Pros: Lightweight, sturdy, quick set-up small workbench with some thoughtful features and nice price.
Cons: A cup-holder would be nice! (just joking.) Front supports could be stiffer I think.
Have you ever done a project where you needed a clear worktable or just something temporary that was both lightweight and portable so you could just quickly set-up? Do you find yourself working on the car and the workbench is too far away and so you either set the tools on the ground or on the engine or worse, on that newly polished fender? Do you find yourself, wanting to work outside because it's a gorgeous day; but, the spouse frowns on you messing up the new patio table like you did the old patio table? I can't begin to tell you how often I've found myself in these situations. Do a project and nothing is ever convenient it seems, and often it is simply a matter of having a sturdy table or bench on which you can do your work.
A couple of months ago I was in the local "big box store" and doing my usual dream stroll through the tool isle, when I spotted the Stanley Folding Work Bench. Hmmmm, not bad; looks like a folding sawhorse; no-rust plastic, and only $30? Well, let's pull this critter out into the aisle and see what it's all about!
Dimensions when folded: 70 x 10.7 x 82.2 cm (27.6 x 4.2 x 32.4 inches)
Dimensions when set up: 70 x 50 cm (27.5" x 20" x 32 inches)
Weight: 7 kg (15.5 lbs.)
Maximum Load: 250 kg (550 lbs.)
Heavy duty - fiberglass reinforced polyamide clamps, extendable up to 39cm (15")
Space saving design (Chicago Athanaeum 2001 Good Design Award)
Set-up time: 15-seconds
The workbench can also be set-up as a sawhorse
I pretty much like most Stanley products and this folding workbench is certainly no exception. If you've browsed through a few catalogs, web sites, and hardware store tool aisles, I'm sure you are well acquainted with the handful of products available in this category. While they all look fairly well built, some brands are more elaborate and expensive and many don't offer the simplicity or work space of a simple table. I'm a guy who likes simple low cost solutions and I'm always on the lookout for anything that helps get the job done and is still in my price range.
The Stanley Folding Work Bench (Model 11020) is manufactured by Zag, which is one of Stanley's subsidiaries. The table is made from some type of reinforced plastic material that seems to be quite strong, even in its thinner applications. The structure seems quite sturdy and durable, providing substantial support (up to 550 lbs. load) for whatever project you have. The assembly is made up of several molded pieces, which are either snapped or pinned together. The overall design and convenience features are well thought out and the materials selected appear to offer long-lasting, durable service.
After bringing the table home, I removed the single cardboard packaging, which displayed all the product's features. I was pleased to find how easy it was to set up the table. The panel said 15 seconds and no doubt it is really that fast once you figured out just what to squeeze and where to lift or unfold. The legs, which are hinged at the top, simply spread apart like any other sawhorse. There is a folding shelf about half way down the legs and embossed in the black plastic are the words, "Pull to Open." Simple enough, and once done, you now have a nice sawhorse with a bright yellow rail running across the top. The rail is even equipped with five, evenly spaced, gray rubber, non-skid pads. Also embossed on this support rail is a measuring scale in inches.
In the center on one side of the sawhorse is a white and red label that shows a hand squeezing two tabs. The label is actually on the edge of the table, which is held in place against the side of the sawhorse with two yellow tabs. Squeeze as the label illustrates, and the table top swings outward from the top on two support legs that are securely fastened to the bottom legs of the sawhorse. The table can then be swung upward where it is positioned on the top of the sawhorse's yellow rail. I know this sounds a bit confusing, but it really is very simple and easy! Once positioned, the table top's back edge rests on the sawhorse's top rail and the forward edge of the table is supported with two supports that are hinged to both the table top and also to the sawhorse's lower leg area. The tabletop is fitted with two yellow latches that simply fold over the left and right sides of the table to secure the table to the sawhorse. That accomplished, the table can be moved or positioned without fear of anything coming apart or folding itself back up. And, the whole operation really does take just a few seconds! (That's a whole lot shorter than it took me to explain it!)
