Friday, October 30, 2009

Building in buildings can be fun!

Times are tough, babies.
Unemployment up, cold winter coming, and nothing to do but start fights on the internet. Also, my friend Ian Templeton has left our fair city for Manchester for two years. TWO YEARS! I didn't have the heart to tell him that despite the name, that city will not be the capitol of sizzling hot man chests.

Anyway, last year Rosanna and I moved into Kastle Kvernmo and were delighted to find that with a little bit of effort we could convert the backyard shop into a workable space. Last winter the shop was very cold. It was certainly drier than being outside, but it was not much of an upgrade over the days of yore working on the floor of my very packed garage.
Notice the green tape? That's the "don't put anything other than mopeds here" zone.

Months ago, we started preparing the current shop for the long hard cold. You might recall this short essay on shelves. Well, a couple of weeks ago I insulated the ceiling, had an electrician improve the shop circuit breaker so we wouldn't be blowing fuses, wired in actual light fixtures (no more cheesy clamp-on shop lights!) and changed over from halogen lights to CFLs for efficiency. Phew! (Did I mention that unemployment leaves you with a lot of time on your hands?) But wait that's not all!!!

My fellow brother in the Unemployed Moped Mechanics Union, suggested that I build a work bench in my recently polished work space.

So I spent a while mulling it over and staring at the area that I thought would best accommodate a work bench. I came up with these criteria:
1. It would have to be removable somehow because sometimes large things need to be stored in our small shop.
2. It must be integrated into the handbuilt aesthetic because Rosanna has Iron Curtain Press clients visit the shop frequently.
3. I must be able to brace the bike without a kickstand so that I can drop puch engines.

I thought about how other people make use of small spaces and large furniture elements and I thought, "Good Lord! I'll build a Murphy bed work bench... a 'Murphy Bench'!"
Here is a photo of the plans that my dad and I drew up:

And here is the result:

My favorite part is the outlet that I wired in right under the bench for dremel-or-air compressor-or-sawzall-a-moped-in-half delights. Also, I built in some pretty beefy hooks on either side of the front tire area to accommodate tiedowns, sweet. Responsible Jon claims that my Murphy Bench idea will be the toast of the mid-west. I don't believe that the mid-west has internet.

Tune in next time for "how to make a lean-to into a legitimate garage", and "I'M BRETT WALKER! THAT KIT IS SLOW! YOU'LL NEVER GET IT TO RUN FAST!" Au contraire.


  1. awesome!! i've wanted some type of bench for a while now, and that's a great idea. how think was the wood you used and how reinforced are the hinges? it seems the trick would be to keep a small bench like that from wobbling around.

  2. Thanks. The wood is 3/4" that I salvaged from an old bookshelf.
    Yeah I had to think about the lateral rigidity of the bench... the hinge points at the legs and middle joint are fine because there isn't much chance of tweakage there. I originally was going to use piano hinges but they are pretty pricey. I put three hinges at the wall joint to combat lateral movement and I used really long screws so that there isn't much chance of them pulling out of the wall. Also, I took down all my tool holding panels, ran a 2x4 at the top and bottom so that I could hit three studs and really have some strength at the wall. Then I put the tool panels back up on the 2x4's.
    Eventually I'll paint the bench so it doesn't look so gnarly. If I was using this for something other than an oily tool bench a person could get some really nice 3/4" and some antique brass hinges and have a really beautiful fold down platform.

  3. What does Maggie have to do with anything?

  4. Excellent work bringing the idea of the Murphy Bench to life.

  5. its a good idea to make the middle articulate, my whole bench tips and its kindof a handful to hold the moped up and lift the entire bench...

    could i please have more information on joining the 'unemployed moped mechanics union' i've been in that position since may...

    Graham in Milwaukee

  6. well, maybe if the sun ever comes out here, there'll be some hot man chests to be seen...

  7. Sweet printing press! Just found this through Responsible Jon. I thought I was the only handset printer in the MA. Do you do any printing professionally?

    Richard W. (Motion Left)