A journal following the history, design, construction and operation of Bernard Kempinski's O Scale model railroad depicting the U. S. Military Railroad (USMRR) Aquia-Falmouth line in 1863, and other model railroad projects.
©Bernard Kempinski All text and images, except as noted, on this blog are copyrighted by the author and may not be used without permission.

October 17, 2019

New Work Benches

Wood working shop in the garage is nearly done

The last phase of the flood recovery was to rebuild and reorganize my model building workbench.  I now finished that project and I am very pleased with it.

I had earlier posted pictures of how I reconfigured my wood working shop upstairs in the garage.  Since that post, the final set of Festool Sys-Az drawers for the miter station arrived and I was able to install them. Yes, Marty, there is more for tool growth. These Festools have a way to multiply.

By re-organizing my wood shop I was able to move some tools from the basement to the garage. In particular, the spin caster, vulcanizer, and metal melting pot are now in the garage.  That freed up some space in the basement shop.  I am not completely done with my wood shop as I plan to add a better router table and dedicated table for the spin caster.

Terry working in the old model building shop.
The model building work bench is located in the narrow space near Clozet Tunnel and Aquia Landing on the layout. This photo of Terry Terrance working on a locomotive shows how cramped the space was.  It was tough for layout operators to work there too.

The revised model workbench plan  had two objectives. Make the aisle space wider, and rationalize my storage to better utilize the space I had.

I started by getting rid of the existing workbench, which was a hollow core door on two metal filing cabinets.  The filing cabinets were not good for model building supplies as they had a few, deep drawers.  While I was getting rid of stuff, I took down the wire shelves above the workbench that held numerous boxes of supplies. I did not replace these. I felt they added to the visual clutter of the space. I sorted through the supplies ruthlessly and got rid of stuff I really didn't need. The rest of the supplies were placed in plastic tubs and stored elsewhere or got consolidated into the new work bench.

Alicia asks, "Can you keep it this neat?" Probably not. 
The new workbench is a wooden pine table top that is made with edge joined pine boards. I added an oak 1x2 face frame. The harder oak will help protect the edge of the pine from dings and dents.  I used my router to counter sink a 12x24 inch porcelain tile into the pine top. This is the primary gluing and painting surface. When glue or paint drops fall on it, the surface can be easily cleaned with a razor blade. This is working wonderfully. If the tile cracks or gets too scratched, I can easily lift it out and replace it.

Speaking of tiles, the new tile floor is proving very durable and stain resistant. I think it was a good choice for this basement.

The work bench top rests on two Ikea ALEX style drawers on casters. These 12 drawers are wide, deep and not too tall. They are perfect for sheets of styrene and for access to tools.  I was able to store most of my model building tools and lots of supplies with room to spare.

I previously used the peg board behind the workbench to hold detail parts. I decided that was not a good use of the pegboard. So I sorted the detail parts into plastic tubs. Then I added tools that I frequently use to the hooks. This is very handy.

The LED bar light on the wall creates some back light on the workbench. So I added an inexpensive desk light with a 1600 lumen 5000 degree K light. That provides plenty of direct task light. Note that I have converted all the lights in the basement to 5000K except for some lights in the area near Brooke and and Stonemans in the front room.

The lathe station
Next to the new workbench, I built a small rolling platform with plywood and locking casters. On this platform, I placed a metal tool cabinet made by Craftsman, that was a gift from my wife a few years back. My Sherline lathe sits on top of this tool chest. The drawers below it have all the necessary tools for working on the lathe.

The bottom drawer of this tool chest houses my airbrushes and supplies.  The spray booth is under the bench work on the opposite side of the lathe, so I can access it if needed while spraying.

Spray booth tucked under the wye at Aquia Landing
The Itawa air compressor is under the spray booth. It is a Iwata-Medea Studio Series Smart Jet Pro. It is quiet and perfect for airbrushing models. I have my airbrushes on hoses with quick release fittings. That way it is easy to change airbrushes. I tend to use the Grex Tritium with a 0.7mm nozzle for big models and the Iwata Eclipse HS for smaller stuff. I also have an Iwata Neo  that I use as an emergency backup. Yes, one time all my other airbrushes were out of service and awaiting spare parts. So I bought an Iwata Neo at the local craft store with a 50% oof coupon. It works pretty well for a $60 airbrush.

The spray booth is a Pace  Industries Peacekeeper 24 inch. It vents to the outside through a fairly long 4 inch pipe. The Pace spray booth uses regular HVAC filters that are cheap and easy to replace.  I added a kitchen style turntable to the booth to spin models while  spray painting.  That works pretty well.

Finally, I added a small fan at the end of the space. Since this area is a dead end, ventilation can be poor. The fan helps disperse fumes where they can exit from the basement.

Future plans for the workbench area include two display cabinets on the walls to house my collection of Porsche car cars and military miniatures.  So now Chris, you may take your picture!


  1. Would love to see the look on General Lee's face when the Union unleashes that tank on his army!