Last week we made a short (14 seconds!) promotional video about “The Anarchist’s Workbench” for Facebook and Instagram. In the video we mentioned the bench required only about $430 in construction lumber.
When we posted the video this morning, the first comment out of the gate was about how our price was wrong because the price of lumber has skyrocketed.
No, the $430 price is correct – using Home Depot prices from May 2021.
The bench requires:
- Nine 2 x 12 x 8’s for the benchtop. Each 2×12 is $25.12. That’s $226.08
- For the undercarriage, you need three 2 x 12 x 12’s and three 2 x 10 x 10’s. The 2 x 12s are $41.45 each ($124.35). The 2 x 10s are $19.13 each ($57.39).
Add up the subtotals, and you get $407.82. I then threw in another $20 for good measure.
Yes, lumber prices have gone up. Those 2 x 12 x 8’s were $8.81 each when I built the bench in 2020. But the bench is still a bargain to build, especially when you compare yellow pine to maple.
And the book itself is still a bargain. The pdf is still 100 percent free. Go here, and you’ll find a link to download the pdf. You don’t have to register, give up your email or anything. Just click and download.
The snarky comment on the video didn’t ruin my day. It had already been ruined by the bird that crapped on my shoulder when I went outside to fetch the morning paper.
— Christopher Schwarz
55 thoughts on “‘The Anarchist’s Workbench’ Still a Bargain”
Better than on your head
Ah, the Foo Bird – means good luck
“If the Foo shits, wear it!”
Man, that’s assuming SYP is even available where you live. Been making do with Douglas fir, which is close but not quite the same.
The early bird gets the woodworker, kinda thing?!
Nice video in all its brevity, though, with a nugget of information of particular interest to me in the very first second-and-a-half: seeing how far the planing stop moves per whack, while listening to the level of whack (if that makes sense as a concept) gave me some excellent clues to tightness of fit, which is something I’ve started thinking about for my own bench build (which I’m happy to say is progressing slowly – that’s hand planing for ya’ – but surely).
Bird poo is your friend.
I did the down load when you first put it out, did the print both sides feature on the printer and did my first book binding. It came out okay and is in my library. Oh and sorry about the bird thing.
OOPs the book I printed was the ROMAN WORKBENCH ….so I am thinking I have a new project to do.
What is a “morning paper?”
Dude, don’t make me feel so old. We still read newspapers here….
A morning paper and a cup of coffee is the perfect start to a day. (Unless a bird drops a load on you.)
The last time I bought a Sunday paper was at a supermarket. The young person at the checkout flipped it over and over, looking for the bar code.
After scanning it, they took the front section off, and started flipping the remainder back and forth, looking for a bar code. I pointed out that it was all just one big paper, with just the one price.
They thought I was trying to steal a stack of news, and called over the manager.
Not reading the newspaper is one thing. Never having seen someone read one, or know how it works, is another .
That’s a great story!
It is even worse when you have to do the math for them when paying with actual physical money. You can’t clean your butt with a tablet either if covid inspired toilet paper shortages come to your part of town. Maybe tree wood would be the answer! If you know how pulping works, man I’m digging a hole…
When I was done with my breakfast at the restaurant, I picked up the paper and rolled and folded it without thinking about or looking at it, as I had done countless times in my youth as a delivery boy. A young man in a nearby booth asked me to do it again as he had never seen such a thing. Sigh
But do you actually still have evening papers there?
The Post closed years ago.
I think its made from morning wood..
The bright side… I’m guessing it wasn’t the same size bird that bombed my kitchen window the other day. It would have covered your shoulder, neck, arm and maybe part of your head. I didn’t realize pigs could fly – unless your ‘Algie’.
Who knows – maybe the bird left the snarky comment.
I sourced my SYP from a local lumber yard rather than a box store and so paid more eyes wide open. I see it as an investment in the ethos of the whole project and it was worth every penny. I learned a ton and I have a beautiful and highly functional bench that I built. No complaints!
Ah, those pesky birds…
On a side note, the cost for my milled ash to make my Nicholson Bench ran me about $460.00. It has gone up slightly in the last few months, but dang, if you are going to build a bench you need the wood. Anyone with a brain is going to take the cut list and price it out. Might vary by region but there will always be the complaining trolls out there.
Keep on keeping on…Cheers
No kidding. I priced it out for where I live and it wasn’t $430!!! It was $441. Take the video down now!
I take it that wasn’t the bluebird of happiness. Just be glad you weren’t looking up with the bird bombed you. 🙂
Last weekend, I sorted and bought the lumber to make mine. $420.00 with enough 1x material to make stickers. If your waiting for a deal on lumber, it will never get built.
Thank you for the download.
Can’t believe it! Someone caught Chris’ encounter with avian excrement and posted it to YouTube
You’ve got to be kidding – Chris in a suit???
If you can make friends with the Lowes lumber department, they save all their crappy twisted wood and sell it every few weeks as a bundle. I got enough yellow pine that way to build a split top roubo, and it cost $21 total. Not a typo.
And all of the pieces were 2×10 or 12, plenty usable
The biggest pieces of lumber (stretching the definition a bit…) is knotty, nasty 40mm x 200mm cross section, that would be 1 1/2″ x 8″…
It is spruce or fir (or whatever the English names are for abies alba or picea abies)
I envy the leftpondians.
