For my new project I’ll be working on electronics, so I needed to set up a workbench. I live in a rental house with two bedrooms and no garage or basement. One of the bedroooms is already my office where I can do my remote IT work, so now it’s going to do double-duty and be my workbench area as well.

I’m a little concerned about the power situation, there’s only one outlet in the entire room. Into that one outlet I have an APC Smart-UPS 1500 battery backup system plugged in. That powers my PC, monitor, laptop, NAS, hard drive, KVM, Thunderbolt dock, lights, and speakers. It also has two power strips coming off of it, one powers the networking equipment (modem, router, switch) and my little b&w laser printer. The other one powers my workbench equipment. Fortunately I’ll rarely (never?) have all of it on at the same time. The PC is only for gaming, and this project and associated side projects will be taking up most of my former gaming time. The printer is only ever on for the short times we need to print something. And, the workbench equipment isn’t even plugged unless I’m using it. The house is old though, hopefully these grounded plugs are actually grounded!

Here’s my “work” setup. Minus the anti-static pad, I forgot to roll that up before taking the photo.

This is the “workbench” setup. I’ve used it a couple times now while practicing soldering and it seems to work pretty well.

We’ll see how crowded it gets when I actually start working on the lightsaber.

For reference, here are the items I’m using in case you want to follow along at home. These are available as of today, but who knows how long before they’re replaced with newer models. I’m not sure how often tools get “upgraded,” but coming from technology any link is only good for a maximum of 12 months.

Anti Static High Temperature Rubber Mat Kit with a Wrist Strap and a Grounding Cord 18″ Wide x 24″ Long x 0.08″ Thick, Gray

This is what fit my work area. I initially purchased one that was a better fit (18″ x 30″), but it was vinyl. While searching online to figure out how to make it stink less, I discovered that vinyl is a big no-no for soldering. It tends to melt. Go with rubber.

Hakko 599B-02 Solder Tip Cleaning Wire and Holder

Supposedly better than a sponge for cleaning the tips.

Aven 17010 Adjustable Circuit Board Holder

Nice to have to free up hands. Plus, the soundboard I have is tiny and I’d probable severely burn myself trying hand hold it.

SE MZ101B Helping Hand with Magnifying Glass

The alligator clips are handy for holding two pieces close together while applying solder or heatshrink. It’s smaller than I expected, but works fine.

Hakko CHP-170 Micro Soft Wire Cutter, 1.5mm Stand-off, Flush Cut, 2.5mm Hardened Carbon Steel Construction, 21-Degree Angled Jaw, 8mm Jaw Length, 16 Gauge Maximum Cutting Capacity

That title is a mouthful, but these work great. This lightsaber project uses 28awg and 30awg wires, so this cuts them with no problem.

Sylvania 72088 – LED Gooseneck Work Light

Magnetic, so it pretty much snaps onto the base of the circuit board holder and stays put. Long goose-neck for lots of mobility.

SummitLink 410 Pcs Assorted Heat Shrink Tube 5 Colors 10 Sizes Tubing Wrap Sleeve Set Combo

Heat shrink to protect the solder joints. I’ve practiced with a few pieces of this and it seems to work well. The smallest size fits nicely around 28 and 30awg wire.

Klein Tools 11047 Wire Stripper/Cutter

Strips 28 and 30awg wire, and up to 22awg as well.

JACKLY 45 in 1 Professional Portable Opening Tool Compact Screwdriver Kit Set with Tweezers & Extension Shaft for Precise Repair or Maintenance

Nice little driver set, includes rarely used but sometimes needed bits like pentalobe and Y. The bit tray folds upright when you open the box, which is helpful.

OPCC 6pcs Non-magnetic Steel Fine Curved Tip Tweezers Forceps Anti-static ESD

Helpful for picking up small things, or holding tiny wires while soldering. I initially ordered the “Top-rated” set on Amazon but now realize they’re being shipped from China on what appears to be Pony Express. I ordered them 2 weeks ago and they’re not scheduled for deliver until late April. I’ve ordered this set instead.

Kester Pocket Pack Solder 60/40 0.031 0.50 oz. Tube

Bought a couple of these. It’s the right size for my project at 0.31. I initially had no idea what I was doing and bought .062-sized solder which is way too thick for these components.

Rosin Paste Flux #135 in a 2 oz Jar

Flux cleans the soldering surface at high temperatures, helping remove oxidation and provide a stronger bond between the components. Yay flux!

Clauss 18420 3″ Titanium Fine Cut Scissors

A pair of scissors is handy for cutting the heat shrink to proper size, and opening the many bags I’ve been getting.

TEKTON 3506 4-1/2-Inch Precision Long Nose Pliers

Using pliers to hold wires while stripping seems to help.

TEKTON 25253 Hex Key Wrench Set, 30-Piece

Some of the screws I’ll be working with aren’t big enough to use a phillips or flathead screwdriver on, so a set of alan wrenches in small sizes will be necessary to have.

SRA #312 Soldering Flux Pen Low-Solids

I just added this after watching a soldering demo video. Looks like a great thing to use on PCBs.

There are also some tools I had to get for the lightsaber project. I’m still not sure I have everything I need, so I’ll update the list here if I find I need something else.

Vermont American 21660 Size 4 x 40 NC Tap No 43 Drill Bit Combo and Vermont American 21662 8-Inch 32 NC Number 29 High Carbon Steel Tap and Drill Bit Combo Set

I’ll need to drill and tap at least a few holes in the saber hilt for retention screws, chassis rods, and maybe the grips.

IRWIN Tools T-Handle 1/4-Inch Capacity Tap Wrench

Tapping with a power tool is a very bad idea, so use a hand-tool to prevent disaster!

TEKTON 6655 Needle File Set, 10-Piece

The chassis and the hilt may need some help with smoothing out burrs and openings.

I’ll also be using a Dremel to drill holes, cut rods, sand edges, buff metal, etc. I already had one, but I did get a couple of accessories for it.

Dremel 3000-1/25 120-volt Variable Speed Rotary Tool Kit with 1 Attachment and 25 Accessories I’ve been using this model for a couple of years and I really like it. It’s one of the few multipurpose tools I’ve seen that really can do it all.
Dremel 220-01 Rotary Tool Work Station Drilling into a $200 saber hilt by hand seems like a dumb thing to do, so I’m going to use this to enhance my precision.
Dremel 225-01 Flex Shaft Attachment Extends the Dremel out to a handheld unit that’s a lot easier to use with fine control.

JTENG 10pcs 3mm/2.35mm Diamond Circular Saw Blades Rotary Tool Set Discs Cutting Wheel for Dremel

I’ll have some threaded rods that will need cutting, why not use the Dremel?

Okay, I’m tired of typing and copy-pasting links and I imagine you’re tired of reading this wall of text. Hopefully you find this helpful if you’re looking to start something similar. I’ll update the list as I find things I need to add.

Next post will be lightsaber-specific, and I’ll go over the pieces I’ll be putting together.