BUY A WOODEN WORKBENCH (Option 2)
Buying a wooden workbench is a valid option for woodworkers who either don’t have the time, or don’t feel that they have the skill to build their own DIY workbench.
If you’re new to woodworking, and have less time than money, then you may decide to buy your first woodworking bench. Don’t let anyone give you a hard time. It’s just fine to buy a wooden workbench. You can build one later on to earn your “woodworker’s right-of-passage”, if you want. However, there aren’t many good commercial wooden workbenches on the market for woodworkers who want to use woodworking hand tools. I’ve done quite a bit of research on this topic, because I wanted to have one commercially-built workbench in my school (the other 9 are shop-built workbenches). Earlier in this article I showed different characteristics to look for when choosing a wooden workbench design, and I used that criteria to narrow it down to a couple models, which I show below:
Sjoberg Workbench | Elite 2500 Beech Woodworking Bench (built in Sweden)
I spent a good deal of time researching different commercial workbenches, and eventually settled on a European style Sjobergs workbench, which is made in Sweden. This Sjobergs workbench is the only commercially-built workbench that I own. This woodworking bench is completely made out of quality European beech wood. European Beech is a very sturdy and stable hardwood, and is very plentiful in Europe. Most historical wooden hand planes were made out of beech, so you know it’s quality lumber. This is the Sjobergs workbench model that I purchased several years ago (there’s a video about this bench at this link too). You can also find Sjobergs workbench models here at Highland Woodworking.
My Sjobergs workbench is 8 feet long with a 4″ thick beech top and beech undercarriage. The wooden workbench weighs in at over 300 lbs, so it’s really sturdy. The face and end vises are convenient and powerful. The bench top is flush with the legs, which is great for hand planing large boards. This is virtually the only commercial woodworking bench that I was able to find with this feature.
This workbench does not have tool trays. I like workbench tool trays (some people despise them), but it is nice having a workbench in my woodworking school with so much surface area. There’s a wide, flat 24-inch wide surface of this Sjobergs workbench. The woodworking bench came with 1-inch dog holes and metal bench dogs. I also drilled my own 3/4-inch holes for holdfasts (see my section below on choosing holdfasts). I actually purchased my workbench with an optional under cabinet, which is handy but not vital. It does add extra weight, stability, rigidity, and storage. All good things for a wooden workbench.
German Hofmann & Hammer Wooden Workbench
This large European-style “Hofmann & Hammer Premium German Workbench” is the workbench that Roy Underhill uses for his students at his Woodwright’s School: see it here at Highland Woodworking. I’ve used these workbenches quite a few times and really like the traditional-style vises.
It’s not as heavy or as rigid as the Sjobergs workbench mentioned above, but you can add extra weight by placing bricks underneath the workbench undercarriage to weight it down. And it’s a lot less expensive than the Sjobergs bench, at around $1,500 (plus freight shipping). That’s not a bad deal. I definitely prefer the Sjobergs workbench, but if your budget is tight, then this woodworking bench might work well for you.
Not many online retailers sell workbenches (because of the difficulty in shipping them), but Highland Woodworking has a good selection of traditional woodworking workbenches: here.
Buy Workbenches at eBay
You can also find quite a few workbenches to purchase (new and used) on eBay. Shipping is surprisingly affordable on some of these workbenches on eBay. Here are some workbenches on eBay. Just make sure that it’s heavy and sturdy enough for your intended use. You may see a lot of flimsy wooden workbenches on Ebay.
Buy Workbenches at Amazon.com
Amazon now has a descent selection of wooden workbenches. Liek with Ebay, many of the woodworking benches on Amazon are flimsy, so make sure you use my above-advise to help you in choosing a good workbench. Here are some workbenches and workbench accessories at Amazon.
Buy Workbenches Locally
Every once in awhile I see nice antique workbenches listed for sale on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, or other free classified ad websites. Yard sales and estate sales are also an option for finding a woodworking workbench. This is a nice option because you can go “test drive” the workbench before you buy it. However, be aware that most people that sell these workbenches locally are thinking of selling it as expensive décor for someone’s fancy house, so the price may be too high.