Results 1 to 14 of 14

Thread: Cost of building a bench

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    SE Michigan
    Posts
    2,131

    Cost of building a bench

    I saw in a post by Ken H that his Moravian bench cost somewhere near $1K. That sounds pretty reasonable. I built a 6’x2’ Roubo bench, 3 1/2” thick top, 5” square legs, with traditional leg vise and deadman from Radiata pine, hard maple, and some purple heart for accent. Total was around $800. I’m kind of a nut on keeping track, so for anyone interested here’s my breakdown:
    Wood: $602.
    Glue: $49.
    Brad point/forstner drill bits: $52.
    Vise hardware: $64.
    Misc (dust masks, sandpaper, etc): $29.

    I know there are a lot of variables, but thought someone looking at building a bench might be interested in general costs for different benches and wood used.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    968
    Good useful idea Phil.

    Budget options here:

    Built a Nicholson over the summer, using the plans from Mike Siemsen. Modified his plans to make it 10’ long. Probably do not really need that, but figured it is better to have length and not need it then to need it and not have it.

    Not a show piece, but works really well. Did not keep track, but would think it was under $250. Most expensive was in the 4 2x12s (about $20-$25 each).

    Before that I built a “workbench in a weekend” (torsion boxes). Cost is probably about the same or a little more than the Nicholson once you buy a decent vice to mount on it

    Between the two I think you get a better bench for the money with the Nicholson. Plus the torsion box design is hard (not possible?) to modify for somebody who wants a different dimension. With the Nicholson it is easy to make it shorter or longer.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Orlando, FL
    Posts
    46
    Mine is still a pile of wood drying out, but I think I've got the costs about nailed down. It will be a 6.5 ft long x 20" wide slab-top roubo, with Hovarter leg and wagon vises. Bench will be southern yellow pine and vise chop will be live oak, all from a local sawmill.

    Wood: $250
    Vise hardware: $585
    Glue: negligible

    I've got enough tools to build everything, but of course I might find a "need" for some additional stuff.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Phil Mueller View Post
    I saw in a post by Ken H that his Moravian bench cost somewhere near $1K. That sounds pretty reasonable. I built a 6’x2’ Roubo bench, 3 1/2” thick top, 5” square legs, with traditional leg vise and deadman from Radiata pine, hard maple, and some purple heart for accent. Total was around $800. I’m kind of a nut on keeping track, so for anyone interested here’s my breakdown:
    Wood: $602.
    Glue: $49.
    Brad point/forstner drill bits: $52.
    Vise hardware: $64.
    Misc (dust masks, sandpaper, etc): $29.

    I know there are a lot of variables, but thought someone looking at building a bench might be interested in general costs for different benches and wood used.
    Phil,

    As stated I don't keep good records, I should but what can I say other than I don't. But working off an OF's memory I spent just under $300 USD on 12/4 Poplar for the base, a buck or two under $400 USD on 8/4 Beech for the slab. The BC screw and crisscross was about $300 USD. If I had gone to the woodstore with a cut list and a plan to minimize needed wood I could have cut cost a $100 USD or maybe even more. It's a lot of work to worry about a few dollars in wood, the true cost of building a bench is time. The Moravian bench is very simple and quick to build, much easier and quicker than a Roubo and while I've never built an English bench I suspect the Moravian is a quicker build. My build time is close to 60 man hours. Sometimes a little less, sometimes more but usually 60 to 70 man hours after the wood follows me home from the woodstore the fat lady is at least clearing her throat.

    I hope that helps,

    ken

  5. #5
    I just started building a Roubo/Moravian hybrid bench out of oak (white for top and legs, red for stretchers and vises). The white oak was a single slab 10' x 2' x 4", with 3' of length for the legs and 7' for the top. The red oak was an 8' x 2' x 2" slab. $600 for the wood plus $360 for two wooden screws from Acer-Ferrous Toolworks.

