Custom Electronics Workbench

Designing and building an electronics workbench

Posted by revmecha on May 8, 2015

After working on my desk and at the kitchen table, I decided to try and design my own electronics work bench. I went about looking at different designs on the internet and did find some different plans. Most of the plans were for pretty large benches so I ended up measuring out the space I had and pretty much designing it from the ground up. It was going to be a work in progress so I tried to make it as flexible as possible.

Building the Base

Luckily I was able to find 2X12 boards that were roughly the size I needed. I wish I would have made it a little bigger but it was a good start. The main table top is not bolted on but was fitted snugly with a rubber mallet. There are struts for a shelf on the legs of the table but I ended up just laying the board in.

First build freshly sanded and installed.

Placement of the Storage Shelves and Equipment

Although I had planned on where to put everything, I decided to start using the bench so I could get a better feel for where I wanted everything. I was still waiting on the anti-static mat so I figured that it was all going to be temporary anyway. I centralized the most important tools and used it for about a week like that.

Using the bench with storage bins and basic equipment in place.

Using the Workbench

Of course a week turned into a month. I kept trying out different arrangmeents of my tools while waiting on other things to arrive in the mail. My only power supply at that time was one salvaged from an old computer case. I realized that I was either going to have to add some height to the main shelf or add an additional shelf on top.

Having only one shelf turned out to be a bad idea as it was a waste of space.

The anti-static mat was delivered but I still wanted to try out the bench for a while before actually cutting the mat. I became clear that I didn't make the bench deep enough so I ended up using hooks on the walls for cable management.

Gotta Have Another Shelf

Adding the second shelf was pretty easy so I decided to make it bigger than I thought I needed. It worked out that I used up all the verical space I had left. This gave me a good spot to place all my scopes and meters while still having an area for power supplies and tools like soldering irons.

The second shelf is the perfect height for scopes and is deep enough to display meters and other small instruments.

Fitting the Anti-static Mat

The anti-static mat is pretty heavy so all I had to do was cut it to fit around the shelves and lay it down. Then I added the grounding cables and buttons to the plug for the strap. Around this time I got my older Tektronix oscilloscope. I started with it out on the floor but eventually moved it so that it sits next to the Rigol.

It's getting closer but there are still options to explore.

It would have been easier to organize everything if the bench was twice as wide and about another foot deep. But, since I wasn't going to start over, I really had to use the bench for a while to figure out what worked best for me. It may end up changing based on what I'm working on.

A Completed Workbench

It ended up taking about two months to fully complete. This was after trying out a lot of different setups. I've seen a lot of "standard" designs for these benches but this seems to be working for me right now. My only complaint is how to organize all the cables from the meters and oscilloscopes. I've seen others use small shelves or hooks but I still ended up with a mess when I tried. So, for now I'm just using some hooks so I can partially keep cords out of the way.

Final bench with grounding mat, power supplies, and instruments.

I regret not adding drawers to the table top but I can still do that later. I've noticed that I seem to fill up any space I add for "organization". I may also add some holders for wire spools and I still need a permenant solution for getting rid of fumes(currently using 12V computer fans).

Last Thoughts

I've been using the workbench for a few months now and it seems like I always end up with it looking like a junk pile. I clean it up constantly and organize everything, but it still ends up looking like this while I work on a project. I realize this is a common problem and some people take pride in a bench that looks like a junk yard crashed into it. I had high hopes of keeping it clean but I think I'm going to have to double the space first...

Perfectly organized workspace.