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Thread: "First" workbench: Sjobergs or build

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2019
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    Northeast WI
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    90

    "First" workbench: Sjobergs or build

    I feel kinda silly as a woodworker asking this question, but for my first real workbench would I be better off buying a Sjobergs or building my own? In the past I have used 3/4 plywood on 2x4 frames and they work, but I would like something beefier.

    Now obviously this won't be my one and only bench for the rest of my life, but my thought process was should I buy a bench and figure out what I like and what I don't like or should I build a bench and experiment.

    If I were to build one, I would most likely use laminated 2x4's and plane the top flat, and I would have to figure out what vises to use and where to put them. I would drill dog holes in the top. I plan to use holdfasts and 3/4" dogs.

    On the other hand, the bench I was looking at from jobergs is made from birch and has 2 vises and dogs included, and the holes are pre drilled

    As far as price goes, I think it would be very close so it doesn't much sway me one way or the other.

    I know there is lots of designs and Books on building beautiful benches, but I just need an economical work horse that I'm don't afraid to scratch or ding.

    Thanks for the input!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
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    Longview WA
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    This really depends on you. The 5' Sjoberg bench was about half the price it is now when mine was purchased 15 or 20 years ago. It has served my needs quite well.

    It is a bit light and needed some help to stop dancing while planing large planks:

    https://sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?119667

    The vises have a tendency to rack, like many wooden vises do on woodworking benches. There is also a fix for that:

    https://sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?183743

    After all these years of using this bench, some of its features will be used on my current project of building a bench, some will be enhanced or modified.

    My problem at times is paralysis of analysis or outright procrastination. If you are the type to get to work on building a bench, they the savings will only be out done by the experience and skills developed by building your own from the start.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
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    SCal
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    I bought the Sjoberg 1500 Elite...

    153220.0.jpg

    While its a nice bench, I regret it...
    First, I like it a bit taller, no height adjustability. I might jury rig something on the base. So see what working height you prefer...this may be a non issue for you.
    Next thing is weight. Its well built, but not super heavy, so when planing long and wide boards, its not very stable vs. a heavy home built bench. AGain, this may be a non issue for you, maybe you ony do light planning. Or, maybe some weight as Jim mentioned above, but this takes space, and if you have the drawers, no room for buckets of weight.
    It has 3/4 holes, I prefer 20mm holes, as there is more MFT components available. Its not easy expanding a 3/4 hole by 1mm to a 20mm hole.
    The drawers have no slides, so a bit crude for heavy items. I would prefer slides.
    So this is why I would have preferred a custom build. I work alone, and it would have been a big project by myself, and feared hurting my back and bought the Sjoberg.
    Not knocking the product at all, for the price, you get a nice work bench. Great premium wood, it would be hard to find wood this nice. It requires assembly.

  4. #4
    The easy answer: it depends.
    How much time do you have to build a bench: depending on the design, it can be a sizable project
    How much $$ do you want to invest?
    How will the bench by used: if you are a hand tool woodworker and plan on using planes, particularly if you are planning on going from "rough to ready" with planes, you will want a substantial bench that will stay put under the forces of planing.
    A bench project can be very rewarding, but as I mentioned above: it depends......
    No shame in buying a bench, but think about how the bench you are planning on buying will be used, and decide accordingly.
    I built my first bench a few years ago, and it will be my last bench:

    IMG_3022_zps97252e83-2.jpg

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2019
    Location
    Central Florida
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    29
    Iím relative new at wood working that requires more than a framing hammer or a cordless drill but building my bench was as enjoyable as almost anything Iíve built. Itís no artisan quality piece, a Paul Sellers style 2x4 bench, but itís pretty well built, and I feel proud to see and use it every time I go in the shop. Unless you have more pressing projects competing for you time, I canít think of any more worthy than building your own work bench.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Austin Texas
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    If you have the space and time, I would say build it just because it is, in itself, a wood working project that you can enjoy the use of for a long time. No knock on the Sjobergs is intended at all, just that a suggestion to build your own sings to me better than buying. Whichever choice sings loudest to you may be different than mine. The Paul Sellers or a Moravian (where is that Moravian-building guy?) should be an economical build as compared to a Ruobo or similar style. I enjoy the 4" thick top on my home built work bench as much as any of the vises available. I also built mine with room to cut the legs down if I feel that it is too tall. I have said before and will repeat again - the hardest part of building a bench is getting started. Some of the workbench books available should include some good ideas for a simple, economical and sturdy bench - with or without vises that can add to the cost.
    David

