Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Workstation for the scatterbrained, or staying focused on a million little things.


The nature of a work station is highly personal. Often you find out what you need based on lack. I notice that my workstation is lacking when I have to get up and go to another room to fetch things, but it seems impossible to have everything at arm’s reach. This back and forth not only slows your progress, but can create quite a mess for you to clean up when you are done with your task. It doesn't help that by my very nature I am a jack of all trades, master of none.

Is it possible to have everything within your reach, saving you from those trips to the basement, the attic, other rooms in the house? I often look to others who are doing just that to help me craft an idea. Neil Pert, world famous drummer of Rush, is someone I thought of. Every possible drum is within arm’s reach. Ready for every possible challenge, never even having to stand up, much less leave the room!

That is my starting point. At the very least, stay in one room and do what I need to do. At best, do not get up from your seat! My workstation idea builds on an incredible foundation. As I have mentioned in my other blog entries, I am all for creative repurposing of existing things. Full disclosure: This particular thing, though, was quite pricey. You may have seen them in the big box store- a rolling 5 ½ by 2-foot tool cart with a wooden top. This was a perfect solution for me, as I could easily fill every bit of it with tools, hardware, and even some project bins. I found a nice one on Wayfair with the Frontier brand.

The seating that would compliment this workstation would have to be comfortable and sturdy, so I actually went with a drum throne(back to Neil Pert!). Roc N Soc makes a manual spindle throne with backrest and footrests that is built like a tank, but not packed with features I will never use(no recline allowed!). 

Since this workstation is basically already built, I will just tell you about the modifications. The long, flat, and wide drawer became a pull-out desk. I just simply built a box with a piano hinge at the same height as the top of the drawer. The drawer was designed to hold a lot of weight, with double bearing tracks on each side, so I didn’t have to reinforce anything. The piano hinge allows me to use the drawer for storage as well. I keep various small power tools and a laptop in there to run my mini CNC and my mini laser etcher. I clamped and glued a ¼ inch perimeter of lauan onto the top of the work surface so those tiny screws and springs would have no place to go.

The actual work table got quite a revamping. I added clamp rails along the edges and to the back so I could clamp down my mini grinder, mini lathe, mini sander, mini jigsaw, etc., as well as clamp down projects as needed. All I had to do to add this simple feature was to route out the grooves with a router and guide. I added a work lamp with a magnifying glass- screwing in the stand on the corner of the table. I love using it so much that I will likely add another on the opposite side.

I mounted a chemicals and cans(oil, cleaner, acetone, etc.) tray high up on one side of the cart- within reach, but not in the way. This has already come in handy, as one of my 3 in 1 cans started leaking, and it was neatly contained in the tray and the paper towel holder directly below it came in very handy!

The last feature I added was a wall around 3 of the four sides. When I have tons of stuff going on, I don’t want to chase any of my mess onto the floor, and this little wall served other very practical purposes, as well. On the back side, I continued the clamp channels. This is where I will mount clamps for storage. I ran a power strip along the back. The original cabinet has a power strip but it is along one side, so this serves me better. I mounted a little tool rack on the right-hand wall and mounted a spring for my soldering iron there. I mounted a small metal whiteboard on the back wall I can write on or put up project notes with magnets. The back wall is also handy for mounting things that may not be permanent, like the Dremel with the wand, and small clamps. I even have my internet radio sitting on the wall.

Note: The bottle of whiskey is not a permanent feature- I cannot figure out how to keep it stocked.

My world is almost complete! The only thing I want to add to this workstation is a vacuum system. Though my workstation brush works OK for now, I would love to have the option to plug a hose and attachments into the back wall and clean up with the flip of a simple toggle!

Though I am sure this workstation will not solve all of my scatterbrained problems (I have many), I have already found that it shaves precious minutes off of my repair and assembly work!