I may have overestimated

In my last post I said that I was attempting the impossible and building a hand tool friendly student workbench for $50 + whatever hardware you put on it. For the first time in my entire woodworking career I may have overestimated the price. I believe you can get all the wood you need for this build out of five, 8′ long 2×8’s and I just priced those out in SYP for less than $7 each. That means excluding hardware, this is a $35 investment.

I started with a lot of scraps for the slab so they were kind of knotty. Knots aren’t a huge dealbreaker, but try to avoid them whenever possible and especially big ones down the middle of the board. The reason for this is that you’ll be ripping almost all of these boards straight down the middle, and big knots on edges tend to be unstable.

The top slab takes two and a half of the 2×8’s The legs and braces will use up the rest.

What about all of those hidden costs?

If you need glue and screws you can add $10 to the pot, but that still gets you out under $50 in raw materials.

What about a vise?

If I were doing this only for myself I would buy a cheapish vise screw like this and make a leg vise. Because I wanted to use something accessible, ready-made and quick to mount I bought a “pony” medium duty vise to fit on the front. These are sometimes listed as 9″ and sometimes as 7″ vises. Those dimensions are opening vs width. It’s a good size and weight for this bench and with some lined jaws it will allow for plenty edge planing. There are still enough U.S. made versions of these floating around eBay that I got mine for $40 shipped, so we’re up to $85 counting the glue.

Finally, I intend to put some version of a Whipple hook or planing stop on the end. The 9 3/4″ planing stop from Veritas would shatter the cheap-o ceiling putting me at $110 so I’ll probably just buy (or make) a Whipple hook. I still have to decide how Richie Rich I feel.


12 Comments Add yours

  1. Are the back legs going to splay? Otherwise might be a bit tippy.


    1. They are. I debated splay on the front legs too, but wanted clamping area more.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Is there any leftover 2×8 for a benchtop extension or a tool well?


  2. Have you considered one of these? http://www.leevalley.com/us/wood/page.aspx?p=31148&cat=1,41637. They’re actually pretty decent.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ll be needing to do this soon myself. Good to have this as a model (though I’ll go for a bit bigger bench, raising costs). I do like that leg vise screw you posted. On this one, will the final assembly be knockdown-able? I’m going to need something I can get out of a basement eventually. Benches = never-ending decisions.


    1. It could certainly be configured as a knockdown without much trouble. It would just take the right hardware. I’m planning on lap joints for most of the stretchers as I need to build 5 more and I’m seeking eficiencies where I can.


  4. Whatever. This post is bogus. You’re ignoring that vintage keyboard, which is integral to the success of all budding woodworkers. That thing is worth thousands of dollars.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s on its way to the goodwill. I was so thankful when it finally ran out of batteries this time.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Joe says:

    How about some screws countersunk at the top and drilled into the bench for your planing stop? It’s about as inexpensive an option as I can think. Below surface when you don’t need them and easily raised when you do.


    1. Oooh, I like that too. Behold the power of the internet!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s