Workbench Day 27: The Shelf.

I got a hold of some more quality time in the shop today so I made the most of it by doing something that’s been on my short list for about 3 weeks now: building a utility shelf for the bench.  Besides being able to store stuff under the bench I think it will look cooler too.  Also, I had purchased the materials about a month ago and they’ve been sitting in the overhead storage, staring at me every time I go into the garage.  I got tired of feeling their dejected eyes on me so…

I started by cutting some 1″x2″s to length to fit inside the long stretchers on the front and rear of the bench.  I used some speed clamps to hold them in place while I leveled them out and decided how deep I wanted the shelf to be.  I decided on having about 1/2″ lip all the way around (from the top of the stretchers).Once I was happy with where the rails were situated, I used the drill to put in some pilot holes, then used the impact driver (it’s just too much fun not to use, and it’s really fast too) to power some screws into place and lock the rails down.   I debated with myself whether or not to glue and screw, but in the end I decided just to use screws.  If I need to change positions or remove it, it’ll be easier with just the screws to remove.  Plus, I don’t anticipate putting super heavy objects down there anyway.  If need be, I can always take it off and add glue later I suppose.

With the rails in place, I pulled down the 1″x4″ board I had on hand and started cutting them to length after measuring the width of the shelf front to back all along the length   I was pretty surprised to find that it was the same measurement the entire length (18 1/2 inches)!  So, after making one test board, I used that as as template and cut 13 more boards.  With all 14 cut and the rough edges removed, I proceeded to put them all in place:

That left the little gaps on the sides.  Oddly enough, this was on purpose—I wanted to be able to get rid of sawdust, etc., so I planned on leaving gaps at either end to sweep the debris out.  But these gaps are too big.  Solution?  Cut two strips of the leftover 1″x2″ and attach in place like the other rails, only lower these rails to the depth of the shelf itself:This effectively cut the gap by about 3/4 and left just a little bit of space (maybe 1/4″) for sawdust, etc., to be pushed out.

I also decided (for now) to leave the planks loose, that is, not to nail/screw/glue them down.  There are a few reasons for this—first, my measurements (and more importantly, my improving hand sawing abilities) allowed me to get those planks pretty tight fitting—they’re not going anywhere without some force.  Second, if I need to access the underside of the bench, I can just pop some planks up like this:

And when I’m done, just put them back.  If I start having things come off and planks pop up on their own because of weight, then I’ll fasten ’em down, but I kind of like this setup.  Of course  I’ll also have to think about how much more rigidity fastening them down will give me, but so far, the bench hasn’t started walking…

Here’s a shot of the entire bench so far:




About Steven M. Vaught

A native son of Delaware, now living in Illinois, Steven is a writer, family historian, amateur astronomer, sometimes-gardener, woodworker, father to three wonderful children, husband to a wonderful wife, and caretaker of one cheeky vizsla.
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