How much did you spend making your workbench?

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Forum topic by dpop24 posted 07-12-2011 09:44 PM 7511 views 2 times favorited 48 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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115 posts in 2567 days

07-12-2011 09:44 PM

I’m at the point of really needing a decent workbench. Because of my limited space, I’ve been using a combination of a small rolling tool cabinet, sawhorses, or more than likely the concrete floor of the garage – whichever fits the need for the size project I’m working on.

Now that I’m going to be getting a dedicated shop at the house we just bought, I want to put a decent workbench in there as one of the very first things I do.

So I’ve been poring over a bunch of LJ workbench projects and while there are TONS of great benches out there, I’ve come to realize (assume) that some of you guys have several hundreds of dollars into your bench (not to mention dozens of hours building them) and that in order to make a really great workbench, it helps to have a decent workbench!

Because of this, I’m leaning towards just buying (Craigslist, Harbor Freight, etc) a decent/suitable workbench so I can get going in earnest on the other projects on my list. Then I can come back later and build the Cadillac of workbenches at a later date. How many guys have gone this route or have been frustrated building a workbench without a workbench and maybe WISH you had gone this route?


-- If it ain't broke, take it apart and find out why

48 replies so far

View DrDirt's profile


4424 posts in 3740 days

#1 posted 07-12-2011 09:58 PM

That is the path I am on… but now 7 years later, I still haven’t built the cadillac bench.

I really struggle to redo anything. So I often suffer along – and move to the next great thing before going back and making something that has been a usable workhorse better or replacing it.

Just as i can’t justify a Table saw upgrade. Now knowing this about myself – I tend to bite the bullet and go for the item i plan to keep ‘forever’ because I know i wont ever go back and upgrade.

So to your question – I wish I had built the cadillac or bought it, rather than the more basic bench I got fro Woodworkers Supply – but i suspect is really the same as the Harbor Freight model.

-- “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain

View Don W's profile

Don W

18713 posts in 2565 days

#2 posted 07-12-2011 10:11 PM

there is a difference between a decent workbench (almost a necessity) and a Cadillac workbench which is a nicety. I just had an old bench given to me. Look behind the lathe. If that had happened I probably still wouldn’t have built my ””good workbench.

I’d go with the craigs list, local landfill, fire wood guy, what ever. Make sure its solid, and you can make almost anything solid. For most applications, even a softwood 2” solid bench will serve you many many years. Eventually you’ll either stumble onto the workbench of your dreams, or the material at a reasonable price to make one. The only thing I paid for mine was the vise, the glue and lots of time.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Bertha's profile


13528 posts in 2691 days

#3 posted 07-12-2011 10:17 PM

I haven’t done it yet but I’m in the collection phase. My cut list and shopping cart totals a bit over $2000, assuming I can get the maple for standard prices.

The benchcrafted vise package is almost $800 alone.

Cadillac benches ain’t cheap.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View crank49's profile


4030 posts in 2968 days

#4 posted 07-12-2011 10:18 PM

All I needed for a workbench project:
- Workspace to build my bench was a pair of saw horses and a couple of 2×4s. To keep it level and square I used winding sticks, a level, some shims, and a carpenter’s framing square.
- Tools were a jig saw, circular saw, table saw, a drill and bits, clamps (lots of clamps), and a ROS and a router.
- Supplies were a gallon of glue, Titebond III, 3 sheets of 3/4 A-C sand-ply and 24 LF of 1×4 oak and 24 LF of 1×4 maple, a bunch of screws, 6” lag bolts, 1-1/4” dowells and my vise is a Groz 9”.

Total cost was about $300 including the vise.
I worked on it at night, a couple hours at a time, for about 3 or 4 months.

Oh yeah! I almost forgot, I used a 1/2 sheet of 3/8” MDF and 3/16” hardboard for a sacrificial, replacable top.

View PurpLev's profile


8535 posts in 3646 days

#5 posted 07-12-2011 10:24 PM

theres also a difference between a decent workbench and what you’ll find at craftman/harbor freight.

I started with a DECENT workbench, that overall cost me under $100 including the vise:
Click for details

for what it’s worth – I could have stayed with that workbench but I really WANTED a bigger and beefier and more capable workbench, and was able to invest the time and effort into building this one later on:
Click for details

that one cost me over $100, (including the 2 vise hardware) but probably under $150 as I scavenged the top material from a bowling alley.

my point is – you don’t have to spend a lot of money to have a GOOD DECENT bench, but building your own will probably give you a better quality bench than a harbor freight dangling unstable alternative – but it will take time to make it.

good luck! and enjoy the ride

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Don W's profile

Don W

18713 posts in 2565 days

#6 posted 07-12-2011 10:27 PM

Al is skipping the Cadillac and going staight to the ferrari.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Greedo's profile


473 posts in 2958 days

#7 posted 07-12-2011 10:42 PM

the longest and hardest part for my benches or any shop furniture that i made, was the planning and hours of surfing for inspiration. the planning takes months in my case, looking for ideas and inspiration. the building takes about 40-50 hours for something “decent”.

