Sunday, March 14, 2010


At long last, I have cleared my workbench! Taa-daa:Some interesting stuff on it, too. Across the top, my fancy extending light on a custom (see below) support hides a pair of hand drills, while the far end is occupied by a bench supply (450 VDC/100 mA plus lower B+ and heater supplies) and breadboarded tube utility amplifier ('76 triode driving '42s in push-pull!), both based on Modern Radio Labs plans. Lookie:Power Supply -- that's a real type '80! The shiny front panel is what happens if you have a buffing wheel and a lot of time; it's aluminum, which can be...interesting to buff: you have to do it all in one go, especially the final stages.Amplifier, with salvaged knobs (from an old Thordarson product) found all alone at a hamfest or surplus dealer. The finish on the plywood cabinet is brown shoe polish(!!) followed up with a little wax.

Next shelf has a commercial bench supply for tubes -- regulated 0-400 VDC (with current limiting!), ditto 0-100 negative for bias, and heater voltage. Simpson 260 next to it, the Meter You Should Own -- the Triplett 630 has its adherents, too -- one or the other, if you fiddle much with electronics, you'll want a real VOM and they're the definitive ones this side of the water. Both show up used at reasonable prices. Next to the Simpson, an RF signal generator, a hamfest find a couple of years old.

Various toys on the bench top -- an anvil, a Hakko high/low soldering iron at the far left, small hand drill, some drivers, a 4" square, an awl and my nice, big American Beauty 100W iron, plus a recently-modified small-tools holder.

Recently-modified? Glad you asked!
Here's the mod in progress; I was cheating by planing off the pencil marks, using a beat-up miter box as a vise-replacement (you clamp it to the bench and clamp the workpiece to the miter box). The wooden "Gent's Plane" was bought on sale, I think from Lee Valley, and is outstandingly good. (They don't seem to have that brand right now). It's true what they say about wooden planes. I cheated on drilling the holes vertically, too. I'm very fond of this tiny Plexiglas square for that purpose. But you're wondering what the thing does? Why, this: It's the driver-holder across the back, holding a couple of awls, a ratcheting multi-driver and two sizes of tweakers -- yes, that's the genuine tech-identifying Green Tweaker at the right.

The bracket for the accordion light? Built of scraps, old wood found here and there, but it's got wedged tenons at each end and all manner of done-by-hand chamfering. Did it several years ago, just to see if I could. I can.
It's not a thing of exceeding great beauty but it works. You can just see a bit of the chunky triangular block that's supporting it off the left side of the shelves.

Still to come: some diagonal bracing for the legs and perhaps installing my smaller carpenter's vise. (The bigger one, I'm saving for a sturdy woodwork-specific bench, probably out in the garage). And perhaps a project or two!
* Need tube data? Frank's the guy! Duncan's TDSL is nice, too.


  1. You reminded me of something.

    Long long ago, in a former lifetime...

    I think I was about 18 years old. Working in a small car repair shop. I needed to bump some tires, and the valve core tool came up missing. Rather than gut the machine to find it, I cut off an old screw driver I had and reshaped it into a new valve core tool.

    The 'old guy' working there took it out of my hand and looked at it. Then he said something along the lines of "You'll be ok kid. A mechanic needs to be able to makes his own tools if he has to".

    Then he made me take the tire machine apart to find the real tool.

  2. Nice Simpson. And I could use a decent signal generator like that -- I'm envious. You need a product-advertising coffee mug, something that says RCA or Westinghouse. And an empty shot glass. (*Very* nice tool caddy!)

  3. I bow before your magnificence.
    Of course I aspire to be you when I grow up.
    the smart money is against it.
    My growing up that is!

    But I may actually get my workbench cleaned up.

  4. That is a very nice compact workbench. The RCA signal generator nicely matches the 260, and would fit in very well in a 1950's radio shop. Change the generator to a (much larger) Jackson or Precision and the 260 to a 1938 model with red banana jacks, and except for the Hakko your bench would not be anachronistic 1n a 1940 to 1946 radio repair shop.

    All it lacks are a few 1930's Philco Tombstones, Spartans, a Watterson or two, and perhaps a Majestic console awaiting the masterful hand of the "radio fixer," along with a working 1933 "radio keg" to go with the decor, to be perfect.


  5. Looks very nice. Since I moved in with the gf, I've taken over a corner of the kitchen, where the 'Breakfast Nook' seating used to be. We moved one of the benches out to the patio, and I set up shop on the table. Not as efficient as at my old bachelor pad as I'm always dragging test gear to and fro, and most of my parts stock is in the garage, but it works, and she gets a kick out of seeing me bring old radios back to life. So far I've completed restored a Collins 75S-1 receiver, rebuilt an ICom IC-970H that I got as a basket case, and I just started on a 1950's Valco Supro guitar amp I found out in the garage.

  6. Just completed a bench upgrade. From metal desk
    to wood and far larger.

    Now that Hallicrafters HT27 will get the once over and maybe on the air again.