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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hello WUS Member's,

This is my first contributory post and I hope some will find it useful. Yes I know all of you look forward to my comical and wise-cracking posts but after more than a hundred or so, it's about time I post something serious. Let's get Started...

After looking over the web for plans for a watchmakers bench and finding very little in terms of dimensions I sat down an did some tinkering with the bench on my own. I came up with a bench 40 inches long by 40 inches tall and 18 inches deep.

I picked out Birch ply panels 2' x 4' x 1/4" for the front and sides, this took four sheets of material, then the top I used another 2' x 4' Birch panel by 3/4 inch. 1 sheet of that material. Then for the framing I used Douglas Fir in 2" x 4" in 10' length. 3 boards used. (try to find the dry ones if you can, sure helps too keep it square.)




The inside cross members seen are cut to 15 inches and with the top and bottom outside members adding another 3 inches will yield an 18 inch depth to the table.



The length of course is cut to exactly 40 inches to fit me, I got this figure by laying my forearms down on a surface out stretched and added three inches to each side and came up with the 40 inch figure. Make adjustments where you feel appropriate for your needs.





This next photo is a side view showing the uprights which I cut to 39 inches tall. Again this figure was made to my posture and the chair I plan to use at this bench. I read a post here which one of our members described that you want a comfortable height with your arms resting on the edge of the top surface. My regards to the original poster for that bit of information which I could not have pre-conceived with my limited experience.




With the framing done, all that is left is to hang the panels. Before I go into this next shot I should give notice for all other amatuer carpenter's such as myself, that square in woodworking isn't EVER square. By this I mean to say that even though you have 90 degree's on all four sides. Well just make sure you lay your panel onto whatever frame you make and mark them with the pencil, then cut your panels to the MARK!!!

Don't ask my why, I still don't know. But if you notice a good carpenter while he's working you'll see him do the same thing. 'Square AIN'T EVER SQUARE.' This bottom piece was the first to go on, you'll see the gap towards the bottom. Afterwards of hanging this piece I figured out that the staight edge of the panel don't mean anything in relationship to the square of the frame. USE A PENCIL and MARK YOUR CUT. It is insignificant because it will be covered with a corner mold piece, but I (we) still know it's there. Just to keep the cost factor low, I'll run with it. You will also notice that due to the weight of the panels I added medium duty roller wheels that added another inch to the height! Take this into consideration on your project too. 1 inch will be a big difference in comfort later on.





This next photo shows the inside of the bench here you can see where I had to add the middle cross member to the frontside of the bench to fasten the two sheets of panel securely so that a trim strip can be applied after varnishing. I also added two more extensions so that arm rest padding can be applied later on. I have a board of 1" x 3" oak for triming the top edges with on the backside and sides. These I will cut at 45 degree angles and cap with brass corner plates. Inside on right hand side I will install an inexpensive 'machinst's chest' from harbor freight for the watch cabinet. This will expedite the build and keep the overall cost as low as possible. A shelf to hold the microscope will be added to the left side rear area to balance the load.


Sorry for the quality of the pics it's totally the fault of the operator! I will update this post as more progress is made. Hope it will provide idea's for your homemade benches.

Regards,
sixties.nut
aka Mike
 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
The next few segments will have to be spaced out to allow for drying times of the finishing steps. With this in mind I'll make the second installment of the 'Budget Norm's' Yankee Woodshop. (I know but the other title was copyrighted)!

While I was at my local Borg studying the many colorful cans of finishing products in the isle and totally overwhelmed/under educated, and confused as to which ones to pick, I met up with Mr. Paul-in-Paints!! And THAT Was A Good Thing...

I asked him 'hey gotta minute' an first thing he asked me was 'what are you doing with that brush?' To which I replied 'gonna paint with it, why?' And he said 'why you buying a cheap brush, didn't anyone ever teach you how to properly clean one?' I said 'CHEAP BRUSH MY EYE!' (I didn't think eight bucks was too [email protected]#m cheap anyway). Then I got the rapidfire 5 minute crash course.

