Handy Devices Special

Build a Bar, Workbench

Dan Miller
By  Dan Miller , Progressive Farmer Senior Editor
This shop workbench doubles as a relaxing bar. (Provided by John Bergen)

It was a tough year for John Bergen and the family's McKnight Farms. An hour north of the Canadian-U.S. border, near Carman, in Manitoba, Canada, a deep drought hurt the crops last growing season. With less grain to haul this winter, Bergen found some unexpected time on his hands.

So, he built a bar. With a workbench. But, not just any bar-workbench combination. This is the type of thing a guy builds when he has the time to do it. With January temps in the single digits and gale-force winds blowing snow across the prairie, a guy has time to think.

Bergen's bar-workbench is a winter project way better than, say, "15 brilliant things to do with 5-gallon buckets." It's a real project someone else dreamed up. Google it.

"We always thought of building an island for the shop," Bergen explains, "something where the guys can eat lunch, have a cup of coffee." Or, some other beverage.

Bergen married into McKnight Farms when he met Laurhys. They, with a son and daughter, live and work on a family-business farm going back six generations. The farm is located in the north Red River Valley and yields oats, canola, soybeans and 72- to 85-day corn. The operation has been here at Carman since the early 1950s.

The workbench and bar occupy a 12-foot-long corner of the 9,600-square-foot shop. It's built of reclaimed barn wood that has been stored on the farm. "We couldn't throw it away," Bergen explains.

Here's a tour of the bar-bench Bergen built:

-- The bar and workbench feature two levels. The bar area has space for several stools standing on a raised platform. Bergen installed the barn boards horizontally under the bar top. Nice touch.

-- Moving around the work side of the project, there are nooks and crannies for storage -- rags, tubes of grease, anything.

-- There is a place to hang a mechanic's creeper on the side of the bench.

-- Circular slots are cut into the top of the bench are for grease guns. There's a hole for trash and the trash can below. Bergen also puts the grease tips down there. Any grease that drips from them falls into the can.

-- Under the bench is a rolling toolbox that can be taken out into the shop.

-- On the bench are a pair of power strips to charge the tools -- nice Milwaukee tools, by the way -- cell phones, etc.

-- Nearby are a couple more cubby holes and an attractive, illuminated McKnight Farms Ltd. sign.


-- Watch a video showing the completed project at https://www.dtnpf.com/…

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Dan Miller