Selling a Roubo Workbench

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Forum topic by Nicholas Hall posted 01-07-2014 03:12 AM 2688 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Nicholas Hall

352 posts in 2103 days

01-07-2014 03:12 AM

I haven’t asked a dumb question in hours,so I guess I’m due :)

I’m building a Roubo workbench out of solid ash. I’m building it from ash, because I have several thousand bdft kiln dried hardwood lumber I need to do something with. Building a Roubo seemed like a good way to use up some of the lower grade wood. Even the worst of it is 10” wide, 8/4 10-11 ft long. My dad and I milled the lumber on his land in Maine and had it kiln dried locally so it the cost to me for lumber was much less than even the cheapest dimensional pine lumber.

What I’ve learned so far is that building benches is enormous fun. Since I have an essentially bottomless supply of hard maple, ash, and birch, I’d like to build another one when I’m done. It seems like a good way to use up a lot of lumber. I don’t need two benches though, so it seems like it would make sense to sell the first one before I start another one.

The Roubo is just plain vanilla, with a 3.5” thick top that is 24” x 8’ long. I wont include hardware if i sell it of course. It will basically be a blank canvas. It takes about 30-40hrs to build one so it seems silly just to give it away. I imagine that just the wood alone has some value. What do you suppose is a reasonable asking price for such a thing? Obviously, it would only be worth what someone will pay for it, and it’s sheer size and weight limit the geography of potential buyers, but just the same, I’d like to have a sense of what a reasonable asking price would befor a plain vanilla Roubo.

Like I said, it’s a bit of a dumb question because there are so many variables that influence price. Just the same, what do you suppose a fair asking price is?

-- Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. -Groucho Marx

19 replies so far

View Handtooler's profile


1553 posts in 2129 days

#1 posted 01-07-2014 03:50 AM

$800.00-1.000.00. If it’s really nicely done and 350-450 lbs. And, buyer pays shipping. Just my estimate cuz I don’t currently need, nor have room for an 8 footer.

-- Russell Pitner Hixson, TN 37343

View MAKZ06's profile


69 posts in 1801 days

#2 posted 01-07-2014 03:50 AM

I would think the level of detail and quality of the work would have the most to do with value and what would be a reasonable asking price. How about some pics of the progress so far?

View Wally331's profile


350 posts in 2022 days

#3 posted 01-07-2014 03:56 AM

You could sell bench kits too, basically the amount of lumber you need for a roubo, in the correct lengths and thickness’s. I bet you could make a ton of money that way, and get rid of some wood.

View JayG46's profile


139 posts in 1855 days

#4 posted 01-07-2014 02:47 PM

You might want to put some effort into finding potential buyers before building. I’ve built quite a few things on spec or just for fun only to have someone request something slightly different, leaving me stuck with the original. Benches are a personal thing and a build-to-order situation could make sense. You’re almost always going to get more for something customized than something pre-made or “vanilla”, if you’re concerned about that kind of thing.

Also, I grew up near Albany and come back every summer and would probably buy some of that lumber from you if you want to sell it.

-- Jay Gargiulo, Naples, FL "Once you understand the way broadly, you can see it in all things."- Miyamoto Musashi

View lateralus819's profile


2241 posts in 1886 days

#5 posted 01-07-2014 03:00 PM

Darn I’m near Albany wish I could afford one. Good luck.

View BinghamtonEd's profile


2298 posts in 2366 days

#6 posted 01-07-2014 03:39 PM

$10 and you have to transport it to Binghamton.

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

View JustJoe's profile


1554 posts in 2035 days

#7 posted 01-07-2014 03:46 PM

Someone in Tucson built a custom bench that looked a lot like mine (big, two vices, drawers underneath) but with purpleheart and other exotic woods, dovetailed trim and all sorts of goodies. He was asking over a grand for it on craigslist and it was listed for many months before disappearing. I don’t know if he gave up or if he found a buyer. I’ll go +1 to the suggestion to find buyers first. I’d also take a hard look at all the workbenches that can be ordered online (from Harbor Freight on up to custom builds) and look at the prices there.

-- This Ad Space For Sale! Your Ad Here! Reach a targeted audience! Affordable Rates, easy financing! Contact an ad represenative today at JustJoe's Advertising Consortium.

