Admitting it to yourself is half the battle.
I needed a useful, inexpensive project for this winter so I decided organize my tools on a pegboard in the basement. A part of our basement is a finished family room and the adjacent wall on the unfinished side was begging for a pegboard organizer and shelves.
There were three goals for this project: a) All tools in one location. b) Clean up and organize cluttered basement. c) Use leftover wood and keep it inexpensive. The FOREMOST goal for this project is to organize my tools. Have you ever spent half an hour looking for a pair of pliers? It is not a choice use of precious weekend time for me.
From the photo (above), you can see that there is much to be done. On the right side of the photo is a piece of roughly 48” squarish, 3/16″, c-grade plywood; a remnant from the family room project that needs to go. It is behind the larger piece of paneling in the photo. The piece has been whittled away at for other projects but there is still enough leftover to use and in its current state it is an obstacle to progress. Putting it in the garage is not an option—at all.
A workbench. What else?
Using my new, girl-friendly, 5 1/2″ Skil circular saw http://www.amazon.com/Skil-HD5510-6-5-2-Inch-Circular/dp/B0000223FJ/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1334534751&sr=8-2; a Christmas gift, from me to me; I cut the plywood in half and glued the two pieces together with wood glue. Here you can see the piece clamped, using every clamp I own, and weighted by iron Christmas tree stands. (click on image to enlarge)
This thing is no masterpiece. One edge is not perfectly straight, the pieces are not flush on one side, one corner is not square (off by about 1/4″), and the plywood is old and crappy, however, I don’t care…fastest way to finish on this one. The sander will mostly take care of the rough edge, the gap will not show from underneath, and it doesn’t need to be perfectly square. I will probably fill in the upside gaps, sigh. At this point though, I don’t even know if it’s going to be rigid enough for a workbench, although it seems like it will. The piece is now roughly 48 x 24.
Below are examples of the challenges the wood poses. (click on images to enlarge)
The piece does seem rigid enough for a lightweight workbench, thank goodness, but it needs some trim around the rough edges. There are leftover pieces of 1/4 x 3/4 pine from a long ago kids’ room decorating scheme. The trim went around a bedroom wall so there are lots of long pieces. The crappy plywood also needs a good sanding. Here, I spent the afternoon in my driveway sanding and adding the trim. I suddenly felt, with this part of the project, that I could use a heartier sander. (click on image to enlarge)
A little determination and way too much time later the piece was deemed acceptably sanded. The worrisome edges came off for the most part. I decided to use a hand miter saw for the trim because it is thin trim, probably 3/8″ x 3/4″, and it didn’t make sense at the time to haul out the chop saw, etc… Here’s the miter saw and its lame little stand which was contributed by the guys who built our addition about 15 years ago. It works just fine. You can sometimes make more precision-like cuts with a hand saw because (at least at this time), the blade is thinner and the wood doesn’t splinter as much as it might with an electric saw. A mitre box (and saw) is a very useful, inexpensive addition to any workshop. Here’s a link to one like I have; http://www.homedepot.com/h_d1/N-5yc1v/R-100004948/h_d2/ProductDisplay?catalogId=10053&langId=-1&keyword=mitre+box&storeId=10051 (click on image to enlarge)
After measuring and making several cuts with the miter saw, I used a brad nailer and glue to add the trim. My next door neighbor, John, who taught me most of what I know (and was instrumental in the success of several, if not all, of my projects), bought an Arrow brad nailer, http://www.homedepot.com/h_d1/N-5yc1v/R-100072048/h_d2/ProductDisplay?catalogId=10053&langId=-1&keyword=arrow+brad+nailer&storeId=10051, and after borrowing it a few times I realized that I needed to own one. Supposedly it will not only shoot the nail in, but also countersink nails up to 1 1/4″. I have not been very successful at making that happen yet, so the nails get countersunk manually in my house, however, it is very handy. I used 1″ nails for this part. Here’s the trim and glue job. Make sure you have a damp cloth or paper towel nearby to wipe up the excess glue that will inevitably seep out along the edges. Also, go straight in with the gun because these spiky little nails are a bitch to remove without breaking. (click on image to enlarge)
