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Digizz

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I'm looking to buy a new bench rather than make one.

Can anyone recommend one? I've looked to Sjoberg and the Axminster ones. I know they're VERY expensive and wondered if you do get value for money etc?

Should I be thinking about making one instead - does the 'steamed beech' tops make any difference and would there be much of a difference if I made one (my skills aside!)

Ta,

Paul.
 

Pete W

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I bought my bench about three years ago, long before I caught the woodworking bug. It was bought for DIY, putting together flatpack furniture, and stuff like that.

I paid about £130 and when I got it thought it was pretty good, but for woodworking purposes it's a piece of junk. The vices won't close parallel to the benchtop; they bind on the screws; the whole bench racks like crazy when planing or sawing.

So I'd recommend building one unless you're prepared to spend *big* money on a commercial bench, although even then you probably won't get exactly what you want. There are plenty of resources available (in books and especially online), and you can build exactly what you need, save a ton of money, and probably match the commercial benches in terms of build quality.

I'll certainly be building my next bench!
 

CYC

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Building yours is by far the most inexpensive solution. A great benefit is to have it match your size which helps greatly on the back (bet you didn't think about that :wink: ).

I built mine without hardwood and for the cost it's so far doing a great job. It's really sturdy too. I would recommand spending a long WE at it rahter than buy.
 

johnjin

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Hi Paul
I would definitely recommend building you own. You get exactly what you really want, and save a fortune to spend on other tools that are not so easy to make. I built one at Christmas that is 1400m/m x 900m/m and the top is 70m/m thick. The legs are 100m/m x 100m/m and it is as solid as a rock. I would guess it weighs about 100 kilo with the two vices. The vices I bought from Axminster for 25 quid each, and you make your own jaws and handles for them. These vice are huge. They are 550 m/m long and have a 350 m/m opening capacity. The jaws you can make as wide as you like. This bench was built totally of pine and the cost including the vices was about a hundred quid. But of course if you make it yourself then you can decide of what wood and what type and size of vice that you would like it to have.

Best wishes for whatever you decide and I love the log cabin.

John
 

Chris Knight

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Paul,

A really good bench will cost in the region of £1000 and chances are that it will not suit the style of work you do - it may even end up dictating what you do. As others have said, I would build one myself if I were you and if you have not settled into any pronounced patterns of work then expect to redesign it and build another in due course - a bit like a router table in this regard.

A lot of design choices will be affected by the space you have available. If you have enough space it is great to have the bench where you can walk all around it. Similarly, the question of tail vices depends where you place a bench. If you do a lot of hand work versus power tool work, for example if you were to cut all your dovetails by hand, this would greatly influence the design. Is it going to be used for assembly as well as planing and joinery?

Whatever style of work you do, a bench needs to be as heavy as possible and to have a flat top. The joinery must be designed to allow for/compensate for changes in humidity to ensure the bench stays rigid and stable. The top should not go out of flat too easily and should be capable of reflattening if need be. In this regard a beech top can easily be flattened by handplaning.

If you are dead set on buying one and the price doesn't put you off, have a look at the David Charlesworth bench as well as the others you mentioned. You have probably seen this link http://www.geocities.com/plybench/bench.html ?
 

Alf

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I had a look at an Axminster heavy duty one at the show last year and was pleasantly surprised. You get a lot of bench for the money. Run away from the Sjorbergs; the tops are pretty flimsy away from the edge and you'll have to assume you'll need to build a new undercarriage for it unless you want to run after it every time you breathe out. :wink: I know everyone says "build it yourself", but I didn't, I bought and I'm very glad I did. I think there're an awful lot of techniques needed to build the sort of bench I wanted that I simply never saw myself needing again, so why waste good woodworking time learning 'em? I can't be the only one who thinks that (otherwise there wouldn't be so many commercial ones for sale for a start!) but I'm beginning to wonder if I'm the only one who'll willingly admit it... :? Anyway why happily spend a £1000 on a tablesaw that'll last, what, 20years and baulk at a workbench that'll last your lifetime?

Cheers, Alf
 

Chris Knight

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Alf":2z2d0q3x said:
Anyway why happily spend a £1000 on a tablesaw that'll last, what, 20years and baulk at a workbench that'll last your lifetime?
Good point - for me one answer would be that I haven't seen a commercial one that is configured quite how I would like it but then again I have to admit, neither is my new saw! Another answer - and for many folk I suspect - is that one would forgo the satisfaction of building one's major woodworking tool.
 
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Alf":1lyayww7 said:
:? Anyway why happily spend a £1000 on a tablesaw that'll last, what, 20years and baulk at a workbench that'll last your lifetime?