I'll be brief and spare you as I continue on. So if your project don't turn out as good as mine, you can just blame Paul-in-Paints okay!

Once I had the finishing nails 'set' with the steel punch I used the DAP wood filler and covered the nailheads then let that dry. I've lightly sanded the bare birchwood surfaces with a 220 grit sandpaper. Then wiped down all the surfaces from top-down.

At this point I used the first of three coating materials. This one was a Gel based stain. I wanted to wind up with a very light shade at the end and I picked the Honey Maple stain colorant. In the next two photos it is hard to determine that hardly anything was done! But actually the stain in person is a dramatic improvement that the photos don't really capture. As Paul-in-Paints instructed, I applied the Gel Stain starting from the BOTTOM's and working my way up, using strokes in a single direction. With that said, here is a couple of shots with the stain applied.



In the photo it only seems that the framing has a more defined reddish coloring.



Later this evening I will post the shots taken after the sealant product was applied.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Back in the shop again this afternoon I get my first look at the cabinet with the sealant applied and I'll take my hat off to ole' Paul-in-Paints. Looks like he knows his stuff alright. The cabinet panels have a nice smooth even sheen to them that the camera just can't capture even after fiddlin' with the white balance settings. Here is what I saw today.



The inside view shows the luster fairly better than the outside view in the next shot but the outside definately has the beginnings of a nice furniture finish look even better than I can show.



As nice as this first coat of sealant went down, I'll give it a light sanding tonight a tack cloth cleaning then another coat of sealer. I don't expect the photo's to be able to show to much of a difference tomorrow so I'll switch back to locating that source for the machinist's cabinet to go underneath. If there is a significant difference though I'll post more pictures tomorrow, if not I'll next show the progress with the first dryed coat of polyurethane. Til then WUS members play safe, stay safe.

(aren't you glad I didn't use the apostrophe on members again?)
 

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Sixties Nut,

Wow that is great, I'm guessing by your posts 3 days or less? What will you do for the drawers?

Cheers,

Bulldawg
 

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Nice work Sir. One of my pending projects. I'd go for braked castors I think, as I wouldn't want it all getting away from me but you are right to go for a good finish. Your descendants will admire the workbench that their grandfather made.
 

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This is great! I wan't to build a nice desk, but I don't think I'd have any space for it :p

For now I'll just have to have a sore neck and back.

Thanks for sharing
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
When I left off last I had applied the sealer to the wood and let that dry pretty good. Then I lightly sanded the surfaces with 01 grade steel wool pads. Then wiped that down three maybe four times, then I applied the first coat of clear polyurethane yesterday just before a heavy rainstorm here.

Note: This polyurethane went on slicker than greased butter!!! So 'watch' carefully for runs until it thickens some because it wants to run easy. These are the shots from this morning, the camera finally picks up a hint of a gloss on the sides and gives a good indication on the top work surface.



Couple of shots of the inside.





Expecting more rainshowers here today, I'll switch gears and work on the trim pieces for tomorrows update. I'll use some 1x3 red oak boards for the top lip and a pine deco strip to hide the seam on the front where the two panels meet up.

Thanks for the comments !!! For the drawers I'm planning to use a machinist's cabinet with dovetail edges (If I can find the website again) there is a cabinet online that has the drawers on the end facing much like a bakers rack.

I considered using the locking casters from the onset then decided to go ahead and use the rubber wheel slip cups when I couldn't find locking wheels small enough that was durable. Now that the cabinet has been assembled it's weight is in the neighborhood of 70 pounds and even on a level flooring it takes a good nudge to get it moving.

I'm trying to avoid making my own using the router and dovetail jig, just to show that a decent quality cabinet can be made with simple handtools thus far the only electrical tool used has been a jig-saw to trim the panels. Most everyone has one already. Weather holds out, tomorrow we'll have trim applied and then another coat of polyurethane can go on.
 

