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I bought my first Workmate (the classic cast aluminum frame type) at a garage sale at least 15 years ago. It was in relatively good shape with a plywood top. About a year ago I bought another used Workmate of a similar vintage that had one small difference… the top was particleboard instead of plywood. I tend to leave the Workmates outside year-round for projects and found that the particleboard did not, to put it kindly, hold up. After a year of Oregon rain, notice how severely the top is delaminating/disintegrating.


My other Workmate, left outside for 15 years, is very slightly warped but completely serviceable:

As you can see, the top is scarred from use but in great shape, even wet:

My small bit of advice in buying a used Workmate: unless you intend to only use it indoors or put it away promptly after use, get the one with the plywood top! I’ll have to make a new top for the disintegrated one now, won’t I?


10 Responses to When Buying A Used Workmate…

  1. CyberKender says:

    The new Workmate I bought a couple of years back has a top made from laminated bamboo. I imagine those will weather more like the plywood tops.

  2. Galadriel says:

    I found a Workmate similar to your plywood one in a pile of junk at someone’s curb. It looked awfully sad…but after some WD-40 and scrubbing, it’s perfectly usable. The boards are cosmetically pitiful but they work just fine.

  3. Jason says:

    I guess that I am confused as to why someone that appreciates tools would leave something like this outside for a year and not expect it to show weather damage.

    Just my humble opinion…

  4. Nick Carter says:

    Jason, you’re right in one sense but I have two defenses…the other workmate has held up fine all these years outside, so I didn’t give it any thought.
    My other defense is that I’m out of space…seriously…so I don’t know where I would put it when folded up. Plus it is a pain to fold these things up.

    I did only pay $10.00 for it, so making a new top out of marine plywood I’ll come out ahead.

  5. dogfriend says:

    I just made another set of plywood tops when the old ones got bad. It is easy to do. My Workmate has a steel frame; I would buy an aluminum one if I ever find one at a yard sale.

  6. Shopmonger says:

    Yeah I would consider making a laminate butcher block style top for these…. then put some deep seal poly on it and then who cares where you leave it

    in fact to be a true cheap ass…. go to the Re-store near you , and get some oak flooring and glue them together, and then just take a belt sander to smooth it out if you don’t own a planer


  7. Ron says:

    It’s glue and sawdust, what did you expect? Next time try some house wrap, Tyvek is a good brand.

  8. rjerryc says:

    Want to have a GREAT top on there? Get some TREX Decking! I don’t care how much rain you leave it in, the frame will go before the top does.

  9. Rick says:

    I’ve got my Grandpa’s workmate that he purchased from Sears in the early 80’s. It is still in very good shape. I’ve even got the bench dogs that came with it. I got a 2nd one for free from a family friend that was relocating.

    I haven’t paid a dime for either of them but they are probably used more than any tool in my shop.

  10. Brad Justinen says:

    For Sho!

    I got 3 used workmates for a total of $40. 2 on craigslist and 1 at Goodwill. Replacing the plywood is very easy.


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