Beginning workbench

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Forum topic by Biloute posted 09-01-2015 09:37 AM 2954 views 1 time favorited 21 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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6 posts in 963 days

09-01-2015 09:37 AM

I’m just beginning in woodworking and I’d like to set up a workshop in a shed in my backyard. I’d rather buy a workbench to start off with so I can just concentrate on projects for a while. I’d like a flat top, rather than one with a tool tray. Does anyone have recommendations for a bench that’s sturdy, yet not too expensive ($400-$1000), with a front and tail vise? And where can I find one? I’ve looked at Lie-Nielsen, which is too expensive. I’ve also looked at Sjôbergs, which might be okay if it’s a less expensive model as long as it holds up all right.

21 replies so far

View Clarkie's profile


453 posts in 1805 days

#1 posted 09-01-2015 11:26 AM

Hello, have you looked at the Highland Woodworking site? They have what looks to be some good German benchs in your price range, may be worth a look.Hoffman & Hammer Premium German Workbench, Medium 114102

Hofmann & Hammer Premium German Workbench – Medium


View jdh122's profile


995 posts in 2781 days

#2 posted 09-01-2015 12:03 PM

Look at grizzly. For $600 they have, and for less than that you can get, although it only has a tail vise.

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

View bearkatwood's profile


1541 posts in 975 days

#3 posted 09-01-2015 12:05 PM

The Sjôberg 1425 and maybe the 1825 would be options. Workbenches can be a fairly quick build and $1,000 can buy a lot of maple. I worked for 10 years with a crude harbor freight 6” vise stuck to a 2×4 frame with a doubled up 3/4” plywood top. Hope your bench turns out well, be it bought or made. Happy hunting.

-- Brian Noel

View rwe2156's profile


2881 posts in 1444 days

#4 posted 09-01-2015 12:10 PM

FWIW, a friend of mine got one of the Highland benches (don’t know which model).
Pretty thin looking top to me. I wobbled a bit but maybe something needed tightening.
It’s certainly usable but I wasn’t impressed.
He seemed to like it, tho.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View shipwright's profile


7965 posts in 2762 days

#5 posted 09-01-2015 03:04 PM

You can build a very strong workbench with minimal tools from plywood at a cost well below what you are budgeting.
Take a look at these.

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fibreglass trees.

View MT_Stringer's profile


3160 posts in 3195 days

#6 posted 09-01-2015 03:21 PM

Harbor Freight sells a woodworking bench. If you are interested, I think you should look at one in person in the store. They are not a thick and chunky as the expensive ones, but should get you by for a while.

As for me, I built my own several years ago. It has served me well. It is an outfeed table/work table/ assembly table/ clamping table/ general-beat-on-it table. Everything I do is done in part on that table.

Here is a link to the project

There are other tables/workstations I have built in my projects. Feel free to browse through them. You might get some inspiration.

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

View Biloute's profile


6 posts in 963 days

#7 posted 09-05-2015 01:40 PM

Thanks for all the help. I took a look at all the links. Unfortunately, it seems like most benches in my price range either have the tool tray (which mostly just collects sawdust) or they don’t look too sturdy. I found plans for this workbench by Benchcrafted.

Aside from the vises, I don’t know that it would cost too much to make. I think the only thing that makes me reticent is constructing the top. How difficult is it to laminate strips of wood for a workbench top?

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Richard H

489 posts in 1644 days

#8 posted 09-05-2015 01:58 PM

You didn’t say if this bench was primarily for hand tool or power tool work? If you mostly use power tools with the occasional hand tool than there a huge number of lower cost options you have. I built the New Yankee Workshop workbench as one of my first projects and it was both a good learning experience and served as a good overall power tool bench for many years. I don’t think it would be hard to design out the tool tray if you wanted. It was only when I started to get more into hand planes that I learned it’s shortcomings like weak leg joints that don’t resist racking near enough for that kind of work.

