Building a Better Bat Cave
In the basement, there's a
7'x10' alcove, which I finally decided is where the workbench should go. The bench
U-shaped, lining the three walls of the alcove, 31" off the floor - a little
higher than the typical table/desk height, but I like to be close to my work.
Even if you don't have a nice big alcove for a hobby shop, this style of model
bench can be put in just about anywhere. All you need are 2x4s for ledger boards
and 30"-wide hollow-core interior doors for the surface. The ledgers are
nailed/screwed/anchored to the walls. The doors are cut to fit and screwed to
- Day 1: Demolition
- Removed most of the shelving lining the walls (rented a "Sawzall"); removed
the hideous, "70s" carpet and scraped up the padding. Sneezed a lot because of all the mold and mildew in the
carpet and padding. Decided that, for now, I'd settle for just getting the padding off the
floor under the worksurfaces.
Removal of the carpet has a practical purpose too. First, tiny model parts yearning for
their freedom love to leap through the air, burrow into carpet and hide. Second, if you
spill it on a solid floor, it's a lot easier to clean up.
- Day 2: Construction
- Put up the ledger boards. The side walls used 8'-long 2x4s, trimmed to fit; the center
wall used a 10' 2x4. Mark your height and use a level to position the ledgers. The center
and right walls of the alcove had drywall on them, so these ledgers
would be attached to the studs with 3" nails & screws. The left wall is solid
concrete block. This ledger is attached with 4" expanding
anchor bolts. Make sure the 2x4s for the ledgers aren't bowed or twisted. (i.e., don't buy
'em at Menards; mine were from Home Depot)
- Day 3: More Construction
- The door for the left worksurface didn't need to be trimmed.
It rests atop the ledger and is secured with screws. Then I put in the right surface. This
door needed a few inches trimmed off - use a circular saw fitted with a veneer/plywood
blade. Make your cut on the bottom side of the door, so the blade splinters the veneer on
the bottom of your worksurface. When the door's trimmed, you'll have a open end - and
you'll see why these are called hollow-core doors. I glued a
1"-wide piece of wood into the gap between the veneers so there'd be something solid
to screw through. Then this surface got screwed into place.
Finally, time for the center surface. Pray and sacrifice to Ortho, God of Levelness. Lay
the door across the space where it will go, fit one end against the left worksurface and
mark a line along the underside, using the right worksurface as a guide. Turn it over
& cut. Fill the hollow core with another 1"-wide piece. Attach one end of an angle iron to the ends of the bottom front surface. The other end
of the iron will attach to underside of the left & right surfaces.
Flip the door over. Hold it so the back edge rests on the ledger and the front edge is
underneath the left & right surfaces. Raise it until the angle irons meet the
undersides of the L & R surfaces. Bang whap thud the section into place. Screw the
back edge to the ledger and screw the angle iron to the undersides of the L & R
surfaces. The center section is in place. Stand back and
admire the worksurface, imagining all the kit work you'll
be able to get done now. No, really, I promise, I will!
- Day 4: (one week later)
- Added a wrap-around shelf and pegboard. The 1x8 is
nailed to the wall; a 1x4 rests atop it. I nailed 1x2 furring strips to the wall and
attached the pegboard panels to the strips. Finally, finished off the overhead shelving,
which is either 1x12 or two 1x8s joined together. A 2x2 on the front of the bottom center
shelf provides added support.