Whats the deal with used workbenches?

  • Advertise with us

« back to Jigs & Fixtures forum

Forum topic by BentheViking posted 01-05-2014 04:21 PM 3472 views 0 times favorited 32 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View BentheViking's profile


1782 posts in 3131 days

01-05-2014 04:21 PM

Topic tags/keywords: workbench

I bought my house last year and since then have been working my ass off trying to renovate the entire interior. Since most of it has been general carpentry and whatnot my “shop” in the garage has mostly been a dumping ground for tools. At some point this will be a proper shop with proper benches but for now I’ve been working off of a couple of folding tables. That being said i’d love to have a good bench so i can have that available when needed, however if I spent the time and money to build the bench I want SWMBO would blow a gasket for not making the same strides inside.

So I’ve been browsing the craigger as I always do, seeing if anyone ever has a good bench they are trying to get rid of, but every thing I ever see (regardless of price) looks like its name should be Lucky the three legged dog. Hey here is a pair of saw horses with a piece of plywood nailed to it $75 obo. Or this is a hollow core door supported by a baseball bat, a 2×4, a giant candy cane, and a peg leg. $125 firm (photo of vice not included). I think I once saw an actual old woodworkers bench with tail vice and dog holes that was from the early 1900s, but the top was so beat up it would need a lot of work to get it smooth and looking decent again and I think they wanted almost a G for it, but for that price you could almost get a brand new Sjobergs bench.

I plan on building a bench that will (hopefully be) simple enough to not take that much time and should be under $200 in lumber and then another few hundred for vices. I know that time is worth something I just can’t imagine paying so much for something that I’d probably get syphilis from. I’m not against the old time stuff and know that ware means something was well loved/used, but I want something that will look decent and will function well. Just because its heavy and old doesn’t mean its a high quality woodworking bench. I guess maybe all the good stuff is either kept since its still good or passed on to someone someone knows.

Anyone ever have similar experiences with used benches, especially on craigslist?

-- It's made of wood. Real sturdy.--Chubbs Peterson

32 replies so far

View ScottStewart's profile


120 posts in 2700 days

#1 posted 01-05-2014 04:56 PM

I kinda get it, but when you start to price out the materials for a stout topped workbench with vices it adds up fast, so I can see why people want real money for the good ones. I am debating building a roubo, and it looks like its going to run 600-800 for lumber if I build it our of hardwood, then vices on top.

There are plans out there for inexpensive workbenches that can be built fast. Woodsmith shop has free planss for one, the fww guys have a video series on one (getting started in woodworking). That’s probably the best route if you don’t want to spend a lot of cash. It won’t be a roubo, but you wont have that much money tied up in it either.

For most people their first bench isn’t their last bench.

My first bench is a lagbolted frame with a MDF top. It’s no good for building furniture, but it has served me well for general house/diy projects.

View Grumpymike's profile


2436 posts in 2883 days

#2 posted 01-05-2014 06:15 PM

In the early 90’s I built a workbench from either Wood or Woodsmith magazine.
The material is all construction grade 2×4’s and MDF for the top. (with a replaceable hardboard cap)
I built this in a weekend and still use it today. The cost was under $100.00
I have added a face vise and some storage under the work top after the build.
I will add that this bench is still solid as a rock and has been moved across town 3 times and to another state twice.

-- Grumpy old guy, and lookin' good Doin' it. ... Surprise Az.

View Tedstor's profile


1678 posts in 3200 days

#3 posted 01-05-2014 06:30 PM

I was in the exact same situation over the Summer. I just moved into the house and my garage/workshop was the staging area for, well, everything. I too intended to build a nice workbench to augment my tiny starter bench. But in the interest of time/money/effort, I bought this maple topped school bench for ~$100 (via craigslist). I’ve added a face vise since taking the picture, and the bench serves my needs well enough. Its a tough SOB….heavy, solid, and fairly immovable. Its not the bench of my dreams, but will work for the foreseeable future. If nothing else, it brings back fond memories of middle school shop class :)

