AHA Projects

AHA Project: Lab WorkBench

As IT Professionals (regardless of career level) we started – at some point,  by taking  a PC apart and putting it back together.. Including laptops, servers, etc.  We installed RAM, HDs, PCI card, CD/DVD drives, BIOS battery – you name it.

For me it was fun sitting on the ground putting these pieces together. Hanging a spot lamp from nearby chair or wearing a headlamp (these are great by the way), tools all over the floor.  When I’m done, I would get up and the hardware would be either bhe placed in a rack or by a desk. Then tool clean began. Laptops were a bit easier. I would sit at my dining table or use my work desk to replace pieces and, again, tools would be all over the table… Sometimes screws would be missing for days until they show up while cleaning.

After awhile – sitting on the floor is troublesome. Tools find their way on higher places.  Trying to turn a PC around to get to underside without crushing nearby components. Getting up every time you forgot a tool or have to grab a drink… Now – I’m 6’2” and pretty flexible, no back issues or any of the like, but… MAN is a pain to keep trying to find a space on the floor you to be comfortable in.

I used a small stool that’s low to the ground to do stuff, but it was still a headache trying to move around to position stuff without getting off of the stool. It just add to the frustration.  You would think after all these years I would have it figured out, right!?

It wasn’t until I was by my neighbour, who was remodelling his home that it dawned on me.  When I went inside his home he was in the middle of renovating his kitchen. So he had a 6 foot long table, which he made.  Attached to the bottom was a cut out for his table saw and router (not IT related router)… He made his measurements, placed the wood, walked around the table to make sure everything was clapped down and ripped wood, bevelled it, and smooth it out.  All the while standing!

The light bulb went off! ‘Why don’t I get a workbench to do on IT stuff on?’, I said.  Why didn’t I think of this before?  Now – if you’re reading this, you’re probably saying:

‘Seriously dude?  You mean this is some kind of new invention? Get over yourself.’

But the crazy thing is – is that I never really thought of it.  We get blindered by the fact that workbenches ‘are’ only used in construction and used with  powertools (e.g. miter saw, tablesaw, drillpress, etc.) We’re accustom to seeing it used as such…

Nonetheless – I decided to look for a workbench that will suit my needs, which is:

  • Tall enough so I don’t have to bend down too much
  • Low enough that when I put devices on it, the need for a step stool is not required
  • Enough surface area for devices
  • The ability to walk around the table so I won’t have to unnecessarily move the device
  • Adequate space underneath to put tools, glue, and other accessories
  • Light enough to move around, but strong enough to support the weight of PCs, routers (this time IT routers), switches, etc.

So I looked around and found a few that could support my endeavour, however – the price wasn’t worth it.  Some workbenches were in the low $200 range while others were in the high $400+ range.  This is not the kind of price I want to pay…What to do now?

Well – I went into my home and looked at my rack. Not my Cisco Rack:

But my Lack Rack.  Yes, the one made from Ikea Lack endtables…

[here’s the link I used a few years back: https://wiki.eth0.nl/index.php/LackRack]

If those tables are strong enough to support these switches the way they’re stacked – they most certainly can be used to make a workbench.


So I went to Ikea and bought six – white Lack endtables.  I could used any other color, but these were the cheapest at $7.99USD on sale at the time.

I also purchased or had at home (the optional item is what I plan to implement but was either unavailable or not needed as yet.):

  • Gorilla glue
  • 1 – ¾” Finished Plywood 48” x 24”. This will be the workbenches table surface.
  • 1 – ½” Plywood 22 ½” x 43 ¼” [optional]. This will be used on the base for added integrity.
  • 4 – Casters, with locks, to support 200lbs each [optional]
  • 4 – Corner Braces for additional support [optional]
  • Tie wraps
  • 1 ½” drywall screws [optional]

So I went ahead and constructed 4 of the tables:

The remaining tables – only the table top will be used as the workbench’s base.  I stacked one constructed table on the base.  I positioned accordingly and used Gorilla glue to bond together.

I let it settle over night before placing, positioning, and gluing another table onto the previous one. The unused table legs came in handy to align the table to the base(s).

Now one half of the workbench is completed. I then repeated the process for the other half on the workbench.

I joined the two halves together with Gorilla glue and used tie-wraps to ensure the glue bonds to set overnight.  There are a few gaps but that’s because the legs do not fully line up with the table top.  The current height is about 37 ½”, width about 22”, length about 43”. I positioned the table surface and aligned.  The height now is 39” with a surface area of 48” x 24”.

This is an ideal height for me to walk around and stand without any strain on the back.  I have shelves to put tools, reachable items and more.

Currently, I’m looking to add a PCIe WiFi card, a 1TB Sata HD, a USB 3.0 PCIe card and front panel USB 3.0 with multi-reader to this Xeon 6-Core workstation.

My total cost was under $80 bucks!  I saved 60%.  Seems like a winner to me. 🙂
I’ll be building another one for my Lab to put routers/switches/servers in.

Thanks for reading!  Leave comments and Enjoy!

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