Wise Buys: Portable Workbenches
Rockwell Jawhorse RK9000
Max. table size (jaws open): 18-1/2×24"
Max. jaw opening: 4-3/4"
Table height: 35-1/4"
Weight: 58 lbs
Compared to other workbenches, this is a horse of a different color--and the price reflects it. About $175 buys the Jawhorse, a three-legged sawhorse with a foot-pedal-operated, 37"-capacity vise at one end. It's built to withstand life on a jobsite. An optional split-table worksurface ($50) attaches to the vise jaws. (Jawhorse offers additional accessories as well.) The foot pedal provides clamping power in spades and lets you hold a workpiece with both hands while tightening the jaws. Release the foot pedal and the jaws lock in place. Flip a front-mounted lever to unlock them.
The moderately sized bamboo table should prove more durable than an MDF surface and includes a hole to park the nose of your cordless drill. One gripe: The plastic dogs fit too tightly in the benchtop holes; I had to pry them out with a screwdriver. When the job finishes, the stand folds into a compact footprint with the legs locked below the upper beam. And while it's heavier than traditional portable workbenches, a roller at one end glides over smooth surfaces for easy transport.
--Tested by Doug Hicks, former shop teacher and woodworking magazine editor
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