Cheers, Alf
Because I can't build a tablesaw and I can (and did) build a very solid bench for about £60 + vice(s)


It's made of 50mm thick pine and has served me well for 2 1/2 years

Cheers

Tony
 

gidon

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Paul
I bought mine (see Alf - you're not the only one!) - a cheap one at £100 or so. It was on special at Focus or somewhere a good few years ago - but you see them around everywhere. This one looks very similar:
http://www.machinemart.co.uk/product.asp?p=040310030
It's pretty solid construction and I have mine bolted to the shed wall so there's little movement. The vices are useless - unless they've improved them. I replaced the front vice with a second hand 10" quick release Record - and that transformed the usefulness of the bench. The top is pretty flat and could be sanded flat again if need be. But I have to admit if I need a flat reference for assembly etc I tend to use a custom fit piece of throwawayable MDF. My main problem is room to move around the bench. I would love to have the bench more central as Chris suggests but don't have the space.
Cheers
Gidon
 

Digizz

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Thanks everyone - a popular topic :)

I'm not sure I want the bench to be my first major project and was thinking that it might be worth buying one.

Alf - do you know which Axminster bench you saw? I was looking at this as it seemed good value. The legs look a little flimsy though?

http://www.axminster.co.uk/default.asp?part=BENCH4
 

trevtheturner

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I was going to make a bench but didn't have a bench to make it on - so bought one. From Axminster, it was made in Germany, well constructed of beech and very heavy with good vices and dogs. Cost about £400 some three years ago and I'm well satisfied with it.

But now I have a bench I'll make my next one!

Cheers,

Trev.
 

StevieB

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Hi,

GWW next month has a feature on how to build your own bench, looked pretty good from the piccie in the back of last months issue but havent seen the actual feature itself yet.

You could always go down the 'build a cheap one till you can afford a good one route'. I built mine from 2" x 4" scrap left over from building my workshop and a worktop salvaged from refitting my kitchen. Its not elegant, its not a long term solution, and I plan to change it as soon as I have finished building my conservatory (dont get me started on that rant :roll: ) but it is sturdy since I screwed it to the workshop wall with angle brackets, and it is level. My only gripe is I cant fit an end vice to it due to the way its built but I manage with a front vice.

Guess what I am trying to say is it doesnt have to be £1000 worth of steamed beech to be functional, even though £1000 of steamed beech sure looks pretty :) Its not as hard as you think to build something that is acceptable, the problem is we all desire perfection :?

Steve.
 

Alf

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Digizz":3ejhmsgo said:
Alf - do you know which Axminster bench you saw? I was looking at this as it seemed good value. The legs look a little flimsy though?

http://www.axminster.co.uk/default.asp?part=BENCH4
Yep, I'm pretty sure it was that one. I gave it a good lateral shove or two with fingers crossed that it didn't fall apart, and it was rock solid. I was surprised, 'cos I thought the legs looked a bit so-so too. If you did have trouble a quick solution is to use a piece of ply across the back between the legs to give some lateral strength, although personally I've made a couple of sets of drawers to go under my ECE which really makes sure it won't go anywhere (not that it did before :p ) and keeps the base dead square. If the Axminster hadn't come out just after I'd bought the more expensive ECE one (see? I did it again :roll: ) I would have given it some very serious consideration indeed.

Chris, Tony, okay, you got me. I'm just an 'orrible slacker really. :( :wink: But seriously, hands up who fancies all the fun of making their own L-shape end vice, which I'd set my heart on? Heck, even DS's students apparently take a week doing it IIRC, and that's with help and one already there to get the gist from. :shock: It was just never going to happen. It's a tough gig, but I'll just have to live with the guilt of having a beautiful, functional, solid beech cabinetmaker's bench to work on. Sigh. :twisted:

Cheers, Alf

I s'pose I'd better make it clear that my bench did not cost £1000, before you all start stinging me for a loan :wink:
 

Alf

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waterhead37":2xlx5my9 said:
Some people like making tools - why I remember a certain person who even made a plane..
Touche! I'll retire from the field; I know when I'm beat. :lol:

Cheers, Alf
 
A

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Aaawww Alf. I saw your bench when you posted pictures of the little dovetail guides you made. It was MUCH prettier than mine



and only cost 20 times as much :twisted: :wink: :lol:

Cheers

Tony
 

Aragorn

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Tony":qy0ps4g1 said:
Aaawww Alf. I saw your bench when you posted pictures of the little dovetail guides you made. It was MUCH prettier than mine
She only polishes it twice a day to keep it that way you know! :wink:
 

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