So this is the concept I came up with, combining my building, use and experience with the Paulk workbenches and my affection for the Black & Decker workmate. I bounced the idea around for a while but couldn’t find a reason not to have a go. The interest shown in my previous post helped nudge me along.
And here it is! Easy to set up anywhere and not heavy. You can carry the workmate in one hand and the bench in the other.
The size was determined ultimately by the bench having to fit in my vehicle, but also considering stability on the workmate. 150cm by 50cm seemed about right to me, after all, it was meant to be super portable. It could also be cut from a single sheet of ply – I used 12mm as a compromise between lightness and strength and it’s been fine.
I don’t plan on showing a detailed build but the pictures should show enough detail. Here are the main elements cut to shape.
I did a dry run just to check it looks about right before committing to the build.
The method I came up with to fasten it to the workmate is slightly complicated because I wanted the base to be flat to make handling easier. The two pieces of ply slide on and off dead easy and have not been a problem. The alternative is to simply glue and screw a strip on. The restriction is the opening width of the workmate jaws. They hold the bench very well.
Here’s a ‘proof of concept’ test.
The body of the bench assembled. I just glued and pinned it, very quick with my new brad nailer (did I forget to mention I needed a project to test my new brad nailer…). You could reinforce with screws if you wanted but it’s been fine.
There it is! Top fitted and the mitre saw just slides in. Since I had already made the Paulk Total Station I had the extension arms and the adjustable stops so I made provision to use them. The top would be much simpler if you didn’t need these. I also drilled some holes for bench dogs, also optional but they are handy.
As you can see it’s quite capable of handling a sizable piece of timber, even on uneven ground, helped by the fact that the extension arm support is adjustable.
Here it is being used in anger. It really is a delight and if you use a B&D workmate a lot I can thoroughly recommend making one.
Finally, some thoughts after having used it for a year.
Even it you don’t have a mitre saw, it makes a good usable workbench which stores in a small space and is very quick to set up. Because of the cutout for the saw, I plan to make a blank ‘sacrificial’ top which clamps in place and will then give me a clear work area. You could even clamp a small vice to it. It’s very versatile.
I haven’t as yet made provision for a ‘table saw’ mount using an inverted circular saw, but I plan to at some time. There are obvious safety issues with this idea so be warned.
I have also seen an inverted jig saw fitted to a work bench which then becomes a form of bandsaw. Food for thought.
My only regret is not having made it sooner! If I made it again I probably wouldn’t change the design. 12mm ply is more than strong enough and it is so portable and easy to set up that I often set it up anyway as somewhere to collect the tools you need for a job.
If you happen to have a second workmate, you could make another without the cutout for the mitre saw, clamp them together and have a really good workbench. You can’t beat real estate when you’re working! If you don’t have a workmate then a couple of saw horses would work but you’d ideally need to secure the bench somehow.