Friday, April 23, 2010

Work Bench

I'm kind of in need of a quick easy project ( if there is such a thing on a yacht build), so I decided to build a work bench for the engine room. I have quite a few engine room projects coming up and I want to be able to sit comfortably while I get things done. I'm also getting tired of having tools and parts scattered everywhere, so I'm also contemplating some cabinets and a tool box in the not to distant future.

I don't have any decent plywood laying around the shop, but I do have about 1600 board feet of rough sawn Cherry that's been air drying for the last three years. It's a bit more work to have to joint boards and edge glue them together vs sawing some plywood, but I don't mind. If I can save myself $50.00 for the cost of a sheet of plywood and a trip to the supply house, I'm happy to use some of the rough sawn lumber I have.

It's been a while since I've messed in wood so I had to go over the jointer and make sure it was tuned up. I only had to make a slight adjustment to get the two beds parallel, but other than that, all looked good. After I planed some stock to 3/4", I ran the stock through the table saw a few times to straighten it out a bit. I cut the stock a few inches long, then I ran it all through the jointer to finish the edge. Using a biscuit joiner with #2 biscuits to reinforce the joints, I glued up the panel.

After the glue had cured, I flattened the panel with my air sander using 80 grit paper. My next step was to go over the panel with a DA sander a few times, finishing up with 220 grit. I rounded over the outside edge of the panel, and applied a fiddle to the starboard side. I put a fiddle on this edge since anything that can roll this direction has a good chance of landing in the bilge underneath the engine. Retrieving things from this area would be a pain so I'm trying to head things off with the fiddle.

I'm putting a satin finish on the work bench just to help it stay a little clean. I've never had a finish on a work bench as most of my work benches are steel. I want a wood surface on the boat so I'm not limited as to what I can do at the bench. Steel benches and wood working tools don't mix so well, so wood makes the most sense.

Installing the bench against #9 bulkhead was about as straight forward as one can get. I did have to mess around with the height of my stool/bench combination. The height of the bench came to 33", and the height of the stool will be 23". This is a comfortable height and allows me to sit upright while not hitting my my head on frame #10. I screwed cleats to the fuel tank and #9 bulkhead to support the bench and also fabricated a leg out of stainless steel tube. If the need arises, the bench will be very easy to remove and replace.

I bought a 5" vise to install on the bench, but after sitting the vice on the bench I was not happy with it. The vice dominated the bench, and just plain took up too much room. A smaller vice would not be the answer, as I hate being limited by having too small a vice for such an important tool. A vice is one of my most used tools in my shop, and I want one on my boat. I compromised with myself, and found another location. Aft of the bench where the sole steps up will actually become a good location for the vice. I can sit comfortably on the step and work at the vice. I'm not as limited to the size of work as I would have been in the work bench corner. I can also remove the sole on the step below the vice and pick up another 10" of depth if need be. I"ll have to remove the sole around the vice, reinforce things, then re install a dedicated piece of sole that the vice bolts through. By doing this, I can leave the vice bolted in place and remove pieces of sole to a gain access under the sole for maintenance and future work.

Even though the bench is not as large as I'm used too, it's going to be nice having a work bench on my boat.

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