workbench from the dumpster

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Project by awlee posted 04-13-2013 10:01 PM 3314 views 5 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This workbench began as a salvage from a dumpster. I found an old maple top, very beat up, pits and gouges everywhere, cupped from side to side and slightly bowed from front to back, ragged edges, and a good candidate for firewood. I could see why it was on the garbage heap. But NO! “I can make that workbench I’ve always wanted,” says I, “and cheaply!” So I dragged it home, ripped it and rejoined the good pieces, planed and sanded it (for what seemed like days), and got it into decent shape. Top is now about 6×3, a bit wider than most benches but very good for me. Built a base made of fir, wrapped the top in ash, and added ash slats for a lower shelf. Installed an old Columbian vise that I picked up some years back at a yard sale (for $2—I still get a thrill from that), and mortised the corner of the table so that the back jaw of the vise sits flush with the bench face. Stained the base with a dark gel stain in an effort to highlight the maple top and make the base look “earthy,” though it looks more like a goofy gel stain job. Finished the top with several coats of danish oil. And then added a board jack on runners. The whole thing now serves as my main bench, and as many other have remarked of their benches, I can’t believe I ever worked without a proper one. Thanks for looking.

16 comments so far

View waho6o9's profile


8481 posts in 2751 days

#1 posted 04-13-2013 10:55 PM

Good job Awlee!

View Bob A in NJ's profile

Bob A in NJ

1232 posts in 4173 days

#2 posted 04-13-2013 11:32 PM

Cool project, well done

-- Bob A in NJ

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2864 days

#3 posted 04-14-2013 12:28 AM

That turned out darn nice! 3’ isn’t wide, mine is 4×12 and I use every inch of it.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View cajunpen's profile


14578 posts in 4239 days

#4 posted 04-14-2013 12:40 AM

Very nice AND cheap. Well done.

-- Bill - "Suit yourself and let the rest be pleased."

View Woodknack's profile


12399 posts in 2554 days

#5 posted 04-14-2013 05:22 AM

Very well done and thrifty too! I was thinking, it just needs a deadman… then saw pic #2.

-- Rick M,

View JoeinGa's profile


7739 posts in 2181 days

#6 posted 04-14-2013 02:31 PM

Very simple… EXTREEMLY USEFUL… And the price was fantastic!

What more could a man need?

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View Robsshop's profile


907 posts in 3149 days

#7 posted 04-14-2013 05:11 PM

Who can’t appreciate Dumpster diving when You see a project like this ! Awesome save and nice design, like the board jack as well !

-- Rob,Gaithersburg,MD,One mans trash is another mans wood shop treasure ! ;-)

View sgmdwk's profile


308 posts in 2046 days

#8 posted 04-14-2013 06:33 PM

I have to start checking in dumpsters.

-- Dave K.

View nobuckle's profile


1120 posts in 2935 days

#9 posted 04-14-2013 11:02 PM

Sweet! You can’t beat that with a stick. Looks really good.

-- Doug - Make an effort to live by the slogan "We try harder"

View gsimon's profile


1290 posts in 2287 days

#10 posted 04-14-2013 11:58 PM

great bench – nice save!
i made my bench from old oak door frames from a school or hospital

-- Greg Simon

View Fishinbo's profile


11362 posts in 2349 days

#11 posted 04-16-2013 03:44 PM

Great work on that workbench. Looks really good and can’t imagine from the dumpster. Great find and save. It should get plenty of use.

View awlee's profile


23 posts in 2495 days

#12 posted 04-21-2013 11:40 AM

Thanks, all, for all the comments. I was never a dumpster diver before, but now . . . whoa! (And salvaging is better for the landfills.)

View Chris McDowell's profile

Chris McDowell

644 posts in 2326 days

#13 posted 04-28-2013 10:09 PM

Very cool.

-- Chris, , FACEBOOK: , Proverbs 16:9

View laketrout36's profile


200 posts in 2200 days

#14 posted 12-02-2013 05:45 PM

Salvage and repurpose job done well. This looks very solid. How long did this project take to complete?

View awlee's profile


23 posts in 2495 days

#15 posted 12-10-2013 01:26 PM

Thanks for the good feedback. To answer your question, Laketrout36, it took me a couple of weeks to complete. The longest part: it took days to try to get the top into some sort of shape. Working on the top took as much time as milling and joining and finishing all of the other parts. I must not have done a decent enough job of glue-up because I’m now noticing a very slight shift in level between the two big halves of the table. Still works, though.

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