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How can I beef up this HF workbench?

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Forum topic by Underdog posted 10-30-2018 02:30 PM 966 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Underdog

1353 posts in 2456 days


10-30-2018 02:30 PM

I own what I think is a discontinued HF workbench. It’s a bit on the light side, and it wobbles like crazy if I clamp anything down and try to do anything like planing.

I don’t have pix of it handy, and can’t find it on the HF website. This picture of a discontinued bench on Amazon is the closest I could come to it.

It has a light top with dog holes, metal and wood dogs, tool tray, the two vices, a single drawer, and a shelf on the bottom.
I assume it’s a HF special, but I’m not sure.

Anyway, I’m contemplating what to do with this thing. I’m looking for ways to beef it up so it won’t wobble.

I encourage your thoughts and suggestions- even if you tell me to sell it and start over.

-- Jim, Georgia, USA


16 replies so far

View Sylvain's profile

Sylvain

843 posts in 2920 days


#1 posted 10-30-2018 02:44 PM

Tighten the existing screws;

screw a plywood back on the legs ;

screw two plywood panels on the sides legs.

It should stop wobbling.

Put weight on the shelf.
It should then be much nicer than working on a Workmate.

A sharp iron on the plane would minimise the effort transmitted to the workbench.

-- Sylvain, Brussels, Belgium, Europe - The more I learn, the more there is to learn

View Kazooman's profile

Kazooman

1326 posts in 2373 days


#2 posted 10-30-2018 02:44 PM

Some diagonal bracing on the legs should stiffen it. Adding some mass like a couple of sand bags in the lower tray should help as well,

View WoodenDreams's profile

WoodenDreams

623 posts in 331 days


#3 posted 10-30-2018 03:41 PM

For the price a half way decent starter workbench once you stiffen up or change the legs & support. HF has this type on sale once awhile for $89 or $99. Attach plywood or peg board to the back and sides, or attach strip of plywood or board in a X pattern to back & sides, or replace the legs and leg supports. This light duty work bench was designed get the lips wet of a potential woodworker or for a hobby workbench.

View MrRon's profile

MrRon

5571 posts in 3664 days


#4 posted 10-30-2018 03:55 PM

If the legs are as spindly as in the picture, I would replace them with more substantial wood. 2-1/2” to 3” square legs would look about right. I would make the legs by laminating 3/4” plywood together to get the desired dimensions. Of course the tips mentioned by the others also apply.

View GR8HUNTER's profile

GR8HUNTER

6225 posts in 1133 days


#5 posted 10-30-2018 04:00 PM

TUBAFOE CORNER BRACES :<))

-- Tony---- Reinholds,Pa.------ REMEMBER TO ALWAYS HAVE FUN

View bandit571's profile

bandit571

23190 posts in 3104 days


#6 posted 10-30-2018 04:15 PM

Get some good 3/4” plywood. attach to the back, and on the ends…maybe look at adding some foot pads?

Like these? Then you can drape a sandbag on these for the extra weight….

Might also look into adding a pair of dog holes to the end vise….seems to work well with the dog holes in the bench’s top.

IF you have one of those metal, multi-drawer tool chests ( Craftsman, Kobalt, HF) fill it with all your tools, and leave the chest on the bottom shelf….you can get more use out of that, than the sandbags.

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

View SMP's profile

SMP

1186 posts in 326 days


#7 posted 10-30-2018 04:51 PM

I used to think I needed a super beefy workbench….then I saw this Paul Sellers video and realized my planes aren’t sharp

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hJHrSmZQx10

View Sylvain's profile

Sylvain

843 posts in 2920 days


#8 posted 10-30-2018 05:08 PM

If the lateral (short) rails are tenoned and glued in the legs, it should not wobble in the front/back direction. (it might move because it slips on the ground but that is something else)

1. Another way to ensure no left/right wobble is to have much wider long rails. The longer tenon shoulder at the end of the rails combined with well tightened screws or tusk tenons makes the assembly much stiffer.
Look at the picture here. You will also note that the rail is more or less at mid-height which, I guess, contribute to the stiffness.

