Back in the early days at the Lockardugan Estate, I had $4 to my name and a houseful of home renovation projects to tackle. One of the many things the Doctor did not leave us was a workbench of any kind to stage tools upon. Our basement was basically a big empty room containing a relatively new boiler, an ancient, broken washing machine, and a dryer the size of a toaster oven.
I made it through the first six months just leaving all my tools upstairs while we gutted and rehabbed all the bedrooms, but as we got those projects done and I was able to move back downstairs, I needed someplace to store everything. I built a quick and dirty tool bench out of 2×4’s, some leftover plywood, and some pegboard I found up in the attic, and it worked reasonably well for the next seventeen years.
But it had flaws. It wasn’t attached to the ceiling or the wall, and as a freestanding structure on an uneven floor it wobbled a lot if I put anything in the vise or hammered on it. The pegboard didn’t go all the way up to the ceiling, and the small shelf I added later was too shallow to really be useful and too low to put anything underneath. Because the lighting circuit down there is a frightening mess I used a power strip plugged into a random overhead outlet and mounted it on a wood panel nailed to the wall behind the bench.
I did include shelving underneath the bench, but it was never enough space and the extra stuff started piling up around the bench almost immediately.
With a week of free time over the holiday, one of the top things on my list to tackle was an overhaul of the workspace down there. I began by completely deconstructing the bench and stacking the material up on the side of the basement. Then I put three studs on the wall and started building a newer, longer bench all the way to the edge of the staircase and raising the height by 4″. I re-used most of the material from the first bench and reinforced the surface with double-thick plywood, put in a single sheet of pegboard, and a longer, deeper shelf above the whole thing. Down below, the shelving extends all the way to the left side and there’s now a two-level section for toolboxes, which were always underfoot before. New rubbermaid bins replace milk cartons I’ve stored tools in haphazardly for 30 years—I’m going to have to find a way to retire those gracefully—and a 10-outlet shop power strip replaces the old one. Finally, because I dropped and broke the old fluorescent light fixture during the demo, I bought a new 2-strip LED fixture and hung that in its place.
It’s amazing how much more space there is; the drill press tucks neatly under the stairs and the available storage feels like it’s doubled in size.
There’s a truckload of debris and garbage that need to go to the dump, and more stuff that needs to be organized or tossed, but I feel like I’m finally making some progress down there. Next up is a laundry sorting area with a larger workspace and better lighting.