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ground question here...

 Hi all...

 Made a rather disturbing discovery the other day.

    I'm putting in a workbench (maybe this weekend?), and have a 240v drop
right over where it's to go.  I was going to run that into a panel and give
myself a few 15A 120v breakers.  But I found that the "genius" that wired
the garage ran 2 hots and used the bare copper wire as the ground & neutral.
Not good.  I can pull 120v from either hot to the ground/neutral, but will
that be a "safe" ground for the variac or other stuff?  I truly hate gettin'