Building a plane/building room and would like advice - RC Groups
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Dec 22, 2012, 10:21 PM
Registered User

Building a plane/building room and would like advice

My room is 18 ft. long by 12 ft. wide... This weekend I'm going to put together my "room" How do most of you do it? Areas of thought/discussion...

Workbench - do you sit or stand while working? Is it against a wall or in the center of the room to "go around" it? How large is it? Do you use more than one workbench for the hobby?

Tools - do they hang on the wall exposed or do you like toolboxes, drawers, etc.? Do you have separate sets for the hobby i.e. is this your "household" work area or hobby specific?

Aircraft/Accessories - are they in this room? Hanging? Fixed shelving?

Wildcard - any 'strange' or different ideas one might use on said room?

I'm mainly looking for ideas and thought some discussion might give members a different perspective on where we actually spend so much time (esp. for us Northerners in the winter)
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Dec 23, 2012, 04:26 AM
B for Bruce
BMatthews's Avatar
My suggestion is to not rush into this. Spend some time planning and give yourself a budget for kitting out the room well.

If you're able to use a CAD program take the time to draw up the room and the key tools you need to provide room for. If you're not good with CAD then do the same thing but with pencil and paper. Draw up the room and details and then make little paper cutouts of the bench, storage and other key features and play with them to achieve the best overall arrangement.

I'm not a big fan of pegboard anymore since it takes up a LOT of room on the wall for very little actual storage. Instead I've come to believe in the joys of old second hand kitchen cabinetry and counter tops. For the lowers stick with mainly drawer units for storage of tools. And a pantry cabinet or two gives you lots of storage for other things. Small tools can be arrayed in a shallow drawer by using things like cutlery separators and other tricks. Only the very most commonly used tools can benefit from some sort of bench top tool caddy. But make it portable so you can move it and use it instead of taking the stuff out and simply lay it on the bench to clutter the place and get lost.

Storing the actual model components is never an easy task. A rack of some form on the wall is pretty much a must. Or if the ceiling has exposed joists you can set up storage for some of the stuff up in the space between the joists so it doesn't hang down very far. That's using room that can't be used for anything else and is a big help for keeping the floors and walls clear.

At the bench plan on a foot well or two to allow sitting on a stool while doing some tasks. But make the bench/counter top the proper height for working while standing.

For bigger models and other bigger projects a work island is often the better way to go. And a 12x18 room has the space for that sort of setup. The island can be put together from some kitchen style lowers so there's even more storage for all manner of stuff.

And don't forget about power. Wire EVERYTHING so you have outlets where ever you might even possibly need them. And lighting. You can't have too much lighting. Make sure it is positioned so that you're not casting any shadows on your working area.

Since I had my CAD open already I did this quick two minute sketch to perhaps give you an idea or two. I have NO IDEA what major items you have that also need to go into this room so this is a REAL quicky that illustrates what I'm saying about using kitchen cabinetry in the shop.

It's not shown but I'd suggest a wood working vise for the island. They are nice for this because the vise and jaw sits on the edge so the top of the jaw is only flush with the surface. And give yourself some holes for bench dogs in the island work top for doing wood working items or simply for holding stuff with the vise or by using a bench dog.

And for metal working a second vise over on the wall mounted counter at some point where it has room to work but it's reasonably out of the way. Putting it over by the drill press makes a lot of sense actually.

The grey is upper shelves and the white lines are the counter top with cabinets under. At one point on each side of the "L" I'd leave out one cabinet so you have a foot well to use with a stool. The tan coloured things are 7 foot tall floor to ceiling pantry closets that give you LOTS of storage for all manner of things.

And one thing you can NEVER have too much of in a shop is storage ability...
Dec 24, 2012, 09:02 AM
Registered User
In addition to that, I have a roll around smaller workbench that holds general tools and provides a work surface to set things. I have a few pvc stands to hold fuses and wings to work on and do general maintenance and engine changes. With a bad back, I like being able to sit a little while I work.

Mines a bigger shop so I also have an engine workbench, an electronics workbench, and a charging workbench next to my storage rack. Theres another workbench that has my scroll saw, 1" vertical sander, and 4" belt/6" disc sander, with a band saw next to it.

I have a 6' square main build table with a wood vice like Bruce says. All my wood is stored under it.

Dec 24, 2012, 02:52 PM
B for Bruce
BMatthews's Avatar
Good point about arranging for charging stations or wiring up the fuselage storage rack for plugs for the airborne packs. And the wood storage for balsa and ply. Hence the suggestion to plan ahead.
Dec 25, 2012, 08:59 AM
Registered User
Solid core birch or luan doors make great building tables.

Where you store your building tools is up to you but if you're anything like me they'll end up scattered everywhere when working.

Dec 25, 2012, 03:17 PM
Registered User
Smething to think about:
My most valuable "tool" is the chair I sit in at my work benches. It is an el-cheapo, armless, seat height adjustable, office chair with castors. I've been using it for different purposes since 1991 and specifically in the work shop since 2002. Still works very well. I save steps because I can easily roll around to grab tools and stuff I use most. I have two of the sit-down height work benches (described below) in a back-to-back arrangement so I can just spin around in my chair and have access to other work items; maybe building a fuse on one bench and a wing on the other.

Because any of us can/will spend mega-hours in the shop, standing all the time just sounds tiring and makes my feet hurt. So, I made three pair of sawhorse trestles at the right seated height to support 16" wide by 72" long torsion box building boards. That's where most of my work takes place.

