Scrounged Work Benches

It seems like I’ve been planning to build some work benches for almost as long as we’ve owned our house, but it’s only recently that I actually made the dream come true.

Why did it take so long? mostly because it took forever for me to actually tidy up enough down there to have a space to put them.

Now, some people would simply buy a flat packed set of shelves and put them together, but I decided that I wanted to build shelves, so that I could make them:

  • Very sturdy,
  • Just the right height for me,
  • Just the right depth for me (for easy reach to the shadowboard behind, but maximum work space), and
  • Optimal length for the space

The original plan had been to simply buy some 30x30x3mm SHS (square steel tube) and either use my old stick welder, or buy a nice new gassed\gasless MIG welder. Of course, if I’d wanted to make it a less painful experience, I would have bought new steel (possibly cut to length by the steel shop) and bought a MIG welder to do the job… however, I’m a tight arse, so in the end decided that rather than spend a heap of money on a decent welder (or more likely: spend a smaller amount of money on what would no doubt turn out to be a slightly crappy welder), I would just make do with my old stick welder.

Of course this may not have been to big an issue, had I just bought the 3mm thick steel tube, however around the same time, I found a pile of old steel next to an commercial waste bin, waiting to go to the rubbish tip, and decided that I’d convert this old steel into a new bench. I’m a scrounger, and this sort of thing appeals to me immensely on a fundamental level, not to mention the fact that it saved me the $250 that I would have spent on steel, plus it’s better for the environment to recycle the steel, rather than letting it just get thrown out.

Now, the scrounged steel sounds like a good idea, except that the steel I found was 50x25x1.6mm RHS. This is a decent section in terms of strength, however the 1.6mm thick steel was VERY difficult to weld with the stick welder, which I haven’t practised with in about 10 years, so there was a LOT of swearing, grinding, and re-welding, and no small number of holes blown in the steel. But, in the end, it all came together…

Here are some photos of the steel going from rubbish to bench. I think I spent about $160 on timber and decent epoxy paint, and that includes the shadowboard.

The Scrounged Steel:


Enlist The Help of The Cutest T.A.s:



Drill out the rivets:


Cut off the welded bracketry

The trimmed steel

The work in progress

The finished benches

3D printed feet for leveling:

Add a shadow board

Now we’re ready to work!



For the Thingiverse Files for the 3D printed feet that I made for the bench, here is the link:


Follow up review: S-998P, Cheap Desoldering Tool

Some time ago I posted about a desoldering tool that I had purchased online; the S-998P. Since then, I’ve used it on and off, however it’s only recently that I got a chance to really use it in anger.

In an effort to tidy the house and organise the garage, I decided to finally address my “scrounge cabinet”. As I’ve said before, I’m a scrounger from way back. Part of it is me wanting to reuse things that would otherwise end up at the rubbish tip (reduce, reuse, recycle)… Go Planet!

… Captain planet, anyone? Why hasn’t that been remade yet?

… Oh, whatever. Don’t judge me.

Anyway, another, probably larger, part of it is that I like free stuff. Anyway, a great source of free electrical components is old appliances, like:

  • Printers
  • Microwaves
  • Photocopiers
  • Etc

So whenever I get my hands on these items (normally on kerbside collection weeks, or from the bin outside my nearest photocopier repair shop), I put them in the garage until I’m able to get the screwdriver onto them and dismantle them. Once dismantled, the circuit boards and mechanical components go into my Scrounge Cabinet (and entire filing cabinet which, until recently, was bursting at the seams with Stuff).

The problem is, I hadn’t gotten around to removing the individual components that I wanted from the much larger assemblies (i.e. a few high current resistors from a 20cm square circuit board). Enter the S-998P.

So I spent some time in the garage desoldering large and small components, probably a total of at least 400-500 soldered connections. And how did this process go? Really well!

The good:

  • Near complete removal of solder, allowing removal of components with negligible effort
  • Very easy to empty waste solder from the waste canister.
  • Very easy to keep the inside of the barrel clear using the steel cleaning tool that cane with the desoldering tool… once I realised that I needed to.
  • Easy enough to tap a thin nail into the barrel to force out a 2cm long obstruction that formed in the barrel, before I realised that the barrel needs cleaning every now and then.
  • Very fast melting of small and medium size solders
  • Vacuum pump performed well at all times.

The not-so-good:

  • When desoldering large contacts, the tool needed to be pressed firmly against the solder for a while before it melted. And when doing medium sized contacts, I would need to let the tool have a break for several seconds, between each component, to build up some heat. A little more power would have been nice.

All in all, I was very happy with the S-998P’s performance, and would happily recommend it to a friend. I’d be interested to see what new and improved versions are available, and what they have to offer.

Happy scrounging!