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Building a small bench

Bench in an existing well used workshop for a small lathe

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JA23/02/2021 13:05:40
1098 forum posts
58 photos

I am building a small strong bench and intend to write a blog, posted here, on the work. I realise that there was a long thread on a bench of an ML7 lathe some months ago but I hope that this will not be out of place.

Brief:

I will soon be taking delivery of a small lathe (length 500mm, depth 300mm, weight 30 Kg) and it needs a bench. This must be strong, rigid, well lit and house all (or nearly all) of the lathe’s tooling

Constraints:

The bench must fit into the existing workshop, which is a “brown field site”, without seriously disrupting its use. Moving the existing lathe and milling machine is unacceptable. The workshop is one half of a double garage. When I bought the house I had a second garage built alongside the existing garage to be used as a workshop. Planning a workshop from nothing is easy. The garage door was blocked by a false wall. A sturdy work bench was built at the other end under a window that looked south at the neighbour’s garage. The pre-war Myford was put on a good bench against the wall dividing the two garages next to a heavy rubber topped steel table up against the false wall. Shelving was put up on the long fourth wall. Simple.

Over the next twenty five years the lathe has been replaced, twice, by Myford S7s on industrial cabinets, the heavy table was given away and replaced by a bench with storage underneath and a milling machine arrived. During these years lots of very valuable things have been acquired which take up all the available horizontal surfaces including the floor. Every so often I try to tidy up the place with some success. Usually I manage to evict the motorcycle bits back into the garage and chuck out real junk like old kitchen things left over from the fitting of a new kitchen a few years ago. Even so a lot of what can only be described as rubbish migrated to one corner of the workshop, between the milling machine and the false wall.

I am going to stop here and continue in a day or two. I attach three pictures of the workshop taken two months ago.

Workshop December benchWorkshop December latheWorkshop December milling machine

JA

Edited By JA on 23/02/2021 13:08:32

Oily Rag23/02/2021 16:10:19
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310 forum posts
126 photos

I like the ex-school laboratory stool! I had a load of those given to me about 25 years ago, they were made from a beautiful yellow oak with a strong grain. I cleaned them up with white spirit and wire wool then treated the wood with gunstock oil. I preserved the graffiti as it added a bit a 'class' (and I'd like to meet Carol one day!). The last one I now have in the workshop and is my 'thinking stool'. An essential piece of workshop kit!

Martin

Iain Downs23/02/2021 17:13:54
741 forum posts
649 photos

I don't have any answers for you. I've built my benches out of 2 layers of 18mm marine ply on (mainly) 4x4 wood legs.

What I've done wrong is not to have treated the wood with oil or varnish or something. I'm not sure what the right treatment is, but it's certainly not nothing. My main bench is now rather dirty and it won't come off.

Iain

Ady123/02/2021 17:17:28
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4220 forum posts
591 photos
Posted by Iain Downs on 23/02/2021 17:13:54:

I. My main bench is now rather dirty and it won't come off.

Iain

That's the patina and is very trendy

larry phelan 123/02/2021 19:30:16
942 forum posts
14 photos

I bet there,s a floor in there somewhere ???

What,s wrong with angle iron ?surprise

Grindstone Cowboy23/02/2021 19:58:30
486 forum posts
44 photos

What,s wrong with angle iron ?surprise

Not a lot - my first ML7 had a very nicely made stand made from welded 2x2 angle topped off with what looked like an old school desk lid. Not sure if the elderly gent I bought it from had made it or if he had got it from a previous owner. The legs were cut and welded to splay outwards at the bottom to make it more stable

I added an upright sheet of ply between the back legs with various pegs and screws to hang things on, and a shelf at the bottom ( about a foot from the floor) held just about everything else.

Rob

Frances IoM23/02/2021 20:15:35
993 forum posts
27 photos
"I'm not sure what the right treatment is, but it's certainly not nothing" -
a good sanding followed by a couple of coats of polyurethane floor varnish should protect against most things but thin stainless steel on top of the ply makes a good work surface for metal bashing - for woodworking real hardwood is unbeatable for just its beauty + feel but don't let oil anywhere near it.
Howard Lewis23/02/2021 20:23:57
4397 forum posts
4 photos

I was going to suggest angle iron for the basic framework, (40 mm x 40 )

The ends and back can carry other pieces of angle to carry internal shelves, say 10 mm ply?. Heavier, locally, if used to store lathe chucks.

