I’ve been highly delinquent in my participation the Sprue Cutter’s Union. But I’m trying to catch up on my entries, and I’m starting with #21: Where the magic happens. This installment asks about the space where you do your modeling. Without further ado, I’m proud to introduce you to one of my creations: my workspace. A great workspace is one of the most coveted things in modeling. You see “Share your workbench” posts (like this one) fill up with modelers showing off their benches/desks/corners/garages/etc. I’ve been working on building out my own space for a while now and it’s coming along nicely. In fact, I’m pretty proud. I probably over invested, but damn does it make for a comfortable space to while away the hours. Hope you enjoy.
In our house, we have a small extra bedroom that I was originally using as an office. I didn’t want to give up the office since I needed a good place to plug in my laptop and edit photos, work from home, etc. I also didn’t want to create a messy pile of modeling stuff in the middle of the house. So whatever I did needed to be “furniture” not “bench”. Plus, I already had some furniture that I didn’t want to conflict with.
The furniture & shelving
I have one word to sum up my decorating process for this room: Ikea. I purchased all the furniture from Ikea. This included:
- The desk which matched the one I already had – Ikea Sanfrid top with Sjunne legs. This is a stainless steel top, which comes in handy for cleaning and for attaching magnets too
- Big shelves (Ekby Bjarnum brackets with Ekby Jarpen shelves)
- Small picture ledge shelves (Ribba shelves)
All shelves were the black-brown color and all brackets and tops were silver. Makes for a nice look! I’ve also added a $20 fold-up workbench table from Harbor freight that gives me a good place to put my spray booth. Like the spray booth itself, this small table can be folded up and packed away. Or at least that was the plan. Since I have it in place 24/7 these days, I’m considering building/buying a better one, both from a looks and stability standpoint.
On the leading edges of the shallow paint shelves, I added a strip of metal from Lowes. Add to this some rare earth magnets, and I have a great place to stick reference photo print outs or instructions or other things I need to be int front of me.
Beyond the pretty weak overhead room light, I have three lights:
- Miniburst 256 – This is my key overhead light. It’s a pricey photography oriented light – one I had picked up a couple years ago for macro photography. It has an easily removable clip so I can use it for photography too.
- Alvin Swing arm light – love this thing. Can’t recommend it highly enough. It has both a fluorescent tube and a incandescent bulb, each of which can be turn on/off separately. You get both brightness and warm light.
- Swing arm magnifying light – I rarely use the magnifying function, and the light on this one is underpowered. If I had to do it over again, I’d absolutely buy two of the swing arm lights above.
I’m still trying to figure out how to better light inside my spray booth. If you have any suggestions, please leave a comment!
As mentioned, my workbench is a Ikea stainless steel desk. I’ve added a few things that help keep things organized:
- Reference material organizer… aka Magazine rack – I screwed a magazine rack onto the side of the desk so I can stick reference materials, instructions, and books out of the way.
- Plier holder… aka cabinet door pull – I do a lot of customization of my models. I was realizing that a big part of the mess I make during construction was the pile of pliers I was using. Between sprue cutters, wire cutters, side cutters, photoetch benders… oh boy. I’d seen several types of plier holders, but they were all freestanding and large. I didn’t want yet another thing on workbench itself. So after walking the aisles at Lowes looking for a solution, I stumbled upon these door pulls. Screw them to the edge of the workbench and BAM! Cheap, effective plier holder!
For both of these things, I wanted to avoid drilling holes in the front of the workbench, in case I have to move the desk back into normal furniture rotation. So for both installations, I used small metal L brackets. One side goes in the item, the other side allows me to screw the item into the desk from up underneath. Screw holes, yes… visible, no.
Like most modelers, I have a large cutting mat as my main work surface. This is a nice, easily cleaned, always able to cut on surface. Lately, I’ve taken to using a silicon baking mat when I’m working with small parts. The mat is sorta sticky, which helps things bounce around just a little less. I put my working model box on the left, and my tools on the right. Those tools include:
- Round paintbrush holder (although this will likely change to be a series of individual containers soon – one for acrylic brushes, one for enamel brushes, one for putty brushes, one for drybrush brushes, etc.
- Carousel for tools and misc.
- Three magnetic stand-ups. I found these at a local hardware store, Zingers. They’re literally just a flat magnet on a stand, and are fantastic. They keep tweezers or files or other metal items super handy.
I also build a small, clear plexiglass stand for working on things without having to bend all the way over to the worktop surface. It cost me $15 in materials (plexiglass and plastic weld glue), and has been quite helpful. When I’m not using it to build, it acts as a nice means of getting small sub-assemblies up out of the clutter, but near by.
Storage: Workbench side of the room
- 3x Plastic 12″ x 12″ pegboard panels – these are the basis for the storage options here. On the left and right sides, I have the Akro-Mils bins, hung on the pegboard with the pegboard-to-bin clips. In the middle, I have some a various assortment of tools and tapes, etc.
- Akro-Mils storage units – These contain a random selection of various things. In one, I have my weathering powders. In another, I have used blades for future proper disposal.
- Above the workbench, I have small shelves for storing paints, thinners, pigments, etc. Above that, I have a large shelf for storing various in-progress builds, old test hulks, etc.
Storage: Non-workbench side of the room (back wall)
On this side of the room, I focused on storage for:
- Books – lots and lots of book
- 3x Plastic 12″ x 12″ pegboard panels – this area contains bigger tools
- More Akro-Mils storage units – these contain most of my paint collection
- Long items – underneath the Akro-Mils bins, I’m storing longer pieces of wood, wire, and metal
- Models and bigger item storage
On the back of the door to the room, I’ve used some Command Hooks to hang up my various packages of strip and rod.
To properly vent the room when spraying, I’ve run a dryer hose from my spray booth to the window. Given the type of window I have (hinges on the vertical, swinging out, with the screen on the inside), I have some challenges getting truly out of the window. Without a handy solution, I have take the screen all the way off the rather large window in order to truly vent to the outside. In Texas, that’s a problem in the summers! So I cut a hole in the screen, inserted a dryer vent flapper vent, and attached the vent hose to that. I can open the window a bit and the fumes (largely) vent to the outside. It’s not perfect, but it’s better than no venting. Entertainment For some reason, I find I’m more relaxed when there’s TV on in the background while I model. You’d think after having been on the phone all day, every day for work, I’d just want quiet. But my mind wonders too easily, so I think the TV helps. But since I’m in a small room, I’m just using an iPad on a stand with a pair of wireless headphones. Works great! Just make sure to recharge the headphones every time your session is done.
The rest of the room
90 degrees to the left of the workbench, I have my matching desk with my computer on it. This makes it handy for researching while working. I also have a large closet I use for storage as well.
One last thing of note: I have hardwood floors throughout the house, including in this room. I put down a plastic chair mat (like you find in offices) and it was a wise investment! I’ve spilled on it a few times. Small spills, but spills nonetheless. Easier to clean up off then mat than the wood!
Now check out what other modelers have shared!
UPDATE: Check out my latest add-on… a DIY brush holder.
UPDATE 2: Here’s some pictures of the staged room (i.e. super cleaned up so I can sell the house)
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