**Splitting off for a moment—I said vowed not to do this with my blog but it was too strange of an occurrence not to share. While gluing and nailing the trim pieces, I noticed my across-the-street neighbor, Betsy, zigzagging around in her driveway. I wondered about it, of course, but there didn’t seem to be any imminent danger AND I was on a mission. When the phone’s started ringing, first the house phone, then my cell phone; I had no choice but to answer, glue covered fingers and all. This was her concern: (click on image to enlarge)
This was a giant-ass bird! It must have been 2′ tall. Betsy was trying to get the best angle for a picture without getting out of the car. She had just stopped home between errands. She didn’t want to scare it off by opening the garage door but she didn’t really want to get out of the car either. We live very close to a huge salt marsh and apparently this juvenile, Great Blue Heron was enjoying the sun on Betsy’s doorstep that afternoon. It wandered back to the marsh around suppertime.**
Back to the project. Here is the finished workbench after gluing and nailing on the edge trim. It is nice and rigid, what a relief. I sanded the top again, and the sides before taking it downstairs to fill in the cracks and chips and attaching it to the wall. (click on image to enlarge)
I went a little crazy filling in the gaps and nail holes, thinking at the time that I was NOT going to go crazy with the filling of the gaps and holes, but then I noticed how pretty the wood was, after all, and did a reasonable amount of filling for a workbench that, still, might not even work…. Still, I am optimistic. The plan is to hang this bench on the wall. Rockler Workworking shops sell a folding bracket set that I’ve used before. http://www.rockler.com/product.cfm?page=124&rrt=1 I bought the largest, 16″ size for this project. Supposedly they will support something like 178 pounds. (click on image to enlarge)
At the time the plan was to screw the 2x3s that you see in the picture into the studs on the wall. I can’t remember what I thought I would gain by doing that, (something about more stability for the bench with more spacing between the brackets) but the idea was quickly tossed aside in favor of screwing the brackets in directly to the studs. In the end I decided the extra work, hanging the boards, leveling, drilling, etc… would not be warranted. The bench, 3/4″ thick, will need to have supports underneath, both for stability and to provide enough depth for longer screws. Smaller wood screws would tear out of the plywood with the weight of the bench. Luckily, I had a long enough piece of 1×3 pine LEFTOVER from a previous project. (click on image to enlarge)
I hung the brackets on the wall first with 2″ stainless steel screws, leveling at the top of the brackets where there is an inch or so of surface before the hinges. Here you can see what it looks like with the brackets hung to the wall.(click on image to enlarge)
The next steps are highly unscientific. Laying the pieces of 1×3 board on top of the brackets, and the bench on top of the boards, I lined up the holes in the brackets with the 1×3 boards and marked, from underneath, the spots to drill for the screws. Then centering the bench on the boards and lining it up with the wall, I marked the places where the boards would be screwed to the bench. Here you can see the boards attached to the bench. I think I used glue with the screws because they were going into plywood. You can also see the slovenly mess that still surrounds the work area…. (click on image to enlarge)
Hanging the bench with supporting boards back on the folding brackets I attached it, again from underneath, with 1 1/2″ screws into pre-drilled holes, through the support boards, and into the plywood. Here’s what it looks like installed and folded down. By the time I took this picture I had already started hanging the pegboard. (click on image to enlarge)
Eventually I will put some sort of protective finish on the top and sides. For now though, I need to keep moving on to the organizing and clutter clearing parts of this project. Just to let you know, there is a folding workbench I found online that is much, much sturdier than something like this. It’s pretty cool. See benchsolution.com. It is REALLY nice, but brace yourself; the price is $349.99. Ergo, for me at least, it’s gotta be DIY.
