Harbor Freight. The name induces chuckles at the mere mention. But all is not as bad as you might imagine. Case in point – On my way home from my day job, I dropped by the local HF and picked up the Windsor Design, 60″ 4-Drawer Hardwood Workbench (Item #93454).
Being a woodworker, one might imagine that I could build my own workbench – and rightly so. However, being a renter, I resist creating a heavy behemoth of a workbench that makes it unable to be haul out of my basement workshop once I move out.
When I do get my own house, this little guy will serve me well even when I build my ultimate split-top Roubo-style dream workbench. Someday.
The box looked pretty torn up and they explained to me that the box got wet when it was delivered and suffered a big scrape, but the contents should be untouched. I had my reservations about the safety of the contents, but took a brief look and everything seemed in order. Anyway, the store employees informed me that it was the “last one”. Right, whatever.
Being that the contents seemed unscathed, I took a chance and made the purchase anyway. The next morning, I began assembly of the kit and started by reading the instructions.
Okay, I glanced at the instructions.
Sitting 10 feet in front of me.
Anyway, I opened what remained of the box, and became relieved to find most everything pre-assembled; the legs, the top, even the drawer slides were installed.
The components came padded with expanded polystyrene foam and wrapped in poly sheeting. Although the package took a considerable beating, the contents were in good shape.
I began by attaching the rails to the leg assemblies and installing the lower shelf. The lower shelf is MDF with a smooth and tight paper finish. What isn’t finger-jointed hardwood is MDF approximately 3/8″ thick. Almost all holes are pre-drilled and counter-sunk which makes assembly quick. All hardware is supplied and there were no missing parts. There were even extras in case a couple fasteners went AWOL.
The overall dimensions of the workbench are 60″ in length, 20 1/8″ in depth, and 33 1/4″ in height. A little narrow for my taste, but I’ll put a fixin’ on that later.
Assembly was straight-forward and went along without a hitch. The manual isn’t the greatest and misses a few subtle details, but common sense will guide you through to the end.
The workbench also has 4 drawers riding on friction slides. Opening and closing the drawers is somewhat stiff yet fairly smooth. The front and rear of the drawers are solid finger-jointed hardwood, while the sides and bottom are MDF. The bottom includes a felt covering on one side. The advertisements for the workbench show green felt on the drawer bottom, but mine has black felt, which I actually prefer. The felt itself is very thin, but still, is a nice inclusion. The drawer pulls are solid wood and add an attractive element to the workbench, as a whole.
The end vise opens up to 7″ and has surprisingly smooth operation. The hardwood dowel handle feels good and has a rubbery plastic cap on each end that, more than once, fell off the end of the handle. It’s a bit on the smallish size and probably would be inadequate for planing or chiseling use, but for light duty work, it should be fine.
Fit & Finish
All of the hardwood parts have a thin lacquer coating, except for the underside of the top. I might slap a coat of poly on the underside if I get around to it.
The description of the top states it as being 2 1/2″ thick, however, that is the height of the skirting – the actual top is only about 1″ thick. As I’m not going to be doing any heavy-duty pounding on this workbench, it will suit my needs.
Overall, the workbench is sturdy for being a bit spindly. The only issue I encountered was with one of the hex socket bolts head that stripped out, but, that happens. Everything else went very smoothly. It’s a handsome and functional piece of shop furniture and this workbench should prove itself a welcome addition in just about any shop. The finished product is by no means a $2,800.00 Sjoberg masterpiece, but with a few simple mods, this could be a rock solid workbench.
Is the regular price of $159.99 worth it? Well, I would hold out for the sale price and definitely use a coupon. I got mine, using a coupon, for $119.99 and, at that price, it is well worth the money. I recommend it for light duty use.
Watch for an upcoming article outlining how I beef up this Harbor Freight gem for improved durability and increased usability.