Settin' up shop... Need advice!

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by GearHeadGrrrl, Nov 30, 2012.

  1. GearHeadGrrrl

    GearHeadGrrrl Been here awhile

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    Well, my Quota's been waiting for six months to be hooked to it's hack 'caus the best sidecar fitter in the region is way busy and the next best fitter wants to weld on the frame... No way! My airhead ST's muffler needs a half inch hole welded up too, and who knows what else is about to break... So clearly I need to upgrade my shop!

    Have a 28 foot square garage to work with, and a huge living room with big southern exposed picture windows that's great for working on bikes. I'm thinking my 1st project should be a workbench big enough for a vice, drill press, band saw, bench grinder, etc. I'd like to make it narrow enough (~30") to fit through a door if I want to move it around. Should I put casters with brakes under it, or would that make it too easy to wander around when I'm really torquein' on sumpthin'? As for material, I've got a bunch of 2 by 4s, plywood, and decking left around from earlier projects- should I build the workbench from wood, or should I at least make the top out of steel in case I want to weld on it someday?

    Also, any advice in what I should look for in a vise, drill press, band saw, bench grinder, etc.?

    Thanks in advance, Diana
    #1
  2. Strong Bad

    Strong Bad n00balicious

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    Mount as solid as possible, not on casters.
    #2
  3. MrBob

    MrBob Certified Geezer

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    For tools and advice on tools - 7 Corners Hardware in St. Paul. Just go there at least once in your life; it will be worth it.

    http://www.7corners.com/
    #3
  4. Walterxr650l

    Walterxr650l Long timer

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    When I get around to building my workbench. I plan to get a set of these castors.

    [​IMG]

    They allow you to raise it up onto the wheel for moving, then drop it down onto the legs for a solid work table.

    Walter
    #4
  5. Wolfgang55

    Wolfgang55 Long timer

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    Check out HF in person or on line.
    #5
  6. jdrocks

    jdrocks Gravel Runner

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    make a list of items you want in your shop, including the workbench, familiarize yourself with what's available new and the street price, then shop the heck out of craigslist, ebay, etc. for deals at a fraction of the cost of new. the difference in price often allows you to upgrade items on your list to commercial/industrial quality. some of your items will be found in like new condition. people use it once, are done with the job etc., then can't get rid of it fast enough.

    if you're welding, get a steel bench. besides the safety issue, you'll be clamping straight edges, jigs, scribing lines, and so on. found used.

    in a small shop, put everything on good quality casters that lock.

    if a concern at your location, get a construction type job box to lock up anything small and portable. also found used, Knaack or equal, double locking. don't leave tools handy that can be used in an attempt to get into the jobbox.

    ...in other words, don't chain a cutting torch to the jobbox like a superintendent of mine did several decades ago. the contents of the box were burned up, then the job trailer burned, and the super was soon referred to in the historical context.
    #6
  7. sailah

    sailah Lampin' it

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    You can easily build a very solid workbench that bolts to the wall. I made mine from 2x8 that bolt to concrete anchors into the blocks that make up my garage. Drop plywood down on top and screw down with countersunk screws. Cheap, custom and heavy duty. If you want to make it a welding table just buy a sheet of steel and put that down on top. Also consider finding a SS commercial kitchen setup at auction or clist. They are usually reasonable and easy to keep clean.

    For things like drill presses, band saws, vises etc, buy old and buy used. I'm talking like before 1960 old. The quality of those tools is simply unmatched by anything modern which is all made in Taiwan and China. Nothing wrong with that, but you'll appreciate working with a solid american made tool. Of course I have tools made overseas, but my American tools do the heavy lifting around the shop. Estate sales are a great place to get this stuff and usually you get it for super cheap. auctionzip.com is a good place to start for local auctions in your area. Sometimes you come home empty handed but usually there are deals to be had.
    #7
  8. kubiak

    kubiak Long timer

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    i would buy the best stuff if i was rich but im not so i buy tools and equipment based on how much im going to use it. like if you are only going to use a chopsaw once a year a harbor fright one should be fine or if you are going to make and weld all the time get a good quality welder. i buy consumables at harbor freight like sandpaper and grinding discs, primer guns and so on.
    #8
  9. Anorak

    Anorak Woolf Barnato

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    More electrical outlets than you think you need.
    #9
  10. GearHeadGrrrl

    GearHeadGrrrl Been here awhile

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    1. Will probably skip the casters.
    2. + 7 Corners Hardware!
    3. HF= Upmarket scrap metal.
    4. used vs. new? Out in the country where I live everyone is a DIYer and they often bid old tools up to and beyond new price. But sometimes at the mega auctions good stuff gets ignored and you find a bargain, like my $25 Yamaha MX250.
    5. Electrics= no problem! Got 220V @50 amps available in the garage.
    6. Welders- only thing USA made I saw was a classic Lincoln 'tombstone" at Lowes, all their MIGs were Mexican made or worse. I hear all the Miller and Hobarts are USA made, may look at them next. Any opinions?

