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My new workbench

My new workbench | Saltbush Avenue

When I thought about what I’d like for my study, a standing workbench was up there on the list. Well, I’ve finally assembled one, along with a filing cabinet, a re-upholstered stool and an inspiration pinboard. In the words of Bob’s Burgers: work hard or die trying, girl.

It took me a while to find a suitable base for my bench. Most trestles are table height, rather than countertop height. There are trestles that can be raised, but I liked this option better: the UTBY underframe from IKEA. It was the perfect height and width, sturdier than just table legs, and minimal enough to fit other furniture underneath. 

I picked up the UTBY frame on a trip to Melbourne. There are two IKEAs there: one is close to the city on a tram line, the other is in the depths of suburbia on a highway. Guess which one had my frame? Still, I made a field trip to that second IKEA just to get it. Then I lugged that big bastard onto two buses and a train, brought it to the airport, checked it onto our flight and unloaded it back home in Hobart. That frame is staying here FOREVER. Please enjoy this stupid drawing I did to pass the time while waiting on Melbourne public transport.

Anyway. The underframe was also the perfect height to wheel this filing cabinet underneath, with adjustable feet for those last few millimetres. I had to forgo the cross-piece at the bottom of the frame, but with a large cabinet underneath half of it I’m not too worried about its stability.

The filing cabinet was a secondhand find (of course). It started out a khaki colour but I sprayed it in metallic charcoal, for a little gleam. Like with my giant flat file drawers, I made a base for the filing cabinet using painted MDF and castors, so that I can actually move the thing if necessary.

I recently went Konmari on the piles of papers in the cabinet and it felt really, really good. I admit, not a single one of those documents “sparks joy.” (Maybe my citizenship certificate, if anything? My diploma? IDK.) And most of this stuff should really just be digitised anyway. But it gives us both peace of mind to have five years’ worth of hard copies of everything, and I’m a big fan of seeing it all in neat folders instead of in piles at the bottom of our closets. Back when I was applying for permanent residency, Jamie and I had to hoard every scrap of paper proving we had a legit shared life together — printed emails, envelopes addressed to both of us, you name it — and it felt GREAT to finally just dump all that junk.

As for the top of the workbench, I used a solid acacia bench top from Bunnings, which came pre-oiled. I gave the edge a quick sand to smooth it out, although it didn’t take out the saw marks. I’m not too fussed.

The inspiration board was simple to put up. I spray-painted a wire mesh mini-panel and have been using it to hang up my favourite art cards that would otherwise sit in a shoebox. Lots of places, memories, daydreams and connections.

(I switched the full-size clothespins for some half-size ones after taking this photo — the full-size guys are cumbersome to use on 50mm mesh.)

I haven’t used this workbench as much as I use the desk, so I’ll make adjustments over time to fit the way it gets used. I’d like to get back into making art and prints and have set some quiet goals for myself — I’m coming up on the very end of my 20s and I only just feel like I have an idea of what I’m doing and where my abilities shine. (Young designers in a small place like Tasmania generally don’t end up with a 9-5 and a career ladder to climb.) I can’t get bitter about the competition, I just have to commit to my own thing.

If you’ve seen my post about fixing up the desk, you might be thinking, “HEY. That’s the same ugly fiber art you had over by your desk. I want my money back.” Yep, I moved the wall hanging over by the workbench, because for whatever reason I wasn’t feeling it by the desk. Looking at the photos, I’m not feeling it over here, either — too much brown in one spot, perhaps? I like warm earthy tones, but with the wooden door, trims and slab in the one spot, the wall hanging feels like Too Much. Will my amazing/hideous wall hanging ever find a home??

The desk organiser is also from IKEA, the paper measurer is vintage.

The study is finally coming together… and I’ll have to post a full reveal to show its finished state!

Other updates in the study: Initial plansfurnishingsflat file storageDIY linen-weave roller blindsgiving the disused fireplace a makeoversetting up a dedicated tea station; refurbishing the timber desk.

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