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A solid DIY workbench might not be as sexy as an air compressor, but it is a truly vital piece of your home motorcycle workshop.
Personally, I have moved from place-to-place a lot in my life and generally have had to “make due” when it comes to my motorcycle work space. For example, in my Shovelhead Project post, I describe how in college I built a storage shelter out of PVC pipe because it was cheap and I needed an enclosed space outside my apartment to store my current restoration project.
However, now that I am a happily married man, I need a real workbench. Old bikes have lots of stuck parts. It is relatively easy breaking things loose when they are still attached to the bike (the weight of the bike keeps things steady), but things can get much more difficult when you are working on something off the bike. You need that third set of hands (i.e. a good table vice) to hold things tight while you apply some torque.
Additionally, it is nice to have a relatively clean, flat surface to lay out parts as part of a component rebuild (i.e. a cylinder head or a master cylinder). Otherwise, you are constantly wasting time, taking things out and putting them away each time you want to work on them. A permanent work surface allows a mini-project to extend over a few days.
When I think about a DIY workbench, I picture the workbench we had in my basement growing up. It was a monstrosity, built out of heavy wood that looked like it was from an old ship or washed up onshore somewhere. Two things, however, made it a very successful part of the basement workshop: (1) Overall weight/stability, it was able to support whatever you put on it, and (2) Super-duty table vice, attached.
Thus began my search/research into a DIY workbench for my current garage. I was surprised about how few ready-made options are out there; and the ready-made options that do exist are either (1) flimsy, (2) not appropriate for a table vice (so what is the point), or (3) super expensive. This left me with the only other real avenue. Build my own.
Below are a few really good links with detailed instructions for constructing your own DIY workbench. I like the ones where you buy an uncut door for the top surface. Doors are much more solid than plywood and allow for a really sturdy vice to be attached. All pieces can be easily purchased at your local hardware store:
Honestly, if space was no constraint, I would probably go with the bench outlined in #1 above. The option I am currently considering for myself is sort of a hybrid between a workbench and garage shelving. I am considering getting this set of shelves from Home Depot, cutting a door to lay down on top of one of the middle shelves, then fastening the door to the shelf with a set of long fasteners and metal plates. Ultimately, I will mount a table vice to one corner. The weight of the shelves will keep the table vice nice and stable, and the shelves above and below will allow me to store tons of items currently taking up valuable floor space in the garage.
Anyways, that is all I have to say about workbenches. If you like this post, please share on social media.
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