The pegboard was hung in conjunction with the workbench. It was very easy, just a level, a drill, and a willing partner, however, a stronger person than me could do this by her/himself, I’m sure. On a Saturday afternoon at Ace Hardware I found some really nice 1/4″ pegboard (not the chipped up, 1/8″ stuff you see at the big box store), available in 4′x4′ or 4′x2′ only. They had a limited supply so I bought one of each and called it good. I had to enlist my husband’s help to hang both pieces, but he patiently held them in place while I marked holes, drilled, and used, maybe, 1 1/2″ stainless steel coarse screws to hang the pieces of pegboard to the wall. I had to add extra wood to the studs in the area where the 4′x4′ piece now hangs because the studs were not amenably spaced. Here you see the 2 pieces of pegboard hung up on the wall. (click on image to enlarge)
Simply amazing! With a few of the pegboard hanging kits, also bought at Ace Hardware, I gleefully hung many things onto the pegboard. I really had no idea just how handy this system is. I’ve rearranged it a number of times already. Plans are being made for a garage version as well. Until this time, tools etc… lived in shoe boxes that were sortable only by project, and stored here and there around the house and garage. This is a very good start.
The original plan was to use the long spaces between the wall joists that you see to the left of the pegboard for shelves, until I realized that I needed more pegboard space, and the exposed wiring was an issue. I didn’t feel like trying to fit the shelves around the electrical. For the additional pegboard I went back to my local Ace Hardware and found that they had switched brands, or maybe types, of pegboard and they didn’t have the matching stuff anymore. They did, however, find me a 4′x 4′ matching piece at another of their locations, a few miles away, where I headed straight away. Sadly, I cannot fit a 4′ piece of board in my Passat wagon, (which is really irritating-all length and no width), and, although I brought my jigsaw (hoping they would let me cut it down at the store), I forgot to measure the width between the wall joists before I went. It was late on Sunday afternoon and my precious weekend time was waning quickly. Luck was on my side that day. A “helpful hardware man” measured the diagonal space in my station wagon AND offered to cut it for me so it would fit in the car (apparently, the jigsaw was not a good choice of tools for the job, after all). I had no idea they offered that service at Ace. Not only did he cut the piece so it fit in my car but he also, by some twist of fate, cut it to fit exactly on the wall! That was a good day. I’ll show you how it came out after I explain the shelves…
The shelves are made from mostly leftover wood; baseboard that was ripped from now refurbished, upstairs bedrooms for the shelves, leftover 1″ x 1″ strips (and a few leftover pieces of quarter round) for the supports, more of the 1/2″ x 3/4″ (also used for the trim around the workbench), and 2″ lattice, which I did buy for this project, for $16. I cut the 1″ x 1″ supports (to fit the back-to-front measurement of the joists), the baseboard, and the lattice with a chop saw. I did the best I could to make them level; successfully, I think (that was the most tedious part). The wider edge of the baseboard is facing front and I had to shave a little off the narrower, back side with a hand planer to make the shelves fit. Here you can see the supports and shelves in place. The Arrow brad nailer was my tool of choice for hanging the shelves. (click on image to enlarge)
You can see plainly in the picture above how the boards were added to accommodate the width of the pegboard. Also, notice how the shelves follow a line at each height, along the length of the wall. This is so the trim pieces can be put over the entire expanse. The picture below shows the lower piece of trim that covers the supports installed. (click on image to enlarge)
The lattice is hung above the lower trim, hiding the shelf that’s made of leftover baseboard, and creating a bin to help prevent things from falling to the floor. (click on image to enlarge)
This was the point at which I decided to add the extra pegboard, mentioned in the last post. The piece on the left is the now modified 2′ x 4′ piece.
The following pictures will show you a progression of what came next. (click on images to enlarge)
There you have it, for now at least. It is now April and my gardens are calling. In addition I’ll need to travel for work, and my daughter is getting married this summer. I really hate to put this project down in mid-stream but I am going to need to let my life run me for the next few months.
Future plans for this project include; reuse of a sliding closet to cover the opening at the basement bulkhead, covering the insulation on the ceiling, painting the floor, putting some kind of protective coating on the workbench, a possible modification of the shelving on the opposite side of the room to the pegboard wall, and whatever else I dream up between now and then.