Shopsmith Workbench Pro

Just when I thought I'd said everything there was to say about Shopsmith products I clicked on a Craigslist post and was reminded that I missed one of my old favorites: The Shopsmith Workbench Pro.  This was a German-made workbench that Shopsmith offered through their stores and catalogs in the late 1980's, and it was a huge centerpiece in the Shopsmith store in Chelmsford Mass that I managed and in the Shopsmith Academy at the Factory Showroom in Dayton where I taught.  The bench was a heavy, traditional European-style red beech bench that was manufactured for Shopsmith by Anke.  The bench was introduced at $699, and if memory serves me correctly it was several hundred more when Shopsmith closed their stores in the mid-90's.

This bench is very similar to the current Anke model 166, which you can see here: http://www.fine-tools.com/hbank.htm for € 1099.0, which at today's conversion rate would make it $1435.07+ shipping from Germany!  
The bench in the Craigslist ad was located in a little town in SC, about 140 miles from my home, and after calling my heart sank because the seller explained that someone was already scheduled to look at it.  I went ahead and left my name and number just in case the buyer backed-out, and to my surprise a few hours later I got a call saying that she was still for sale if I wanted to check it out.  I couldn't say yes fast enough and the next day my bride and I were off in a road trip to SC.

Thanks to a great GPS app on my cell phone (Waze) we arrived 5 minuets ahead of our scheduled time and from the road I could see the bench.  My heart sank yet again when in the driveway I could see the bench and even at that distance could tell that it had been left out, exposed to the elements.

The owner's son came to the door and led me to the bench and it was everything I could do to not vomit.  The bench had clearly been covered, as there were no signs of water stains on the surface, but it was cracked and checked all over.  I asked and the owner's son explained that they were using it as a stand for the Harbor Freight lathe that can be seen in the background of the photo above, and that while it was left in the driveway it was covered by a tarp.  Lovely.

There was no way that the bench was worth the $300 they were asking, but believe it or not the hardware was in decent shape, and who knows, the bench might be OK after some time in a dry shop and with a little TLC (and Danish oil).

So after some negotiations on the phone with the owner we arrived at a price that I could like with and we loaded her into my van.  Click on the pics to Biggie-Size them, but you might want to have a Kleenex handy, because they are disturbing.  

Shopsmith Workbench Pro's are rare these days, but here's a link to your next workbench on eBay

Woodcraft has some excellent benches that are worth a look, as well as a nice selection of vises if you'd like to take a stab at building your own bench.  Check out the workbenches for sale at Woodcraft at this link and don't forget to check their clearance link.


8 comments:

  1. I worked at shopsmith in the early to mid 90's and still have a German Pro workbench new in the box. I always thought I would have a larger shop, but that didn't happen. The bench is too large and I didn't have the room. Now is the time to sell it -- anyone interested?

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    1. Where did you work for SS and where is the bench located? Scott

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    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    3. I worked at SS in St. Paul, Mn and I live in Woodbury, which is a SE suburb.

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    4. I just stumbled upon this site. Do you still have your pro workbench?
      Keith 715-271-1799
      trycompleteremodeling@gmail.com

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  2. Just my story.......... Searching CraigsList for everything ShopSmith I found a Workbench Pro for sale in CT. I live just over the MA border into NH. After traveling to the far side of Hartford, CT I was able to pick it up for only $350! It had been purchased by the seller's grandfather and not used much (if at all) before he passed away. It sat unused for 10+ years, then it sat, unused, in the seller's garage for 20+ years. After selling the Made-in-Taiwan bench that I replaced it with, I only had $105 invested in it. A great bargain.

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  3. Wow, that was quite a steal! Thanks for the comment. Scott

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  4. Since the late 1980's my SS workbench has serve me well. Lots of cabinets, furniture, projects. Finally hand planed the top flat again. Clear Watco Danish Oil raised the grain a little, but looks good, isn't as slippery for clamping. One question for you SS experts: Can any one tell me the length of the lag bolts into the top of the leg assembly? It's been a long time since I assembled this bench and inserted my drawer section.

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