Made at 173: The Workbench

October 13, 2019


I follow quite a few Youtubers who post about their woodworking, rehab and DIY projects, and every so often they post about building their incredible woodworking or shop workbench.  The variety of bench styles tremendous!  Some are beautiful -


Some complicated:


And some are behemoths!


And some are simple and utilitarian.  But no matter the adjective, the single most important common factor is that they serve the needs of the user.  If you're like me, a simple homeowner, DIY'er and weekend woodworker, it's fun to look at these most important of all tools, and I just wanted to take a minute to show the workbench here at 173.  Brace yourselves though - it's not nearly as fancy as any of those pictured above.


It's of the very simplest of construction, but this simple bench has faithfully served 173 for some 20 years now.  It's not huge by any means, but measures 78" long by 27" deep and 34" tall.  I've thought about building a new "fancier" bench, but I have a bit of a sentimental attachment to this ol' beast, here's why... Back in 1999, relatives from Germany came for a visit to help me put in new basement windows and a new basement floor.  After two gruelling weeks, we built this "temporary" bench with old 2x4s and 2x8s that were left by the Moshers when we bought 173.  So, the bench cost a grand total of $0 to build.  To sum up, the 173 workbench was:

1- Made at 173
2- Made by family
3- Made of old growth wood that has been at 173 longer than us
4- Made of nothing but scrap wood.

Put those altogether and there's the crux of why I've never seriously considered replacing it.   I did however, pick up a new bench for the main part of the basement...


That bench holds the drill press and stores some of the benchtop tools like the router, scrollsaw, etc, and gets a lot of use too.  But the workshop bench is the main one here!  Here's what she looked like when I was fixing up the basement a bit...


What a mess that was!  You can barely make out the bench.  After the basement was finished, including the workshop, 


I started making alterations here and there to the bench.  The benchtop is made up of three 2x8s and I used to keep an old hallway runner on top - I'm not sure why.  But with the kitchen re-do in 2017, I put in Luxury Vinyl Plank flooring and had a bunch of small plank cutoffs leftover, so I thought heck - why not give the bench a strong, durable top over the 2x8s?


It's been on the bench for over a year, and this stuff has held up nicely, and makes it super easy to clean!  Then, a couple months ago, noticing I was running out of product and tool storage space, I decided to add some drawers...


Of course they're made from scrap pine and MDF boards, I just can't help myself!  The drawer fronts came from the old dining room bookshelves removed when we re-did the dining room in '17 - '18. 


And I kept the drawer-slide mechanism uber simple!


But for the large drawer on the right, there was an obstacle...


The vise has been in that spot pretty much since day one, and I really didn't want to move it because it seems to be the perfect spot for it, so I just worked around it - literally...


That's important because I built the drawers a little short so they could be recessed out of the way in the event (which is actually not a rarity for me) that I need to clamp something to the bench...


 The only other feature to point out is that this workbench is rock solid.  No matter what I do, this thing doesn't move!  Of course that may be due in large part to the fact that it's secured to the foundation...


And that's the workbench at 173.  It's no work of art, it's not complicated, in fact - it's probably among the ugly ducklings of workbenches.  But it works.  It's solid, original, sentimental in some odd way, and I love it!


Here's a couple bonus shots...


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