Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Harbor Freight Wooden Workbench Build And Review

As promised, here are my thoughts on the workbench I finally got after wanting one for two years.

The first thing I will say is that I would not hesitate to buy another one.

If you wait and either catch them on sale or better yet get one of their frequent 25% off coupons you can pick these up for about $125.00 every once in a while.

You couldn't buy the raw materials for one that cheap.

I was pleasantly surprised at how sturdy it is, the fit and finish of the thing and the relative ease of assembly.

It's basically Harbor Freight meets Ikea.

There are some negatives, of course, but not many.


After wrestling the thing to the ground and getting the box open, I came across my first pleasant surprise.
You don't have to assemble every stick of wood to build this thing.

The leg assemblies are already put together.


You also don't have to mount the drawer slides. More on those later though.
You really don't need too many tools to put it together, it comes with the obligatory cheap Allen Wrench, after that you will need a Phillips Screwdriver, a drill, some drill bits and if you are smart, some Wood Glue.
I also cheated and used some Transfer Punches to mark a few holes that aren't pre-drilled.
I also pitched their little POS Allen Wrench somewhere in the vicinity of one of my tool boxes and got out a full sized Metric set with the ball ends.
YMMV.
As with every single Harbor Freight product I have ever purchased, the directions left much to be desired but since Harbor Freight is just the distributor for another manufacturer they weren't too bad.

I opened up the box and just went at it.





This is where I started running into problems, installing the drawers after I got them together.

The first one went in without a hitch. The rest, not so much.

I would get one started in the slides and start pushing it in and it would bind up. The next thing I know, I start hearing tap, tap, tappetytaptap.

WTF?

I stopped and followed the sound and found a whole bunch of little ball bearings laying down in the tray underneath.
I wasn't really pushing that hard either.


I took the drawer back out and took a look at the drawer slide. the little bearing cage was a bit mangled up at the front so I took the thing out to get a better look at it and to try and straighten the damn thing back out so I could get the bearings back in it.

They are apparently made out of recycled beer cans.

The word chintzy comes to mind.

After I got it back together and reinstalled I tried sticking the drawer in again.
It went in about two inches and then I got to repeat the previous steps.
I could see no reason for it to be binding.

After round two, I stuck the drawer in until I just started to feel it bind up just a tiny bit and then went around to the back side so I could see what was going on.
Just like before, I could see no reason for it to be binding.

So I grabbed the drawer from the back and gently started working it in and out and slowly it just worked it's way all the way back and smoothed right out.

No rhyme or reason for it that I could see. The last two drawers went in the same way.
I started them and when they tried to bind up, I went around back and worked them back and forth while pulling them in a little farther each time and all at once they would go in.

After I finally got done with the whole project, that is my only complaint. The drawer slides are junk.

Look close and you can see how they sag in the middle.


I shouldn't complain for the price I paid and for what I got for my money.

One of these days I will go to Home Depot or some such outfit and spend a few bucks getting some sturdier slides.
Other than that, I am absolutely happy with this thing, it even comes with a rinky dink wood vise on one end.
I mean it's cheaply made but it works.

The workbench it's self is plenty sturdy and doesn't wobble around .
It's heavy enough that I threw my back out flipping the thing over by myself a couple of times to get the middle drawer support installed and the top screwed to the leg supports.

In case you didn't know, Stubborn is my middle name.

Right this minute it has my new Mini Metal Lathe and a vintage cast iron table saw complete with heavy assed electric motor hanging off the back sitting on it and it is solid.

Easily 150 pounds up on it.

You could probably actually use it for wood working too although that's not what I got it for.
It has the holes in it for dogs and even comes with some.


In closing, not only would I recommend getting one, I am seriously thinking about getting another one and butting them up together.

5 comments:

  1. That's really nice. I was seriously thinking about getting a couple of them for my garage, but we are planning to get the kitchen redone this spring and I decided to have all the old base cabinets and cupboards hauled down instead. The Lazy Susan will be a great place to store my powder. I will replace the top with some heavy duty plywood or melanine board. I miss the benches that I built at our old house. It will be nice to have a place to put the little drill press and mount the reloading presses and vices and stuff again.............

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  2. I told you that you'd like it. My mistake was putting the drawer sides on all 'arse-about-face' as the Brits say.

    I use mine when building / assembling / repairing beekeeping equipment, to keep the boxes square and to clamp them tight while screwing them together (I gave up nails because they kept working their way out).

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  3. Thanks for the review. Had to cut up my old bench when the legs were frozen to the ground and I was trying to get to my water supply line. The joys of shutting a house down for part of the winter. A bench like that would be a cheap replacement. Too bad Harbor Freight is so dang far away -like everything else around here.

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  4. you might find a filing cabinet pitched on the street that has reusable slides on it

    my shop workbenches are 3/8 bolted together frame of 4"by 4" wood and toped with 2" by 4" wood. the wood came from pallets collected for free. add a salvaged vise from a scrap yard for $25.

    one bench is for general work the other supports a 300 pound drill press from military surplus. both benches can withstand repeated 10 pound hammer blows. bet yours will not survive same!

    but then even the more expensive benches sold ain't worth shit!

    so you are going to install your lathe on this bench?

    "good luck"

    Wildflower

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  5. The problem you had with the drawer slides was not the problem I had where I said it was sort of a workbench kit. I had some holes in the wrong place, but either the one I got was a random error or you fixed it with transfer punches.

    The drawers on mine were too tight at first, but a touch of teflon grease once was all it took. They open easily and there's a feel of a snap into place.

    Like you say, though, once you get that put together it's sturdy and seems like it will stay that way.

    ReplyDelete

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