This Custom Workbench Will Make You Flip

In a recent video, [SomeSkillStudio] created a tidy tool storage system for their slim garage workbench. We have seen the “five knuckle” 270 degree hinges used here before and knew they’d enable some cool hacks. Here you’ll see how he puts this unique type of hardware to work building a densely packed work surface. For anyone who’s set up shop in a garage that’s somehow also supposed to still regularly host vehicles, you’ll know how important it is to have a place to put everything away and make it easy to do so.

The video has several great tips on making sure everything fits together, something key for anyone reproducing this with their own tool collection. If you have even less space, we have some great past workshop builds from portable, to tiny, to elaborate. Even if you’ve already established a place to work, we have tips on organizing your shop, giving each tool a home in a shadow board or across an infinite grid. Clearly, making a work space is one of our favorite kinds of projects.

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View of a well-organized workspace in front of a window view to outdoors

How To Optimize Your Workspace: Analyze How You Work

[Jay Carlson] has shared some fantastic guidance on how to optimize one’s home workspace, and you just might want to emulate some of his layout, especially if you routinely juggle multiple projects. He makes the important point that different people have different needs, so one size does not fit all. Optimizing one’s workspace must first take into account what kind(s) of work one does, and many of his tips and tricks are pretty broadly applicable.

A rack of trays, each with a project
Looking online for these? A common industry term is “bun rack”. This one is “half-height” in size.

[Jay] works on embedded systems, and often switches between many different jobs and projects. Get your notepads ready, because there are plenty of great takeaways.

For example, to get a good top-down camera view of what’s on the workbench, he uses a camera mounted on an articulated arm (the kind that usually has a lamp attached to the end.) This makes the camera easy to deploy and easy to stow, and he can effortlessly save footage or share video with colleagues online.

Another great tip is using what most of us would call cafeteria trays and a matching rack. With each tray devoted to a different project or version of hardware, it makes switching between jobs as simple as sliding in one tray and pulling out another. It’s also a highly space-efficient way to store a lot of in-progress hardware. [Jay] gives a detailed walkthrough of his workspace and explains every decision, it’s well worth a read.

It’s always better to save space, as long as doing so doesn’t negatively impact the work itself. If you’re looking for space-saving tips, be sure to check out this tiny workshop’s space-saving hacks for more ideas.

Taking A Close Look At Hawkeye’s Workbench

We don’t have to tell you that the representation hackers and makers get in popular media is usually pretty poor. At this point, we’ve all come to accept that Hollywood is only interested in perpetuating negative stereotypes about hackers. But in scenes where the plot calls for a character to be working on an electronic device, it often seems like the prop department just sticks a soldering iron in the actor’s hand and calls it a day.

Of course, there are some exceptions. In the final episode of Marvel’s Hawkeye, the titular character is shown building some custom gear in a work area that looks suspiciously like somewhere actual work might get done. The set design was impressive enough that [Giovanni Bernardo] decided to pause the show and try to identify some of the tools and gadgets that litter the character’s refreshingly chaotic bench.

Now to be clear, we haven’t personally seen the latest Marvel spectacle from the House of Mouse, and it’s entirely possible that the illusion falls apart when taken as a whole. But from what we’re seeing here, it certainly looks like whoever did the set dressing for Hawkeye seems to have made an effort to recreate the hackerspace chic. We’ve got a multimeter within arm’s reach, the classic magnifying glass third arm, a Wiha screwdriver about to roll out of frame, and even some JB-Weld. If this looks eerily like what’s currently on your own bench, don’t worry, you’re not alone.

On the wider shot, we can see that the attention to detail wasn’t limited to the close-up. From the tools hanging on the pegboard to the shelves filled with rows of neatly labeled bins, we totally buy this as a functional workspace. It’s quite a bit neater than where we currently do our tinkering, but that’s more of a personal problem than anything. As we’ve seen, there are certainly people in this community who take their organization seriously.

Portrayals of science or technology in the media often leave a lot to be desired, which is why it’s so important to praise productions that put in the effort to get things right. With a little luck, maybe it will get through to the right people and raise the bar a bit. But even if it doesn’t change anything, we can at least give the folks behind the scenes some well-deserved recognition.

Workshop Organization With Panels

Tired of all your completed (or half-completed) projects cluttering up your workspace? Or you toss them in a box and later forget which box? Well [Another Maker] aka [Develop With Dan] came up with a solution which he dubs Mission Control — panelize your projects and store them in one of many cubbyholes which are provided by a false wall.

