Author Topic: Beginner - electronics bench  (Read 1278 times)

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Offline Urshurak776

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Beginner - electronics bench
« on: February 16, 2020, 03:59:41 pm »
Hi all,

Brand new here.  I have always been interested and want to learn.  I have poured over YouTube and learned a lot.  I am an Engineer for HVAC equipment so have some experience.  I have tons of solder experience, building guitar amplifiers and guitar effect pedals.   I also have made headphone amplifiers.  Even some SMD soldering. 

I have bought one of those cheap DSO138 O scopes, signal generator, component testers, etc.  I have a good fluke 87V multimeter.  Still need to buy or make a power supply. 


My question is I need a bench and looking for a design to build myself.  Has anyone ever done that?  I see some on YouTube but none really appeal to me.  Anyway, if anyone has any ideas, I would love to see them. Thanks everyone.
 

Offline GerryR

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Re: Beginner - electronics bench
« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2020, 04:14:16 pm »
One of my benches is made from an old solid-core door that is attached to a wall in my shop.  I then constructed shelves above it to hold equipment.  An anti-static mat is on the bench for obvious reasons.  I also have another unit that I custom built to hold my ham gear and other equipment.  The following are older pictures but will perhaps give you some ideas.
Still learning; good judgment comes from experience, which comes from bad judgment!!
 
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Offline Urshurak776

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Re: Beginner - electronics bench
« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2020, 05:30:53 pm »
Great ideas.  Thanks Gerry!
 

Online Gyro

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Re: Beginner - electronics bench
« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2020, 06:59:25 pm »
Seconded on the solid core / fire door. I have one mounted to the garage wall as a mechanical workbench. The solid mounting to the wall provides so much rigidity and mass that it only needs a couple of legs at the front. I have a heavy pillar drill, small lathe, heavy bench vise etc. with no sign of vibration or flex in use.
Chris

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Offline bdunham7

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Re: Beginner - electronics bench
« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2020, 09:13:00 pm »
Is is for your garage, basement or in your house.  Mine is in my office and needs to be more furniture-like and this has turned out the be the biggest challenge of all.  For basements where you can build it in, I'd recommend looking at kitchen countertops that can be made to custom widths and depth with built-in backs and ends.
 

Offline ferdieCX

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Re: Beginner - electronics bench
« Reply #5 on: February 16, 2020, 10:49:23 pm »
 

Offline Urshurak776

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Re: Beginner - electronics bench
« Reply #6 on: February 17, 2020, 02:12:43 pm »
You will find lots of workbenchs in this tread
https://www.eevblog.com/forum/chat/whats-your-work-benchlab-look-like-post-some-pictures-of-your-lab/3050/

Yes.  In a spare bedroom, so needs to be more furniture like and neat (or wife will kill me...).  I should have said this from the beginning. 

I love the idea of the door.  Maybe painted or stained.  I’m not opposed to simple 2X4 painted (rounded edges cut off.).  Just looking for a simple design. 

Thanks everyone for the ideas. 
 

Offline Tom45

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Re: Beginner - electronics bench
« Reply #7 on: February 17, 2020, 03:23:54 pm »
I got a Baltic birch butcher block counter top from Lowes. They are available in lengths from 4 to 10 feet and are 1 3/4" thick. Very solid and stiff. Also darned heavy.
 

Online SeanB

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Re: Beginner - electronics bench
« Reply #8 on: February 17, 2020, 05:25:36 pm »
Go to your local auctioneers and see if there are any older wooden desks there on auction. Solid wood, decent drawers and outdated by modern standards, but often a solid wood construction ( no composite board, either a plywood with quality veneers or laminated beam butcher block style) and very sturdy, and often very cheap.
 

Online RoGeorge

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Re: Beginner - electronics bench
« Reply #9 on: February 17, 2020, 05:41:42 pm »
I have IKEA Algot (they are either wall mounted or mounted on pillars without needing walls).