  6. #6
    I built my primary bench about eight years ago, modeling it loosely on Chris Schwarz's pine Roubo from the September '05 issue of PW. My recollection is that I spent about $200 on lumber. Today I did a little Googling and noticed that the price of SYP is the same or lower than 8 years ago. The price varies from under $7 to about $10 for a 2" x 10" x 8'. Based on that, I'd estimate $75 to $110 for the top, and $60-$80 for the base, deadman, and leg vise chop.
    I made the leg vise with a tail vise screw and handle purchased from LV, a piece of 5/16" steel rod from the hardware store, and two used skateboard wheels gifted to me from the local skate shop (LOL, my wallet was really empty back then; things have improved thankfully!). I had an end vise from a previous bench that I recycled, but if I were doing it again, I'd probably skip the end vise, especially if I were short on funds.
    Add in glue and a pair of cheap holdfasts from TFWW and the total cost for materials would be $260-$300.
    Keep in mind, this is for a massive bench that is 7'6" long and probably weighs 400 pounds. One could build a Nicholson style bench for half the price.
    By no means am I knocking the idea of spending more. Building the top from one or several thick slabs would be an enormous savings in labor, and I'd probably go that route if i had to build another bench. But I'd still make it out of SYP, or at any rate something softer than what I usually work with.
    "For me, chairs and chairmaking are a means to an end. My real goal is to spend my days in a quiet, dustless shop doing hand work on an object that is beautiful, useful and fun to make." --Peter Galbert

  7. #7

    Hard Maple Bench with LN Hardware

    24" x 72" x 4" (top) Hard Maple with Lie Nielsen hardware: $1500





    IMG_3022_zps97252e83-2.jpg

  8. #8
    Hi all,

    This is a great thread and one that I would have found helpful when setting out to build my bench. I went the 'heirloom' route as this was my third bench. I built a Roubo based on the BC design and the total was a little under $700 without wood (I was lucky to have good friends who sourced it for no cost!). I've since added an Ancora chain vise kit so the total was closer to $900 with that upgrade and other incidentals included.

    Details here:
    https://sawmillcreek.org/showthread....nch-Dead/page7

    Best,
    Chris
    "You can observe a lot just by watching."
    --Yogi Berra

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
    Location
    Fairbanks AK
    Posts
    146
    I built my "small heavy"bench for $94 in materials, plus about $160 or so for a framing chisel. https://sawmillcreek.org/showthread....ch-inexpensive

    It isn't really that heavy. My wife can't move it on the garage floor, but trying to plane the edge of figured 8/4 maple I am chasing the bench with the maple in the vise around the garage with my plane. Also, I bought a fair bit of 1/2 diameter all thread (with nuts and washers) and some 2x6 to make a clamp set for the glue up of the top.

    For my next bench I am sticking with Roubo style and going with local spruce rather than the BORG for softwood. I am looking at $340 for a top nominal 6" thick, 24" wide and 10 feet long, with 8x8 spruce underneath for legs and stretchers. Plus $500 for the top end leg vise kit and another $270 for a pair of crucible tool holdfasts to work in the 6" thick top. So $1110 in materials, plus shipping on the vise hardware and holdfasts, and a couple or three bottles of titebond two.

    If I don't have room and have to build another four footer to use on hardwoods for me here in Alaska it would make sense to buy the holdfasts that work in thick tops and then use 8 or even 10 inch thick local softwoods. In say New England it might make more sense to use regular inexpensive holdfasts and make bench weight on a shortie with local hard maple. I am sticking with Roubo style for my next bench because it works for me and the work I do, that does not mean you should build one.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    Bay of Plenty, New Zealand
    Posts
    69
    I'm in the acquiring stage for making a benchtop workspace. I looked at the one from Derek Cohen and at the milkman's. Came across Mike Siemsen with the viseless workbench.

    I'm going to make a "Swiss cheese butcher block" <wink> (have not come up with a good name yet, he he) that I can plonk down on a strong table or on some other support.