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Wheel cups sound like a good Idea. The finish is very good and you've created some nice work there. If you are using a bench mat, well and good but you might find it worth dulling the worktop finish with a coat of matt Polyureathane to kill reflections from your lighting, which should best be diffused if you are going to spend a lot of time at the bench (which you jolly well deserve to after that work.)
 

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Mike,

Beautiful finish on wood and I like the caster and handle idea.
It is about time to consider few detail on your bench top layout.
First you need a retaining edge, as every single thing will push out and fall from the bench top eventually by accident, small screw and spring will jump away and this retaining walls will keep it on the top.
You will also need some groove on front edge (near you), so small parts will trapped there just in case it rolled.
You need measure your lamp's arm to reach every corner of the bench top. where the lamp will be and how to set in minimum area.
I use six inch wood dowl in one inch diameter, drill a hole on one side so my swing arm lamp post drop in and fit, I screw the dowl onto center of my bench back retaining wall, it more like windshield blade swing on front panel of car, so it reach everywhere on my bench.
All tall piece of equipments, you need to design a secure place for it, so will not fall over by accident.
Retail watchmaker, trade watchmaker, weekend watchmaker, or hobby watchmaker, all have different use of their bench, and size of working area vary too. But if you could, do design a seperated area for heavy work, i. e. hammering, press, lathe... watch bench is best no vibration and no inpact! small parts could changed place and jump away.
List all the basic equipments you will put on the bench and make a simple layout plan for each tool where it set.
Jeweler's bench is relatively heavy in contrast to watchmaker's, but as new technology advanced every days, watchmaker's bench are more specially design for the trade, advance bench would cost $8000 from Switzerland. just think about how much you can save, put more devisions and compartments to the bench.
It is already look better than a $400 standard bench now, keep the good work.
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
Thanks for the comments and considerations with the lighting Tom and Genway ! This is good information to be aware of in the advance planning stages for others to make decisions in their builds.

As for myself, after eight hours of squinting at rows of computer monitors all day, on top of a low vision problem it takes those 'natural' light fluorescent ceiling fixtures for me to see hardly anything at all. I had planned to use a smaller lamp with two T20 bulbs hanging low from overhead. I will start to think about one of the articulated lamps so that I can adjust the position to eliminate glare. Thanks for the heads up!

We didn't get the rain that we expected yesterday, so this helped out a lot. I was able to get the trim boards cut, stained, dryed and attached. I also made the side shelf to mount the microscope. Getting a little antsy (ahead of myself here) Here are some shots I made just to check the balance of the unit.



Even with the addition of 55 pounds of weight I noticed no discernable tipping while moving in either direction.



This shot gives you an idea of how the trim covered the join of the two front panels. It gave a somewhat blend of the two dissimiliar colors of the panels but it is still evident. When I shopped the panels I picked the best in terms of edge rough / scratches / etc. but by going to one retail outlet I was limited to the few panels they had on hand. I should have driven the extra 15 miles and picked matching shades from another local store.



This shot gives an idea of how I planned to catch the rolling, and springing off errant parts. The lip is raised up by three quarter of an inch on the front and sides. For the rear area I plan to make some arm cushions from soft leather with foam inserts underneath and upholstry tack them to a 1/2 thick plywood strips to make the lip on the backside.

Until the cabinet is located or made and the arm rests are finished requiring another final update to this project. All The Best ! Thanks for reading along. Comments, suggestions and opinions are welcome by the next builder.

sixties.nut
 

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That is a very fine stand for the 'scope. I use a stereo zoom 'scope myself and it is worth its weight in gold. I'll have to scout around for a similar stand.
At least I got the lathe onto a bed this weekend and rigged up the motor so I don't feel too idle.
 

