Author Topic: Woodworking Bench - Sjoberg, Lei-Neilson, Diefenbach  (Read 14951 times)

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Offline leel

  • Posts: 2
Woodworking Bench - Sjoberg, Lei-Neilson, Diefenbach
« on: September 01, 2009, 10:05 PM »
Have Festool Kapek, circular saw, sander and drill, but would like a woodworking bench other than Festool.  Anyone got one they'd like to sell after getting their Festool table?

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Offline James Watriss

  • Posts: 277
Re: Woodworking Bench - Sjoberg, Lei-Neilson, Diefenbach
« Reply #1 on: September 02, 2009, 09:49 PM »
Can't really speak to the L-N or Diefenbach.

My Sjoberg Elite 8' bench has been something of a disappointment.

-The top shrank, but since the end cap is bolted on, the shrinking top eventually started to split. Time will tell what happens there.
-The top also bowed a bit, it's crowned along its length. A 4' ruler from HD has somewhere between 1/8" and 1/4" under each end of it.
-The optional cabinet kit... I've seen better stuff come out of lesser pre-fab shops. The drawer sides on the top drawers were cut too wide, and they rub on the inside of the box, eventually causing one of the drawer fronts to pull off.
-Shipping... leave it to Woodcraft to screw this one up. First one, they must have had monkeys loading, and driving the truck... the vises were both beaten to crap, and the box was half destroyed. Hadn't even loaded the thing on a pallet, just tossed it in with everything else. Second one wasn't as bad, but the end vise was still damaged. Functional, but damaged.

For the price of this bench, I expected a lot better.

Current plan is to give it a new lease on life, plane the top down flat, and try adding a new front vise. Maybe make a new box of drawers for it, too. But that's a lot of work for a bench that costs what this one does.

Do I want to sell it? There was a time. It's settled into a pretty solid thing to work on, it's just not flat enough to clamp or laminate on, and the cabinet thing is junk.

Offline Dave in Indy

  • Posts: 14
Re: Woodworking Bench - Sjoberg, Lei-Neilson, Diefenbach
« Reply #2 on: September 02, 2009, 10:04 PM »
The MFT is worth considering, but I assume you have your reasons for wanting a different type.  I've used Lie Nielsen benches and they're top notch:  well built, great vises, and HEAVY.  Haven't checked lately but for a while they stopped taking orders because I think they were a little backed up.  No experience with Diefenbach. 

Just to throw another possibility out there:  Veritas workbenches are very nice, mine is homemade but a designed along the lines of Veritas.  Brian Sedgely mentioned during the end-user training that he had a Veritas and it's height matched that of the MFT, for what it's worth. 

Offline Steve Rowe

  • Posts: 828
  • Teach them safety when they are young.
Re: Woodworking Bench - Sjoberg, Lei-Neilson, Diefenbach
« Reply #3 on: September 02, 2009, 10:20 PM »
I had an inexpensive Sjoberg (<$400) as a stopgap bench.  Needless to say, you get what you pay for and it was quite lacking in many respects.  The vise hardware is cheesy and was prone to racking from day one.  The screw holddown is this benches only redeeming feature.  The cabinet was made from thin particle board and I eventually replaced it with a shop built 3/4" plywood cabinet.  It now serves as the work surface for my sharpening station.

I have had a Diefenbach for over 10 years with no problems and it is a good bench.  I don't care for the metal dogs though.  I wouldn't consider selling it.  Before I purchased this bench I had intended on building my own but after totaling up material and hardware costs, it was more cost effective to just by it ready made.

I don't have an MFT but am considering one.

Offline Frank Pellow

  • Posts: 2748
  • Toronto, Ontario and Lake Pivabiska, Ontario
Re: Woodworking Bench - Sjoberg, Lei-Neilson, Diefenbach
« Reply #4 on: September 02, 2009, 11:13 PM »
I have two MFTs and use them a lot.  But, that does not mean that I do not also make good use of my traditional (home made) woodworking bench.  I describe how I made that bench in this thread:
               Frank (Festool connoisseur)

Offline leel

  • Posts: 2
Re: Woodworking Bench - Sjoberg, Lei-Neilson, Diefenbach
« Reply #5 on: September 09, 2009, 03:55 PM »
Very impressive bench!  Don't know that I have the time or skill to build that.  Would you mind sending me your phone # to  Like to give you a call and visit about what would best meet my needs.  MFT or professional workbench.  Thanks - Lee

Offline Deke

  • Posts: 227
Re: Woodworking Bench - Sjoberg, Lei-Neilson, Diefenbach
« Reply #6 on: September 11, 2009, 10:12 PM »
Having both an MFT/3 and a bench I built myself, I have to say they are not interchangeable. The bench I built is nothing special. 6 foot by 2 foot 1 3/4" laminate maple butcher block top on 4x4 legs and stretchers made from Lowes douglas fir. The stretchers are connected to the legs with butt joints reinforced with threaded rod bolted through the legs and in channels I routed in the stretchers. Sound flimsy? I thought so, but no way, this thing weighs at least 250 pounds and will not budge an inch with any hand tool operation or pounding. I'm a somewhat big guy (210 lbs) and can lift myself on one end of the bench and the thing just sits there. Getting the butcher block as a cast off, this bench with and old quick release vice from Craig's list cost me about $250. I have since built all types of jigs including a shooting board and birds mouth jointing jig and more. I use my OF 1400 and mortise pal with the vise and have cut 64 mortises in under two hours - the vise is that quick. It is also outstanding for assembly.

