New (old) Workbench

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Forum topic by dbilek posted 04-27-2010 11:08 PM 3931 views 0 times favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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11 posts in 3826 days

04-27-2010 11:08 PM

Topic tags/keywords: workbench walnut vise

I had been thinking about building a decent workbench for some time. The bench I was using was a bit flimsy and underweight, so I needed something more substantial that wouldn’t slide across the room while planing, chiseling, etc… In the mean time, I came across an old woodworking workbench at an estate sale and decided to buy it. They priced it at $1200, but it was the last day for the sale and I offered for $450 and ended up getting it for that price. Still a little more than I wanted to pay (I’m kind of cheap), but I think it’s worth it. The entire bench is made of solid black walnut. The top is a single slab that is about 6 inches thick, 2.5 feet wide and 9 feet long. The vise built into the left front leg uses a wooden screw and is completely functional. I think it weighs in excess of 400 pounds, so its definitely not going to bounce around while in use…in fact, it was quite a chore just getting it to my house. It may not be as pretty and polished as a new bench, but I think it’s interesting. In one of the photos you can see that the back, bottom edge of the top still has bark from the tree it was cut from. Any guesses on the age of this thing? When did wooden vise screws go out of style? A decent deal? I’m looking forward to using it for a long time…I’m sure it will last longer than me. :)






17 replies so far

View CampD's profile


1774 posts in 3875 days

#1 posted 04-27-2010 11:30 PM

Now thats a hunk of Walnut, pretty sure that haven’t made trees like that for quite some time.

-- Doug...

View PurpLev's profile


8551 posts in 4037 days

#2 posted 04-27-2010 11:48 PM

fantastic bench.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Michael Murphy's profile

Michael Murphy

453 posts in 3394 days

#3 posted 04-27-2010 11:55 PM

Thats 135 board feet of walnut in the top. (9×2.5×6” thick) I would say it’s worth it. Who else can say they even have a chunk of walnut that big let alone use it as a workbench. Nice.

-- Michael Murphy, Woodland, CA.

View b2rtch's profile


4880 posts in 3437 days

#4 posted 04-28-2010 12:19 AM

Good find.
I wish I could find a bench like this one for me.

-- Bert

View Ole's profile


67 posts in 3465 days

#5 posted 04-28-2010 12:48 AM

Wow… would something like this be a collectors’ item? Before you make any changes to this you may want to explore if this isn’t something that someone is itching to spend big bucks on. Don’t get me wrong, it is an amazing bench, but maybe too much so to be used. I’m by no means an expert and I don’t even know if there are people who collect these, but I can’t help thinking about crazy tool collectors when I see this baby.

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

6535 posts in 3583 days

#6 posted 04-28-2010 01:00 AM

Greetings…... I can’t really tell for sure, but boy that almost looks like an old Shaker bench. Looks like one of the syles that the Shakers used, but most Shaker benches usually had built-in drawers under it, but some didn’t. If it is a Shaker (?), then it could of been built in the late 1700-1800’s. They built massive workbenches back then. If you had, or could get more info on it, or know a little history on it, that would help you alot as to the age. The sliding leg on the side running on the rail was used to hold real long boards for planeing… I forget what it is called. But…. Shaker or not, you got one heck of a bench… congrats on the find…. later.

-- " At my age, happy hour is a 2 hour nap".....!!

View KnifeL's profile


86 posts in 3340 days

#7 posted 04-28-2010 01:31 AM

I agree with Ole, this might be worth it as a museum piece, so you might want to wait on modification. However as far as using it as is, I doubt you would do harm to it. Would you mind counting the rings? That’s one heck of a piece of walnut. Shipwright ownership perhaps?

-- Will in Boulder, CO

View Woodwrecker's profile


4222 posts in 3964 days

#8 posted 04-28-2010 01:53 AM

If anybody can tell you about it, the “wizard of work benches” Chris Schwarz from Popular Woodworking Magazine can.
That guy has forgotten more about work benches then most guys will ever know.

He is very nice, very smart and will respond to your email.
Send him your pictures and ask nicely, and I bet he’ll be able to nail it down for you.

his email is: [email protected]

Hope this helps.

PS: Awesome bench.

View fr8train's profile


19 posts in 3826 days

#9 posted 04-28-2010 04:53 AM

I would love to hear an update on what you find out about this table. Absolutely beautiful piece!


View widdle's profile


2069 posts in 3387 days

#10 posted 04-28-2010 05:12 AM

That bench is great..Almost demands craftsmanship..Enjoy ..use it up

View mike85215's profile


127 posts in 3533 days

#11 posted 04-28-2010 05:40 AM

Very nice bench…yes I think that it is a good buy (I am kind of cheap too :) ) If you were to build one on your own, chances are that you would have ended up with as much or maybe even more than the $450.00 in it.
Go ahead and use it…make something really nice.

View a1Jim's profile


117627 posts in 3966 days

#12 posted 04-28-2010 05:55 AM

That’s one cool bench

View dbilek's profile


11 posts in 3826 days

#13 posted 04-28-2010 08:09 PM

Thanks for the comments / insight. I hadn’t measured the bench before, and wasn’t at home when I made this post, so I was estimating the size…these are the exact dimensions of the bench top: 6 3/4” thick, 25” wide, 107” long.
Rick – I think it might make sense that it could be an old Shaker bench. I live next door to Shaker Heights, OH; which is an area that was originally setteled by the Shakers in the early to mid 1800’s.
Will – I was going to try counting the growth rings for you, but the end grain is very dark, a little beat up and it’s really hard to distinguish individual the rings.
Eric – Thanks for the info about Chris Schwarz. I’ll definitely send him an email and post any commentary he gives me about it.

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3504 days

#14 posted 04-28-2010 08:33 PM

droooool what a bench
and I´m with woodwrecker email Mr Schwarz in a hurry and let´s know we just can´t wait….LOL


View SCOTSMAN's profile


5849 posts in 3974 days

#15 posted 04-28-2010 09:17 PM

I wondered where I was going wrong my bench is made out of styrofoam.When I opened the beautiful beech packing case which I threw away all I was left was this cheap styrofoam sort of bench.Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

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