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Workshop Setup Help

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Iain Marshall 129/11/2020 14:19:36
11 forum posts

Hi Guys,

Newbie here. Have read tons of stuff on here and learned loads.

I have a small workshop in house which I use for building model aircraft, cars etc. It houses an N gauge railway and has a small workbench and a pillar drill mounted on a filing cabinet.

There is just enough space to fit mini lathe and a mini mill could possibly replace the drill.

I could use drill vice on bench, but have no room for a bigger one.

I have no room for a grinder or any other stuff.

I'm thinking of building a small bench on the deck outside that I could mount a vice to as well as a bench grinder ( removed when not in use).

Does this sound like a feasible option, or a daft idea?



IanT29/11/2020 15:07:30
1989 forum posts
212 photos

Sounds perfectly feasible to me Iain.

I have a small indoor workshop, with a small lathe, hand-shaper and 1/4" drill. My larger workshop is in a unheated garage and has my heavier machinery in it. It's too cold in the Winter for me to spend very much time down there.

This is not ideal of course and I'd like everything in one place but that probably won't happen now. So I try to plan my work a little in advance and make sure that things like tool bits are ready to go (there's no grinder in the house). I will also "rough" out things on my larger kit to make it easier to finish or assemble where possible on my smaller tools inside in the warm.

Your idea of a 'portable' (dirty) bench outside sounds like a good way to avoid upsetting management - and once you have your tools ground up - you can normally keep them in good shape for a 'session' with a honing or two.



Henry Artist29/11/2020 15:48:11
121 forum posts
46 photos

My small workshop is in my house. In the interest of maintaining domestic harmony I have found it invaluable to have a bag type vacuum cleaner (made by Numatic) to hand. I also have a "sticky" doormat at the entrance to the room so I don't trail swarf throughout the house.

colin hawes29/11/2020 17:16:25
557 forum posts
18 photos

It is sometimes possible to mount a mini mill, a bench drill and a grinder on a rotatable locking bench top so that the required machine can be brought to the front whilst the other two are behind to save space. Colin

Maurice Taylor29/11/2020 19:02:18
211 forum posts
36 photos

benchHi It’s very good idea to use your grinder outside,the wind and rain cleans the mess up.

Easiest way to mount it ,is get a small piece of kitchen worktop or similar and bolt grinder to it then screw length of 4 x 2 to bottom of worktop. This can then be clamped either in either a vice or a Black and Decker workmate.

I’ve had an outside vice for years for big and dirty jobs also an outside bench Hope this is useful.



Iain Marshall 129/11/2020 21:44:48
11 forum posts

Thanks for all the replies, much appreciated.

I'm happy to hear that my idea is not stupid laugh

Good call re the vacuum cleaner. We have a spare, but it's crap.

Your idea Colin is great, I just don't have the space, room is about 3m x 2.5 & filled as in OP.

Maurice, I've done similar with other gear, might do that with grinder for fixing to bench.



ps I'm looking at lathes just now and considering the Sieg SC3-400 or Warco WM180. Thoughts would be welcome.

Paul Lousick29/11/2020 22:09:42
2019 forum posts
712 photos

My workshop is part of the garage for my car and space is limited and have workbench, mill/drill, hydraulic press, etc mounted on wheels. (The mill and press have an extra wide base so it is stable and won't fall over)

Do the same for your outside work bench with grinder and vice permanently attached and wheel out when required.


Brian H29/11/2020 22:24:08
2312 forum posts
112 photos

When I worked out what to put where in my workshop, I made a scale drawing on graph paper of the floor area. and made scale sized cutouts of the benches, storage cupboards and machinery, including maximum travels on the milling machine and spaces needed to operate everything.

I then shuffled them about on the floor plan to get the best fit.

It saved a lot of effort in moving things about.


Bazyle29/11/2020 22:38:38
6301 forum posts
222 photos

I have a 4in vice on a bit of 2x6 with a bit of 2x1 under that. The 2x1 is gripped in a workmate for use outside. Ditto grinder. If you have a bit of space, even a shelf outside you could use a 'parrot' vice which sits and swivels on a base from which it can be lifted off to take inside leaving the base which can be covered by a bit of plastic.

Iain Marshall 129/11/2020 23:02:21
11 forum posts

I was thinking about that Bazyle.

I have a Workmate that I use in a similar way to mount my airbrush spray booth.

Suppose I could take WM outside when needed and use for vice & grinder, or get a 2nd one.

I just need to be able to have a bigger vice and a grinder too.



Jeff Dayman30/11/2020 02:06:48
2223 forum posts
47 photos

The workmate is a great way to do jobs outdoors like cutting grinding etc. especially with a clamp on vise installed.

I have two, but one has a makeshift firebrick/steel forge built on top of it, so it is only semi portable now! But when my son and his friends were young kids and into model rockets, the forge was a great launch pad.

Two workmates are ideal for electric or gas welding if you find a piece of scrap steel plate say 1/8 to 1/4" thick and span it between the two workmates, clamped to each. If you take care to weld over the centre of the steel, away from the wood parts of the workmates, it makes a versatile stable setup than can be knocked down and stored quickly.