    Nice weather here on the Buffalo Ridge, rode about 100 miles on the Guzzi Quota yesterday and checked out the farm store in Pipestone and Lowes in Brookings. May ride down to Sioux Falls today and shop around if I can stomach the holiday traffic.
    #10
  11. Head2Wind

    Head2Wind MotorcycleMayhem

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    I'm a believer in DIY and recovering what others discard to then reuse.

    Here is a good example of DIY at a larger scale for both rack storage and dynamic working surfaces (aka benches):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EA1jeViV4l8
    #11
  12. GearHeadGrrrl

    GearHeadGrrrl Been here awhile

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    But I see this carried to a fault out here in the country- for example my neighbor has a road grader, D4, dead IH track loader, two old pickups, and probably every big tool I'd ever need. But most of it was worn out when he bought it, and I wouldn't trust any of his power tools and welding equipment. Sorry, but when I can buy a new Lincoln "tombstone" welder for $300-400, why pay darn near that much for a beat up one with the back cover missing so you know somebody's been in their messin' around.
    #12
  13. Head2Wind

    Head2Wind MotorcycleMayhem

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    Buy a Miller or Lincoln MIG, 120v so it will just plug into the wall outlet. Get one that uses shield gas not flux core wire.... It will be one of the foundation tools to build the shop fixtures. Personally I would not buy a buzz box that is typically intended for Electrode (stick) welding for the type of work you will do when fabricating the shop fixtures and then parts/pieces for motorcycles.
    #13
  14. Wreckluse

    Wreckluse Will work for beer

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    #14
  15. Warin

    Warin Retired

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    Vice. Get a good one. One with removable jaws, and get jaws of different shapes for it if they are available. You'll find that you want to hold fork legs and other things of different shapes - soft jaws with groves and notches are what you need then. For most of your work you want the normal metal toothed jaws. People who regularly work with forks have vices permanently set up with nice plastic grooved jaws. Some people have more than one...

    Drill press. As many speeds as possible (particularly low speeds) via a belt drive. Slotted or holed table to bolt things too. Variable table height is nice.

    A machinist vice to hold small things while you drill them on the drill press. Must be able to bolt this to the drill press table.

    Wielder = MIG not stick. You want to be able to wield thin sheet metal. Eg that exhaust.

    Band Saw. You can make do with a jig saw, saves space. The time saving is not much, unless you will be using it at least once a week it is not worth the space and money.

    Bench. Solid wood. Bolt to the floor and wall if possible. Don't know why you'd want to move it around?

    A cheap bench grinder will be good enough. What you will want are good grinding wheels on it. And possibly a linisher? The linisher would get more work than the band saw...

    Local services? Can you buy the sidecar fittings rather than make them from bar/sheet stock? If you need to make them from stock you'll need a lath or have a shop that will machine stuff up from stock, where there is a lath you may also find a band saw, mill etc. Good to find those services around your own area.

    Closure of firms can be a source of good gear, dealers tend to occupy those auctions though.

    Some of the old stuff is bid beyond the price of new stuff because it is simply so much better... but you would need to know that for sure to make it worth your while.
    #15
  16. redprimo

    redprimo Been here awhile

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    You might be surprised what you can find on ebay if you are patient. My father lives 3 hours away from me in the LA area so that opens up a lot of possibilities for me. A few years ago I paid $200 for my drill press on ebay, it is an early 1960's delta unidril which is a little known model of radial drill press. The table is 24" square and weighs 150lbs before adding the 90lb legs. all told it is just north of 400bs and with the drill head able to swing compleatly out of the way it makes for a great small heavy duty worktable.

    I had been on the look out for a wood planer to replace my aging 12" lunch box paner and after about 5 or 6 years I found a compleatly restored early 1940's parks 12" planer 5 miles from my house on the local craigs list for $225. This is a 350lb heavy duty precision piece of equipmment and was exactly what I was looking for with the exceptuon that it had already been restored by a retired machinest. To top it off I was able to sell my tired old planer for $50.

    I'm definatly not a fan of casters for any tool that is powered and has a sharp blade that you will be near. for things like welders or torches casters are great. And this is from someone with a very small shop. carefull planing and using overlaping infeed/outfeed areas and having as many fixed table heights at the same level makes things work smoother in a small shop.

