workbench from the dumpster

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Project by awlee posted 04-13-2013 10:01 PM 2679 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 (online now)


6310 posts in 1616 days

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

Good job Awlee!

View Bob A in NJ's profile

Bob A in NJ

1179 posts in 3038 days

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

Cool project, well done

-- Bob A in NJ

View gfadvm's profile


13765 posts in 1729 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


14531 posts in 3105 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 Rick M.'s profile

Rick M.

5666 posts in 1419 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.


View JoeinGa's profile


5444 posts in 1046 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


893 posts in 2014 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


271 posts in 912 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 1800 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


865 posts in 1152 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 1215 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


18 posts in 1360 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

587 posts in 1191 days

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

Very cool.

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

View laketrout36's profile


163 posts in 1066 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


18 posts in 1360 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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