Dan has been a homeowner for some 40 years and has nearly always done his own repair and improvement tasks. He is a licensed electrician.
Black and Decker Workmate
The Black and Decker workmate is a marvel of a workbench for home use as well as professional. A folding workbench that is lightweight enough to carry with you and with a built-in vise, what could be better?
Black and Decker introduced the workmate many years ago (my own workmate is around 20 years old) and in a demonstration of the longevity of some ideas, is still available today. B&D has expanded the original line to three models now, with varying capabilities and prices, but they are all still the workmate that is loved by so many home improvement enthusiasts.
At its most basic, the workmate is a small workbench with a built-in vise. One of the two boards that make up the workbench surface is fixed; the other moves back and forth via two screw handles, giving the vise effect. Pegs are also available separately, although the workmate comes with four of the handy "dogs" that extend the size of the workpiece that may be gripped. As a method for clamping materials for drilling or sawing operations, it is unparalleled.
The workmate also folds reasonably flat, taking up little room in the workshop or garage, and is light enough to easily carry to a more distant job. All but the most economical model have folding legs that produce two different work heights.
My own Black and Decker workmate is one of the most used tools in the workshop. It is a workbench. It is a sawhorse. It is a bench tool support. It is a wood vise. It is so many different things it is incredible, but what it is not is just another useless tool cluttering the workshop. I would give up almost any other tool before my workmate, and I appreciate it so much that a new one was my first gift to my son upon becoming a homeowner himself and he is finding it as useful as I do.
Black and Decker Workmate in Use
The Black and Decker 125 is the smallest and most economical of the workmate line of workbenches. Listed for holding up to 350 pounds, it maintains the vise arrangement that makes the workmate so valuable while still folding for storage.
With a workbench area of 13" X 24" it is still of a reasonable size for most homeowner use, and at only 15 pounds it can be taken anywhere the work is. Complete with four swivel pegs for clamping larger objects, the workmate 125 is a good addition for any home workshop. While it won't have all of the abilities of the other two, and won't be as easy to work on, for the homeowner that doesn't need a sawhorse or workbench very often it could be just what they need.
The Black and Decker workmate 225 is the next step with some very nice additions. Four short legs have been added that allow use with the legs either folded for a lower workbench (holding bench tools, perhaps) or left extended for a higher work surface. A step has also been added for added stability of either or both the user and the workbench.
Slightly larger and heavier (28 pounds) than the workmate 225 it is a great choice for the handy person doing only occasional to more frequent work. Capable of holding 450 pounds and with the dual height feature it is even more useful than the 125 model. The added step feature, while seeming to be of limited value, is greatly appreciated by nearly all users. This is the current equivalent of the workbench I find so much use for.
The workmate 425 is the top of the line in these workbenches from the Black and Decker workmate line. Listed at the ability to hold 550 pounds it is again a little larger and heavier than the workmate 225 while still retaining the ability to fold flat.
The 425 maintains the vise assembly, but with a new twist; the front jaw will now swivel up to provide a vertical clamping ability. The workmate 425 also comes with an additional block to fill in the empty space with the vise is wide open, giving a larger workbench surface when needed.
The top of the line workmate also keeps the folding legs, dual height, and step from the 225 model. The workmate 425 is more than adequate for any homeowner use and is a popular choice among professionals that need a portable workbench. The heavy construction virtually guarantees a long life under demanding conditions and would certainly make a welcome addition to the homeowner toolset.
I think that, were I to purchase one today, this would be my choice of the three. The cost is not much more than the 225 model, and that folding surface could have many uses.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Questions & Answers
Question: How do I unfold the Black and Decker Workmate work bench?
Answer: Release the catches holding it as it's locked in the folded position then lift.
© 2010 Dan Harmon
Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on January 17, 2014:
It never stops, does it? I used mine yesterday, fabricating a mount for a TV and BluRay player in an RV. Always another use for them.
Ron White from USA on January 17, 2014:
I won one of these in a raffle one time and the first thought that went through my mind is "what am I going to do with this". Needless to say I just keep coming up with new ways.
John Holden on October 20, 2013:
In the late 1970s when I purchased my first Workmate and proudly took it on site I was so ridiculed that I took it home the very same day.
A decade later you weren't considered a serious chippy if you didn't own a Workmate!
Judi Brown from UK on October 23, 2012:
We bought one for my Dad well over 30 years ago - it was shipped over to the US when we emigrated and I bet he still has it in his workshop.
Penelope Hart from Rome, Italy on October 23, 2012:
It does seem to be quite affordable. I always imagine this sort of implement will cost a fortune! Nice one.