San Jose, CA
Dave sent in some cool photos and some very good
advice. Yet another example of an efficient design and
good execution resulting in an efficient workspace.
Per your request for bench photos, here is one of my
work place in my home.
The work surfaces are purpose-built lab tables
purchased at a company surplus sale; two-inch square
steel tube with poly-something laminated particle board
tops. Square holes in rear corners of the bench allow
access to the inside of the rear legs for adding risers.
I built a shelf on risers consisting of 1-5/8 inch 12 ga
SuperStrut (local hardware store) inserted into rear bench
legs and 13/16 strut used to form the shelf. Quarter-inch
ply covers the frame (note another plank, behind, waiting
for a second shelf!).
Good ergonomics are essential to avoid body fatigue
and pain. I find that the scope and meter displays need
to be straight ahead of my eyes without having to look
up. Raising the chair to meet a too-high shelf is a poor
with articulated base
As for workbench design, I think you have to put
yourself in the head of the guy/gal who wants to get a
bench to replace the kitchen table or whatever as their
workspace. I would suggest these areas of discussion:
1) Readily-available sources of benches (Home Depot, Ace
Hardware, Sears, etc.) and actually go look at some of
those as research.
2) Surplus sources (announcements in newspaper of
foreclosure of businesses).
3) DIY means (lumber, SuperStrut, etc.).
4) Design considerations: safety (soldering fume ventilation
just came to mind), ergonomics, efficient use of space,
storage, etc.). I’d talk about ideas like putting only
soldering station on the bench, if possible, and building a
shelf (see my photo!) to get all the equipment up so you
can have maximum space (that ubiquitous STUFF on the
bench notwithstanding) for your actual work.
On shelf, L to R:
• Two old three-output (0-30V, 0-30V, 0-5V) supplies, one
• A 12V, 20A regulated supply for those car audio repairs.
• RadioShack FET meter sits atop the 12V supply.
• Assortment of Fluke DMM, Bob Parker ESR, and AADE
• Tek 2465DVS four-channel scope with integral DMM.
• Two HP 33120A arbitrary signal synthesizers for dual-channel audio work.
• Audio power amp for confirming preamp
sounds (the ear is better than any test
6) Basic equipment (temperature-controlled soldering
station, multimeter, power supply, scope).
Those are the ideas off the top of my head. The
Yahoo! groups TekScopes, TekScopes2, Test-Equipment,
and hp_agilent_equipment have been answering questions
I’ve asked and put forth suggestions, i.e., my bench. You
might want to search the archives for those groups at
Yahoo! to see if you can glean some more ideas.
On bench top:
• Pace 45 temperature-controlled soldering
• Small, high-intensity incandescent lamp
for good lighting
• Fluorescent lamp w/integral magnifier for
those old eyes.
• Several loupes and magnifiers.
Not visible, just under the shelf:
• 20-outlet power bar w/on-off switch.
• Height-adjustable, wheeled lab chair.
Missing from the photo:
• Panavice rubber-protected jaw vice
June 2008 99