I like the long, narrow building boards, in part, because the actual building area I need doesn't have to be very deep. I'd probably just stack junk and trash on the unused work surface anyway. In addition, having three sets of trestles and building boards allows some re-arrangement flexibility not available with one, big table.

I also made a standing height, down draft table for the scroll saw, mini-table saw, belt/disc sander, and dremel stand. For safety and maneuverability, I like to stand when using power tools. And, of course, that's where most of the dust is generated, hence the down draft table.

If I were to start a new workshop from scratch (and have the $$ to do a great job), I'd still use sitting height work surfaces for all of the tasks where I spend long-hours.
Dec 26, 2012, 03:08 AM
You know nothing....
Stuart A's Avatar
Not quite the same situation as yours,I'm basically building in the living space of a small flat.One thing I do have is a small 18"x24" low table that I can sit in front of me while watching tv etc.Invaluable for smaller work such as soldering etc;I have a small building board that fits on it,tail feathers and such can be built on it while leaving the main bench for the bigger stuff.

And don't forget to plan the lighting.(stressing BMs point)
Last edited by Stuart A; Dec 26, 2012 at 03:21 AM. Reason: Addition
Dec 26, 2012, 08:01 AM
Bleriot's R Us
xairflyer's Avatar
Priority is a center Island workbench, even if it is dis-mountable (mine is and I never take it down) to be able to work all around the model, if even just for cleaning after flying makes the job so much easier.

Also I build a set of drawers under my bench that are 1M long to hold lengths of balsa, ply piano wire etc.
Dec 30, 2012, 09:27 PM
Dismembered Member...
arx_n_sparx's Avatar
Originally Posted by BMatthews
At the bench plan on a foot well or two to allow sitting on a stool while doing some tasks. But make the bench/counter top the proper height for working while standing.
Someone in these fora recommended the proper height to me quite a while ago. I don't remember who it was, but the recommendation is having the top surface at "bellybutton" height while standing. Having recently discovered that I have 2 herniated/1 ruptured discs in my back, I can verify this one.

Dec 31, 2012, 10:53 AM
Registered User
Thats some good advice. I have two work benches, one at about 30" and a standup at about 44". My back problem gives me about 15 to 20 minute indurance standing or sitting while working. So I tend to be up and down a lot and have several chairs to sit in plus a tall bar stool hieght chair.
(on soap box)
Take care of your backs guys, its a life changing event. I ruptured my discs lifting a transmission off a floor jack. It wasnt really that heavy, just bad posture. I was lucky in that I had a good surgeon, but that ended any more wrenching for the rest of my life.
(off soap box)
Dec 31, 2012, 01:53 PM
Registered User
Sonsight's Avatar
You will need good lights! I recommend the 4' T8 twin toobers, with electronic ballasts. Install "daylight" bulbs. Man, the light output is nothing short of amazing! With your size shop I would go with a minimum of 4 fixtures, preferably 6 fixtures, 3 down each side.
Jan 01, 2013, 01:50 PM
Hope to get out of life alive
kenh3497's Avatar
FWIW, here is my new work bench I built a little over a year ago. So far I don't think I would change a thing. It may be a bit overkill but it should be the last bench I ever build. I can be built with a circular saw and one of those saw guides, a framing square and one of those small triangle shaped squares. Each leg is held on with four bolts and are removable for transport or storage. The whole bench is made from plywood. The stringers and cut from the ply so they are as strait as can be. No crappy 2X4's to dry out and warp. I did use some 2X4's on the bottom shelf support though

It is belly button high so standing or setting on a tall chair/bar stool works well. Lots of storage below and could add another shelf if the need is felt. That is the reason for the spacing of the braces on the legs. Speaking of legs I did add a pad to the bottom of the legs to make them easier to shim, to get the table level.

Jan 02, 2013, 02:35 AM
mewert's Avatar

Tool caddy

Here is a tool caddy I dreamed up one day. It has four sides and sits on a lazy susan base. I used 3/4" ply in order to have a solid and strong mounting surface. Very handy addition that keeps allot of tools visable at arms reach.
Jan 03, 2013, 01:09 PM
Registered User
I would suggest avoiding "built in" type funiture, building board etc. These are tied into permanent situations and you may need a simple change to accomodate a special building situation. Harder, perhaps imposible with fixed equipment. A typical example would be a building board attached to a wall, or worse on a wall in a corner. If you have to mount in that fashion use trumpet head screws instead of nails. If you have to use nails, try to leave the heads out for easier removal later.

At the airport, we had a general rule "Mount as many (especially heavy) things on casters as you can. We were constantly moving things in an out, re-arranging etc. wheels make it much more enjoyable! We tried not to cover anything (stored materials etc) with something hard to move.

I recently set up my modeling place (OK so it's a work in progress!) in the garage. I decided that a roll around building board (emphasis on being "flat "and being able to stay that way), with storage below, was a worthwhile investement. So far it's worked quite well. Easy to work around or even move it around! Kind of an extreme "island" concept, 30"wide x 8' long. One giant scale model down. More to come, I hope.
Jan 03, 2013, 02:03 PM
Bleriot's R Us
xairflyer's Avatar
Add plenty of bracing to your flat building bench, you can never have enough to keep it flat.

I thought my 10ft long bench was good when I built it ten years ago, but I have noticed it is no longer flat and will need redoing before my next big build

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