Building a guitar repair bench. Looking for tips on how to do it right the first time.

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by straightblues, Jan 3, 2018.

  1. burningyen

    burningyen Vendor

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    He's worked on a few of my guitars, and I highly recommend him if you can find a slot in his calendar!
     
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  2. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    seen this one a few times, always great to get insight into what a (by reputation) master tech does. his point about designing the space so that no tools ever get retrieved from over the guitar is a good one, i'd love to be able to redesign my own setup that way.

    one thing i never noticed about it until just now, he has the guitar sitting backwards on the bench! does he play left-handed? (i'm lefty myself but i play righty)
     
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  3. Ron Thorn

    Ron Thorn Gold Supporting Member

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  4. tonyhay

    tonyhay Supporting Member

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    Designed by Ron Thorn!
     
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  5. RR59CMS

    RR59CMS Member

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    I went to the used building material store and bought a used door for the top and enough 2x4's to build a frame for about $20. Works great. I would advise not to use pegboard to hold your tools, the last thing you want is something falling and messing up someones baby. I also bought enough indoor/outdoor carpet to cover the entire work area. Mega lights.
     
  6. Terry McInturff

    Terry McInturff 40th Anniversary of guitar building! Gold Supporting Member

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    You know that you have the lighting right when you can stand a pencil on end and it doesn't cast a shadow....and be able to aim the light differently at will. High quality swing arm lamps are great.
     
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  7. Coolidge

    Coolidge Member

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    I have 36 bright as the sun shop light bulbs in my 3 car garage, at night my garage looks like there's a warp drive breach in progress.
     
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  8. Coolidge

    Coolidge Member

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    For the money...this http://www.grizzly.com/products/Super-Heavy-Duty-Workbench-Leg-System/D2910

    I own one, for the money no other workbench base compares it will out live you and your kids. The extra large leveling feet are suitable for indoor use to void harming floors/carpet. You could order the maple top from Grizzly but recommend you source one locally so you can make sure its flat and true.

    [​IMG]
     
  9. KGWagner

    KGWagner Member

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    Hehe! I had my shop set up like that at the last place. It was like daylight in there.
     
  10. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    big +1 on having lots of lights in many directions for shadow-free coverage. in all my various desk lamp fixtures i recently put “100w” LED bulbs that are just fantastic, bright white with almost no heat and very little power consumption.

    they’re also supposed to last basically forever and were less than $10 each.
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2018
  11. KGWagner

    KGWagner Member

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    Speaking of LED lamps, I bought one of these gooseneck desktop lamps...

    [​IMG]

    ...and modified it to mount on my neck jig aimed at the nut...

    [​IMG]

    The thing is surprisingly bright. Makes cutting slots easier.
     
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  12. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    @KGWagner nice!

    how ya likin' that fancy new metal neck jig? i'm still rocking the old-school wooden one but damn that's sexy.
     
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  13. KGWagner

    KGWagner Member

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    I like it a lot. It's very stiff and versatile. Easy to adjust to a lotta different configurations. I bought a bunch of neodymium magnets to stick to the vise I'm using to hold the jig, and use those to hold Allen wrenches and whatnot. Mounted a tuner at the head end for precise intonation, and keep a Snark around for rough tuning. Although, those Snarks are a lot more accurate/sensitive than one might think. Drilled/tapped some holes for screws to hang straightedges and so forth. Mounted that light on it. It's a pretty handy fixture.

    There's a company that makes all those extruded parts and hardware; you could make one yourself for substantially less than StewMac sells them for, but I lost the link during a hard drive rebuild. There are only a few simple parts that are unique to the fixture that any half-assed machinist could make for next to nothing - mainly mountings for the gauges and body standoffs. I had intended at one time to draw all that stuff up along with a couple other mods that I think would be handy that StewMac doesn't offer, but never got around to it. One thing that would be handy is like a 10x14 or so tray to mount on the end(s) to hold hand tools, loose parts, etc.

    One of these days...
     
  14. Ayrton

    Ayrton Member

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  15. KGWagner

    KGWagner Member

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    That wasn't the supplier I remember, but they'd probably work as well. Same sort of parts/materials.
     