A handheld angle grinder will handle most grinding jobs in the absence of a bench grinder. With care, and angle grinder can be clamped to a wood cradle set in a workmate to act just like a bench grinder. Done this for years outdoors getting the garden tools sharpened in the spring.

Dave Halford30/11/2020 12:06:08
2015 forum posts
23 photos
Posted by Iain Marshall 1 on 29/11/2020 23:02:21:

I was thinking about that Bazyle.

I have a Workmate that I use in a similar way to mount my airbrush spray booth.

Suppose I could take WM outside when needed and use for vice & grinder, or get a 2nd one.

I just need to be able to have a bigger vice and a grinder too.



Either way keep the N gauge away from grinder dust.

Bazyle30/11/2020 14:15:33
6301 forum posts
222 photos

There is an 8in grinder that a well known screw emporiam sell for about £40 that I can recommend. Lots of more expensive ones are not better. I have two , one for wire brush, and the Men's Shed got one.
Lidl have got a workmate on sale today but not sure if it is a good one. I have two from different large tool distributers, one is definately way way cost reduced. It is an inch shorter, the top is and inch shorter, the top is mdf, the tin bits are baked bean can rejects made thinner. The other is usable but cost twice as much.

Former Member30/11/2020 14:31:45
1085 forum posts

[This posting has been removed]

Howard Lewis30/11/2020 14:35:45
6032 forum posts
14 photos

If space is limited, it is a good idea to make use of the outdoors.

My bandsaw was getting a bit heavy to lift up and down from the shop, (really me getting like tea, old and weak ) so it lives outside under a cover. The cover was custom made by a company who make the curtains for curtainsider trailers. At £54 it cost, but is really sturdy, and with a coat of oil on the metalwork, it has lived outside for a few years without problems.

The workmate is regularly taken outside for angle grinder, belt sander or welding jobs. For welding it carries a piece of 6 mm plate, welded to a piece of angle iron which is gripped by the Workmate.

You will need a bench grinder, in the future, for various jobs, such as grinding tools and drills, so do find some means of storing, and using it. It could be stored under the bench, perhaps, on a suitable base which could be gripped by the WM for outside use.



not done it yet30/11/2020 15:28:30
6748 forum posts
20 photos

Another +1 for mounting smaller power tools on a Workmate.

I’ve screwed all sorts of things to boards and a batten underneath. Too many to recall them all here, including my woodworking machines.

I dislike the cheap pressed-steel versions but put up with one with a band saw attached. I’ve just started using one of the early aluminium ones but need to be careful with it as it has seen very little work and is in pristine condition (was my FiL’s). My original ally one will need new woodwork, I’m afraid, after over 40 years of use and abuse.

Iain Marshall 130/11/2020 23:12:31
11 forum posts

Thanks for all the helpful replies.

If Santa doesn't get Covid19 & die, he will be bringing me a host of metalworking tools.

Most of my stuff is geared towards plastic, woodworking and kit for model helis.

The N gauge railway is why grinder will be outside. Need to see how it copes with a lathe in

close proximity.

How would a Bosch jigsaw cope with cutting metal sheet?

smile d


Bazyle30/11/2020 23:31:51
6301 forum posts
222 photos

Is the jigsaw speed controlled? You generally need to slow it down and it can help to make a sacrificial 1/4 in ply sandwich so the teeth don't grab the sheet even with a fine metal blade.

The Lidl workmate is branded Black and Decker at £30 but there wasn't one out of its box to check quality. Some elsewhere are £21 so this could be slightly better. They were out of donuts by 6pm crying 

Edited By Bazyle on 30/11/2020 23:38:07

Iain Marshall 130/11/2020 23:37:00
11 forum posts


It has variable speed on the trigger.

Good shout re the ply sarnie winkyes


Nigel Graham 201/12/2020 00:09:32
2056 forum posts
28 photos

Though it's inside the workshop I've just built a small, sturdy timber bench secured to the floor and walls, and topped with a piece of 10mm steel plate nearly 2 feet square I happened to have.

This too is designed (sort of) on the need for portability and storage of smaller tools.

The plate is screwed to a bench surface cut from 20mm plywood, and is drilled and tapped variously to hold either of two bench-vices, a small fly-press and should I decide to use it there, Drummond manual shaper. Thus any of these can be shuffled about as necessary.

The holes for the press include one of 2 inches diameter, for below that in the press itself; and for the shaper, a one-inch hole for the knee-screw. I cut those with hole-saws, used in a bench-drill. The shaper is already on another bench, but I gave myself the option whilst it was easy to do so.

The bench is a bit longer than the steel plate, to give room for the back end of my steam-lorry to tuck underneath sufficiently to allow the workshop door too close. It is also "semi-detached" with a timber bench that holds a heavy bench-drill, again designed with under-space in mind, for two electric welders each sitting on one of those simple "skateboard" trolleys from Lidls or Wilkinsons.

The drill bench is the same height, so the units are reasonably compatible; and it would be simple to use the vice to hold a temporary rest for long work-pieces on the drill.

I set that height to be right for me, when using the bench-vice. That is almost the first time in all these years that I have ever had the luxury of a bench-vice at elbow-height!

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