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Fold down metal working bench


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Inspired by this lovely garage - http://12-gaugegarage.com/blog-11/index.html ... I've set about making a foldable steel bench to use when restoring the car's bodywork. I need somewhere I can work, and ideally quickly bolt on a vice if need me in order to hold a panel bender, things like that. Space is very tight though so it needs to be something I can fold away when unused, permanent is not an option and most foldable benches look quite flimsy and get in the way when stored.

So I've got a sheet of 1m x 0.5m x 6mm mild steel on order for the top, and should be able to pick up box section steel quite easily locally for the legs. The cavity between the breeze block and the plasterboard is quite deep, so I'm probably going to have to fix it to the wooden studs. Not my first choice but it still shouldn't come out stupidly heavy, the top will be about 24kg on it's own.

I can't really see how the legs and top are hinged in these photos, and am open to different ideas. I like this chap's use of magnets to snap the legs out when folded down, but again can't get a good look at how he's done that.

Does anyone have any good examples to share, or reference photos etc that might help me come up with a good design?

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Hi Richard,

why have you gone for a thick steel top.?

  I have a drop down bench with a 1.5" thick top in 3/4 ply.

The legs are removable and the top simply drops to the vertical.

Screwed/hinged to the wall. The top is apprx 40" x 30 "

More than adequate to hold my big bench shears etc. 

 

Roger

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Interesting... a fold up one could work equally well, arguably easier as there's no need for hooks to secure it when upright and folded away.

Originally the rationale was to have it as a welding table Roger hence the need for thick steel. Not completely sure on that now though, I need to have a think about whether I could do that safely and not introduce a fire risk. The guy in the linked garage website used flashing to cover the walls to fireproof them which is an interesting idea.

After some thought I stuck with the idea for a few other reasons:

- I much prefer a steel surface to wood for anything that might be oily or result in swarf, my wooden workbench always looks a state when doing car work on it but after putting some 0.9mm steel over it, it wipes clean with ease and always feels clinical.

- 6mm is arguably thick enough that I could quickly bolt on the vice without needing a nut on the back, or maybe even weld on some nuts if desired to use longer bolts. I hate my current vice securing mechanism of a bolt through one of the dog holes on the woodworking bench, and its very impractical on a fold down one.

- its heavy enough to take some bashing when doing more 'percussive' forms of metalwork. Good point about the noise though Nick. Hadn't thought about that.

 

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1 hour ago, PeteStupps said:

I have nothing to suggest about benches, but that website about a garage is highly interesting!

Lovely garage isn't it. Unlike a lot of expensive designer garages you see online that look pretty but aren't the most practical to maintain a car with, this one is full of clever ideas to really maximise the usability, with some designer charm thrown in.

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One advantage I can think of for a fold down table is that you could potentially leave a vice attached to it, provided the edge of the table isn't too close to the floor. That might just swing it for me, as I'm trying to plan for speed of set up.

I've got to move another car, move the bonnet, move a spare hard top, and wheel the shell into the centre of the garage, every time I want to work there. Chipping away at the work consistently is half the battle, so if I can only spare 30 minutes on some occasions, the less set up time the better.

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I have a fixed bench in the garage/workshop, that carries my vice and a pillar drill, and on which I am happy to hammer harder than I would on either of those fold down gadgets!      I bought it as a flat pack from B&Q many years ago, it's bolted to the wall and today is reinforced by alloy - not steel - plate across the front, where the wood has been eroded by hammering.

I find that a mobile folding bench is more useful than a fixed one.    I can move it around the workshop/work, I can take it outside for an angle grinding session.     So useful, that I have two!    An OE "Workmate" for heavy duty, and a light one for smaller jobs, that I can take with me racing.

JOhn

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4 hours ago, RichardBaines said:

One advantage I can think of for a fold down table is that you could potentially leave a vice attached to it, provided the edge of the table isn't too close to the floor. That might just swing it for me, as I'm trying to plan for speed of set up.

