New Tool: Portable Workbench

by Josh on July 15, 2006 · 0 comments

in Basement,Ideas

After a recent email asking for advice on paint stripping, (Hi, Carrie!) I got motivated to start restoring the window sashes that have been sitting around for a few weeks since I removed them as part of my bedroom project.

When I got the sashes to the garage and fired up the Speedheater, I soon discovered that my sawhorses did not provide an adequate work surface for stripping the sashes. When it came time to scrape paint, the sashes were so light they slid around on the plywood top I had set on the horses. I found I could hold down the sash with one hand and scrape with the other but my efficiency and sense of safety suffered. This had not been a problem with earlier paint stripping because the doors I was working on before were heavy enough to stay put on the sawhorses.

After this frustrating experience with the sawhorses, I set off to find a workbench that could hold my material secure so that both of my hands were free available to handle the paint scraper or other tools. My criteria were:

  • sturdy construction
  • low cost (less than $100)
  • integrated clamp and bench dogs
  • portable for use in various rooms

Sash in bench vice I found a good solution in the Black & Decker Workmate 425, which I picked up last night at a local big box center. Assembly was easy and overall I am happy with my purchase. This model allows both horizontal and vertical clamping and is a tried and tested design that has been around for years.

My only disappointment is that the benchtop is not deep enough to horizontally clamp in my window sashes. This might have been a dealbreaker for me, but because the Workmate’s benchtop is modular, I am planning to make a custom top that is large enough to hold my windows. I just ordered the extra mounting hardware today, so I should have the parts to make that custom top by next weekend. All I need to do now is buy a suitable piece of plywood for the top surface itself.

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