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.