View Handtooler's profile


1628 posts in 2700 days

#4 posted 01-05-2014 06:38 PM

Check out Bob Lang’s Poplar Woodworking’s 21ST Century Split-top Workbench and his video on its utility. I find it has great stability and utility. I made mine only 5’ because of limited space. I reall am pleased with the Veratas twin screw vise in the face vise position. I made mine from pecan ‘caus it was off my property and well dried. They can be constructed of any number of reasonably cheep face laminated construction grade lumber. Give it a look-see

-- Russell Pitner Hixson, TN 37343 [email protected]

View Jason W. Fudge's profile

Jason W. Fudge

35 posts in 2350 days

#5 posted 01-05-2014 07:42 PM

After a few years of wood working I feel it is always best to build your bench. A solid bench cna be made for relitivley cheap. For example, my brother and I made his bench in a weekend. The top was made out of 2×4s that were jioned vertically. We didn’t have the proper clamps, so we just glued and screwed them together. Then we made a jig for the router to plane them. The base was framed out of 1×3 select pine and then used paneling to fill in the rest. He put in 6 drawers and has a space underneath them. It’s a solid bench. I have also made 5 benchs for my shop and still in the proces sof improving them.

What I like best about a bench that I made, is that it inspires me everytime I work.

View Kryptic's profile


294 posts in 2228 days

#6 posted 01-05-2014 07:57 PM

As much as I love a good bench, with bench dogs and double vices, I take the advice of an old friend in that it matters little how good your bench is, what does matter is what leaves your bench so if an old door slab on a set of saw horses works………..perfect.

View HarveyM's profile


106 posts in 2590 days

#7 posted 01-05-2014 08:16 PM

After our addition was added we were left with just under 700 sq. feet of dusty, unfinished space. I built ‘Tom’s Torsion Box Workbench’ (google it) using some 3/4 birch ply and 2×4s. That and a couple workmates (the old, experienced kind) will see you through.

-- Just a Duffer

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 4215 days

#8 posted 01-05-2014 09:07 PM

I’ve owned a couple of old European style cabinetmaker’s
benches and they are good working benches. I especially
like the old shoulder and tail vises, though part of the
reason is just aesthetic.

The vintage Danish style benches are somewhat collectible
and in demand as store fixtures and kitchen furniture. If
you find a full sized (7 foot) old one with the traditional vises
it’s probably worth in the neighborhood of $1000+ to
a collector.

View RibsBrisket4me's profile


1554 posts in 3073 days

#9 posted 01-05-2014 09:17 PM

Two harbor freight workmates, under 20 bucks each on sale right now, with a piece if MDF on the top. A workbench for a few dollars, and the workmates are versatile.

View RibsBrisket4me's profile


1554 posts in 3073 days

#10 posted 01-05-2014 09:35 PM

BTW, I got rid of my workbenches years ago. I use the workmates and a jaw horse with MDF on top. Nice thing is I can break them down and hang them on the wall and get room back in my garag…, shop :)

View basswood's profile


261 posts in 2188 days

#11 posted 01-05-2014 09:36 PM

In the past two months the Minneapolis Craig’s List has had a $1200 Sjoberg bench for $200 and a $2000 Ulmia bench for $450. They are out there and sometimes for very reasonable prices.

You just have to be patient.


View RibsBrisket4me's profile


1554 posts in 3073 days

#12 posted 01-05-2014 09:44 PM

View Texcaster's profile


1286 posts in 2241 days

#13 posted 01-05-2014 10:08 PM

In about 10-15 years the market will be flooded with ” roubo era ” benches.

-- Mama calls me Texcaster but my real name is Mr. Earl.

View Manitario's profile


2790 posts in 3450 days

#14 posted 01-05-2014 10:30 PM

My first workbench was from a FWW plan called “easy workbench” or something like that. It was made out of about 5 sheets of plywood and was actually pretty solid. I’ve used it for the last 4 years and it has served me well. Total cost was about $250 plus the vise.

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View Kaleb the Swede's profile

Kaleb the Swede

1910 posts in 2537 days

#15 posted 01-05-2014 11:09 PM

Pallets Ben, Pallets. That’s how I built mine, it was fun, and if I’m not mistaken you work at a place with a fair supply of them. Cost me nothing, just some work, but that’s the fun part

-- Just trying to build something beautiful

showing 1 through 15 of 32 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics