As I wrestled with the master cylinder end plug it was clear that I needed a stable workbench. The best vise in the world isn’t much good if it hops across the floor when something in the jaws is torqued.
So, I took time out and built a sturdy bench last weekend. The top is scrap 2x4s from the local big-box with the edges sawed flat for gluing. It is edged with 2x4s and the legs are glued and screwed in place. The whole thing knocks down, as well—the top lifts off, the cross brace in back is unbolted, and the whole thing can be stacked away easily, if necessary. The vise was installed at one end, but I drilled holes on the opposite side for a duplicate mounting position as well so it can be moved to the other end.
Part of the reason for the bench was that I’ve also been eying a suitable rolling shop tool chest. I still have dad’s old Craftsman steel toolbox and won’t part with it, but as Jane Austen points out presciently, “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a hobby mechanic in possession of a good truck project, must be in want of a tool chest.” Or something like that. So the bench provided a reason (or excuse) for another toy.
I’ve been periodically looking at a small chest at Home Depot for several weeks. One of the reasons the workbench is built like it is, is that I could set a small chest under the work surface if the wheels were not mounted. The one I’ve looked at was $179 and had five drawers of varying sizes. The odd thing was that I could not bring myself to buy it. Now I know why. Dear came home one day this week to say the store has been running a sale and one of the advertised items is a larger chest of nine drawers. She suggested now would be a good time to buy one. My word—what kind of husband would I be to contradict my wife/accountant in such a circumstance! We bought it this morning.
Son Four helped (reluctantly) get it unpacked. Didn’t want it to sit directly on the concrete so I cut a pair of feet out of a piece of 2×2 Trex to serve in place of the casters to keep the steel off the floor, which brought the surface up to the 32″ clearance beneath the edge of the table top—exactly.
So, now I just need some tools. . . .
[Breaking news (8 Apr 2017]
Added one neat feature that I’d encourage for any tool chest, a foam drawer liner with cutouts to hold everything in its proper order. No rummaging through the drawers for something you can’t see. Neat as a surgical setup.
The chest came with drawer liners of 1/16-inch foam. With it in place tools won’t rattle and scratch the drawers, but I put in an added insert re-purposed from a couple of old floor pads. They used to sit in front of the stove to lessen the stress of standing there, but an accident spilled oil all over them (vegetable, not motor) so they really don’t belong on the floor any more.
I simply cut them to fit the 41-1/2 x 15-3/8 dimension of the drawer, positioned tools where I wanted them, traced around them with a pen, and used a utility knife to cut out the shapes I wanted.
Some basic tools now reside in the top drawer: the socket set—bought for my first automotive adventure in 1994 (another tale entirely) and several well-used Channel Lock pliers were moved from their long-time previous home in my dad’s old toolbox. The Napa Evercraft screwdrivers and combination-wrench set are new—lower-end goods, to be sure, but adequate for the rank-amateur weekender that I am, and intended for automotive work, at least.
I like it. One does not have to go looking to know where a tool is, and it provides visually clear reference to see if something is missing. Yes, it gratifies my native OCD-ness.