If you don’t want to make new rails, you might try gluing some pieces of wood on the existing rails (above and under) to make the rails wider at each end, near the legs. The pieces may be a quarter of a circle (nice) or square or triangular or any fancy shape. You would need 8 of them, 4 for each rail. Don’t glue them to the legs.
That would be a trade-off between stiffness and shelf accessibility.

2. You could also make two aprons with recesses and wedges like on the Paul Sellers workbench.

but then why not embark on the making of a new worbench…

The Paul Sellers aprons play, in some way, the same role as the plywood in my first comment. The wedges ensure leg shrinkage compensation if need be; and no risk of play in holes around screws due to ovalisation under repeated stress.

-- Sylvain, Brussels, Belgium, Europe - The more I learn, the more there is to learn

View Underdog's profile

Underdog

1353 posts in 2456 days


#9 posted 10-31-2018 01:59 AM

Wow.
I’ve been away from LJ since posting this and didn’t expect so much input. I’ve been writing code and revising CAD drawings at work…. and then came home only to go back out and replace a car battery for a loved one…

I did take a look at this bench when I went up to the shop to get my battery replacement tools. I think it is indeed this same bench. The long shelf stretchers are recessed into a groove in the legs. And the legs are a bit spindly. That might be the flex right there.

I might be able to take a harder look at it tomorrow night, tighten some screws and see how this might be beefed up using y’alls suggestions…

Thanks for all the information and encouragement. It is much appreciated.

-- Jim, Georgia, USA

View Dakkar's profile

Dakkar

354 posts in 2348 days


#10 posted 10-31-2018 03:26 AM

I bought that exact same bench at HF back in the ‘90s and still have it around. It’s been usable for years but wasn’t when I first tried to put together I’ll list what was wrong and what I did:

1. While the side vise went together and worked fine, the end vise wasn’t so lucky. One of the guide rods didn’t line up with the holes in the bench well and it wouldn’t even go together. What I did was fit a length of copper tubing the right diameter though the troubled holes, which fit snugly. But the guide slid through it well and the vise works fine now.

2. This bench was as assembled was impossibly wobbly out of the box. I stabilized it two ways. First I screwed a 3 inch brace piece at the top of each end where it meets the top. I used plenty of screws. Next, I added two 6 inch steel right angle flats between the legs and the low shelf on each end. Now it’s completely steady.

Don’t expect a workbench from a place like HF to be worth anything without some effort on your part, but after making my fixes it was still a pretty good value.

View Dakkar's profile

Dakkar

354 posts in 2348 days


#11 posted 10-31-2018 03:51 AM

I’ll try and upload a pic to illustrate how I braced mine here. Never mind the clutter on it. Mine was stable enough lengthwise, but wobbled the other way.

View TheFridge's profile

TheFridge

10858 posts in 1906 days


#12 posted 10-31-2018 04:08 AM

I wouldn’t suggest putting a hollow cross brace on the back. Fill it with gasoline and light it on fire. That workbench will never be alder. It is unworthy.

Or maybe a cross brace or three without the gasoline. If you’re no fun. And hate alder.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View AlaskaGuy's profile

AlaskaGuy

5317 posts in 2729 days


#13 posted 10-31-2018 05:09 AM



I wouldn’t suggest putting a hollow cross brace on the back. Fill it with gasoline and light it on fire. That workbench will never be alder. It is unworthy.

Or maybe a cross brace or three without the gasoline. If you’re no fun. And hate alder.

- TheFridge


Is it OK to cook hot dogs on a fire started with gasoline if I use an alder branch to hold the hot dog? I’m thinking it would be OK seeing how Alder is so special and has those magic powers.

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View Aj2's profile

Aj2

2321 posts in 2218 days


#14 posted 10-31-2018 06:00 AM

Remember when you burn it = Lots of suffering will be released from the wood so don’t breathe in : ~)

-- Aj

View OSU55's profile

OSU55

2360 posts in 2410 days


#15 posted 10-31-2018 12:23 PM

The cheapest, easiest, and most effective way to address the wobble is to make torsion boxes out of the back and sides. Just screw some rectangular pegboard or 1/4” plywood to the legs from the top down to the shelf. I have a similar bench I did this to and can plane all day on it. I made the endcaps with 1/2” ply and screwed some supports and dividers to them for plane storage – here. Adding weight in whatever manner helps as well. Pegboard across the back.

Sharp blades help a lot as well.

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