The outer cladding, sheet steel for preference, will greatly increase stiffness.

Weld if you can be sure of keeping things square. It not bolt together, (assemble in situ ) so that things can be made square to each other before final tightening. If you have any doubts about the floor being absolutely flat / level, weld a tapped plate across the bottom of each leg for levelling bolts and preferably locknuts, to prevent things going out of adjustment..

The internal ledges can carry shelves for storage, and if vertical walls are built in the shelves will have extra support, as well as sub dividing the space to store different items.i

lathe tooling,Taps and Dies or Reamers can live in separate subdivided trays on the shelves.

Howard.

Bazyle23/02/2021 20:47:09
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5778 forum posts
216 photos

Posted by Iain Downs on 23/02/2021 17:13:54:

What I've done wrong is not to have treated the wood with oil or varnish or something. I'm not sure what the right treatment is, but it's certainly not nothing. My main bench is now rather dirty and it won't come off

Sacrificial hardboard is the way to go, tacked not glued down along the back length where you won't risk hitting them with a knife or chisel. Replace al or parts as it wears.

Derek Lane23/02/2021 21:07:43
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392 forum posts
79 photos
Posted by Bazyle on 23/02/2021 20:47:09:

Posted by Iain Downs on 23/02/2021 17:13:54:

What I've done wrong is not to have treated the wood with oil or varnish or something. I'm not sure what the right treatment is, but it's certainly not nothing. My main bench is now rather dirty and it won't come off

Sacrificial hardboard is the way to go, tacked not glued down along the back length where you won't risk hitting them with a knife or chisel. Replace al or parts as it wears.

This is what I have on one of my benches and the other has a 13mm ply sheet again can be replaced as needed. The edges are of oak but beech could be used.

bricky23/02/2021 21:57:05
479 forum posts
48 photos

I built my bench from 8'*3' pine with 4" legs with cross members to take an 8'sheetof 3/4"ply 2' 6" wide which I have now reduced to 6'.This bench is a mistake as one stores everything on top and one still works in a small space.I like the ply top as the tea does not get cold to soon and screwing items to the top is a bonus,and nicks in the edge are convenient for holding small items for filing.I have had this bench for 40 years and built it from spare materials off site when I was a site foreman.

Frank

JA24/02/2021 13:18:03
1098 forum posts
58 photos

Many thanks for the comments. I will sweep them up as I continue but, Martin, I do like the stool (the best Christmas present I have received from my little sister).

Plan:

The only place I could put the bench was between the milling machine and the false wall. I needed at least 1m by 1m floor space. That is where the rubbish was. And most of it was rubbish. Clearance started before Christmas with two trips to the tip. The horrible band saw was dismantled, the motor kept, and the rest went, thankfully (I hated it). A little was kept, the metal and the LED strip lights. The bench grinder is being moved back to the garage today and the floor will be swept.

The milling machine table moved to the extreme right this gave me a floor space of 1 metre square, cramped (or cosy) but adequate. I thought about putting the back of the bench against the breeze block wall but provision for the milling machine table proved impossible. Putting the side of the bench against the breeze block wall with the operator looking towards the false was the answer. A 500mm wide work top (50mm narrower than a standard kitchen work top) would give just enough room for me and the lab stool between the bench and the milling machine. However I was likely to end up stand or sitting directly in front of the lathe, not a good idea. Therefore access to the adjacent metal store had to be reduced to allow an increase in bench length of 100mm. I could now be at the tail stock end.

The bench will be made of wood. I have used wood for all my other benches since I cannot weld. The instructor at my apprentice training school taught us mechanical engineering apprentices that we could not weld. I have been happy to take his word ever since. All these have used 4” square legs and two layers of 18mm ply for top (as Iain’s posting). The additional frame work had been smaller timber with very simple lap joints. Everything was held together by ordinary interior wood adhesive. Screws were used just for clamping the joints as the glue set. All builds have been against walls just to give support during assembly. Benches have always been painted with cheap household paint, white top and bright colour gloss for the base timbers. I have never had any problems with any of these benches and I do not intend to change my build method. A good bench will remain un-noticed for years while a bad bench will haunt you for the rest of its life.

The next episode will consider the actual design, delivery of wood and contain pictures.

JA

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