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Very nice and I am agog over your microscope. Really top notch stuff and I am anxious to see how you handle the storage aspect.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Welcome back to the bench project, I was hoping to have all the pieces together for this post but I ran into a snag with the Formica sheeting and arm rest upholstery. So for those interested in the progression here is an update for you.

I located the vertical wooden storage cabinet for underneath storage and once I did, I saw that the cost of that cabinet blew away the concept of a basic workbench. So, instead I fabricated a drawer for underneath that runs the length of the bench and is three inches deep and in conjunction with the tool chest this should provide ample storage for the time being. I was shooting for an overall cost of 200 and I missed the mark by 20 taking into consideration of the drawer boards, fibreboard, and rails. This first shot is the Harbor Freight Tool Chest with the part number on the box.



One would be hard pressed to build a chest as durable for less than the price of 79 dollars! I am pretty impressed with the materials used, here is a close look at the box.



And finally an overall look at the shelf and drawer addition that was put together this weekend. Earlier this afternoon I stained these two pieces and will seal and polyurethane them in the next few days. Maybe by the weekend the laminate for the top will be available and the arm rests ready to install.



Some final commentary to this post, in case you are wondering about the snag with the formica material. It stems from the fact that the nature of this material is fragile so that Home Depot only carries it in 4 foot by 9 foot sheets! In both stores near me they only have four colors, bright white, black, a copper veined brown, and a copper veined white. None of these are suitable for our purpose.

Lowes has the same variety's and they are NON-Stocked items that are special order. At the end of the day on Saturday last, I went to a Kitchen-Bath store here in town. That man didn't have the material but promised to try to get something suitable from his counter-top maker as a remnant piece according to the size I need.

With a little luck, maybe something will happen here by this weekend or next. So for now that's all the news thats fit to print, Thanks for following along! See you next time.

Sixties
 

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looks like a very practical setup

good work
 

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I assume you have locking casters because the location of your photo shoot seems a little precarious. The bench looks to be coming along swimmingly. It seems difficult to imagine that a nearly ubiquitous countertop material from my youth has nearly gone the way of the Dodo.
 

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Thanks for the inspiration. I've been starting work on my own bench this week. The carcass is now complete and I have a frame stood on four of its six legs.
Some pictures will follow as I progress with it.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
There we Go, we have some collaboration!!! Thanks for joining in here. Established watchmakers, enthusiasts, and other budding amatuers are also welcomed to post pics of your benches. I've never seen the established bench complete with tools.

Need not even tidy up, works in progress will make them more interesting. Give the scribes a peek into the secret art of watch medicine! More to come from me later this weekend ! Hope you have a productive weekend Tom!

sixties
 

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Here's my desktop work-in-progress. Still need to figure out what to put on the top. Most of it is 3/4" plywood. All the wood is "leftovers" from other projects. Simple, really. Just needed something to get the stuff I'm working on a bit higher (for the sake of me aching back!)
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Very nice work Rob not only for the compact structure but you also made good use of previously deemed 'worthless wood'. My last woodworking project was a microwave table for one of the neighbors. She had specific dimensions for the complete table/appliance to fit in a corner cove. For the legs I used stairway Ballisters which were very economical at 5 each, then I cut them to length.

If you were to attach another plank to the bottom front and rear (to keep level) you would then have a surface to attach table legs. To keep the legs sturdy you could fix a lower shelf midway up the legs and give you some open space storage shelf.

Not having much luck with getting Formica sheeting from the local cabinet makers (I think they must swear an oath to be uncooporative with the competition in their union contracts!) I remembered that it occurred to me that while cutting the masonite board for the drawer insert. That I might possibly be able to use that material if push came to shove. It can be obtained cheaply (large sheet was 5 dollars) and it came in thick and thin thickness, with no warp in any sheet I looked at.

The topside had a smooth surface that could take paint and be covered with sealant/poly coat too. Cheap enough to be later replaced anyway. I'm thinking the lite green Bergeon type work pads will still be the center of focus while working. Once again, what a great design for a moveable and handy bench!

Mike
 
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