    It will be simlar to the Sjoberg new elite clamping platform # 33467 except it will be larger and with a 2" thick beech top and 4" high sides. There will be some cross bracing underneath that will help preventing the unit from tipping over. I have not yet decided on the length and width and am strongly considering 45" long by 16" wide. Suggestions are welcome but I have to work with a 86" long, 23" wide and 1-1/32" thick beech panel. (double thickness top)

    The vertical corners will be rounded - I'm for ever bumping into things and have enough of bruises. (Which is why developped an adversion to vises over time.)

    There will be an area in the bottom with a sliding lid. It will be holding clamping parts: a mixture of Veritas, Bessey F-clamps and wooden pegs.

    Total projected weight (if using all the timber without any waste) is 66 pounds and some grips will be made in the narrow ends.

    When I do not need the workbench for a while then I will store it out of the way. Total projected cost at this stage is 260 USD for the bench and the Veritas parts. I'm not counting the Bessey clamps since I already had those.

    edit: The size is based on the Sjoberg bench top # 33110 as used in schools. Initially I considered using a Will Myer tail vise but the additional cost put me off.
    Last edited by Marinus Loewensteijn; 08-30-2019 at 6:58 AM.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Location
    Western PA
    Posts
    486
    I think i was maybe $125 in wood, and then another $100ish for vise hardware from Lee Valley. I bought my umber at stupid prices. The poplar top was 16' 8/4 that i purchased for $0.25/bdft from an abandoned slovak club that was being restored. The cherry was some 16/4 shorts that were $1-1.25/bdft. Over the years ive added gramacy holdfasts, threw away the poorly performing legvise, added a cabinet with drawerslides for my handtools. A month ago i topped it off with an emmert's vise for $250. Im probably at $700+/- for the bench as it sits today. With the handtool cabinet full, the whole thing weighs a fair amount.

    Personally, id buy the cheapest lumber you possibly can(thats dry and stable), and i would spend more of the budget on quality hardware. I could have spent hundreds on 8/4 hard maple, but i dont think it would have made any better of a bench.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    twomiles from the "peak of Ohio
    Posts
    7,914
    Bench clean up, much better, maybe.JPG
    Dumpster dive for lumber....$0.00
    End Vise...$10
    Leg vise chop of Sycamore...$0.00
    Pipe Clamp....spare..$0.00
    Cabinet under bench with shelf...$5.00 and a weekend to build...
    Screws, bolts and washers....$10.00

    It is only 5 years old...just getting "broke in".

  13. #13
    She was about $300. Around $200 in 8/4 maple for the top, $0 in scrap for the rest of it, and about $80 in hardware. Maple usually isn't too expensive here.

    IMG_4716.jpg

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
    Location
    Itapevi, SP - Brazil
    Posts
    437

    Red face Mine cost USD 150 and survived 25 years... and counting

    Quote Originally Posted by Phil Mueller View Post
    I saw in a post by Ken H that his Moravian bench cost somewhere near $1K. That sounds pretty reasonable. I built a 6’x2’ Roubo bench, 3 1/2” thick top, 5” square legs, with traditional leg vise and deadman from Radiata pine, hard maple, and some purple heart for accent. Total was around $800.
    [...]

    I know there are a lot of variables, but thought someone looking at building a bench might be interested in general costs for different benches and wood used.
    https://sawmillcreek.org/attachment....5&d=1513975535

    My humble workbench cost me around USD 150 25 years ago. It came disassembled but it was easy to mount it. It is made with some kind of cedar, I think... I used it to construct almost all furniture and all cabinetry for our home 25 years ago. I dream someday to make a completely new one. I love the simple English Nicholson design - I plan to construct one somewhere in the next future... but I am really surprised how my cheap workbench stayed firm and useful for so long time...

    Thank you to share your cost experience. It will be useful for me.
    Last edited by Osvaldo Cristo; 09-02-2019 at 10:31 PM. Reason: Typo as usual
    All the best.

    Osvaldo.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •