I was having a good old rummage through the timber store the other day and found an old off cut from a workbench top. It’s from one that I made when I was building them for a living.
I used to keep these off cuts and put them to the test. Sun exposure, damp, all that to see how the laminates held up.
When I looked at this one, I was shocked at the amount of work that went in to one of these.
I was obsessed about bench tops, and was constantly testing and bettering. All at the expense of myself.
The workbench this top came from sold for £3800.
That’s a lot of money for a workbench.
But… I was getting prices the other day for full staff wooden worktops. Properly made jobs for a posh kitchen.
For a top on its own, 2″ thick at 3 meters long with the vat included it wasn’t far off the price of that entire workbench.
The bench of course also had almost a grands worth of custom vice hardware on it.
And the tops couldn’t be compared. These kitchen ones are only edge jointed – nothing else added, and my top was 5 inch think!
Pricing is funny.
As a craftsman pricing up your own time is maybe the hardest part. And when most of what you’re making you couldn’t afford yourself, the weirdness of pricing becomes more apparent.
It’s rarely based on the work required, and much more what someone is willing to pay.
The workbench tops became a bit of an obsession. After all, I was putting my name to these things.
I’d always plane many more laminates than needed, and then test the moisture of each staff.
There had to be less than two percent difference between each of them, or they’d not be used. They were then individually hand planed to give an ever so slight concave face, all to ensure a strong joint. Then they’d be grooved and tongues made to be added.
It was a long process.
And get ready for the best part….. the early ones were planed right from the start entirely by hand!
That thought alone triggers panic attacks.
I’m very proud of my workbenches and I did make a living at it. It taught me how to work long hours and become efficient. Character building.
It Also Taught Me To Find A Simpler Way
With such an obsession to create a stable workbench top, I’ve explored all ideas on this topic and learnt that the most simple approach really can be as good.
Before you get sucked in to going over the top for your own workbench build, have a read of this post showing how well my planked top has stood up to the test of time, and why this works.
As a final note, our latest video build – The Retro Sideboard is now approaching completion. You can find the details here if you’d like to catch the introductory discount.