Back view of an example project panel

Each project gets a panel and is neatly stored away when not in use. For some project, this could be simply for storage. For other projects, this might serve as a showcase. Occupying the center of Mission Control is a large monitor, presumably a permanent installation. It looks like there are two different sizes of panels, but we wonder whether more and smaller panels might be more useful. As he’s putting this together, we particularly like one piece of advice that [Dan] offers regarding his custom tool, the Cornerator 3000:

Never hesitate to make a jig when you want to repeat something.

[Dan] will be posting this workspace on his GitHub repository along with code and documentation for various projects he posts on YouTube. He’s also proud to have built this system out of 100% recycled material, or as he says, he went dumpster diving. Do you have a good system for storing / displaying projects in your lab? Let us know in the comments below.

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Workshop Tools Are Available In First-Class

Most of dream of having a fully-stocked shop with all of the tools needed to build our projects, at least if we don’t already have such a shop. In the meantime, a lot of us are hacking together our own tools and working on whatever bench space might be available to us. While [Emiel] aka [The Practical Engineer] has an envious shop to work from, his latest project goes to show how repurposing some aircraft-grade equipment can result in a high-quality toolbox for himself, without shelling out for any consumer-level solution. (Video, embedded below.)

The core of his workshop cart build is actually a recycled food service cart from an airline. While the original probably only housed some soft drinks and ice, this one has been kitted out to be much more functional. Since [Emiel] is using this to wheel around his machine shop, he used a CNC machine to cut out slots in black MDF sheets which would hold his drill bits, taps, and other tools. Working with MDF on a CNC machine turned out to not be as simple as he thought, since the MDF would separate and break away unless the CNC tool heads were operated in a specific way.

The build also includes several buckets for other tools, and a custom enclosure for the top of the cart specifically built for his machine tools’ tools to sit while he is working. It’s certainly a more cost-effective solution to a wheeled shop toolbox than buying something off-the-shelf, and a clever repurposing of something which would have otherwise ended up in a landfill. [Emiel] is no stranger to building any tools that he might need, including this custom belt sander built completely from the ground up.

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Bench Supplies Get Smaller Thanks To USB-C

Bench power supplies are an indispensable tool when prototyping electronics. Being able to set custom voltages and having some sort of current limiting feature are key to making sure that the smoke stays inside all of the parts. Buying a modern bench supply might be a little too expensive though, and converting an ATX power supply can be janky and unreliable. Thanks to the miracle of USB-C, though, you can build your own fully-featured benchtop power supply like [Brian] did without taking up hardly any space, and for only around $12.

USB-C can be used to deliver up to 100W but is limited to a few set voltage levels. For voltages that USB-C doesn’t support, [Brian] turns to an inexpensive ZK-4KX buck-boost DC-DC converter that allows for millivolt-level precision for his supply’s output. Another key aspect of using USB-C is making sure that your power supply can correctly negotiate for the amount of power that it needs. There’s an electronic handshake that goes on over the USB connection, and without it there’s not a useful amount of power that can be delivered. This build includes a small chip for performing this negotiation as well.

With all the electronics taken care of, [Brian] houses all of this in a 3D-printed enclosure complete with a set of banana plugs. While it may not be able to provide the wattage of a modern production unit, for most smaller use cases this would work perfectly. If you already have an ATX supply around, though, you can modify [Brian]’s build using that as the supply and case too.

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Hydraulic Lifting Workbench To Save Your Back

Working on heavy mechanical machines at awkward heights can be a real back breaker. [Workshop From Scratch] knows this all to well, so he built himself a very clean hydraulic lifting workbench to use around the workshop.

As we’ve come to expect from this aptly named channel, everything on the device has been built from scratch. Though he did use an off-the-shelf manually operated hydraulic piston. The lifting mechanism consists of a parallel bar linkage which allows the benchtop to stay parallel through its entire range of motion. The hand lever of the hydraulic piston was converted to a foot pedal for comfort, and the base has some sturdy trolley wheels to move it around the workshop. Raising the table is admittedly quite slow due to the manual pumping required, but it gets the job done eventually.

Making your own tools and equipment provides a lot of satisfaction, especially if you end up using it a lot. [Workshop From Scratch] builds some excellent tools, like this magnetic drill press, magnetic vice and a workshop crane. We hope to see many more.

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