Small space, big purpose
By Jillian Shue | Photography by Nanine Hartzenbush
Posted: Wednesday, Oct. 05, 2011
If you ever find yourself fixing a home appliance on your kitchen table or frustrated because your tools are so disorganized you cant find a screwdriver, youre not alone.
Whether your focus is on your garden, car or house, a home requires upkeep, which requires a place to store tools and a place to work. A workbench is a simple solution to a common problem. It doesnt have to be fancy and it definitely doesnt have to be expensive.
You need a workspace because there is always something that needs to be repaired, says Brent Crenshaw of Faulk Brothers Hardware located in UCity, especially if you live on a farm like I do. Hes worked for Faulk Brothers Hardware for 26 years. The store doesnt carry prefabricated workbenches like Lowes Home Improvement or The Home Depot, but, in Crenshaws opinion, if you want something to fit your personal needs and space, creating your own design is best.
While building a workbench can be intimidating to some, Crenshaw says by using 2-by-4 inch lumber and metal connectors its really pretty simple. People come to Faulk Brothers to get advice on how to make and fix things, he says. We have all the pieces.
If you know you could use a workbench but dont know where to start, take advice from Crenshaw: When getting started it depends on the individual and what tools you have, but measuring your space is the first step.
Concord resident Gary Massuccy offers his perspective on how to get started. You have to think about what youre going to be working on and how durable your workbench needs to be, he explains. Massuccy agrees with Crenshaw that building your own workbench is the best way to go. In his experience, prefabricated workbenches werent sturdy enough for his work.
Id rather use my hands than buy something that comes out of a box, he says. Massuccy uses his workbench when restoring old cars and motorcycles, as well as for home improvement projects. He built his own workbench but purchased cabinets from Habitat for Humanity for storage and organization.
Massuccy also does a lot of supply shopping at the local Lowes store. Lowes is a go-to hardware store for many in the UCity area. They offer a great garage organization department with everything from prefabricated workbenches to materials and supplies to create your own work space. Along with Massuccys cabinets from Habitat for Humanity, two plastic cabinets were purchased from Lowes for extra storage space. He also buys his lumber at Lowes. I use three quarter inch, high grade plywood, and two-by-fours are only a couple bucks a piece, he says.
Randy Queen, president of Verbatim Corporation based in UCity, originally built his workbench when he graduated college. Any do-it-yourself-er would want to make one You can customize it to your needs, he says.
Now, 25 years later, Queen uses the same workbench for all his home improvement projects. You name it. Just recently, I completed the renovation of our house, he says. Ive also used it to build a long board with my 16-year-old son. Of course, Queen has modified the workbench a few times over the years; hes downsized it to fit into new spaces and added new materials for different functions.
A huge concern for many when creating a workbench is having limited space. Crenshaw points out tilt bins, hooks and nails along the aisles of Faulk Brothers Hardware, explaining how any of these products can be used to maximize and organize the space on your workbench. Pegboard is a material that goes way back for this use. By hanging tools, you make use of your limited garage space, says Crenshaw.
UNCC Professor Jim Cook says you dont need a lot of space to do work. Its doesnt need to be fancy, but functional, he says. He explains how you can be strategic in tool choices by purchasing the critical tools for the projects you intend to do.
Aside from their vacation home in Holden Beach which they practically gutted and remodeled the Cook family has redone their entire kitchen and master bathroom at their Charlotte home with the help of their workspace. A separate room from his garage, Cooks workspace includes a workbench, table saw, drill press and various other tools to help him in all his projects.
While Cook does a lot of his shopping at Lowes, he says you can be cost effective by reusing old stuff. After ripping the cabinets out of his beach house, they reused them to create a workbench.
Queen agrees, My advice is to get ideas from others and be creative. I found a piece of metal and bent it into a u shape to hang drop cords.
Taking things that would normally be thrown out, Queen refurbishes them into his workbench. He has integrated two electrical panels, a filing cabinet for storage, and a rubber mat from the walkway material at US Airways as a top cover for the workbench. Repurposing things you find into your workbench is more cost effective. Keep your eyes open, says Queen.
If you own a home and like to DIY, a workbench may be the next project on your list. The best advice from these residents who have been there, done that is to be creative and think outside the box to maximize space and stay cost effective. But most importantly, shop locally and shop strategically. A workbench is the way to give a small amount of space a whole lot of purpose.Want to go?
Faulk Brothers Hardware & Turf
5744 N. Tryon St., Charlotte
1100 Chancellor Park Drive, Charlotte
8135 University City Blvd., Charlotte