View Nicholas Hall's profile

Nicholas Hall

352 posts in 2103 days

#8 posted 01-07-2014 05:09 PM

Jay & JustJoe

You’re right of course that it’s almost always best to find a buyer first when it comes to woodworking rather than building on spec. In this case however, if it doesn’t sell, I’ll just keep and use it myself. If it does sell, I’ll just build another. Regardless of the outcome I want a Roubo as an upgrade over my current bench.

I guess I’ll just finish the build and post on craigslist and see what happens. I imagine the wood alone is worth $500, so if I can’t get at least that for it, there isn’t much point selling it :)

-- Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. -Groucho Marx

View Tedstor's profile


1643 posts in 2630 days

#9 posted 01-07-2014 05:20 PM

I think you’d make more money if you just sold the lumber.

View Nicholas Hall's profile

Nicholas Hall

352 posts in 2103 days

#10 posted 01-07-2014 07:35 PM

Probably true. It’s hard to imagine anyone local would pay $1,000 for a workbench.

I don’t see myself going into the retail lumber business though. I don’t want to waste my weekends waiting for craigslist people who never show up. I guess I’ll have to figure out a better way to whittle down my lumber pile.

-- Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. -Groucho Marx

View PurpLev's profile


8535 posts in 3645 days

#11 posted 01-07-2014 07:44 PM

I think expecting 400-600 is somewhat reasonable (depending on market of course) for a “vanilla” bench with no hardware, add $200+ if hardware installed/included (depending on hardware of course)

I don’t think it’s a paying off business plan unless you are mass producing them or just doing it for run.

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

View RockyTopScott's profile


1186 posts in 3475 days

#12 posted 01-07-2014 08:01 PM

You might be better off building 2 smaller non-roubo benches for someone getting started that can’t/won’t build their own.

-- “When you want to help people, you tell them the truth. When you want to help yourself, you tell them what they want to hear.” ― Thomas Sowell

View Jasonjenkins's profile


44 posts in 1600 days

#13 posted 01-07-2014 08:18 PM

Not the most fun answer, but you could consider selling the wood directly. If you could find a decent way to ship, out west we pay a crazy amount for hardwoods… (unless there is some discount hardwood retailer i haven’t been told about yet??) That or do some butcher block type bench tops and list them for sale. Need a good way to join to a base, but someone just starting out like me would do well with a dimensional lumber base that is well made, with a solid hardwood top that has been prepped for hardware install. Solid wood tops are expensive from woodcraft type retailers, and you could charge more for drilling bench dogs, shipping with vise, etc.

-- Growing a full beard is proven to instantly improve your handtool skills...

View bondogaposis's profile (online now)


4727 posts in 2348 days

#14 posted 01-07-2014 08:18 PM

I think it could work, but there are a couple of things to consider. One is that it would be a lot easier to transport if the legs and base were left un-assembled so people could haul them in their mini van, suv, or whatever and not have to have a truck. Another thing is that some may want leg vises and or wagon vises these are difficult to add later, especially the wagon vise. It helps on the leg vise to be able to mount the leg on a drill press and be able to use a router on it, both operations would be tough after assembly. So that is another argument to offer the base un-assembled. I also think that 8’ is pretty long. When I built mine I went w/ 6 1/2’ because that is the max size that would work in my shop. I suspect that maybe there is more of a market for people that have small shops as I think most guys that have large shops would build their own.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Nicholas Hall's profile

Nicholas Hall

352 posts in 2103 days

#15 posted 01-08-2014 01:06 AM

The bench kit idea is an interesting one. I don’t think that I would ever be able to do anything other than a local pick-up or a delivery radius of 100 miles or so though. The shipping costs would exceed the value of the lumber for a small operater shipping just a few benches per year. It’s an interesting thought just the same. It would allow me to sell 200bdft at a time, preselected so I don’t have people wasting my time picking out one board after an hour of picking through the lumber rack in my basement.

A smaller bench is probably a good idea too. For that matter, as other people mentioned, offering custom benches is probably the smartest way to go of all. The challenge of a custom bench is that I just play in my shop in my spare time, so filling a custom order on a deadline could be tough. Still, it’s an intereating idea.

There probably isn’t any money in it, but it might generate enough money to buy a new tool every now and then :)

-- Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. -Groucho Marx

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