If two years ago, you were to ask me my opinion of the B&D Workmate, I would have scoffed and proclaimed the workmate to be a gimmicky man-toy that ill-advised wives give thier husbands for thier birthday. Thats probably because the only workmates I had really noticed were the entry level models, which are little more than particleboard sawhorses.
However, after reading the Landis workbench book, I started to see how a workmate could come in handy. After a quick google, I realized that there were several versions of the BD workmate, and an infinite number of poorly built knockoffs. But thats were my interest in the workmate more or less stalled. The high end model seemed to be the only one I’d want, and I didn’t think I’d use it enough to justify paying $100+ for it.
A couple months later, I was milling around a local yard sale that had a workmate for sale. It was an older model, gray in color, heavy steel base, and a thick plywood top. I asked the seller about it. He said his father bought it in the late 70s and used it sporadically. But it had mostly just been collecting dust since the late 80s. And it looked as if it hadn’t been used much. It was in really good shape.
So having a soft spot for older tools, I smoothly negotiated the $20 asking price down to $13 (which was every dime I had on me), and the workmate came home with me.
In no time I realized what an awesome (30 year old) innovation the workmate was. I use it all the time. Its my planer table, miter saw stand, joinery bench, and lots more. My favorite part of owning the workmate is that I can easily carry it onto my driveway or backyard, and build stuff while my kids are playing in the yard. Heck, I sometimes take it outside on a nice day, simply to enjoy the weather while I work.
Of course, mistakingly leaving it outside a few times in the rain has made the plywood top start to bubble and crack. Its time to replace it. So the question is:
What should I replace the top with? The original plywood top lasted 30yrs, so I’m tempted to buy some 3/4” Baltic be done with it. Is there a particular playwood I should use? What about finish? Given my poor track record, may some Thompson’s Water Sealer ? LOL?