Errrmmmm, Richard, please consider this rather carefully before implementing. I am thinking about shins, in particular the mixing of them with vice/turning bar which will inevitably happen at some point!!

Phil

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Fair point Phil, though it will have shelves above it that aren't that shallow, so hopefully it won't be in the walking path - but I'll test it anyhow.

The top arrived today, feels heavier than it actually is because it's a bit strange having something so thin be so heavy. I've since decided to put it in a different wall that's just breeze block, and will be going with a fold-down-to-store design.

My Dad was surprised I didn't go for something larger when he saw the size of it, but I think 1m x 0.5m is a nice size that stops you leaving too much junk on it!

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With all the ivy it looks more like the hanger for Thunderbird 2 than a garage :biggrin:

648up-m.jpg.82a088264b156c8799ac14b48ca8d85f.jpg

Most impressive. And for anyone familiar with German engineering factories he has even gone to the trouble of choosing 'that' green that the Germans use for painting all their machinery (RAL 6021).

The lift is pretty cool - more Thunderbirds - just not much use for a front engine/rear drive car. Perfect for the 911 though.

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  • 9 months later...
Posted (edited)

Just realised I never followed up with a photo when I made the bench in June.

Screwfix came up trumps with some unbelievably strong fold down legs, so I didn't even need to make anything complicated to support it. These will take 400kg and let you fold it down flat just by lifting up and pressing the levers in with your finger underneath the table.

Been a bit of a frustrating year with not much done other than prep like this - upgrading the earth clamp on the welder, running compressor air lines etc. This was to make sure I've got a work surface for panel fabrication, replacing hinge pins and anything that needs a table. But I've bolted the body back on the chassis now so will be starting a proper thread for that.

922676926_20210620_113607(Medium)2.thumb.jpg.73b702b093d81174906a8d71b0e39522.jpg

folding bench.PNG

Edited by RichardBaines
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Indeed, Richard!  Most substantial!

But may I make two tiny suggestions:

1/ get your grinder onto the corners, else you are going to get a sharp poke in the gnadgers very soon!  Even better would be a small flange, all the way around, to protect you and provide some additional rigidity.      It could be welded on, as that top looks too heavy to bend!

2/ Replace those bolts with some round headed coach bolts, else you will also catch your hand, or some highly polished work piece on them.

Plain Stainless Steel Coach Bolt, M10 x 50mm | RS Components

Like these.      A little work with a square or triangular file on hole in the table top will allow that square under the head to retain the bolt and prevent it turning as you tighen it, and the smooth top to lie nearly flat on the table surface.

John

 

Edited by JohnD
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I like that.  One further suggestion though.  Sometimes you are going to want hit things that you have put in that vice.  It then becomes obvious how much energy there is in that hammer blow.  My bench weighs the thick end of 200kg and still moves about a bit when I'm going for it.  Though it looks strong, your bench has little mass and will suffer under such circumstances, as will your ears.

My suggestion is that you find a chunk of timber that will wedge firmly between bench and floor, immediately under your vice.  This will serve as a mechanical earth in such times. and give you a more solid hit.  

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I echo both John's and Nick's comments.

Bizarrely, we are in the arduous process of setting up a new ship just now. It came out the yard in July, and came with the bare minimum. So we have so far installed one bench/toolboard:

IMG_20211006_011543_copy_720x1600.thumb.jpg.2c4329fd480ebef2dd54282a7044bf4f.jpg

One welding bench (note the rounded corner!):

IMG_20211006_011513_copy_720x1600.thumb.jpg.9bb80161c82bb1d473f4f921d1656b5f.jpg

IMG_20211006_011521_copy_1600x720.thumb.jpg.da81d7d84310f3bbd5e018b05f635d68.jpg

And one "Island" workbench, which is in progress:

IMG_20211006_011459_copy_1600x720.thumb.jpg.80aef6c40695ac289913de2f7a04f43e.jpg

As Nick says, we tend to try and mount vices over a leg where possible. All three of these benches will move under hammer blows!

Your hinges are more than up to the task of holding the table, but impacts will quickly wear them out.

Phil

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