Sunday, April 26, 2009

A Patio Workbench

I decided to make a workbench for my patio and all of my other benches are in storage, as well as being far too large. I really don't need a bench so much as a place to mount my vise. Its hard to work on much without a mounted vise :(

I made a trip down to Lowes and picked up:

5 8-foot 2X4's. The premium kind.
Couple boxes of screws.
A panel saw (all my power tools save the cordless drill, are in storage)

The last time I used a panel saw was when I was under 10. I never really learned how to use one properly, or it was really dull, I can't remember. Regardless, I needed one. Apartment life does not lend itself to the racket of circular or reciprocating saws.

Lowes didn't have much selection, but eventually I settled on 22-inch wooden-handled version from Stanley. It has "differentially hardened" teeth so should stay sharp longer than one without. The tools I used for this project:

The tools and material before the transformation. Astroturf-tastic!

I started cutting using the chairs as a support. I was surprised at how easily the panel saw cut through the 2X4's, and how cleanly.

Without much support the wood chips out when you near the end of the cut.

So I used the cut pieces to form a poor-man's sawhorse.

In about 30 minutes I had a neat pile of wood.

I trued up the peices with my L-square, predilled some holes to prevent splitting, and screwed the them together with 1 5/8" drywall screws.

I made the bench in two L-shaped halves that would later be united.

The bench went together and turned out pretty square. It is very strong and rigid. I used 3 1/2" deck screws for the sides. This was overkill, I meant to buy 3" screws. Oh well.

Now to add the top. Just a test fit for now. This is the thicker 3/4" plywood. The bottom uses 5/8".

Next I clamped the bottom piece to the top and measure out 3 x 5" notches to allow clearance for the legs.

Cutting the notches was quick and easy, the saw worked perfectly and I am getting better at using it.

Notched and ready to install!

Angled it fits right in.

Ta-da! What remains is to screw down the top and bottom, but first give it a coat of polyurethane since its going to sit outside (under a cover, but exposed to a lot of humidity and maybe some splashing from rain).

The bench measures 2 X 4 foot and 32 inches high. I can stand on it and it barely even flexes the top.

Total cost: only $30 in materials. The saw cost $20. But will need that for other projects :)

Now I just need to bolt my vise on...

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