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Improving a workmate?

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Forum topic by AESamuel posted 03-12-2015 04:47 PM 3265 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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AESamuel

61 posts in 689 days


03-12-2015 04:47 PM

Hi,

I have a Black and Decker Workmate 536 as my primary workbench as I don’t have a shop, I just do woodworking in the front room of my apartment. (don’t worry, the neighbours are fine with it as I use mainly hand tools!)

I’m just wondering if anybody has made any improvements or has any ideas on improving a workmate? I would like another 6-8” height on the bench while improving/keeping the stability. Being able to fold the bench flat is great, so the modifications mustn’t take more than about 20 minutes to take off so I can still store it away in the cupboard.

I was thinking of adding a small 6” vice to the table which would be easier to use than the “moxon” style already on the workmake, but I’m worried that with such a thin table on the workmate the vice would rock and make planing tricky.

So, any thoughts would be greatly appreciated, or even alternatives to the workmate!

Thanks,
Asa


9 replies so far

View Richard H's profile

Richard H

489 posts in 1147 days


#1 posted 03-12-2015 04:55 PM

I had one on a deck workshop for a time and I found for hand tool work it wasn’t heavy enough or stable enough for planning. I ended up taking two saw horses and clamping 4X4’s between them on the lower shelf to build a more stable bench which only worked slightly better. Maybe you could do something like that under the feet that would both raise the height and stabilize it some. Something like take a couple 4’ long 4X4’s and attach them to the feet somehow to widen the base.

Take a look at the Milkman workbench by Chris S. in Popular Woodworking if you have not already. It’s a good option for in house or deck based woodworking especially if you build a base for it. I was working on one with a splayed leg base that could be broken down before I ended up moving that I’ll get back to finishing someday.

Something like combining this.

http://www.popularwoodworking.com/workbenches/schwarz-workbenches/the-milkmans-workbench-in-use

with this.

http://www.wkfinetools.com/contrib/wMyers/moravianBench/moravianBench-01.asp

Good luck.

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HarveyM

92 posts in 1489 days


#2 posted 03-12-2015 05:01 PM

Here’s my contribution to the ‘workmates of our dreams’ thread:
https://s3.amazonaws.com/vs-lumberjocks.com/nd19hxm.jpg

-- Just a Duffer

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Oughtsix

42 posts in 641 days


#3 posted 03-12-2015 05:23 PM

I have a 40×40 shop with a wood working bench. I also have 3 workmates of various vintages and use them a lot!

I have replaced the tables on most of them (bought them used with beat up tables) with home made hardwood tables. That is a nice upgrade.

The height on Workmates is a compromise. An extra 6” would be nice but it doesn’t seem like it would be an easy addition. Maybe you could make a wooden box to store the Workmate in when not in use then the box becomes a base to raise the workmate up 6” when it is in use? Just a thought.

If your are going to add a vice to the top of the workmate I would mount the vice on a board then clamp the board into the workmate. Should be sturdy and quick to disassemble.

Black and Decker used to make some great toggle clamps for the workmates. Unfortunately they have discontinued them. They are the best accessory for the workmates that I have. If you pick up a used pair make sure you get the orange plastic shrouds with them. The clamps are worthless without the orange shrouds.

http://kirkhmb.smugmug.com/Woodworking/Workmate-Type-Study/5539701_TNtt7z/1088956144_DTxzhTq#!i=1088956144&k=DTxzhTq

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ChefHDAN

808 posts in 2316 days


#4 posted 03-12-2015 07:39 PM

Sam, some good Workmate posts & info on this LJ thread

I’ve got three and there is always at least one in use at all times as a roll around table.

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

View nmssis's profile

nmssis

102 posts in 451 days


#5 posted 10-02-2015 02:17 AM



Hi,

I have a Black and Decker Workmate 536 as my primary workbench as I don t have a shop, I just do woodworking in the front room of my apartment. (don t worry, the neighbours are fine with it as I use mainly hand tools!)

I m just wondering if anybody has made any improvements or has any ideas on improving a workmate? I would like another 6-8” height on the bench while improving/keeping the stability. Being able to fold the bench flat is great, so the modifications mustn t take more than about 20 minutes to take off so I can still store it away in the cupboard.

I was thinking of adding a small 6” vice to the table which would be easier to use than the “moxon” style already on the workmake, but I m worried that with such a thin table on the workmate the vice would rock and make planing tricky.

So, any thoughts would be greatly appreciated, or even alternatives to the workmate!

Thanks,
Asa

- AESamuel

the workmate that you have is an older model? I’m considering picking up the latest 425 model…and I realize that the frame is not as sturdy as older models.

Since I’m in a same boat as you in terms of available space Workmate seems to be my only option. But the question is the table sturdy enough for running hand planning?

Thanks!

-- Learn something new everyday!

View ChefHDAN's profile

ChefHDAN

808 posts in 2316 days


#6 posted 10-02-2015 03:56 PM

nmssis,

The older workmates are very sturdy and heavier than the ones currently sold, they turn up on Craig’s list frequently and can be had for $20 to $30. As for using a hand plane you’ll be limited to boards not much longer than the WM top as it’ll want to tip if you’re doing a 6’ board. I just finished some inset cabinet doors and needed to tweak them to fit the openings and very easily planed the 20”x20” doors with a WM.

So the answer is yes & no but depending on your project you can make it work, I have 4 WM’s now and they meet the uses I have for them very well, but I’d love to have a leg vice and a wagon wheel with some dogs… but that will have to wait for the next shop.

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

View nmssis's profile

nmssis

102 posts in 451 days


#7 posted 10-02-2015 08:13 PM



nmssis,

The older workmates are very sturdy and heavier than the ones currently sold, they turn up on Craig s list frequently and can be had for $20 to $30. As for using a hand plane you ll be limited to boards not much longer than the WM top as it ll want to tip if you re doing a 6 board. I just finished some inset cabinet doors and needed to tweak them to fit the openings and very easily planed the 20”x20” doors with a WM.

So the answer is yes & no but depending on your project you can make it work, I have 4 WM s now and they meet the uses I have for them very well, but I d love to have a leg vice and a wagon wheel with some dogs… but that will have to wait for the next shop.

- ChefHDAN

Thanks for the reply.

I won’t be building or planning any stock longer than 28×4 x 4 or 20×16 x 2 n such…so i guess for my limited space and budget, it may do for now.

-- Learn something new everyday!

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bandit571

14616 posts in 2149 days


#8 posted 10-02-2015 09:24 PM

This was a freebie

Currently using the “dogs” as such on my workbench….this one is just holding a few items for me

Even a plane till. The wooden parts need replaced, someday. Need more of them plastic dogs….

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

View MT_Stringer's profile

MT_Stringer

2854 posts in 2697 days


#9 posted 10-02-2015 10:11 PM


The height on Workmates is a compromise. An extra 6” would be nice but it doesn t seem like it would be an easy addition. Maybe you could make a wooden box to store the Workmate in when not in use then the box becomes a base to raise the workmate up 6” when it is in use? Just a thought.

If your are going to add a vice to the top of the workmate I would mount the vice on a board then clamp the board into the workmate. Should be sturdy and quick to disassemble.

+1 What he said.

Clamps are cheep at Harbor Freight. I use them a lot.

Another option would be to build a separate portable work table like this one. I built it several years ago. Pretty useful.

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

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