    For a work table 2x4 and 2x6 works fine. Glue and screw the frame but atach the top only with screws so you can replace it when it gets tashed. I prefer MDF or even particle board over plywood Ply wood splinters and with 2x4 suports every 24" mdf is plenty strong. a common mistake is to make a work table too tall. You should be able to stand comfortably at the bench and place you palms flat on the table with your arms straignt at your side. Add or subtract an inch depending on the work you intend to do at the bench ie. rebuilding carbs for a living you might want a taller bench but for splitting engine cases you might want a lower bench. The nice thing about working on an engine on a wood bench is that you will not scrratch or mar any soft aluminium parts.

    For welding you might also consider an old tig. The Airco/Miller and Hobart units are just about bomb proof with contact points that are so robust that they should last a life time of filling and re setting. These units are huge compared to a modern tig and they lack square wave technology but they have a very robust diuty cycle and are supper reliable. they are also pretty decent stick welders. If you are truely interested in a stick welder don't hesitate to snag an ancient Lincoln 'torpedo' if you find one. they are usually worth more than the asking price just for their scrap copper value and they are one of the smothest stick welders you will ever find bar non.

    Don't be rushed, tell anyone you know what you are looking for and have fun. oh yeah dont forget tons of light and good tunes.
    #16
  17. GearHeadGrrrl

    GearHeadGrrrl Been here awhile

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    New vs. used? Again, out here in the country we've got hordes of farmers and DIYers that'll bid up beat up old tools and such to ridiculous prices. Example: I paid $1300 for a new 3000 pound rated 6 by 12 flatbed trailer two years ago, just saw a couple 20+ year old ones sell for $1100 and $1200 at auction. By the time they get done replacing what looks to be the original tires they'll have spent the price of a new trailer for a rusty old one. My rule is even if you've seen it work and all documentation is included, don't pay over 50% of new price for it. Otherwise, better to wait for a sale and buy a new one with a warranty.

    As for welders, I've got 220 @50 amps already wired in the garage for an electric dryer, just unplug that and plug the welder in. But I'm leaning to MIG and a lot of them don't need 220 anyhow.

    As for why make my own stuff like sidecar mounts, my Guzzi Quota that I've owned for six months and still don't have hacked is exhibit one. The manufacturer of my sidecar is only 70 miles away, but they don't want to make rectangular shaped clamps to match the rectangular frame and their fitter suggested welding mounting tabs onto the frame. No way, we know nothing of the metallurgy of that frame and how to properly weld it! Another sidecar maker 1500 miles to the west lists a mount kit on his website, but admits he has none in stock and he's backed up for weeks. I have a feeling that'd turn into "bring the bike out here and leave it for several months 'til I get to it". I'm sure CSM sidecars in Pennsylvania could do a great job of the mounting, but same deal- transport the bike 1500 miles, drive 1500 miles home, drive 1500 miles back to CSM, drive 1500 miles home- 6000 miles driving with a trailer just to get a sidecar mounted! Fortunately there's a very skilled sidecar mounter within a hundred miles of here, but he's got a day job and a family and a garage full of projects already. But he was nice enough to take an hour of his time to sketch out for me a plan for a subframe that's way overbuilt for the job. So even though I could probably get by with modifying Motorvation's clamps to fit the square frame and drill a hole in the frame for an upper rear mount like the outfit to the west does, I'm going to try to do it the best way with a subframe. That means at least cutting the subframe materials and tacking them together with screws in hopes my sidecar fitter has time to weld them. If not, I'll have to weld them myself. And even if I wimp out and just modify Motorvation's mounts, I'm going to need a workbench and vise to hold parts down while I manipulate them and a grinder and probably a saw too.

    So that's the sorry reality- we're not training enough welders, machinists, etc. so if you want something fabbed in the future you'll need to do it yourself. And given that full frame motorcycles are going extinct, if you want a sidecar you'll have to make a subframe or ship it across the country to one of the few remaining sidecar fitters. For less than the cost of that option I can set up my own shop and do it myself.
    #17
  18. bomber60015

    bomber60015 Anatomically Correct

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    check out

    thegaragejournal.com

    for more ideas (and attendant dick waving) than you can shake a stick at . . .

    whene pruchasing tools, simpler is better -- Swiss Army Knives are cute and all, but the scissors aren't very useful, the tweezers don't and the blade isn't the right shape to QUITE to anything really well . . . . .

    for fabrication, if you can specialize in working with Aluminum, decent quality woodworking tools will do a great job on alloy, too . . . . . big fun . . . . .
    #18
  19. GearHeadGrrrl

    GearHeadGrrrl Been here awhile

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    Collection of ads for garage chic masquerading as a blog. I've already found mucho better!
    #19
  20. bomber60015

    bomber60015 Anatomically Correct

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    Agreed -- there's a great deal of chaff, but there are some grains of wheat there . . . . .glad you've found what you need.
    #20