building a workbench for empty pockets

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Forum topic by benchbuilder posted 09-15-2011 10:02 PM 2665 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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284 posts in 2721 days

09-15-2011 10:02 PM

Hello, This is my first post and not sure if its in the right place, its mostly a question. I have been doing workworking for over 35 years now and after some personal loses I find myself in need of a new shop. I was wandering if it would be exceptable here to ask about building a workbench to sell. No I am not starting a company, just need to make a few extra bucks. I am building a trestle style workbench that would be capable of using a sliding deadman and any type or style vise availiable. I believe every workbench should be one of a personal design, so the new owner could outfit it as he or she wished. I am going to us southern yellow pine for the base and top. The workbench will have a 3.5-4” thick top, 84”long and about 27”wide. The base will be 66” long with 4 5” sq. legs and a 6” by 4.5” by 57” spreader between the leg assembleys. It will weigh about 350 to 375lbs. It will be a knockdown bench, I will post pics when its done. What my question is, what should I ask for a workbench this size, I don’t want to over charge, but get what its worth. I haven’t sold any before, just did a few for friends and family. Its a hobby not a 9-5 thing. I am not sure it is something that would sell easy. Any help or ideas would be great, thanks

16 replies so far

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3429 days

#1 posted 09-15-2011 11:53 PM

I might be wrong about this, but I see very little market for such a product. Big, hefty benches are made, more specifically, for hand plane users…and those people will normally build their own benches. There are some well known sellers, such as those you will find at Rockler or Woodcraft, but I’d be surprised to hear of a lot of market there.

All-purpose benches, like those that a home owner would have, are typically much lighter weight with lots of storage options…and cheap. It would be hard to compete in that market against the Lowes, Sears, and HDs of the world. Heck, I saw a pretty nice workbench the other day at Sam’s Club for a few hundred bucks that was attractive, large, and sturdy, with lots of storage…and it was even mobile.

-- jay,

View rance's profile


4267 posts in 3431 days

#2 posted 09-16-2011 12:13 AM

I have to agree with Jay. And what about shipping a 350# item? Its tough finding the right widget to sell, and to find buyers. Keep asking questions on this and other widgets though. :)

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View benchbuilder's profile


284 posts in 2721 days

#3 posted 09-16-2011 12:48 AM

I believe your right about it being a hand tool users bench, I only intended to build one bench so this is the only one I have to sell. What if the legs were lighter, I guess I just don’t like the slinder style legs on benches. The weight for shipping isn’t that bad, I checked with UPS and it can go by size not weight, shipping shouldn’t be over $200. And all I wanted to do was make a few buck to put into the shop… crazy isn’t it. lol

View pierce85's profile


508 posts in 2833 days

#4 posted 09-16-2011 01:08 AM

Actually, there’s a well-established market for such workbenches. Just a few of the better known manufacturers include:

Hoffman & Hammer
Garrett Wade

Of course, it’s a good news/bad news sort of thing. Good news: there’s a market for pre-made workbenches. Bad news: the competition is pretty stiff. Nevertheless, I think Jay is right about most people needing that type of bench simply building their own – that’s what I’m doing. And rance’s point about shipping is significant too. It would be interesting to find out what places like Lie-Nielsen actually pay for shipping one of their 300-400 pound benches.

If it were me, I would start out locally/regionally and try to avoid the shipping option at least initially. Do what Lie-Nielsen does and offer customization, i.e., offer a base model that can be customized to the buyer’s preferences (within limits). As far as pricing goes, look at some of the models from the above vendors, decide which ones are similar to your model, and then price accordingly.

Simple, right? :-)

Edit: Here’s a nice site that has a lot of info on what’s out there for ready-made workbenches –

View Tootles's profile


808 posts in 2773 days

#5 posted 09-16-2011 01:37 AM

As a marketing method, perhaps emphasise the ability to customise the bench to the new owner’s needs. Perhaps offer to do that for them too.