I just ordered a copy. I’m curious if there’s any changes you might recommend for someone who is primarially an “eastern style” pull-saw user?
Not really. Maybe change the bench hooks to work with pullsaws. Maybe change the position of the planing stop for pull stroke planes.
You might have a look at Wilbur Pan’s blog over at https://giantcypress.net/
He uses mostly japanese tools on his french bench (inspired by Chris’ earlier workbench books). Instead of an end vice, he put 2 sharpened screws on one end and a batten across to create a planning stop similar to the japanese planing beams.
Those southern yellow pine 2×12” 8 footers are now $28.92 at Lowe’s today May 10th 2021! Expect the price to continue upward for the remainder of the year until the log mills can increase the supply to outpace the demand.
Those prices are as of today in Crescent Springs, Ky. Some price variation is geography. But you are right that it’s a supply-chain issue.
I was about to start buying lumber for this bench, but prices have been slightly higher here (FL) then nationally because of the two recent hurricanes.
use recycled wood.
Build it now! A good stout workbench could save your life in the next hurricane.
Duck and cover.
This is proof once again that the best time to build a bench is 1 year ago, the next best time is right now.
One could also scout craigslist/FB marketplace. Theres tons of cheap or often free lumber – leftocers from someone’s projects, old structures, remodels, etc. May take more time. May require to be creative with cutlist to use what you got. May require to do extra clean-up and pull nails out. But in the end may end up with a bench waaaaay cheaper than bigbox $430 or even book’s claimed $250.
I, for one, recently lucked-out on a deal for 2×12 LVL leftovers from someone’s pool house. $150 and enough for a bench and then some (prolly make low bench from leftovers).
Be creative with materials sourcing and good luck with the hunt
Up here in Michigan it’s about $30 cheaper, but more importantly they have SYP in stock. That wasn’t the case when the book came out last year. I can’t wait to build it.
I began reading the .pdf a day or so after it was mentioned on this site. Made it about half way through and ordered a copy. Anyone who hasn’t read it yet really ought to – it’s a great read even if you don’t intend to build a bench (why you wouldn’t want to afterwards though is a discussion for another day). Still trying to figure out how to get a signed copy.
One of the places I get most of my lumber is there is a demo company a few miles from where I live , stoped in the one day and off to the side were 6 4×10 syp beams from a old warehouse that the company was tearing down I asked the manager how much he wanted for them he stated that if had a use for them take them . went home grabbed my chainsaw and trailer as these beams were 24 ft long. I also stop in at a sawmill and check there slab pile I pick up some nice hardwoods sure you have to work around defects but if you look around there is so much wood that you can get for free or next to nothing and a lot cheaper than buying S4S lumber
I bought lumber a week ago and up here in the Yukon a spruce 2x12x12’ sells for $93.Fir is more,enjoy your more reasonable prices!
The best chapter of that book is the one about stabilising a cheap commercial bench. That is what I am doing right now using a cheap east german bench (the source for cheap tools in sweden before the imports from china took over) my dad bought in the 1980’s, used once or twice before dumping it in a shed and replaced it with a used proper bench.
It’s a perfect project for us with new horn children. It is also in my mind more punk than other options.
Glad you’re fixing that bench! I am also laughing because I don’t remember seeing East German “commercial” benches in East Germany. That’s because they were all exported so western customers could by them cheap and help the regime stay afloat a while longer with hard currency. After all, the communists knew exactly how market economy worked in their favor… Same goes for musical instruments and other hard-to-get-by products.
But now I am curious: would you mind posting an image somewhere?
last week i started my first “real” workbench. Your Roubo design. Thank you very much for sharing your great work and tricks! I had such a hard time fitting the big tenons in this top… 🙂 here are some pics:
Best regards from Würzburg, Germany
You’re the GD man
It is a bargain. In Holmes County, Ohio prime 1a hard maple is going at over $4.00 a board foot.
Anybody on this thread from New England finding non-pressure treated SYP anywhere? I’m jonesing to start of my bench, but for the life of me can’t find enough SYP from a lumber yard or home center to make a toothpick.
Outside of pressure treated, the only SYP I’ve seen up here is some stair treads.
Most of the dimensional lumber is SPF, or spruce pine fir. It’s never fir. Spruce or pine is fine for bench legs, but I wouldn’t care to make a top from it.
I can find Douglas fir 4x4s, and I made a bench top from those. It’s very good for that purpose. I would have preferred it be a little thicker, but it’s good enough.
Thanks for this! It makes me feel a bit better not only to know that I’m not somehow missing an obvious source of SYP but also that there’s a way forward with an alternative. Much appreciated.
I was just about to give up and drive down to Phoenix (the closest/cheapest lumberyard) but found someone that had HF 2×6’s that had been sitting indoors for 15 years! And relatively clear too! Finally starting the build even though it’s not SYP is okay.
Apologies if this is the wrong thread to ask a question about the construction steps. But I’m wondering when in the construction of the legs the laminations are ripped or planed to their final 5″ length. I’m guessing that this should happen before the glue up (and great care taken to make the edges of the laminations plumb with each other), otherwise the mortise notches will potentially all be of different depths. But I can’t see that confirmed anywhere, and the instructions for the glue up mentions tacking scrap 3×5-1/4″ to help keep everything square. What have you all done?
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