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Space-Saving Tool Stations

By: Bryan Nelson
Maximize your workshop space and work more efficiently with these helpful ideas.

Many woodworkers buy benchtop tools for two good reasons — they’re economical and they don’t take up a lot of room. But even though each tool only requires a few square feet of space on a workbench or cabinet, finding the space to use them can be a hassle. If you add three or four benchtop tools to your shop, it will fill up in a hurry.

One solution to make a basic tool stand work just a little harder is to give it a flip top. What makes this tool stand different from most others is that you can mount a tool on either side of the top. Then when you want to switch tools, all you have to do is flip the top 180°. Locking knobs in each corner secure the top in place. A set of locking casters adds mobility to this stand.

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Not every shop has the space to add another tool station. But if you still need an easy way to store heavy tools like a thickness planer, consider a pull-out shelf. This shelf allows you to stow a tool beneath your workbench, which lets you use the top of the bench as a handy staging area for workpieces. And, best of all, you don’t have to mess around with hoisting heavy tools up to or down off the workbench. The shelf is just a piece of 3/4" plywood mounted on a pair of full-extension drawer slides. (Make sure the slides will support the full weight of your tool). A hardwood frame with a pair of fixed casters on one end of the shelf provides extra support and lets you easily pull the tool shelf into place.

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I’ve built several basic stands for my benchtop tools over the years. The problem is, now they’re stationary. To make the stands mobile, all it takes are two simple add-on handles and a pair of casters. The first step in modifying a tool stand is to shorten the rear legs and attach fixed casters. Then, bolt a pair of pivoting wood handles to the sides of the stand. The handles can be lowered when not in use. When you need to move the stand, the handles can be locked in the upright position.

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This compact tool stand provides both a convenient worksurface and a place to organize your tools. The stand is just an open plywood box with space to hold several tools mounted to shelves. You can size the removable shelves to suit each of your tools. When you need to use a tool, just pull it out and place it on top. A “pin” securely locks the shelf and the tool in place. Larger tools (like a scroll saw) can be mounted to a single shelf. But in some cases, a smaller tool (like a benchtop grinder) can be placed on a shelf that’s only half the depth of the stand. This way, you can store two tools in one spot.

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Published: Sept. 15, 2016
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