The only good thing I can say about the stupidness of venture capital is that it resulted in me obtaining this workbench.
This is a vintage Ulmia. I’m guessing it’s 1980s vintage based on what I know about the provenance of the bench (if you know for sure I’m wrong, please let me know). It was owned by American Woodworker magazine for years and then ended up in my hands via a series of binges and purges by the venture capital firm that owned F+W Media during its implosion.
One day the company vacated its bowels of a large amount of woodworking gear and projects that the American Woodworker staff had built. I was in the right place at the right time.
It’s a great bench. And the statement I make at the beginning of the video is 100 percent true (the statement about lasagne at the end of the video is also true). There are a few dumb things about the bench, but those are covered in the video (and are things I have fixed).
If you are ever offered one of these benches, and it’s in good shape (many are not), then go for it. Here in the Midwest, Ulmias tend to go for $800 to $1,500, depending on their condition. That’s a pretty good deal, all things considered.
— Christopher Schwarz
P.S. I know that the current company that owns Ulmia did not make this workbench. I haven’t seen any examples of Ulmias since the company was sold, so I don’t have any opinion on them. Sorry.
26 thoughts on “Workbench Tour No. 6: Vintage Ulmia Workbench”
Similar to what I learned on as a student at NBSS. Lots of memories of that form of bench. Thankfully didn’t have that crazy drawer setup.
That’s the bench I worked at when I took a class down there. I liked it best of those in your shop. And the joined stool next to it kept me from falling over when Matt Bickford filled my brain with knowledge.
Out of curiosity, why not cover the tool try with a board and a screw or two to hold it down?
I haven’t gotten around to it.
I have an Ulmia bench that I bought new from Woodcraft in 1994. Same as yours, but without the tilting tool drawer. I agree about the tray. I clean it out from time to time and am usually surprised with what I find in there.
This bench series reviews has been most enjoyable. Maybe because I am designing my own bench and I’m trying not to make stupid mistakes,…… again. I have made at least 7 benches in my lifetime and all have been unsatisfactory for many stupid decisions of the er….the creator/ designer.
Plus my method of power tools mixed with hand work has complicated things.
Not to mention my failing eyes where I just can’t see the cut lines I’ve made and my shaking hands can’t seem to be able to saw to the pencil lines I’ve made. ( I just can’t see the bloody lines!)
I really didn’t know I’d live to be this old.
and if I had, I’d of taken better care of myself!
Thanks for the series… “The CS Benches… Where are they now?”
I’m expecting the final video in the series to be the Schwarz family lasagna recipe?
Not mine. Located in Minneapolis
I used this bench when I was lucky enough to build my Dutch Tool Chest with Megan. I remember opening the drawer and it swung down like that. I thought I broke it!
Could it be that this model was intended for larger sites with multiple workbenches, eg schools? Then that lockable drawer would make sense.
The design is very common in my part of the world. My dad (who went to trade school and started working as a construction carpenter at 15) had a similar bench for personal use when I was a kid. Don’t know if he built it himself, but if he did, the only examples he could have had were the benches in school and the workshops he was in.
I’ve got what I think is a 60s or 70s era version that’s only 5 feet long. I had to downsize to an apartment a few years ago, so it’s nice that it fits perfectly where a dining room table would be in most other people’s layouts. It had a small drawer that was always seemed to get blocked by the dogs, so I re-hung it below the bottom stretchers and put a tool tray across the top of those stretchers (like a French bench). I added a couple holdfast holes too. It’s not perfect but I’ve done enough stuff on it to feel emotionally attached.
I wish the author’s name was included in the heading. I am interested in all things wood. I have no interest in Chris Shwarz using wood to promote himself.
Hi Dog Guy,
The byline is at the top of the page. Right below the headline. If it says “Posted by Lost Art Press” then that’s me, Chris Swartz.
And if it says Lost Fart Press, then that’s me or Rudy. Not Criss Twarts.
Especially if there is a poo joke you can bet it is not Chris Schartz writing but one of us turds (Klaus Srludland or Rudy Everst). Chris is far too well behaved for that.
Unrelated comment, but the desk to the left in the video looks nice. I’ve been tempted to make one for my daughter, or the ADB one.
Ulmia made a sweet sliding table saw back in the 80’s and 90’s. Mahogany Masterpieces(?) used to import them and advertise in FWW. Wish I could find one somewhere.
“I haven’t seen any examples of Ulmias since the company was sold”. In fact, not the company was sold, only the brand name (in 2002). The Orginal company ULMIA went bankrupt. The actual “ULMIA” has absolutely nothing in common with the great old German ULMIA brand, it belongs to ANTON KESSEL GmbH & Co. KG, a German factory outfitter.
I used that bench when I tool the Dutch tool chest class. Wish I had thought to measure the height, it was perfect for me.
Thanks! I agonized far too much over the height for the Naked Woodworker bench that I ended up building. It’s a comfortable 35 3/4. I have some 1/2” horse stall mats that I need to put down. Should be just about right.
Love the Video Series. Best part though: The “Editing by”!
FYI, this one isn’t tagged with “Workbenches” like the rest of the series.
I built a workbench from a plan in an early edition of Fine Woodworking. I built it sometime between 1977 and 1980. It is good to know I now have a vintage workbench. Without regard to it’s classification, it’s surface reflects many joyful hours of work.
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