Building a Top-Notch Workbench- for under $250 #1: Overview: What this bench will be, what it won't be, and why...

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Blog entry by Kenny posted 02-18-2012 10:06 AM 8251 reads 4 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Building a Top-Notch Workbench- for under $250 series Part 2: More on what I want from this bench and why... »

To start off, this will be a blog series that will follow along as I design and build a truly first-class bench for under $250, including vises.
I’m sure most of you are thinking I’m a bit nuts or that I simply have no idea what I’ve got myself into. But in reality, I’ve been planning for this very build for months upon months. I’ve priced out what I’ll need, have a general idea of where I’m going, and I’m basically ready to get started.

My inspiration for this bench build is being totally fed up with the current designs available commercially, and wanting to prove once and for all that you CAN, with proper use of materials and planning, build a low-cost bench that will function just as well as the best of the best, while using common tools and materials.

The basic design of this bench will be one that has become very popular in recent years, the Roubo. I will be using rough-cut softwood, likely some type of pine or fir, as this is readily available, easy yo work, and very affordable at $0.50-$0.75 per/bf from my suppliers, and sometimes cheaper.

Vises will be self-made using wooden screws cut on a 1.5” Beall threading kit. This gives a lot of versatility and flexibility in what type of vises are used and how they are designed, and again, can save a ton of money over commercial pieces. My plan is to use twin-screw vises for both shoulder and tail vises, but this could easily be changed if someone wanted a different set-up, as having the threading kit give you the ability to make whatever you can dream up!

If you’re interested in building your own bench, but have been put off by the cost, you may want to follow along as I build this bench as it may give you some ideas on how to build your own and save some money too.

I’m going wood shopping this coming week, so this should be kicking off really soon.

-- Kenny

6 comments so far

View MoshupTrail's profile


304 posts in 2475 days

#1 posted 02-18-2012 12:07 PM

Go for it Kenny – I’d like to follow along.
I see you’re in Maine. You will have no trouble finding good pine. What about birch? Is it suitable for a bench?

-- Some problems are best solved with an optimistic approach. Optimism shines a light on alternatives that are otherwise not visible.

View DIYaholic's profile


19618 posts in 2669 days

#2 posted 02-18-2012 02:27 PM

I promise to stay out of your way as I look over your shoulder!

Looking forward to seeing your plans & following along on your journey to workbenchdom!!!

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

View Kenny 's profile


260 posts in 2442 days

#3 posted 02-18-2012 06:32 PM

Thanks guys, that’s why I’m going to post all my progress and ideas, so that others can follow along, get ideas of their own, and help me with ideas too.

Birch would make for an awesome bench! It’s similar to maple, and would likely make just as good a bench in my opinion. It may be a bit harder to flatten, as birch can have a good bit of reversing grain and such, but if I had enough birch for a bench, I wouldn’t let that sway me from building it one bit!

-- Kenny

View Dallas's profile


64 posts in 2959 days

#4 posted 02-19-2012 05:39 AM

I hope to follow along as you pull things together and grab some ideas. This is a great place to get feedback, encouragement and brainstorms. Feel free to glance at my low budget bench and see if it will help out any.

-- If a tree falls in the neighbor's woods, and no one is there to hear it...can you take it home, mill it and turn it into a coffee table without your neighbor making a sound?

View Grampa_Doodie's profile


156 posts in 2292 days

#5 posted 03-21-2012 06:39 PM

I’ll come along for the ride as well. Thanks for doing this Kenny!!


-- If at first you don't succeed...DO NOT try skydiving.

View MichaelAgate's profile


398 posts in 2317 days

#6 posted 04-02-2012 01:20 AM

Finally found you on LJ’s. We just read the blog above and are going to read on through. This sounds like something we may take on too. Plenty of spruce and fur in our neck of the woods as well. This should be interesting!

-- Michael and Matthew

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