I built a workbench
This weekend I completed the first project from the Weekend Woodworker course by Steve Ramsey, and I’m actually proud enough of it that I’m going to use it as the feature image for this post, instead of my usual click bait stock photos.
As you can see, the first project is the Basic Mobile Workbench, or BMW. It’s designed to be built using four 50x100mm boards, a single 25x50mm board, and a single sheet of 18mm plywood.
The course says each project should be easily completed within two days, but as the forecast was suggesting rain for the Sunday I was able to complete it in one. I say complete – I decided to leave off the shelves built into the original design as I figured I’d never use them, allowing me to save time – plus there’s nothing stopping me from adding them in later.
It isn’t perfect – like, at all. Even a cursory glance at it shows gaps in the joins and wonky cuts, but it’s very strong and stable:
This was the first time I used a lot of my new tools in anger, with my Evolution R210SMS mitre saw taking centre stage. Having never used a mitre saw before, I don’t have anything to compare it with, but with minimal set-up out of the box, everything seemed to be square and true, and it cut everything I put in it.
I think the only time I had any problems with the saw was when trying to cut the legs down to size. This is because I’d previously laminated two of the 50x100mm boards together, resulting in a 100x100mm block which was slightly too large for my saw. I was able to overcome this by carefully setting a stop block, cutting through half, then flipping it over to cut the other half.
I’m really happy I got the stand for it, as I didn’t have any suitable surfaces to use it on, and really didn’t fancy using it on the floor – I guess I could made do with the floor for this build then mount it on my newly built workbench (as Steve himself suggests) – but the raw materials for the workbench cost far too much to limit it’s function like this, as the workbench is versatile enough, and the stand cheap enough, that it was a worthy investment.
The stand also provided adjustable arms on either side which could be used to support longer lengths of wood, as well as act as stop blocks, meaning I could avoid using a length of timber mounted to the saw itself for this purpose (as suggested by Steve). I think Steve’s approach here is good if you don’t have any alternatives, but I feel it wastes wood, unless you’re able to keep using the same piece (which just seems impractical).
The second most used tool was my Bosch PDR18 LI impact driver. Again, not having anything to compare it with, I’m a bit limited in what I can say, but it was comfortable to hold, and lasted the whole day on a single charge. I did feel some aches in my hand the following day, which I think is a side effect of the impact part of impact drivers – but could also just be because I’m more used to typing on a keyboard than driving screws into wood.
I think my only complaint with the driver is the case it came with. This is in comparison to the Bosch drill from the same range, which had a perfectly formed case that was designed to hold everything firmly in place – unlike the one for the impact driver, which wasn’t nearly as snugly designed, meaning everything feels loose – and there isn’t a really suitable spot for storing a spare battery:
It feels like a silly thing to criticise, and if not for the fact I already owned the drill I’d have not even realised it – I guess I’m just disappointed that Bosch can do better, they just didn’t. I don’t think this would stop be recommending it, however.
Finally we come to my Bosch PKS 18 LI circular saw. I spoke about this in my last post – specifically how I failed to cut at a right angle. Happily I’m able to report that I appear to have overcome this issue, as each of my cuts was square and true – thanks to my liberal use of my Swanson NA202 Metric Speed Square, which I used to check and double check each line before I cut it.
I had a strange issue where the saw would stop mid cut, but I think this was because it was starting to run out of batteries (which I’d borrowed from the impact driver) and because I was trying to cut a bit faster than it could handle. This wasn’t a massive issue, however, as I’d just pull it back a couple of centimetres, start it again, and continue as normal.
Anyway, the rain forecast for the Sunday didn’t actually materialise, so I took the opportunity to paint the workbench it with some Johnston’s Lime Burst paint (which I chose based on the name alone), then put it in my shed – where it will wait for a couple of weeks before I pull it out for use building the second project – a patio side table.