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Starter Workbench on the Cheap

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Project by eztrigger posted 01-15-2015 03:01 PM 5920 views 18 times favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I have been wanting to build a workbench for sometime, and I settled on the 200th Woodsmith anniversary issue bench as the one I really want. However, I don’t seem to have the time or cash to get that one done, so I decided to build their weekend workbench (ha, one weekend, right…) instead to give me a nice flat, stable place to build projects on until I get ready to build a better one. I made a few small changes, like not taking the MDF side panels all the way to the floor so I could clean under it easier and a replaceable hardboard skin on the top. I had some spare MDF that I got at a garage sale for $4/sheet and I picked up a pretty good old Columbian vise from a flea market for $75. The wood for the base and sides was some new and some scrap I had around. In the end I kept the budget to about $200 including the vise, which leaves room to build some real projects! I plan to add dog holes at some point, and I think I may end up replacing the pine edging with thinner red oak stock to match some other items in the shop, but she has served me quite well so far. Hope you enjoy looking, comments are always welcome.

-- "Some get spiritual 'cause they see the light, and some 'cause they feel the heat." --Ray Wiley Hubbard





17 comments so far

View R_Stad's profile

R_Stad

374 posts in 1304 days


#1 posted 01-15-2015 03:34 PM

Nice looking bench. Well done.

-- Rod - Oregon

View MasterSergeant's profile

MasterSergeant

1340 posts in 2149 days


#2 posted 01-15-2015 04:15 PM

Very nice bench you ended up with, congratulations!!

-- Kelly, woodworker under construction

View Mainiac Matt 's profile

Mainiac Matt

5989 posts in 1789 days


#3 posted 01-15-2015 05:46 PM

Is the top MDF? Photo lighting almost makes it look like Melamine.

Just as an FYI, MDF can absorb spills and pucker.

-- Pine is fine, but Oak's no joke!

View McDustmaker's profile

McDustmaker

52 posts in 756 days


#4 posted 01-15-2015 05:48 PM

You workbench looks well constructed but a very simple design. I really like it. Keeping this in mind on my next workbench. Thanks for showing.

-- Richard, Temple, GA.....If I smell of sawdust then I was having fun

View RogerBean's profile

RogerBean

1602 posts in 2414 days


#5 posted 01-15-2015 06:50 PM

Good looking bench. ...on the cheap, or not!
Roger

-- "Everybody makes mistakes. A craftsman always fixes them." (Monty Kennedy, "The Checkering and Carving of Gunstocks", 1952)

View hotbyte's profile

hotbyte

841 posts in 2436 days


#6 posted 01-15-2015 07:01 PM

Looks great. I like idea of not taking side MDF to the floor. Are you going to build storage cabinet/drawers for underneath?

I’ve got plans to build one when I’m done doing some renovation work to my shop. I’m planing on using 2 layers from a commercial solid core door I have. I’ve played around with a cut pattern and will need to slightly adjust the overall size.

View KDO's profile

KDO

145 posts in 2230 days


#7 posted 01-15-2015 07:16 PM

Good looking bench. It looks very sturdy and serviceable, which is what it is all about.
Not all of us need expensive, complex workbenches.
As long as it does what you need, that is all thats important. And just think how much time and money you saved over building a really fancy workbench.
I like it.
Keep up the good work.

-- Christian, Husband, Grandpa, Salesman, amateur Woodworker.

View stefang's profile

stefang

15512 posts in 2795 days


#8 posted 01-15-2015 07:38 PM

Your bench looks very good to me and it should serve you well. I like that top on your bench as it is guaranteed flat and it’s easy to replace when needed.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View eztrigger's profile

eztrigger

145 posts in 1388 days


#9 posted 01-15-2015 07:41 PM

Mainiac Matt – The majority of the top is MDF, but the very top layer is hardboard that I soaked with BLO, and then put paste wax on top to try to avoid any issues with absorption. I also did not glue that last layer, only screws, so I can remove it and replace as needed.

hotbyte – I think I may build a set of drawers to add some storage in the middle in the future, but I am not desperate for the space yet. I’m also thinking about putting hangers or shelves of some sort on the MDF sides for another nearby storage area. On that solid core door, just be sure any vise you plan to add will fit. The vise I used required quite a bit of thickness on the benchtop to make it not stick up over the top of the bench.

-- "Some get spiritual 'cause they see the light, and some 'cause they feel the heat." --Ray Wiley Hubbard

View hotbyte's profile

hotbyte

841 posts in 2436 days


#10 posted 01-15-2015 08:21 PM

Some shallow shelves on ends sounds like good idea.

My door is 1-3/4” thick and I will do double layer for 3-1/2”. My plan is to cut some length off the door and then rip some of side and use those pieces similar to how the plans call for first 2 layers of MDF. Then the remaining solid portion will be used in place of top 2 MDF layers. Overall, I think I will get a top slightly smaller than the plans call for but I have the door and it was free :) I used a second door I had to build outfeed/router table and side extension on my table saw.

View eztrigger's profile

eztrigger

145 posts in 1388 days


#11 posted 01-15-2015 08:26 PM


Overall, I think I will get a top slightly smaller than the plans call for but I have the door and it was free :)
Hard to beat free

-- "Some get spiritual 'cause they see the light, and some 'cause they feel the heat." --Ray Wiley Hubbard

View prc61's profile

prc61

7 posts in 688 days


#12 posted 01-15-2015 10:23 PM

very nice

-- phil crannick

View Grumpymike's profile

Grumpymike

1916 posts in 1776 days


#13 posted 01-15-2015 11:51 PM

Great looking and sturdy bench. ... I built one similar from Wood Magazine many years ago (19 or 20).
It has a double 3/4 inch MDF top with a hardboard skin. I put on BLO and topped it with Arm-R Seal … Well, here we are 20 years later and I’m still using the top and it’s still dead flat. So you will have many years of use out of this beauty.
I added drawers to my bench … They are set too close to the top so that using a hold down is a problem, but the drawers are really handy.

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

View eztrigger's profile

eztrigger

145 posts in 1388 days


#14 posted 01-16-2015 01:23 PM

Grumpymike – good point on the hold downs hitting the drawers. I’ll have to consider that when I add drawers.

-- "Some get spiritual 'cause they see the light, and some 'cause they feel the heat." --Ray Wiley Hubbard

View Kirk Hutcherson's profile

Kirk Hutcherson

39 posts in 1414 days


#15 posted 01-21-2015 02:53 AM

That’s a mighty fine workbench you built!

-- Kirk

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