Upcycle: Sanding Station

In the summer I snagged an old Craftsman workbench (model 706653800) for $30. I thought it would make a great sanding station for my workshop. Here is a before and after of just the table (near the end is a photo with my sanding machines attached). I’m really happy with how it turned out!

One of the first tasks was to make use of the right side. I started by cutting a couple of plywood panels and screwing them in.

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If you look back at the post where I took out a couple of walls to open up my workshop, you can see a unit with five drawers. When I dismantled it, I saved the drawers and slides. This was the perfect project to use a few.

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The drawers were too wide, deep, and tall, so I had to resize them in every dimension. Thankfully glue wasn’t used in the original assembly, so they were easy to break down.

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It felt like I measured and checked my calculations 10 times before cutting anything to size. I didn’t want to rush it and cut too much from any pieses, so I ook my time and the assembly went well. Putting the drawer slides in was tricky, but I made everything fit.

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I cut a plywood base and attached it to the frame. Then I screwed in some locking casters ($4/each at Harbor Freight). I drilled holes for the drawer handles before taking both sets of drawers out and removing all of the slides. After two coats of a glossy black on the body and base, I was finally able to move it to the basement and free up the space in my garage.

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I sanded the wood drawers, wire brushed the original drawers, and cleaned all of the drawer slides with Brakleen. The faces got two coats of glossy white and the handles were sprayed with metallic aluminum.

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I’m really glad I decided to paint everything. Having this and the lathe stand in more of a finished condition makes the shop feel much nicer. I might have to paint some of my previous shop projects.

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I gave the galvanized metal top a good scrubbing with a soft brush according to what I’d read and it was still in rough shape. So I used a wire brush and a wire wheel on a drill. It ate up the rust, but went through some of the galvanizing. I found a product made by Rust-oleum to resurface the metal that looked promising for less than $5.

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I did 3 good coats, screwed the metal back to the MDF, and attached it to the stand. Looked pretty sweet if you ask me!

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I gave the galvanizing a full week to cure. I’d read about people having mixed results with it scraping off.

My original plan was to make some kind of hinging platform for the larger belt/disc sander so I could flip it on the side to use the belt for edge sanding. It couldn’t come up with a layout to make it work though, especially making sure I still had access to all of the dust ports. This configuration should work just fine.

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From left to right:

  1. Craftsman 4×36″ belt and 6″ disc (Model 137.215360)
  2. Ryobi oscillating spindle (Model OSS500)
  3. Craftsman 1×30″ belt and 5″ disc (Model 137.215150)

I bought all three of these used and paid $25, $50, and $30. The smaller Craftsman sander was still sealed in its original box. If you buy the Harbor Freight versions of these three machines, the new prices are $70, $145, and $85 respectively or $56, $116, and $68 with 20% off coupons if you make separate trips to the store. I love buying used tools!

All of the power cords run along the back and then over to the right side where there is a power strip (free from Harbor Freight) and an extension cord ($9 at Harbor Freight) so I only have to deal with one plug.

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My shop feels infinitely more organized without the three sanding machines scattered across the floor. All that’s left now is to fill up the drawers with my hand sanders, sand paper, and accessories.

Custom Workbench

I’ve needed a workbench in my new shop since day 1. I finally got tired of working on the floor and built one. I created a little video to show the various ways I’ll use the table.

Let me walk you through the build. First I measured a bunch of stuff, especially the tools I wanted to be able to store under the table.

Then I did a quick framing mock-up to visualize the size.

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The size felt pretty good so I spent some time in SketchUp. The model is free at my new Misc Plans repo on GitHub. Not everything in the model and the screenshot below are exact to the finished workbench, but they’re a good starting point if you want to build something similar.

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At Home Depot I had them cut a sheet of 3/4″ plywood into 3 equal pieces. At home I trimmed them to size for the walls. Then I started cutting 2x4s (all from the walls I took down) for the rest of the framing. I set up an extended fence and a stop block on my miter saw.

That really made quick work so I didn’t have to measure each piece.

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Then I countersunk and drilled holes, glued, and screwed the pieces of 2×4 to create a frame on each wall.

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After assembling the 3 walls I started to line everything up and attached the rails. I was thrilled when the power went out as I was finishing up. Some battery lights allowed me to finish the remaining screws.

I couldn’t believe how level it turned out, considering my basement floor is not very flat.

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Here’s the frame after the power came back on.

I made another trip to Home Depot. I had them cut 2 sheets of plywood to my exact size of 3×5 feet. Then I used a lot of glue (2-3 times what is pictured below) to laminate the two sheets together. I wanted a solid surface for the top of the workbench.

I hauled a bunch of weights down from the garage and clamped all around the edges. I think I counted 35 clamps being used! There weren’t many left on my clamp racks.

With so much glue, I gave it almost a full day to dry. Then I used my router with a flush trim bit along the edges to even up the 2 pieces, followed by a round over bit to get rid of the sharp edges

It was time to attach the top to the frame. I measured out the placement on one end and when I went to check the other side it was way off. I hadn’t been testing squareness enough or not in the right places when I assembled the frame. This is where experience and learning the order of operations is important. I measured the diagonals and there was about an inch difference between the two. Shit!

I pushed and pulled on corners and racked my brain trying to think of a good way to square it up. I decided to take the frame apart and go with a different approach. I’m glad I didn’t glue those rails to the walls!

I gave the entire table top a coat of paste finishing wax before moving on. Then I laid out some scrap plywood on the floor, set the top down, and used shims to get it as level as I could. I placed the wall on the end and used pocket holes to screw it in. From there I measured out where the two rails should go and I pocket holed them to the top as well. Then in went the other two walls. I made sure to test squareness of the walls to the top. I didn’t need to test horizontal square because I knew the top was a good rectangle. This was a much smoother way to assemble the frame.

Before flipping it over, I attached 6 castors (3 locking along one side) to the frame. I cut a bunch of scraps to make shelves and attached a metal tool holder on each side.

I had already cut and laminated the pieces for the vise somewhere earlier in this whole process. I also used flush trim and round over bits to route the edges of the vise jaws. In the drill press I used a Forstner bit to make the holes in the vise jaws for the pipes. Then I screwed the single vise jaw to the table and used its holes as guides to continue the holes through the side wall of the table. Unfortunately the Forstner bit wasn’t long enough to go all the way through. I found this massive drill bit in a box of bits my Dad had given me with the drill press. It wasn’t quite wide enough so I still had to file the edges of both holes.

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Here is a close-up of one piece of the pipe clamp under the table. I used the drill press to put some holes in the clamp and then locked it in place with some screws.

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Hung up a couple of router accessories on the wall.

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Voila!

Isn’t she pretty? I don’t know how I lived without this thing. I’ve already used it so much. If you’re putting together a shop I recommend starting with a proper workbench before anything else.

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I bought this 36″ paper roll and holder so I could cover the table when doing a glue up or a quick paint or stain job.

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It would stick out too much on the sides though. I also didn’t like the mounting method and how much space it would take up under my 12″ overhang. So I found a place on the floor under my tool bench (that you see in the picture) to put it.