Thursday, October 8, 2015

Making A Work Bench

Last night after supper I asked the hubbs if he'd like to come and help me make a workbench for the garage. He enthusiastically agreed!

We scoured Google photos until we found one we could simulate and make our own. Just a pretty basic workbench, just made of stripwood and held together with tacky glue.

We used the photo to help us determine a cut list (you list all of the pieces you need for the project and have them cut and ready before assembly). If I have enough lumber, I like to tape the pieces together and make one cut on my rip saw. For example, I needed 8 - 3" 4x4's (what I call my 3/8x3/8" wood because it looks like real life sized 4x4" post) for the frame. I taped 8 of them together with painters tape and cut them all at one time. Doing this ensures that all of the pieces are EXACTLY the same length. I cut all of the pieces this way.

I used my gluing jig to make all of the support pieces first, then let them dry. Meanwhile, I scored a trim piece with my xacto knife to look like separate drawers. A little sanding to round off the drawers, and it was ready to affix.






Once that layer was dry I glued the bench top and shelf boards, clamped everything, and let dry overnight.












Here is the work bench after drying overnight. I added a "backsplash" then did a light sanding - not to make it smooth (more on that later), just to round off the edges a bit and remove any glue that made it's way out.





I wanted the work bench to have a well used look, just like my husband's real sized one. I have had great results in the past watering down acrylic paint and treating it as a stain for the wood. I chose a color called... wait for it... Barn Wood! Here you see that I used just a couple small squirts of paint, then added little bits of water until I got it to the right consistency.


TIP: If you don't have stain on hand, or if you don't have a good acrylic color for staining, you can use artists chalk. You'll need a little white paint or gesso as a medium, then you just shave the chalk into the medium until you achieve the color you want. Mix well. You can then turn it into 'stain' by adding water, or use full strength for vivid color. Watered down, it will have the look of milk paint. Use a sealer when dry to preserve the vibrancy.

I started applying the stain on the bottom so that I could be sure I was getting the results I wanted. The stain will soak in, so if you keep adding layers, you'll increase the depth of the stain. It also dries a lot lighter, so experiment until you feel comfortable staining your actual piece.




This is after the first coat. I like to let my stain dry for a bit. The water in the stain will have really raised the grain in the wood, so I like to sand, stain, dry, sand, stain, dry several times to achieve the look. On subsequent stain layers, you can apply just to certain areas to vary the "wear". Since this is a work bench, I am not looking for smooth in the end. It's more realistic if it looks like there is potential for slivers!

After I get the base coat about where I want it, I go back in and add shadowing. Notice here that I have a squirt of Barn Wood and a squirt of black. I mix the two colors in various shades to use for the shadowing and highlighting. I use a small brush and add darker color where I want, then go back over it with my moist stain brush to soften the edges.







This is about where I'll stop the bench for now. Once I install drawer pulls and begin to dress it with little accessories, I'll add dried spilled paint and oil stains wherever it needs it.







One quick note: Don't ever worry about showing your work. Be proud of it! Don't compare yours to other's work. There are always going to be miniaturists out there with more experience, higher skill level, different ideas, more time and most importantly, better tools. The fun in miniatures is getting to see your ideas come to life, and the journey and the things you learn along the way! Share with everyone, be kind, and remember to help those with less experience. This is how we all pay it forward and welcome new enthusiast to our crazy crew!