Make the Ultimate Mobile Workbench: The most important thing to improve your productivity and Workbench is to work on a surface that is flat, smooth, wide, and stable. That’s what workbenches are for. But when you’re away from your bench, what then? Together, we all built a setup out of sawhorses and plywood with vise stands in various positions.
We can do better. To that end, we humbly present this mobile work surface that spans a pair of horses. It is made of a 24-inch x 80-inch hollow core door made of sheet material. In our case, the sheet was a 1⁄2-inch Douglas-fir plywood medium-density overlay or MDO. Both sides of the plywood are covered in kraft paper dyed with phenolic resin. We tricked out our work surface with light-duty woodworking vises and handles, and made a mounting base for recycled bench vises that allows for quick positioning.
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You don’t need to cross-cut the wood or stretch some parts. Horses and plywood work for this. Nor will this rig take the pounding you can put on a 4 x 4 wooden workbench bolted to the wall. Wiz will not take this abuse and not on the surface. On the other hand, this work surface is mobile.
It is designed and built for medium-duty applications such as: assembling electrical and plumbing fixtures, repair jobs, light-duty to mid-duty work with wood or metal, basic miter cuts, or painting and trim projects. This works great for oddball things. A few years ago as a volunteer I repaired a wheelchair in the driveway. Boy, how could I use that work surface back then?
It is easy to plan and reasonably robust. It weighs 50.1 pounds. It stays put while you work on it and lays down easily in the sawhorses. When you’re not using it, you can park it in a corner out of the way.
Here are some tools and materials you’ll find useful in building it but don’t be constrained by what we show. If you have it, use a recycled door and attach it to any plywood, hardboard, or chipboard, as long as you can fasten the pieces so they lie flat. Plan to flip the top layer someday.
Years of use will make this top layer look like a chew toy. Two important elements are that the completed project should not be unrealistically large or heavy. Our level is about the maximum size and weight that is practical for easy movement and setting on horses.
This project is as easy as woodworking gets. You’ve got it. Take your time and strive for clean, precise cuts and measured screw spacing. Place the MDO on the top of the door (it doesn’t matter which side you designate as “top” or “bottom”). Then use the rest of the MDO sheet to reinforce the opposite side. If you plan to climb the vias, do the next one. Finally, tighten the handle.
To do this, you need to find the balance point as the weight of the work surface is tilted towards the end with the vise. Stand the work surface on the edge on a block of wood (I used a 2 x 4) and shift it left and right until it is balanced. Use a level and pencil line to mark from the center of the block to the top edge of the door. Solder the handle to the line.
Above the work surface
A hollow core door is, essentially, a thin box. It has an air space between the top and bottom layers and a honeycomb core material, with two thin strips of softwood running along the edges to strengthen the area around the knob and hinge. could The top and bottom ends being attached to a fibrous block with no screws?
So, to attach a skin to the top surface, you drill a series of 1⁄16-inch pilot holes, each with two long edges spaced 10 inches apart. Use a countersink bit to create a depression for the screw head at each location, then carefully drive a 1-1⁄4 inch drywall screw into each hole. Tighten these screws very carefully. Otherwise, you will break the edge block.
Strengthening the back
Both sides of the work surface do not need to be skinned, but you do need to reinforce the back edges as this is where you will be clamping, for example when you are clamping a piece of wood or metal. Press to cut, drill, or shape. with a router. A clamp (especially a C clamp) has enough force to break the door skin.
To solve this problem, and to reduce the weight created by slatting the back of the door, I cut the MDO plywood 3 1⁄2 inches wide. I cut these pieces to length and stretched them to the perimeter of the door. I screwed an 8-1⁄2-inch x 14-inch rectangle of MDO where the vise mounts. I used drywall screws where they hit the softwood reinforcement on the edge of the door and fastened it in place (where the screws only hold the door skin) using the special Simpson Strong-Tie screws referenced above
Advice on visas
We used an inexpensive woodworker’s vise in a corner of the work surface and found that the bottom mounting flange was so low that the holes were dangerously close to the edge of the work surface. This makes it very difficult to drill the two ¼-inch diameter holes used to fasten the vise. The WEN vise specified in the materials list (not the one we used) has larger flanges and provides more secure support, although it is a few pounds heavier.
We are very pleased with what we call the final work surface. It’s reasonably strong, and it’s versatile. If you have a shop that is well equipped, you can make it in an hour or less. If you put a lot of weight on it (like a 70 lb. miter saw), it will need some support in the form of a pair of 2 x 4s, facing the edge, spread across the horses. Also, if it’s going to be outside a lot, and you expect it to get wet regularly, I’d suggest applying spar varnish to the entire door (both faces, edges, and ends). Before starting work, apply varnish that turns the door into a work surface.
What wood is best for a workbench top?
The best wood for a workbench top is MDF. It’s light, affordable, and highly durable. The wood fibers (MDF is made from wood fibers) also ensure evenly distributed strength. However, hardwoods and selected softwoods also make excellent workbench tops.
What is the best size for a workbench?
A good size is five to seven feet long and two to three feet wide