Modeling in General: Advice on...
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Compact workstations
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Ohio, United States
Member Since: May 02, 2010
entire network: 596 Posts
KitMaker Network: 94 Posts
Posted: Friday, November 08, 2019 - 04:11 AM UTC
Hi all, I'm reaching out for some advice regarding my workbench. I became a father back in August (!!!) and will finally be graduating med school come May (!!!). We moved apartments a few months back and I haven't gotten a chance to set up a modeling area here. Somehow I just don't have as much time to build now that there's a mini-me around but these next months are the freest I'll be in a long time and I'd like to knock off a 1/72 kit or two while I can.

Bottom line is I have a 4'x2.5' table (or 2.5x2.5 if I can't relocate the printer) at my disposal. I have WAY more than that in tools, paints, and various supplies, not to mention the homemade spray booth. Are there any tips on how best to utilize this space? How about the "bare essentials" of your workbench, or maybe you have a mobile workstation/toolbox? And for what it's worth to the safety-first folks, my kid isn't crawling yet but I can close and lock the door to my den when she finally does

Any and all suggestions are appreciated!!
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Alberta, Canada
Member Since: December 11, 2009
entire network: 546 Posts
KitMaker Network: 146 Posts
Posted: Friday, November 08, 2019 - 05:32 AM UTC
as expensive or moderately priced as you like: https://www.dickblick.com/categories/furniture/art-studio/taborets/

gives storage and somewhere to place drying sub assemblies then roll under your desk or into a closet at quitting time.
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Washington, United States
Member Since: March 11, 2016
entire network: 1,792 Posts
KitMaker Network: 482 Posts
Posted: Friday, November 08, 2019 - 06:15 AM UTC
Magnets are your friend. I use them on the arm of my magnifier lamp to hold tools in easy reach. Also go to wally world and get one of these:


I've got 2 three drawer units and they stack, they're roughly 7" wide 8" deep, I have tools, sharp things and blades different sanding mediums, tape, putty and just about every thing else in them.

For paint storage I'd recommend something you can hang (if you can) like this

I have my big clamps clamped to my desk edge and small ones clamped to the arm of my desk lamp.

I've been contemplating peg board in the near future.

If you can't spread out, spread up.

Also when your kid gets older put together a safe tool kit for her and let her build with you. I started out with simple wood kits like trains, cars and sailing ships with my niece when she was 3. It was fun for both of us.
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Washington, United States
Member Since: March 15, 2009
entire network: 3,670 Posts
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Posted: Friday, November 08, 2019 - 12:34 PM UTC
So, I spent 30 years in the Army, and I was "on the move" every 2-3 years of that time. Mostly living in military housing, but I was never without a workbench. My first bench was was constructed using a circular saw to cut simple plywood, with basic folding legs reminiscent of model railroad benchwork. It was about 4x2 feet, similar to what you've already described. I could fold the legs and stash it in a closet. I also had a 2x2 ft. X 2.5ft high five drawer white cabinet cast-off from a dental office renovation that I bought second hand for $2 at a salvage sale. I put it on four small steel casters, and could stash it in the same closet as the work bench. I used one drawer for tools, one for paint, one for various supplies, and one for scenery materials. The bottom drawer was for odds & ends (I was heavy into N-scale Model RRs and figure painting back then).

That set up lasted me for about 15 years all over the US and in Germany. But, when I was transferred to Korea on an unaccompanied tour, and limited to about 700lbs of hold baggage, my figure painting supplies went into a compact 2x1ft folding tray fishing tackle box, and while in Korea, I acquired a 2x3ft sheet of linoleum to place over an Army Field table (wood table about 2x3 with folding pairs of legs).

In 1992 I discovered the ultimate "small space" table-- a specially constructed 3x2.5ft work surface designed to fit over a laundry room wash tub (sink). It had a 3" tall back and sides to keep stuff from rolling off the table, and was constructed of "Marine Grade" plywood-- a bit expensive but built to last. It went to Hawaii, Rhode Island, Colorado, Germany, and Korea. For storage, the table simply came off the wash basin and stood along the side of either the sink and the washer or the sink and the wall, whichever had more space (it only needed 4") There was a cutout for the plumbing fixtures. I kept my "dental cabinet cast-off" and the fishing tackle box for tool and supply storage space, and these could be shoved into a closet. At Fort Leavenworth, we had a huge walk-in closet, so I just put this "sink bench" atop a folding card table to use in the closet.

Now that I've got a larger custom built workbench in my 3-car garage, I still have my old "dental cabinet cast-off" roll around storage cabinet, which slides easily under the bench. My wood 4x2.5 work bench has 3" deep drawers constructed under the work surface to store most of my tools and paints in. I've also built a 3x1 angled paint rack to hang on the wall behind the bench--if you know what a "French Cleat" is, you can build and hang about any wall fixture you need and make it totally removeable. If you have a circular saw, you can do a lot (I actually have a pretty good woodworking set up now, so I can build about anything I need). But when I was "young and starting out", everything had to be kept small and portable.

I hope this gives you a few ideas you could use for your own portable work area.

VR, Russ

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England - East Anglia, United Kingdom
Member Since: June 20, 2008
entire network: 3,981 Posts
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Posted: Saturday, November 09, 2019 - 12:10 AM UTC
I have a small workbench in the corner with pegboard above, but these days I do a lot of my building away from home (at shows, at the club, etc) or on the dining table. My solution is a small toolbox/tacklebox for tools - the kind with a lift-out tray, slightly smaller than a shoebox. That holds the essentials, and coupled with an A4-sized cutting mat I can pop it in a big "bag for life" carry bag along with a kit to have my workstation anywhere I can find a table, chair, and light.

Paint is a different matter - I have so many brands and colours! I keep the essentials in another plastic box, and have others for dedicated paint brands that can come out whenever I need them on the table. The sheer number means I can't travel with it all, but if I know I'm going to paint at a show I just make sure to swap some of my "essentials" to make room for the paints I plan to use that day. Airbrushing adds another complication - I do that at my "office" desk with a fold-up spray booth and a compressor that fits in a large plastic toolbox when not in use. Paints (all Tamiya acrylics these days) live in a couple of re-purposed Amazon boxes.

All of my stuff can be stored away on shelves or under desks etc when not needed, so any surface I work on becomes multi-purpose! It does mean I do a lot of packing & unpacking for each session, but that's the cost of modelling on the go.