If you told me today that you were taking one of my benches I hate to say it, but I would give you the MFT/3. Don't get me wrong, I love the heck out of my MFT/3 and the two benches compliment each other very well, but my advice (which I wish I had taken long before) is to build a beater bench and use it. Like you I drooled over the more expensive  ready made benches (don't forget Veritas!), but this bench does everything those do AND I don't have to worry about beating up it's pretty top and legs. Really, it was not hard. Build the $200 workbench as Chris Schwartz calls it and like mine it just may become the most useful tool in the shop. Also, when the day comes when we each feel up to making something half as nice as Frank's beauty of a bench we will have a bench to use to build it (can't build a bench without a bench) and we will be so much wiser about what we need our bench to do for us.

Here is a pic of my two benches. Excuse the messy basement shop. Again, I love my MFT, but it is a different tool than a bench.

P.S. Why is the MFT up on blocks  you ask (they actually have holes drilled for the feet)? Too make it the same height as my table saw so it can serve as an outfeed table and the saw can also support longer pieces being cut on the MFT.

« Last Edit: September 11, 2009, 10:22 PM by Deke »

Offline Greg_R

  • Posts: 153
Re: Woodworking Bench - Sjoberg, Lei-Neilson, Diefenbach
« Reply #7 on: September 17, 2009, 02:45 PM »
Agreed.  I built a bench from a plan advertising it to be less than a $ a pound.  It used plywood & 2x4s for the base construction tightened by threaded rods (i.e. a torsion box).  The top used two 2x6s for each rail with 3/4"x6 segments in between (automatic dog holes w/o drilling).  The rest of the top was 3/4" ply over a frame of 2x4s.  It's been 5 years and the bench is bomb proof.  My bench cost more than $1/lb because I used maple for the vise faces and bought nice vise hardware.

Offline Deke

  • Posts: 227
Re: Woodworking Bench - Sjoberg, Lei-Neilson, Diefenbach
« Reply #8 on: September 17, 2009, 10:41 PM »
Greg, got a pic? I am very interested in what you described!

Offline Greg_R

  • Posts: 153
Re: Woodworking Bench - Sjoberg, Lei-Neilson, Diefenbach
« Reply #9 on: September 21, 2009, 03:35 PM »
Here is the plan that I started with (American WWer from Oct 2001 IIRC).  Of key importance is the use of a torsion box for the base.  It's plywood & 2x4s tightened together with threaded rod.  This is extremely strong when done correctly.  There _must_ be a gap between the 2x4 end and the plywood face of the other box (i.e. only the edges of the plywood should touch the face of the neighboring base).
Here is an image of my completed bench.  This is before I got new lighting in the shop :)
Here is some detail of the top construction.  Note the use of 2x6s & a 1x6 to create the dog holes.  The rest of the top is plywood and 2x4s.  Everything is screwed & glued together.  It took less than a day to build the bench (most of that was spent installing the Veritas end vise correctly).
« Last Edit: September 21, 2009, 03:48 PM by Greg_R »

Offline Deke

  • Posts: 227
Re: Woodworking Bench - Sjoberg, Lei-Neilson, Diefenbach
« Reply #10 on: September 22, 2009, 08:39 PM »
Thanks, looks great!

Offline Jesse Cloud

  • Posts: 1711
  • Festooling at the end of a dirt road in New Mexico
Re: Woodworking Bench - Sjoberg, Lei-Neilson, Diefenbach
« Reply #11 on: September 24, 2009, 11:17 AM »
I have used Sjoberg (stay away from it) and Diefenbach (great bench, very costly).  I would presume L-N is a great product, too.  I agree, though, with the advice to build your own.  Doesn't have to be fancy, just heavy and flat.  There are lots of plans floating around.  And when you  build your own, you get something that fits in your shop - a real advantage for us weekend warriors in a bay or two of a garage.

Not being critical of the MFT here - it was built to use with Festools and other portable power tools and it does a fantastic job of that.  It is not, however, appropriate for heavy duty hand-tool use.

Last bit of advice, don't skimp of the vise.

Offline Deke

  • Posts: 227
Re: Woodworking Bench - Sjoberg, Lei-Neilson, Diefenbach
« Reply #12 on: September 27, 2009, 03:05 PM »
Hey Joe, how is the Veritas bench working for you? That is one I have really thought about pulling the trigger on. I'm betting the torsion design to the base, with the threaded rods, is very stable. The vises are very good as we know, the center bay or tray area is something I like, but it seems to come up short on working with large pieces on the side, like a door or other large piece.