View live4ever's profile


983 posts in 3008 days

#8 posted 07-12-2011 10:50 PM

I probably put $120 into my simple bench. That includes 2×4s for the base, nuts and bolts, a quick-release vise, and leg levelers so I could level the bench with my tablesaw to serve as an outfeed surface. The top I salvaged from an old butcher-block dining table we replaced. If I had to make the top from MDF, it probably would have added $50-60 to the cost.

A basic bench is going to cost a minimum of $150 to build unless you can salvage something for the top or find a great deal on a vise.

-- Optimists are usually disappointed. Pessimists are either right or pleasantly surprised. I tend to be a disappointed pessimist.

View Bertha's profile


13528 posts in 2691 days

#9 posted 07-12-2011 10:52 PM

DW, I was thinking more of a Bentley GT. Enormous, heavy, but still gorgeous. ;)

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View helluvawreck's profile


31071 posts in 2864 days

#10 posted 07-12-2011 11:01 PM

Not counting my vices, I’ve probably got less than $100 in my bench. Of course it ain’t no Cadillac – probably more in the neighborhood of a jalopy – probably a helluvawrecked up jalopy. However, I just happen to have a nice stack of maple squares about 8 feet long and surfaced 4 sides to 2-3/4 square that are laminated, dead square, and as straight as an arrow. Now if I can just scrape up some spare time I could …........ :)

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View dbhost's profile


5710 posts in 3229 days

#11 posted 07-12-2011 11:15 PM

Not counting the vise, screws, or finish, $106.00, and this is for the temporary bench. I have found a LOT of design issues with the design I got from FWW…

I have a plan that would provide me with a larger, much more substantial mass wise workbench, including enclosed storage with drawers and enclosed doors. Materials total there is $140.00 IF I go cheap and use kiln dried SYP 2×10s for the stock to build the top from.

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

View helluvawreck's profile


31071 posts in 2864 days

#12 posted 07-12-2011 11:22 PM

I meant to say “not counting my vises” above. Quite frankly, my vices have cost me quite a lot over the years. ;-|

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Dan's profile


3630 posts in 2878 days

#13 posted 07-12-2011 11:28 PM

When I set up my first shop I built a quick and easy workbench out of construction grade pine 2×4s and a sheet of MDF. I built it for less then 100 dollars. It was nothing pretty but it gave me a solid enough table to work on until I could build a better bench.

I have built several benches since then. My current bench was made from several different kinds of wood. The wood I used was all lumber that I had gathered over a two year time frame. The majority of the bench was made from several large planks of common grade red oak and silver maple that I had. The large planks I had were given to me for free but the wood was not clear enough for furniture use so I decided to use them for the workbench. For the rest of the bench I used what ever spare lumber I had on hand. I used some hard maple, cherry and basswood for other parts of the bench.

Rather then going out and spending more money on lumber I made my bench from lumber I had on hand that was either extra or common grade. My suggestion would be to make a temporary bench for as cheap as you can and then later build a better one. You don’t have to spend a lot. My silver maple and red oak top is plenty solid enough for my hand tool work. You can buy common grade hardwood lumber for pretty cheap at a lumber yard. Knots and defects wont hurt the work bench at all.

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

View HorizontalMike's profile


7757 posts in 2912 days

#14 posted 07-12-2011 11:38 PM

Yeah, Al wants the $2,000 FerrariBench. As for me, I settled lower for a miserly $1,000 CadillacBench (21st Century WB). I have ~$1,000 Total invested in my WB, including probably ~180BF of Ash (plenty extra for first-timer mistakes), a Lee Valley/Veritas twin screw face vise, a 7” end vise, and LV dogs and hold-downs.

My justification for this is that the bench itself is a learning tool. I learned many various skills while building this as a first major project. I see that others pride themselves on always building something for nothing. I spent decades with that kind of ethic with regards to my auto/bike tools, home repair, etc., working only with a hammer, a screwdriver, and a pair of vice-grips. Got tired of that life style and started buying REAL tools and never looked back.

MY ADVICE: Go for at least a CadillacBench and spend $600-$1,000 to do it right. You will NOT regret it in the long run. The only other option might be what Don referred to and that would be to build a ”Softwood” pine WB on the cheap. That might be a good stop-gap method to buy some time and then you could/would have TWO WBs, one of Hardwood and one of Softwood.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View helluvawreck's profile


31071 posts in 2864 days

#15 posted 07-12-2011 11:51 PM

Mike, I totally agree with you. A good bench is something that you should build near the beginning of your wood working career and that you should build it right and with care and craftsmanship. I believe that is the way they did it in the old days in Europe when a wood worker worked as an apprentice for a good many years before becoming a master cabinet maker. Unfortunately I have never had a woodworking career of any kind – not even hobby wood working. All of my woodworking experience has come from what little time I could steal from my engineering and maintenance work which didn’t amount to much – a little bit here and a little bit there across 40 years. My spare time started getting a little better about 5 years ago and now I can do woodworking every weekend and I’m so thankful for that. Now, I’m 61 but I still have to work 50 hours a week.

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

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