HobbyZone Modular System Builder's Notes
In the relatively short time I’ve been importing and selling the HobbyZone line of workbench products, I’ve had the pleasure of talking with a variety of folks about getting started with these modules. Based upon some of these conversations and my own experiences with these products, I thought I’d encapsulate the information into a brief tutorial to help you get started. If you’ve seen the images of completed workbenches using the HobbyZone products, they look nice but the common question seems to be “where do I begin?” Some folks can visualize their bench and order the modules all at once. Others start off with one or two modules at a time and work up to a solution.
What I recommend is to order one of each of the essential modules, the OM01 Six-Drawer, OM02 Three-Drawer, and OM07 Brushes and Tool modules, and not necessarily at once. The idea is that having both types of storage drawers and the tool rack will allow you to see how much of your ‘stuff’ will get put away and organized. From there you can decide how many more drawers you might want to build out your own solution. Each module is roughly one-foot-long, six inches wide and six inches high. These modules are actually designed to metric values so the dimensions are slightly smaller, but for planning purposes, this gives you a starting point.
My bench consists of two six-foot tables with folding legs. One holds my paint booth while the other is my work surface. As I’ve written in my Workbench 2.0 article, my previous attempts at organizing my workspace were simply not working. Since I had no point of reference about how these modules will work out for me, I started with the OM01, OM02 and OM07. The six drawers in the OM01 will hold more than I expected, but they won’t hold longer tools/items like my files and sanding sticks. That is where the OM02 Three Drawer Module comes in and between these two, I had a sense of how many drawers of each type I needed and added those modules accordingly. I was simply amazed at how much the OM07 will hold as far as brushes, forceps, cutters, etc., and only one of these was needed on my bench. I did add a PN01 Brush and Tool Holder which is a small desktop rack which holds my more frequently used tools and can move around my benchtop as needed.
Back to sizing up my workspace – with a six-foot table, I could theoretically have four modules across the back, two corner modules, and one module on either side. Since I needed some room on the table for power strips and other stuff, I elected to go three modules across plus the corner modules. Since these modules stack, I doubled the storage capacity by adding a second level of modules atop the first. I could go higher still with the various drawer, storage, and shelf modules, but two levels provided sufficient storage for my needs. I did add the OM05 and OM06 paint racks atop some of the modules but part of my bench goes past a window and I didn’t want to obstruct the light/view outside. Your space constraints will no doubt differ and as you gain experience with these modules, you’ll make revisions as well. In fact, since I wrote the Workbench 2.0 article, I’ve added three additional modules to the right side (two OM01s and an OM05 on top).
Assembling the modules is very straightforward, and building the first ones is very much like having your first child. I was very careful with glue and using clamps to hold the modules together while drying. Once I had a number of modules built, I was far less careful with the glue as I’d let it ooze out of the seams and then wipe away the excess with a damp paper towel. It turned out the extra glue made for a stronger bond. I still had to ensure that the parts were firmly in place, but the modules go together faster with experience.
Magnets: each module kit comes with magnets to allow each module to ‘snap together’ to create your workspace. The magnets are no factor once you have the modules loaded with stuff and gravity takes over. Nevertheless, you want to ensure that the magnets are consistently installed so you don’t have modules trying to push themselves away from the next module. The magnets themselves are not marked and they are press-fit into pre-machined holes in each of the exterior surfaces of the module. With my first module, I inserted the magnets from the left side and top side on each of the exterior surfaces before gluing the module together. If all goes well, the sides as well as the top/bottom will snap together. I use a small hammer to carefully press the magnets into place. If you get one out of synch with the others, you can simply use a punch and hammer to remove the errant magnet and reverse the polarity. With that first module assembled, I used it as my reference for all future modules so I could ensure the magnets were all properly oriented before gluing the module together.
Finishing: I thought about staining these modules after assembly, but I ultimately decided to leave the modules unfinished. You can stain and seal these modules to suit your taste.
I’ve had a number of folks ask about the configuration of my bench modules. While your mileage may vary, mine consists of:
- 5 x OM01 Six-Drawer Modules
- 2 x OM02 Three Drawer Modules
- 2 x OM03 Corner Drawer Modules
- 2 x OM04 Corner Shelf Modules
- 1 x OM08 Paper Towel Module
- 2 x OM08 Paper Towel Modules converted into hutch storage modules
- 1 x OM07 Brushes and Tools Holder
- 1 x OM05b Large (36mm) Paint Rack
- 1 x OM05s Small (26mm) Paint Rack
- 1 x OM05u Shelf Rack
- 1 x OM06b Large (36mm) Corner Paint Rack
- 1 x SM01 Paint/Tool Stand
- 1 x PN01 Brush and Tool Holder
That adds up to 16 modules and two stand-alone holders. The cost of this entire set-up is less than a 1/200 Trumpeter battleship kit (about $375). I didn’t purchase these all at once. As I said, your mileage may vary depending on your specific storage needs but you can add to these modules as time and budget allow.
Speaking of paint racks, HobbyZone has the paint racks that are part of the modular system as well as a variety of stand-alone racks. Regardless of which rack you’re considering, know that the designator for these will end in a ‘b’ or an ‘s’.
- The ‘s’ refers to racks with the small 26mm holes which are designed specifically for Vallejo / AK Interactive / Mig / Hataka 17ml eyedropper paint bottles.
- The ‘b’ refers to racks with the bigger 36mm holes which fit the Testors ModelMaster / Floquil / Pollyscale .5oz bottles, Tamiya 10ml bottles, Vallejo 30ml bottles, Vallejo 60ml primer bottles, Humbrol / Xtracolor / WEM Colourcoats tins, Gunze Mr.Color / Mr.Hobby bottles, and more.
The website (hobbyzone.biz) has all of the details, but as you plan your paint storage, know what size holes (s or b) you need. I have an OM05u Paint Shelf in my system for the Akan paint bottles which are too large for the ‘s’ and too small for the ‘b’.
After I completed my workshop overhaul, I sat at my bench and admired my work, but then I had that thought about messing this all up again by building a model. I got over that rather quickly, but I can tell you that it is so nice to have everything I need within reach.