REVIEW: The Hardwood Workbench From Harbor Freight

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.

Packaging

Workbench in the Box
Workbench in the Box

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.

Face down.

Workbench box opened
Workbench parts

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.

Workbench Assembly

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.

Ready for Assembly
Ready for Assembly

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.

 

Summary

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.

The Finished Product
The Finished Product

 

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.

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