Upgrading the Lab and Need Some Advice

Thread Starter

Ya’akov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
5,663
Howdy AAC stalwarts.

The time has come to plan the migration of my current lab, called my “studio” because of its use also for photography and other things, to a larger room. Part of this upgrade will be new bench(es), new desks, and other furniture upgrades. It will also include some parts storage and organization upgrades. I will probably have several questions in this thread and I am hoping to learn something and make this whole project better.

So here is my question for the collective wisdom:

My current concern is specifying workbenches. There are a variety of ways I could go. Traditional electronics benches from the normal channels are outrageously expensive. My wife says, “well if that’s what it takes, buy that” but I am not willing to pay literally up to 10x the cost of what I know to be a very functional bench to get a commercial one. My budget for the benches, therefore, is a confusing ~$600 to ~$6000 for 8’ of 30-36” deep bench.

My current plan, which is extremely subject to change is to get two 48” benches. I have pretty much settled on 1.5” butcher block tops. ESD mitigation, where needed, will be through pads and not the bench itself. I haven’t had any ESD troubles with wood benches anyway.

I have looked around and it’s very hard to find what I want. If I was looking for ~24” deep benches I would be all set. This Husky 46” by 24” adjustable height bench with nice drawers would be the bee’s knees, or the cat’s meow, or something good. I really like the height adjustment, and the drawers are very nice. They’d be perfect for pliers, drivers and the like. But alas they are only 24” deep. I about putting a 12” fixed bench directly behind, which would be pretty costly for what it is, or attaching a 12” x 48” butcher block to the back in some way but it just doesn’t seem right.

1650529637400.png
nice, but too shallow
I am not averse to considering an 8’ bench rather than two four footers, or even something not very much like this one but with its own merit. So my question to you is, ”any ideas?”. I need to plan this out soon. I will be painting the room soon and I really want to get out of my cramped space. By the way, I plan on an instrument shelf so if you have an option where i don’t need to come up with something separate, that’s brilliant.

I like the aesthetic of this bench, and since this is going to share space with photography and office functions, something snazzy looking is much better than something kind of ugly. Industrial is not necessarily a problem. Adjustable benches with tubular legs for example, are good, while those benches that use bench sheet steel legs and frames, while structurally just fine, are not the sort of thing I want to put in this studio.

Can you help?
 

Thread Starter

Ya’akov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
5,663
How are your carpentry skills?
That would definitely be the cheapest way and it would exactly match your requirements.
My carpentry skills are excellent, my shop disappeared when I moved to this new house. No more table saw, no more router table, no more drill press, no more workbench, so… I can’t build anything that I would be willing to put in this room. I want this room to be very nice and look well put together.
 

Thread Starter

Ya’akov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
5,663
Patience and Craigslist got me an ESD bench for $200.
I can’t leave this to chance because of the schedule and I don’t really need to cheap out on it. I poked at surplus but it’s generally somewhat beaten up and of older vintage. I really need to buy something new for this project.

While I don’t have to cheap out I am also not willing to spend more than I need to. After all, the excess can help get me the very nice Canon R5 that I have been waiting to buy, and I can spend more on the various other parts of the lab.

It’s.a good idea though, and if this was a garage installation or an ordinary basement affair I would be on it like white on rice But this space may need to be presented to clients, so I want a nice halo effect and besides I like to work in a nice space.
 

tindel

Joined Sep 16, 2012
876
I didn’t cheap out. It’s a high quality esd bench. 6’ x 3’ x 8’ kewaunee evolution to be exact. Easily a few thousand dollar work bench new and respected in the industry.

I didn’t get to pick the color. Boohoo.



there’s often good deals on Craigslist. Ive also acquired my Bausch and lomb stereo microscope and a fluke 87 for big discounts on Craigslist.

if you’re in a hurry it will be pricy for professional equipment. If that’s the goal then I agree with the wife. Spend the money and move on.

All I’m suggesting is to look at all your options. You might get lucky on Craigslist or Facebook marketplace or something.
 

Thread Starter

Ya’akov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
5,663
I didn’t cheap out. It’s a high quality esd bench. 6’ x 3’ x 8’ kewaunee evolution to be exact. Easily a few thousand dollar work bench new and respected in the industry.

I didn’t get to pick the color. Boohoo.



there’s often good deals on Craigslist. Ive also acquired my Bausch and lomb stereo microscope and a fluke 87 for big discounts on Craigslist.

if you’re in a hurry it will be pricy for professional equipment. If that’s the goal then I agree with the wife. Spend the money and move on.

All I’m suggesting is to look at all your options. You might get lucky on Craigslist or Facebook marketplace or something.
BY "cheap out"I only meant go bargain hunting, I know that you can get high value things for very low prices if you search around. This case I am more concerned with consistency (I need two) and appearance because those are part of my specifications.

I didn't mean to suggest what you got wasn't a good product.
 

MrChips

Joined Oct 2, 2009
26,112
Here are my thoughts and preferences.

I like the butcher block counter top. I prefer a 24" deep top.
I would not get the drawers because they get in the way with your knees. I would not get the casters.

