Idea Shop 6, Paycheck 16: A Simple, Versatile Workbench
With your tool collection and skills both growing, add a sturdy bench where you can work while keeping hand tools and accessories close by. Construct this model from inexpensive “1-by” and “2-by” lumber. Shop-made tool hangers lock onto, and lift easily off of, wall-mounted French cleats (like the cleat used to hang the clamp rack made with Paycheck 9) allowing you to add and customize storage as your needs change. The free plan includes instructions for building the tool holders shown in the photo: holders with through-holes trap chisels, squares, and screwdrivers; slotted hangers keep clamps close at hand; and boxes serve as two-tiered shelves.
Instead of a pricey vise, shop-made clamp blocks under this bench transform a one-hand bar clamp that you already have on hand into an end or face vise for securing workpieces.
After removing the fixed clamp jaw, the bar fits into the groove of the clamp block, and the bar's roll pin holds the clamp in place once inserted. The design of the clamp blocks works with the ToolShop clamps from Menards linked above. Suitable substitutions are Jorgensen ISD-3 (shown in the photos), and Irwin SL300.
This paycheck also goes toward a set of chisels. This set provides three commonly used widths and includes a wood mallet for striking them. Wood won’t damage plastic- or wood-handled chisels as a steel hammer will. Although new, the chisels need sharpening before use. Learn a fast, inexpensive way to do this with sandpaper in this free video. Once sharpened, check out this free article for tips and techniques for using chisels. These items take all of this check plus a bit out of the savings jar.
The video below shows Idea Shop 6 progressing from an empty garage stall through all of the tools and fixtures acquired and built thus far through 16 paychecks. Paycheck 17 helps replenish the savings fund, and provides a simple, but amazingly useful shop project.