-- I may have lost my marbles, but I still have my love of woodworking

View rance's profile


4267 posts in 3431 days

#6 posted 09-16-2011 01:44 AM

Have you considered building something else to sell? Personally, I try to focus on smaller items 1) they take less lumber, 2) they build quicker, 3) they are easier, uh, I mean cheaper to ship, 4) the profit margin seems to be much higher. Of course you’ll have to change your Nickname to something else. (grin)

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 4093 days

#7 posted 09-16-2011 03:16 PM

I have to agree with Rance and Jay. I think that it would be tough to make this a viable business and, unless you already have a client, finding a buyer would be a challenge. Scott Landis, author of The Workbench Book, opens his book with a similar story as you are proposing. Basically when his bench building business failed he found that trying to sell benches to woodworkers was met with the comment: “I can build that”. They were far more inclined to pay money for steel and cast iron than they were for tools made of wood.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View dbhost's profile


5767 posts in 3503 days

#8 posted 09-16-2011 03:31 PM

I hate to pile on here, but yeah, I just don’t see much of a market for pre made woodworkers workbenches…

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

View benchbuilder's profile


284 posts in 2721 days

#9 posted 09-16-2011 04:25 PM

Thank you for your thoughts on this, as I said in this is not to be a product to market full time, its a one time thing. I am just selling one bench. My aim is to come up with a reasonable amount to charge for it, one that makes buying this bench better than one from one of the big companys. Not trying or want to compete with the other builders, just want to sell this one bench. I do believe your idea of selling local is best. I also believe that though this is a heavy bench as used for hand tools, its just as good and usefull for power tool users. Another thing that makes the trestle style usefull is that it can be used for a dinning table or in any room in the house, I have seen several places on the net where people have done this. Just one more idea for its use. As I said, its a one time thing, I am not building a dozen of these, the parts of the bench are easy to move around, but as a whole, its a monster.

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3919 days

#10 posted 09-16-2011 06:04 PM

For awhile in there was a n. American market for bench tops. Michael
Fortune had a bench business at one time I think. As a recall he thought
he could make the bench tops in lots of 20 or whatever.

See, what happened was the trend in benches moved away from the old
style European benches with the tail vise and the funny front vise. Those
vises and dog holes are complex to set up and make, but a good bench
had them in the 1970s. Then people started rejecting the tail vise and
putting a single iron vise on the front of a slab top with no dog holes -
they tried it and said “I can work with this” so the simpler designs became
more prominent and the complex, old world bench designs became less

The old vise designs are optimized for the cutting of dovetails and tenons
by hand. These days, lots of woodworkers use other, modern joinery
options and use machinery for traditional joints. Thus the old, complex
and hard-to-make European bench drifts even further into obscurity.

You’ll find a better market for custom built sheds with fancy and cute
features. The ripe market is women. There may be a market for
potting benches as well, and there’s definitely a market for cute and
functional chicken coops.

View rance's profile


4267 posts in 3431 days

#11 posted 09-16-2011 10:43 PM

If you push on with the bench idea, then you have to come up with something that no one else has. There is certainly room for improvement and creativity. I bet you can think of something new.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3429 days

#12 posted 09-16-2011 11:22 PM

Okay, so if it’s just one bench and it could be also used as a dining table…then why not just call it a table? I think that it’s all about the way something is marketed. More people will be in the market for a table than a workbench.

Build the “table,” take some beauty shots of it with a really nice description of it, put it on Craigslist, and see what happens. Or, fine a local business that you could pay to sell it for you.

Not sure about a yellow pine dining table, but as Loren said, there’s lots of other types of things to build and sell.

I don’t meant to sound like a downer here, but if you want to sell a workbench, you’ll have to severely undercut the going rate for such workbenches. You could make something like a Sjoberg bench, only out of cheaper pine, but have to determine a good price that will move the product. The Veritas bench of a similar size would be around a $1000, and that is with maple and birch. The question is, how do you convince somebody that your pine bench is a better option? What price do you need to set to make that happen? What price is worthwhile to you?

-- jay,

View redryder's profile


2393 posts in 3373 days

#13 posted 09-17-2011 01:15 AM

If it feels good, do it. That link above has some great ideas for different workbenches….........

-- mike...............

View KayBee's profile


1083 posts in 3517 days

#14 posted 09-17-2011 01:26 AM

Try finding the buyer of your ‘just one bench’ before you sink all that time and money into it. Then they’ll have a custom bench and you won’t be out all that money. If you can’t find a buyer first, well maybe you can’t find a buyer second.

-- Karen - a little bit of stupid goes a long way

View benchbuilder's profile


284 posts in 2721 days

#15 posted 10-20-2011 04:21 PM

I posted this question asking for a suggested and reasonable price for a SYP workbench I was building. I got lots of reasons why building workbenches was a bad idea, places to look for workbench ideas (I already had a design and gave info about it) and why it would be hard to sell, but no suggestions about a possible price. I finished the bench, total cost was $137 and change including 1 gallon of glue, I didn’t add any vises or other hardware. I sold the bench about 2 weeks ago for $775 and it was picked up a few days ago. Thanks

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