My electronics and computer workstations are 54" x 24" x 28"H.
I would definitely mount a 48" power strip at the back or a 24" strip on the side edge.
I built a small tool rack which I will show later. It makes for easy access without cluttering the workspace.
 

MrSalts

Joined Apr 2, 2020
1,762
I've added these shelf risers with built-in outlets to my own bench and some electrical outlets to the inside walls. Too bad they only come in 6' and 8' widths. Great to have immediate access to cords of all instruments right in front. Just lift them out - no fishing for cables. I added an extra outlet on left snd right inside walls with conduit. The master switch and pilot light are a great addition. Also has a 15A breaker built in if you buy the electrical kit. Or you can swap out whatever size breaker suits your needs.

https://www.grainger.com/product/TE...Riser-1PB74?opr=APPD&analytics=altItems_5W675

https://static.grainger.com/rp/s/is/image/Grainger/1PB74_AS01?hei=1072&wid=1072
 

MrChips

Joined Oct 2, 2009
26,112
Here is a photo of a compact tool rack for essential wiring tools.
Note the resistance substitution box in the foreground with dual 10-turn pots with digital readout.

tool rack.jpg
 

SamR

Joined Mar 19, 2019
4,194
I ended up having a cabinet maker build what I wanted from my design sketch. Looking at what was in the market and trying to make it work in the allotted space was impossible and expensive. He used the standard "inexpensive" 30" roll edge counter top in almond (good lost parts visibility but easy on the eyes) for the top (I did add cutting mats). 18" clear space in front with 12" deep x 10" high removable risers on the back for pigeon holing and stacking equipment. Knee holes in the ~6' center workspace but drawers elsewhere for storage. 2 Pull out keyboard drawers for the knee hole space. Custom length ~12' wall to wall. Make provisions for LOTS of wiring and outlets such as rear space cutouts for wiring drops. I have a shared 20A circuit and a dedicated 20A circuit outlets behind the workspace. For the desk/workbench itself he used clear maple. Nice hard wood. He also built it at a custom/non-standard desk height for me as I'm a big guy so I can work seated (a bit high) or standing (a bit low). Lots of spotlighting!
 

MrSalts

Joined Apr 2, 2020
1,762
the resistance substitution box in the foreground with dual 10-turn pots with digital readout.
Screw the resistance substitution box, look at that hand-wrapped coil on the tissue tube. Looks like my first "crystal radio" project with a germanium diode.
 

MrChips

Joined Oct 2, 2009
26,112
Screw the resistance substitution box, look at that hand-wrapped coil on the tissue tube. Looks like my first "crystal radio" project with a germanium diode.
I couldn’t find all the screws and I was in a rush.:)

btw, one of my tests was to see if I could eliminate the germanium diode.
I digitized the RF signal on an STM32F407 and rectified the signal in software. I was pleasantly surprised that it worked very well.
 

crutschow

Joined Mar 14, 2008
29,799
As you noted, a wood top on the bench is unlikely to be an ESD concern.
A properly grounded ESD pad (such as connected to the AC safety ground) on the bench should be sufficient for any sensitive electronic work.
 

Externet

Joined Nov 29, 2005
1,847
If triggers an alternative to consider, good. At a previous workplace we moved workbenches within the factory very often, doors were used on top of four leg wood frames like :
1650562491120.png

Cheap, for low weight/strenght, but worked very well. Bought with no lock hole, the smooth flush type, some hollow, some not. The ones with fiberglass skin were more expensive.
Plain, flat, smooth, available from ~24" to 36" wide :

1650561797489.png



Kitchen countertops work too, heavier and stronger and sometimes cheaper, available longer, with or without splash ends :

1650562367591.png
 

k1ng 1337

Joined Sep 11, 2020
539
I suggest renting some tools and building it all yourself. I'm big on feng shui and structurally speaking you could use something cheap like aluminum planks and brackets to keep costs low and then focus on the table top and side for visual appeal with wood paneling or even get crazy with some custom art.
 

SamR

Joined Mar 19, 2019
4,194
I've used "door" tables for years. Use solidcore Luan Mahogany veneer if available and they come in a variety of widths but limited to standard door height for length. Door and a couple of 2 drawer deep file cabinets or end tables with drawers work fine as long as they match in height. Even better is the roll edge particle board counter tops with the hard vinyl finish in the color of your choice. Apparently my 30" is a non-stock width but easily obtained. Long spans need some framing for support unlike doors. Not sure what the max available length is but at least 12'.
 
Last edited:

Reloadron

Joined Jan 15, 2015
6,585
Something you may want to consider is Industrial Surplus outlets. While I know you are not around me in the Cleveland, Ohio suburbs where I like HGR Industrial Surplus you may have something similar. I go to HGR and enter search for workbench and dozens come up including some nice maple wood tops. Some with draws and some not. A belt sander and a little time and you get a sweet bench for about $129. Add some grey spray paint and done. A good work bench you want sturdy and heavy and industrial surplus stuff can fill that. Just something to consider.

Ron
 
Top