Sturdy and Convenient
The table assembly is quite sturdy, and is equipped with rubber, non-skid footpads on the bottom of the legs. The top itself is heavily ribbed and is just over two inches thick. The top has, what I would describe as, little bosses molded in so as to give the table surface a slight rough look that probably will wear better than just smooth. In addition, you'll also find another molded-in measuring scale, although black on black is a little hard to read. The back area is fitted with a small gray lift cover that hides a compartmentalized storage area for the included clamps or whatever other use one might find. The top has a hole on the right rear to hold a power drill or other similar sized tool and on the left rear a small bowl shaped indenture to hold screws, bolts, etc. These are for use when working on the table.
The clamps are what I especially liked. The table top has two rows of holes running from front to back, one roll near each side of the table. These are for locating the bench dogs and the expandable clamps. ("Bench Dogs" are pegs or similar supports used in a manner to act as back supports for any work piece that you wish to hold securely on the workbench top. The vice or screw mechanism forces the object against the pegs to securely hold the object in place.) The clamps fit on the front holes so that their handles hang over the front edge of the table where they can be freely turned to open or close the clamp. The bench dogs can then be positioned in any of the other holes. Both clamps and dogs have keyed, thick round pegs that are positioned in the table top as described and then turned 90 degrees to align with each other. The tops of the clamps and dogs are rectangular and the facing surface area is ribbed and offers good surface area to hold whatever it Is you wish to clamp. The adjustable clamps turn out almost 1-3/4 inches and in combination with relocatable bench dogs, allow for clamping of anything up to 15 inches wide. These parts are fiberglass reinforced plastic and they seem to be quite sturdy and positive in their ability to firmly hold even a vibrating tool like my scroll saw.
I really like this workbench. It is easy to carry and easy to setup. You can set up the sawhorse with one hand, but it does take two, to unclip and position the table top. I've used it as a tool stand when working on my Miata and I've used it in the den when servicing one of my radios! Being non-conductive plastic, it is perfect for electronics work. (Just be careful with that soldering iron, because I imagine the plastic will melt.) I've even used it here next to the computer when I'm taking measurements and examining details of a tool for my next Epinions' review! On those bright sunny day's I've used it on the deck to hold my scroll saw or my band saw. The clamps work perfectly for this kind of application as the tools are easily secured to the table top and the legs offer excellent support for these lighter tools. (I wouldn't attempt to use it to support my big radial arm saw though!) Because its plastic, it is easy to clean up when you're finished. Hose it off or wipe it clean and in a matter of seconds it folds up and can be returned to the storage closet. You know, I liked this little bench so much I went out and bought a second one. That way I can use two tools on the deck and still keep the new patio table pristine. For $30 it's a most convenient bargain I think!
July 25, 2010 UPDATE
Wow, it's been some time since I wrote this, but I'd like to follow up. I've been working on a future home for the last five years, but at the same time, I've still got the old home too. They are some 75 miles apart and to say the least, between the two I am more than busy.
At the time I bought this bench, I liked it so much that I bought four of them. Nice, because I have two at each house and as described in my original review, they are perfect for taking where you need them, when you need them.
At the future home I have a nice basement shop, but it is not very big, and when I need work bench or support on which to sand or woodwork, these are very nice, even allowing me to clamp the boards on edge for sanding or drilling. When I need the room to set up my table saw, the benches quickly fold and are out of the way.
Now, you probably wonder how these "plastic" worktables have held up? VERY NICE, INDEED! They've seen a lot of boards, plysheets, tools resting on them, and on occasion, even ME resting on them. While I can't recommend them for holding up a person, (got to be safety conscious ya know), one has to recognize that once in a while I need a place to sit and rest.
They've seen paint drips and glue dribbles and the occasional drift over from the sander. I even managed to mistaking run my circular saw into the top of one of them, for about a foot or so... at the time I was surprised when my sawdust suddenly looked black!
The plastic material is nice, as paint and glue doesn't stick to it and it didn't kick my saw back at me, the way a metal surface would have. Nice too, because the table surface has nice deep support ribs so the mistaken cut didn't destroy the top's integrity.
I'm not sure if these are still available on the market at this date. Too bad if they are not, because Stanley certainly had a winner here and I'd gladly buy a couple more for the garage. They have held up very well and all four of mine are used alot. And, the little clamp vises are still working very well too.