, cheap to build, and very sturdy. So no excuses SammyQ! :p

The bench was built from softwood; PAR for the leg frames, and rough-sawn for the top and aprons. Starting with the leg frames, marked out and chopped some mortises:

IMG_3334.JPG


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I felt that M&Ts would have been an unnecessary extravagance for the bottom rails, so I went with some simple dovetail housings:

IMG_3356.JPG


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Both leg frames done!

IMG_3368.JPG


Bench build part two coming up...
 

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DTR

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As mentioned, the aprons and bench top were made from rough-sawn softwood. The boards are around 9" wide and 2" thick. I planed the outside faces flat, but didn't bother touching the inside faces as it would wasted effort.

Housings were marked and chopped out to receive the legs. Naturally the housings were marked from the planed face, not the rough one:

IMG_3369.JPG


IMG_3370.JPG


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And aprons fitted to the leg frames:

IMG_3374.JPG


IMG_3378.JPG


The aprons are attached to each leg via two screws. The lower screws are in elongated holes to allow for wood movement.
 

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DTR

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Intermediate stretchers added from some random offcuts. The simply sit in some housings chopped into the aprons:

IMG_3379.JPG


Top boards attached. These were flattened on the bottom faces so to sit flat on the frames / stretchers. At this point the top faces are still rough. They were attached using deeply counterbored screws:

IMG_3381.JPG


Bench top planed flat in situ. Note the resultant pile of shavings deposited on the woodwork bench and all over the floor!

IMG_3383.JPG


And shunted into its new home:

IMG_3385.JPG
 

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DTR

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Fitzroy":4vrqcw3y said:
Painful, but necessary, and somewhat cathartic. Good luck
Thanks, I quite agree. As ridiculous as it sounds, I think we tend to underrate empty space. It's too easy to fall into the trap of "I could fit a xxxxx in that gap". Space to work in is a precious resource and we should appreciate it more.
 

SammyQ

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So no excuses SammyQ! :p
_G1S1176.JPG


This was mine, two linen spinning machine end frames as legs and a glulam top; had a record 52-and-a-half vice on it too. Instant hernia trying to move it unloaded. Could only bring the glulam and vice with me during the move, never been so sorry to see anything go as I was to lose those two frames.

Sam
 

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DTR

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That's a shame SammyQ, those legs look great.
 
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