If you want a rock solid hand tool bench but don’t want to spend a lot of time building it I would suggest something like Will Myers Moravain bench as linked here.
You could just skip the tool tray and make the surface of the bench a bit larger. I built one from 4X6’s for around $120 minus the vises that didn’t have a tool tray and it was solid as a rock and very heavy. It was a great hand tool bench. I ended up giving it away when I moved because of lack of room but all in all I highly recommend the design for those that don’t have the space or want to take the time to build one of the massive benches you talked about. Those are nice benches for sure and my next bench will be a Roubo probably the split top BenchCrafted design but the time and materials requirements to build one is significant and I’m not sure they are a good first bench to own or more importantly to try to undertake building.

As to your question about price. The Roubo I am looking at takes about 150-170bf of lumber plus the vises. I was thinking Ash or soft Maple for mine which is probably in the $500-$700 range where I live depending on the price of the day. The benchcrafted hardware if you go both face and tail vise is $700-$900 depending on options but you do have cheaper alternatives there that can be less. The Lake Erie Toolworks wooden vises are very tempting. There is nothing to stop you from building the bench out of cheaper materials including construction grade lumber especially Southern Yellow Pine if you can find a good source but that would be up to you.

View bearkatwood's profile


1541 posts in 975 days

#9 posted 09-05-2015 02:01 PM

View bondogaposis's profile


4682 posts in 2315 days

#10 posted 09-05-2015 02:59 PM

I think the only thing that makes me reticent is constructing the top.

Making the top is actually the easiest part. All you need is some clamps, a couple of saw horses, and a jack plane. The joinery for the base and fitting the vises is by far the more challenging part of a work bench.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Catamount's profile


16 posts in 2037 days

#11 posted 09-05-2015 07:00 PM

”I found plans for this workbench by Benchcrafted.”

I am just finishing this workbench. In my case I live within striking distance of the Hancock Shaker Village so I could get first hand looks at the famous Shaker bench.

I really liked the wood vise screws so chose Lake Erie Wooden screws. The top is easier than it appears since it is 1 3/4” thick. Mine is constructed of 3 Yellow birch 8/4 boards. The front dog hole sections and the rest of the build except the cabinet is hard Maple. The cabinet is plywood and Poplar.
It is a great bench to build and aside from the vises cost was about $600 to 700 dollars. The Benchcrafted vises get great reviews and the Lake Erie Wooden vises are as sooth as butter.
You will gain a lot of experience doing the build yourself and it is a really great feeling of accomplishment when it is done. Don’t worry about the questions that will come up as you build. The folks here are more that ready to give you suggestions and get you over any humps you may encounter.

Here is a picture of my bench that is nearing completion.

-- VERMONT The land of the colorful fall - Just before the cold and the ice and the snow and the below zero temps

View Biloute's profile


6 posts in 963 days

#12 posted 09-06-2015 06:19 AM

Thanks for the videos, Brian. I really like Paul Sellars’ videos on the benchtop. The other guy’s was good, but a little too high tech for me. I’ll be using only hand tools.

I have seen that Moravian bench before and it doesn’t look bad. I couldn’t find any actual plans for it, though. While looking, I did come across a DVD showing how to make it at Roy Underhill’s place in North Carolina. I also found a video for a French workbench (Roubo’s, not split top). The webpage says you’ll get complete plans for it as well, so I might look in to that one. I’m not sure how wide that top is, though. It doesn’t look very big.

I still like the looks of the Shaker workbench even if it is kind of elaborate for a first bench.

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284 posts in 2414 days

#13 posted 09-06-2015 12:18 PM

Hi, check your messages, i pm you about a bench i have for you.

View benchbuilder's profile


284 posts in 2414 days

#14 posted 09-06-2015 01:36 PM

Here are a few photos of the workbench i pm you about.

View benchbuilder's profile


284 posts in 2414 days

#15 posted 09-06-2015 01:40 PM

Sorry, just learning to use photobucket

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