Very easy to mount and reconfigure, but good enough only for light work.  Not good for heavy or mechanical work.  If it were to choose again, I will probably go for a much sturdy and cheaper DIY workbenches.

Offline HobGoblyn

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Re: Beginner - electronics bench
« Reply #10 on: February 17, 2020, 06:15:15 pm »
Yes.  In a spare bedroom, so needs to be more furniture like and neat (or wife will kill me...).  I should have said this from the beginning. 

I've been pondering how to build one myself.

We have a living room and dining room in one. 

In the dining room I have my piano. dual monitor PC, Synth keyboard, another keyboard, and I borrowed the dining room table for a short while to put my lab on  :)



My wife is lovely  and doesn't mind me having all this stuff in the dining room, but she does want the dining room table back.  So at some point in the next few months, I need to redesign where my PC etc is to incorporate both my lab,  the top synth (don't need the bottom one) and free up the dining room table. 

Thinking of moving PC to floor, printer to anywhere (wireless) and having an L shaped bench going from my Piano to the door. But like you, it can't be the sort of workbench I have in my shed

The synth weighs next to nothing so can be moved wherever when not playing (play on piano mostly)

 

Offline Urshurak776

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Re: Beginner - electronics bench
« Reply #11 on: February 17, 2020, 09:26:54 pm »
Good ideas everyone.  Much appreciated.  Great thread link with other peoples pictures.  I have a corner are, so could do a corner desk.  Hmmm
 

Online Shock

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Re: Beginner - electronics bench
« Reply #12 on: February 18, 2020, 10:15:16 am »
Solid wood rectangular dining tables go really cheap if they have marks in the top, for an electronics table they are perfect. Can refinish or fix legs inexpensively as well.
Soldering/Rework: Pace ADS200, Pace MBT350
Multimeters: Fluke 87V, 117, 27/FM     >>> Fluke 51/52 Thermometer Parts Required <<<
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Offline Kerlin

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Re: Beginner - electronics bench
« Reply #13 on: February 18, 2020, 10:18:48 am »
Like that ceiling.


[/quote]

Yes.  In a spare bedroom, so needs to be more furniture like and neat (or wife will kill me...).  I should have said this from the beginning. 

[/quote]

Had one like that, the new one says anything that makes me happy is OK.
Workshop and sports cars now all look good.
 

Online MarkF

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« Last Edit: February 18, 2020, 10:17:17 pm by MarkF »
 
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Offline SmallCog

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Re: Beginner - electronics bench
« Reply #15 on: February 19, 2020, 04:34:11 am »
My home setup is a recycled kitchen.

It does the job and cost me nothing.

Depending upon what free kitchen you get it can be quite neat, mine was only a few years old. Mine is in my shed (Shops sell things in Australia) but it wouldn’t look too bad down one wall of a spare bedroom.

I’ve made more workbenches (delicate and otherwise) than I care to remember and a favourite material is the black form work ply that they use for concrete. It’s tough and thick and easy.

 

Offline Urshurak776

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Re: Beginner - electronics bench
« Reply #16 on: February 29, 2020, 02:50:23 am »
Saw where someone used a hardwood bench from Harbor Freight.  I wanted some drawers so picked one up.  Going to do some sort of hutch with shelves. Thanks all for the inspiration!
 

Offline rdl

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Re: Beginner - electronics bench
« Reply #17 on: February 29, 2020, 03:30:26 am »
If at all possible attach shelves to the wall or in some way that's not connected to the bench. First time you want to work on something big and need to move the bench out from the wall you'll be happy you did.
 

Offline angrybird

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Re: Beginner - electronics bench
« Reply #18 on: February 29, 2020, 04:03:11 am »
If you like wood grain on the edges, you can make really nice benches from formica, plywood, and wood trim around the edges.  Professional look, like something you'd see in a custom built office.

I made a 8' x ~30" work bench with two tier shelving.  In retrospect, I should have made it a little deeper, I had the room.  The shelving is only about 14" deep and this means I have to space it out from the wall a bit to fit larger equipment like my larger HP and Tek pieces.

