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Old 03-11-2010, 07:19 AM   #1
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Building a Workbench - Is this design strong enough?

I desperately need to build a workbench/shelving unit for my tools. I live in a great old rowhouse in Washington, DC, but storage space is at an absolute minimum, especially because I converted our basement into an apartment for my mother-in-law. So now my ever growing tool collection is spread throughout the house, including in the basement (which means I've got to visit with the mother-in-law just to get a level).

I do have a closet in our office that is significantly underutilized and so I've been thinking about building a a three shelf unit on wheels, the catch being that the door opening is only 23" wide, but my miter saw (which I'd like to store on the unit) is 20", so not a whole lot of wiggle room to build something strong. The end goal is to build a shelving unit that is no more than 22" wide, but that has 20" of open shelf space.

So, I found these plans the other day and they seem perfect for my application. Has anyone ever worked with these Kee Klamps before? The plans call for using 1-3/8" top rail fence post.

Again, due to the space limitations I am thinking of building something similar, although slightly smaller, but using 1/2" black pipe or galvanized steel pipe instead of the fence post. I'd use 3/4" plywood for the shelving.

The lower shelf will hold my pancake compressor and nailer, the middle shelf will have my 10" sliding compound miter saw. On the top shelf, I'd just like to store some tool boxes and bags. I have even toyed with building a frame on the back and attaching some peg board for more storage. Is this too much weight for 1/2" black/galvanized pipe? If so, any suggestions?


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Old 03-11-2010, 09:30 AM   #2
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Looks fine to me and if the fittings hold it should present no problems. Rather pricey though? Why not just measure carefully, cut and thread pipe, and buy pipe joints where you need shelves? Square the thing up, slap in the plywood shelves and stick some leveling and lockable roller ball wheels on the bottom? Or bribe a welder or a blacksmith to make something really cool that will make all of DC say Wow?

Have you looked into restaurant style shelving on wheels? Your local restaurant supply place (may not want to sell to you if you pay by check or credit card but will if you display green stuff) will have all kinds of options although 20" could be a challenge. DC chefs I know from days I had an office in your part of the world would think nothing of tossing all kinds of stuff heavier than you have in mind on the things. The systems are really light and strong. They have those dimpled slip fittings to hold the shelves wherever you want along a chrome plated, one supposes, steel structure. No reason you could not add a plywood shelf or two.

Seems like you might be trying to reinvent round wheels in this pursuit? Over engineering just a bit?

I get along great with all past mother or significant other in laws. Box yours up and ship her to me. Just do not send the daughter too! No more shrew taming in my lifetime. With the mother in law out of the way you will have full access to your shop.


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Old 03-11-2010, 09:40 PM   #3
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The restaurant shelves that SD mentioned are called 'bakers shelves' . They are available from Northern Hydraulics. You can get them with or without wheels. They are pretty nice and not that pricey. If you have a restaurant supply nearby that deals with new and used equipment, you might be able to pick up a used one for a reasonable price. I keep thinking of getting a couple of them to use for when I take an old motorcycle apart for a restoration. It would be nice to keep all the parts organized while it is apart.
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Old 03-12-2010, 08:57 AM   #4
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Thanks to both of you. I looked long and hard for something to use here without much luck. My experience is that when I am looking for something pretty, it is better for me to build it myself, but when looking for something utilitarian, it is almost always better to buy something pre-made. That said in a nearly 100 year old, small rowhouse, nothing "fits" and so I am constantly having to adjust and build my own, such is the case here. I looked at bakers racks and other things, but nothing fits quite right... too big or too small.

I agree, I think the kee klamps are unnecessarily expensive, but it wasn't until I stumbled on those plans that I considered using pipe. I think you're right, no reason to use the special fittings as I am sure I can cobble something together with black or galvanized steel pipe. Do you think 1/2" is sufficient?

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