  7. #7
    Go to a place that sells the sjobergs, or look carefully at the pics online. Take note of height and proportions. Maybe mock up the height with cardboard or cheap lumber to see if you want it taller/smaller. Copy sjoberg's construction, but use laminated 2x4's for the top and (literally) fence posts for the legs (4x4 or 6x6). Use 2x6's for the stretchers. That's what I did 10 years ago. Never did feel the need for another, I like it so much.

    Or buy one of the workbench books for height and size insight, plus the pros/cons of various types. Search the archives here - there's a crap-ton of bench build threads from which to take ideas.
    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
    - Sir Edmund Burke

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Boston, MA
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    857
    I bought a Sjoberg 1800BS workbench about 20 years ago from woodcraft. Dont think they make that model anymore. The bench is beautiful and works wonderfully. Still a good project to build if you have the time.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    South Coastal Massachusetts
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    5,396
    With plywood used to stiffen the base, the Sjoberg is adequate. May I recommend browsing local classifieds for a few weeks, first?

    Search "woodworking" in Craigslist tool section.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Clarks Summit PA
    Posts
    571
    Bought the Sjoberg 2000 bench almost a year ago. I use a lot of hand tools. Love the bench, it has everything I want. Solid, heavy, well built, compared to other benches reasonably priced, bought the feet to raise it up 6 inches.

  11. #11
    My second and third benches are Sjobergs 1500 and 2000. The 1500 with a full tool chest does not move when planing. The vises are adjustable for racking. My benches have not needed it so far. The first bench is the Tage Frid design from the 7th issue of Fine Woodworking that I made 40 years ago. It is considerably lighter. I considered the Sjoberg an upgrade.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2019
    Location
    Northeast WI
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    90
    Does anyone have any recommendations on vises if I were to build my own bench? I have been looking at the veritas twin screw but 2 of those vises cost almost as much as the Sjobergs bench.

  13. #13
    Woodcraft has several ranging from $100 - $300.
    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
    - Sir Edmund Burke

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Austin Texas
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    1,598
    I use my leg vise more than the two other vises on the bench. Paul Sellers gets away with a face vise only that can be had pretty cheap. It may be possible to build a bench and add a vise or two later on as the $ is saved up. Especially if the initial build is done with adding a particular vise later.
    David

  15. #15
    The Moravian guy is here, thanks David. I've built a few benches, the first because I couldn't afford to buy a ready made. As posted before that bench is still in use after almost 40 years. I can't speak to the English bench because I've never built one but I've built a few other designs and found the Moravian style bench first built by Will Myers https://store.woodandshop.com/produc...ch-will-myers/ is an easy and reasonably cheap build. It punches well above its weight. Because of good design you get a very stable but light bench that is or can be portable. Each joint is the easiest to make that will do the intended job. I've made 'em out of all construction grade Home Depot wood and out of all Beech and different combinations of cheap and not so cheap woods. They all work. My favorite vise is the BenchCrafted Classic with a crisscross. I've posted several build tick tocks here on SMC.

    My last build had a 75mm thick Beech slab and Poplar base. It is rock solid;

    benchMoravian.jpg

    I do not keep good records, I almost always over buy wood and I waste a little. As best I remember this bench with the BenchCrafted vise and crisscross cost in the neighborhood of $1000 USD dollars and 7/8 weeks to build while I was working full time at my day job. The last bench took a little longer than usual to build. Normally a bench like this one is about a 60 man hour job spread over 6 or so weeks.

    If you can't tell I'm in the build it yourself camp, You will end up with a better bench for about the same money.

    ken

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