To make the surfaces, I used a plywood base, air nailed oak trim around the edges, then belt sanded the trim flush with the plywood.  Then I glued the formica over it with the standard formica glue.  To finish I used a router bit which both cut(trimmed) the formica and cut a nice rounded edge on the wood trim.  Then stained the edges and put some urethane on them. Followed this process for the shelving too.  The shelving I did in an L shape (since it's in a corner) so I made each tier of two pieces, each piece having the same rounded trim on all 4 sides (so that it can be reconfigured later if I wanted to move the L to the other side) and then metal brackets on the undersides tie the two pieces of each tier together.  I made a box frame under it of 2x4 and legs of 2x4 as well since they have all manner of power strip and wire holder screwed into them.

To hold the shelves up, I made these boxes, about 4" wide and slightly less deep than the tiered shelves, made them out of plywood and faced them with that thin hardwood faced decorative plywood you find on the sides of kitchen cabinets. Stained the boxes.  Ended up putting holes in a couple of them, nice for storing things inside. 

Overall it looks great, there is an almost limitless choices for formica finish at the hardware store, but it is a bit of work and you will need a decent router, sander, and an air nailer really speeds up the trim install.  I had never done formica before this and I was surprised how easy it was to do, and how easy it was to trim the edges with the router even though I'd never done it before.  I've been using this bench for about 15 years now and it shows almost no wear.

Lessons learned:  For the surfaces, I didn't use a single piece of plywood, I stacked two 5/8" plywood on top of each other with some wood glue in between, and put about a hundred screws holding them together (sunk in so the sander wouldn't hit them). I wanted it to be strong.  This is too strong.  It would hold many times the amount of equipment I can fit on the shelves.  The main table piece probably weighs 180lbs.  I could have used thinner plywood and it would have been fine.  Or maybe even a single piece of 5/8" plywood, though maybe that would have been too thin, I don't know.  Gluing the formica to it seemed to give it some extra strength.

Don't be afraid to make your own.  The stuff they sell nowadays is pretty bad.  The "nice" ones from the likes of ULINE are more flimsy than the cheapest garbage you could buy in the 90's.

THE CAKE IS A LIE AND THESE NUTHATCH ARE WAY TOO DISTRACTING
 

Offline Urshurak776

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Re: Beginner - electronics bench
« Reply #19 on: February 29, 2020, 01:17:04 pm »
Thanks AngryBird!   Sounds really cool.  Any chance you could snap a picture? 

RDL, I think I will do that so I can use the whole desktop. 
 

Offline HobGoblyn

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Re: Beginner - electronics bench
« Reply #20 on: February 29, 2020, 04:01:35 pm »


In the dining room I have my piano. dual monitor PC, Synth keyboard, another keyboard, and I borrowed the dining room table for a short while to put my lab on  :)

My wife is lovely  and doesn't mind me having all this stuff in the dining room, but she does want the dining room table back.  So at some point in the next few months, I need to redesign where my PC etc is to incorporate both my lab,  the top synth (don't need the bottom one) and free up the dining room table. 

Thinking of moving PC to floor, printer to anywhere (wireless) and having an L shaped bench going from my Piano to the door. But like you, it can't be the sort of workbench I have in my shed

The synth weighs next to nothing so can be moved wherever when not playing (play on piano mostly)

My lovely wife now has her table back :)

 

Offline Urshurak776

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Re: Beginner - electronics bench
« Reply #21 on: February 29, 2020, 05:21:34 pm »
Looks nice!!!
 
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Offline angrybird

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Re: Beginner - electronics bench
« Reply #22 on: February 29, 2020, 06:33:41 pm »
Here are some pics of various points and a diagram of the shapes I made.  The nice thing about plywood is you can cut it almost any shape you want.  The plywood edges don't need to be perfect (I used a standard hand-operated circular saw, not a table saw) because as long as the face trim is hardwood it holds a nice straight edge and you can fill in any gaps between it and the plywood edge with glue if you're worried.

THE CAKE IS A LIE AND THESE NUTHATCH ARE WAY TOO DISTRACTING
 

Offline angrybird

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Re: Beginner - electronics bench
« Reply #23 on: February 29, 2020, 06:35:37 pm »
And just to give you an idea of how strong this is, I have had more than 1000lb of equipment on the shelves with no problem.  Just make sure the 2x4 base is constructed such that it cannot collapse as this could be "hazardous" xD
THE CAKE IS A LIE AND THESE NUTHATCH ARE WAY TOO DISTRACTING
 

Offline wizard69

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Re: Beginner - electronics bench
« Reply #24 on: March 06, 2020, 06:15:10 am »
You will find lots of workbenchs in this tread
https://www.eevblog.com/forum/chat/whats-your-work-benchlab-look-like-post-some-pictures-of-your-lab/3050/

Yes.  In a spare bedroom, so needs to be more furniture like and neat (or wife will kill me...).  I should have said this from the beginning. 
Keeping a work bench neat is one of the hardest things i can imagine.  Before you go to far you might want separate your accounts jut incase your new hobby leads to divorce.   :-DD
Quote
I love the idea of the door.  Maybe painted or stained.  I’m not opposed to simple 2X4 painted (rounded edges cut off.).  Just looking for a simple design. 

Thanks everyone for the ideas.

Here are some points from an old guy that has learned a few things over the years when it comes to shops / work areas.

My first bench was built in a high school wood shop (that right there probably dates me).   That was one that I more or less designed (put together) on the go.   It is a good bench for work table type uses.   However the big short coming is that its frame doesn't allow easy use of the bench from a stool or chair.   That mainly because you can't get your legs under it.   For some uses that doesn't matter but for electronics and small assembly work it sucks.

The second issue is skating, no not the ice skating but the sliding of the bench during aggressive use.  If you want to do anything mechanical that might need a vise you really want a substantial bench that is either heavy enough to prevent skating or is bolted down.   A stationary bench even benefits panel work on sheet metal.   If you are limited in space for a rigid bench, setting up a vise in a garage can be an alternative.   So you have to consider if you will ever need to do fab work that might requires even moderate aggressiveness with metal forming.

Now in the opposite direction here old age has taught me that having things that don't move easily really sucks.   So I'm now a big fan of wheel on things that don't absolutely need to be extremely stable.   If nothing else you will need to get behind the bench or whatever, to clean or pick up things.

Now that I've said all of that, I've gone through a whole range of benches over the years for light work with a focus on electronics.  This is because you can spend a lot of money on a bench and that money can be spent on a lot of other hobby related items.   So I've like others have used doors, 2x6 benches left over from a houses previous owners, plywood set across trestles and other make shift solutions.   Eventually you get to the postilion where the make shift is more frustrating than the money you are saving.

So what do you do for a bench once you want to spend real money on it?   Well if you want built in, consider kitchen cabinets with one or more large gaps for sitting under.   This can be very nice for a spare room.   The advantage here is that you get storage that can be configured as you like.   A more semi permanent solution is to buy mechanics tool boxes and bridge the gap between them with a long table top.   Again the tool boxes supply the highly needed storage.  The biggest problem with tool boxes is find a pair of the right height.

If you are not going to do a fixed installation I would suggest going with a heavy table on wheels.   Just make sure the wheels lock.   If you can't find a suitable unit you may have to make one.   I'm of the DIY been so this is a future project for me.   As a DIY project I would weld up a metal frame and place a nice wood top on it.   I'd pay particular attention to a design that is comfortable to sit at and the shelving system for instruments.    Also these days it is probably a good idea to have space for a decent sized video screen for a computer.   I know welding up metal frames isn't for everybody but steel is about the only good way to do a set of C shaped legs.

The other problem in sizing a bench for electronics, is how deep to make the bench table top.   Too deep and you can't reach important things.   Too shallow and you risk not being able to place projects on it.   Frankly your personal interests come into play here.
 


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