  16. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    wow! forget the wood, i wanna build a work bench out of that stuff! (there, see how i un-swerved the topic? :D)

    [​IMG]
     
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  17. zul

    zul Supporting Member

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    My bench in my ny basement. I only get the top which I guard like a feral dog.
    Underneath is a bunch of house stuff that my wife controls.
    As you probably could infer, this came from a neighbor's kitchen.
    Not too sad for me since my first ny apt was much smaller that this bench.
    I moved most tools rightmost after viewing that video years ago.
    I used to solder in the back of moving tour busses when I was younger though,
    since I never could afford a tech or have a number in every town I could call,
    so this is definitely an upgrade from burning skin.
     
  18. Panzer917

    Panzer917 Member

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    I converted the top of a roll around tool chest.. Mine is a 48" x30" top with two parallel rows of storage drawers.
    Best thing about it is being on wheels. I can move it anywhere and work around the body without moving it. Especially handy for fret work.
     
  19. UsableThought

    UsableThought Supporting Member

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    No one has mentioned this, but "guitar stuff" isn't just a single category of activity - e.g. tasks for guitar electronics are very different than woodworking tasks; and even woodworking tasks can be furthered divided by scale or type of tool. The requirements are quite different & at times can conflict, e.g. sawdust doesn't go well with electronics or for that matter finishing. Ideally you'd have completely separate spaces as needed - e.g. a luthier I met recently who builds cellos has one room for large power tools (with dust collection) and another room for fine work with hand tools.

    In my case, I do electronics, large-scale woodworking, and small-scale woodworking, mostly to do with both guitars & guitar amps; and I have only a single bench to do it all on, as the shop is not large enough to accommodate separated benches. Fortunately the bench is 13 feet long and fairly wide, so I have a lot of surface area; but even so, I've had to find ways to juggle.

    Beyond that I go with what KGWagner says about the virtues of a standing bench:

    I too prefer a standing bench, with the height designed for me rather than generically (I'm 6'3"). Also, for me stools are essential for when I'm doing electronics - I'm not about to solder a PCB standing up. And sometimes I have even sat in a chair at the bench – for example if I'm using a scope to troubleshoot a guitar amp, sitting down brings me almost face-level with both amp and scope and I can work more easily & more safely.

    Generic stuff that helps with multi-purposing a big-enough bench: 1) spot lighting that can be moved where you want it; 2) movable clamps of some sort, e.g. track; in my case I rely on screw-type hold-downs that go through holes drilled where needed; 3) good dust collection - for me this is tool attachments and/or DIY collectors, going into a shop vac; 4) tool and materials storage on the opposite wall, which again keeps the bench clear for different uses; 5) temporary tool storage at the bench via a magnetic strip for metal tools, a variety of cups or other holders, etc.; 6) portable rather than permanent flat surfaces (e.g. heavy plate glass, big piece of MDF); and 7) creative use of wall and ceiling for things like hoists. I guess that one is more about bench placement (to use a wall, you need a wall) rather than the bench itself.

    And since I don't have shelves right at the bench, I use some of the free wall space for something else I think is very useful: a big bulletin board. I can pin plans, task lists, whatever, on it. So very little paper on the bench - just shop notebooks.

    A multi-purpose bench doesn't meet all needs - for example an island bench, as described by @Panzer917, is sometimes better; in such cases I bring in a heavy desk. And I typically go to a different room to apply finishes.

    In general I favor designing a bench to mesh with both the surrounding space & the tools you absolutely know you'll need; but beyond that, leaving room for the not yet known. The more versatile the bench, the more you can invent what you need when you need it.
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2018
  20. straightblues

    straightblues Member

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    Great points. In my case, it is small-scale wood stuff; guitar setup and assembly; and guitar wiring and stompbox building. I found a table. It is an old architects table. I think it is going to work great. It is 58 x 30. I am bought some direct lighting to clamp on the table. I also bought a big fluorescent light fixture that I am mounting right above the bench.

    Based on suggestions here, I am going to keep all the tools off the bench. I am building a tool wall behind the bench with pegboard and magnetic tool holders.

    It is all coming together.
     
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