Mobile-But-Secure Bench-Top Tools
Shazam! Fasten your bench-top tools to your workbench in seconds. Bolt 3/4-in. plywood bases on the tools and then glue and screw a wood strip along the front edge to fit into a woodworking vise. Crank this strip into a vise to lock the tool into place. If you don't have a vise, drill a couple of clearance holes along the face of the wood strip on the base and drive screws through the strip into the edge of your workbench. Then just unscrew to remove the tool.
Bench-Top Tool Storage Tip
Here's a smart way to keep a vise or small bench-top tool right at your fingertips without cluttering your workbench: Build this slide-in base and mount the vise or tool on it so the entire unit can slide back in upside down and out of the way. Countersink holes into the underside of the base so you can recess the mounting nuts and washers.
In-and-Out Bench-Top Tools
Go clampless with bench-top tools! Determine a base width you can use for all the smaller power tools you own—grinder, sander, drill press, scroll saw. Cut a base for each tool from 3/4-in. plywood with 45-degree bevels along both edges. Next, cut and screw 1-1/2-in.-wide boards with 45-degree bevels on your workbench for the tool bases to slide into. The tools will remain rock steady as you work and slide off when you're done.
Instant Bench Vise
Laminate Flooring Bench Top
Melamine Workbench Topper
Screw down a sheet of 3/4-in melamine as a new workbench surface. You can write on it and it erases easily. Dried glue scrapes off, varnish spills don't stick and heavy projects slide on the slick surface for easy positioning. Use two-sided melamine and flip it over when the first side gets worn out to expose a brand new surface.
A 4 x 8-ft. sheet of melamine (plastic-coated particleboard) costs about $35 at home centers.
Miter Saw Waste
Senior Editor Travis Larson's waste-management ingenuity really shows up at his miter saw station. 'I always had this huge pile of cutoff scraps on the table next to my miter saw. So when I rebuilt the miter saw table, I incorporated a drop hole right next to the saw.' Directly below the hole is a recycling bin resting on a rollout shelf. When the bin fills up, it's off to the burn pile. 'When designing my shop's layout, I decided to keep everything stowed, like gear on a sailboat. Everything has a home, whether in a drawer or cabinet. It really makes things run a lot smoother.'
This handy under-mount rack keeps your clamps right where you need them. Simply cut a series of 1-1/4-in. diameter holes along the center line of a 2x6 and then rip the 2x6 in half to create the half-circle slots. Next, screw 1x4 sides and top to the cradle and screw it to the bottom of your workbench.
Here's a slick use for that old wooden tennis racquet that's gathering dust in the garage. Drill a hole in the handle and screw it to the underside of a workbench. Position the racquet so it can swing in and out from under the table. Use it to hold tools, parts or other small items.
Rosin Paper Workbench Cover
If your garage isn't big enough for your car and a workbench, you could get a smaller car. Or you could build a fold-down workbench. This one sets up in seconds and eats up zero floor space when not in use. The only things you'll need are a 2x4, a pair of beefy hinges, a couple of threaded pipes and flanges, and a handful of screws. For a work surface, we used a 30-in. solid-core door, but you can use other materials such as two layers of 3/4-in. plywood glued together. To set up the workbench, just screw the pipes into the flanges.
Vinyl Tool Tray
Vise Jaw Liners With a Little 'Give'
Scrap pieces of composite decking boards make ideal jaw liners for a woodworking vise. Compared with a wood liner, the rubbery surface has more give and grip. That makes composite liners good for holding cylindrical or oddly shaped work pieces. And when you release the clamp, the composite liner returns to its original flatness.
A vinyl tablecloth—any size—comes in handy for all kinds of woodworking jobs (available at discount stores). Put it under boards you're gluing together. Any glue drips will easily peel off the plastic surface after they dry. Or place the tablecloth as a thin cushion under workpieces you're sanding and finishing, and use it as a protective barrier between the workbench and project parts when you're tapping that next masterpiece together.
Mount a roller window shade on one end of your workbench and pull it out for painting projects. Home centers will cut shades to the width you need, so measure your workbench before going to the store.
P.S. It's a good idea to wipe wet paint off the shade before rolling it back up.
Workbench Plans Hanger
If you have pegboard over your workbench and you need to hang plans or drawings where you can see them, use two clothespins with a hole drilled in one end of each. Then hang each clothespin from a pegboard hook and they're ready to hold those plans.
To keep your workbench clean, use a sacrificial worktop tacked to the top of your work surface for those nasty mechanic's chores like metal work, grinding or carving. Just buy a 2 x 4-ft. piece of 1/4-in. hardboard and either tack it to the top with small nails or use double-sided tape to hold it in position. When the rough-and-tumble work is done, you can lift off the temporary top and still have a clean, blemish-free workspace for fine work.
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