Electronics workbench

project: , published: by Maarten Tromp.

In our previous house my electronics bench was made to size for our study. It was bolted to the wall and shelves were made around it. There was no way that desk could easily be moved into the new house. So I started thinking what I would like to have instead. There was no shortage of ideas, ranging from buying a professional lab table to see what I can make from the scrap wood in the shed.

Professional desks are really nice, but also come with a professional price tag. And during our move I was confronted with the abundance of boards and beams in the shed, so I decided to go DIY. Let's see how far we get using stuff from the shed.

The bench was the first thing to go in my new lab. So how much space would I like to dedicate to it? I picked 180 x 80 cm, which is bigger than my last desk but also leaves space for a computer desk next to it. It is made to be standing height, which for me is 91 cm. There is a shelf over the desk to hold some equipment. The shelf is 30 cm deep, 35 cm high and has approximately 29 cm of height under the shelf. The frame is made from 44 x 69 mm studs, left over from the attic construction. The top is made from bits of 18 mm plywood, once given to me by the neighbour cleaning out his shed. Everything is screwed together thoroughly since some of the wood is a bit warped.

With the base desk done, it's time to dress it up. I added two more supports for the shelf, which left exactly the right space for three 19 inch racks (not really a coincidence) at the back of the desk. For proper equipment mounting I installed three sets of 6 U racking strips. In the 19 inch racks went some 19 inch power strips without power switches. Everything on the desk and the shelf, is connected to those power strips which are are in turn connected to a big power switch on the top left corner of the frame. The switch acts as a "bench on / off" switch and also as panic button.

For the work surface I acquired an ESD mat, made to measure. Apart from being static dissipative, the mat provides a tough rubber work surface that withstands the abuse of sharp bits and soldering equipment. On the roof, over the desk, I mounted some led panels. They light up the desk nicely and also act as an indicator for whether the desk is "switched on" or not. Last I added some tool drawers. Now I finally have the space to organize my screwdrivers and pliers with room to spare.

Next to the desk are some Ikea Ivar shelves to hold parts and projects. Once again, more space than I can fill, at least for now.