Real Estate

How to improve the performance of a folding workbench

I like to create with my hands. I especially enjoy creating useful items out of wood. Unfortunately, my self-designed and built 6′ X 3′ workbench has a tendency to become literate with miscellaneous “stuff”, and I find myself at my wits end trying to build projects on a piece of plywood strung on two sawhorses. folding. . Not ideal, I agree. I appreciate the convenience of being able to disassemble and store the components of my makeshift work surface. What I don’t like is that the work surface is not that stable and requires a separate set of clamps to hold the work surface to the sawhorses.

Looking for something sturdier than a piece of plywood and some adjustable clamps, I discovered that there are several folding workbenches on the market from manufacturers like Worx, Black and Decker, and sold at places like Home Depot, Lowes, and Harbor Freight. . Their prices are varied, but they all have similar characteristics. I especially like benches that fold up, store easily, have built-in adjustable “vise” and can carry moderate loads.

After researching the various offerings, I settled on an inexpensive folding workbench from Harbor Freight.

After researching the various offerings, I settled on an inexpensive folding workbench from Harbor Freight. Price was a determining factor. You can see what I finally bought by following the link embedded below in the Resources section below.

The folding workbench comes as a kit. Critical elements are pre-assembled. I had to mount the two crank assemblies to the two fiberboard work surfaces, then mount the legs and their bracing crossbars that double as tool stations. Assembly was quick; I just needed to supply a Philips head screwdriver.

Unfortunately, the finished workbench does not fold completely. But the workbench works just as I wanted it to: It’s a sturdy, portable workbench that I can easily carry around the house or to the backyard to exercise my woodworking skills. I’ve added some extra speed clamps and a 6″ portable carpenter’s vise, and I’m ready to go (my first project was making and attaching two ¼” pieces of wood siding to the metal jaws of the 1/4″ vise). 6″ joiner).

Looking at the construction of the workbench, it occurred to me that with a few minor modifications, this workbench could be materially improved. And that’s what prompted me to write this “How To” article to document what I did to my workbench.

There are five areas on that workbench that, with a few minor modifications, will materially improve its performance and probably extend its life. None of these suggestions is critical or even necessary for the casual user. Neither of these suggestions is complicated to implement, but I think it will probably pay off as time goes on.

Area #1: The “fold flat” feature.

When this workbench is assembled according to the instructions, when folded, the handles point down the legs toward the floor. By reversing the way the legs are mounted (exactly the reverse of the installation instructions), the handles are now at the top of the folded bench, pointing away from the legs, and the legs fold flat! An easy solution.

Area #2: The crank clamp lead screw adjustment.

I noticed that the board that is mounted on the hand operated lead screw that makes the work surface boards work like a built in vise, was loose and came loose when the handles were turned. To remedy this, I used a wrench to tighten the crankshaft fitting into the moving work surface so there was less play when the unit was turning. Don’t over-tighten, or the board won’t move at all!

Area #3: The Crank Lead Screw Sheet Metal End Clamp Bracket.

Each of the crank lead screws pass through an end plate that is bent from the sheet metal of the leg support. If you look closely, you will notice that the lead screw plate is secured to the sidewalls by two sheet metal “ears” and two small dimples in the sidewalls. That seems like a potential source of downstream failure – nothing prevents the sidewalls from separating and allowing the crank to loosen. My solution? Simple: I installed a holding and securing bolt through the sidewalls just behind the end plate. To secure the side plates and keep them from separating, about 1 inch from the end plate, I drilled a ¼” clearance hole through the two side plates (which also mount the legs) and drove in a 1 ½ inch bolt. long, ¼-20 with a washer and locknut Tightening the locknut will hold the end plate securely to the sidewall plates, this will prevent the end plate holding the lead screw and cranks from tendency to loosen over time.

Area #4: Friction reduction.

The assembly instructions told me to use a bolt, two washers, and a locknut on each leg to hold it in place. The problem is that that means the legs will wear on the side plates. It is not a good idea. I bought 8 more stainless steel flat washers and slid those washers between the legs and side panels. Now the legs will wear on the washers instead of the side plates. This makes the leg lock assembly consist of the bolt head, washer, side plate, washer, leg, washer, other side plate, washer, and then the locknut. So each of the legs now has 4 grommets: two grommets on the outside of the side panels and two grommets to keep the leg from rubbing directly against the side wall. Again, don’t over-tighten, or the workbench won’t bend.

Area #5: Keep things running smoothly.

Be sure to lubricate all moving surfaces with oil, WD-40 or a dry film lubricant (you can use a light grease on the two lead screws, but if you grease the slide rail, I think you’ll find that the grease will probably be a sawdust magnet!). Be sure to lubricate all sliding or swivel joints and connectors, especially the added washers on the legs where they mount to the side plates.

Area #6: Replace fiberboard work surfaces.

While this is a bench designed for light to moderate loads, you might consider replacing the work surface fiberboard with 1½ X 4-inch pieces of lumber, with holes properly drilled for zip-tie inserts. If you’re comfortable with a power planer or router, cut a suitable notch to clear cranks and use 1 ½ X 6-inch planks for work surfaces. That will give you a wider work surface when both panels are maxed out.

As I said at the beginning of this article, none of these rework items are absolutely necessary; The workbench will work great if you simply follow the included assembly instructions. But I think these minor modifications and reworks will enhance your enjoyment of this inexpensive folding workbench. I know what I have

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *