My Workbench

Ah, the workbench. A maker's church.

Earlier this year my beau Ben built my workbench in our garage. I've been dreaming of a space like this for as long as I can remember and now that it has materialized I want to show it off like a newborn baby.  Ben happens to be a residential contractor, so lucky for me, carving out this space was within my reach.

A curve was cut into the door so I can keep my torch work closer to the vent.

The garage floor is slightly slanted, so Ben built a wood platform to level the ground. For the actual tabletop he resurrected a heavy, solid-wood door that had a previous life in a courthouse. It was covered in black leather and round metal rivets, like something out of an S&M dungeon. He stripped all of that off and anchored it to the wall with a two-by-four, which adds a ton of stability.

We kept the door knob in tact. Not sure why, but I have a feeling
its presence may someday come in handy.

Ventilation is a must when working around gas (I use a Smith Acetylene torch) and other noxious chemicals like pickle. Though the studio is in the garage it's generally too cold here in Seattle to work with the door open.

I'd received some great advice from an instructor at the University of Madison-Wisconsin, where I took my last metalsmithing class back in the summer of '09 (see my previous post). She'd said old stove vents work pretty well for ventilating home studios. Ben found mine at the RE Store in Ballard, which sells all sorts of used, vintage, and refurbished building materials. It's a great source for outfitting just about anything in your home, studio, or office.

My soldering and pickle station underneath my stove fan.
To hook up the fan, Ben cut through the drywall to create an outlet and wired the fan into the garage electrical system so the stove vent cuts on at the flip of a switch.

Another plus about stove vents as ventilation is that they typically come with lights. You can turn them off when you're working with the torch so you can key into those visual cues that let you know when your solder has flowed or your metal is properly annealed. I do wish my fan was a bit stronger, but it set me back less than $30, and with a handy-man partner doing the work I really can't complain.

I want personalize my workspace. It needs a painting or two on wall and some wood cubby holes for my files and pliers. Here's what it looks like more often than it doesn't:

If you have images of your own space to share or ideas for pimping out your workbench I'd love to hear from you. And if you live in or near Seattle and are looking to build your own bench or work area, consider hiring Ben!