Michigan Mike reports:
I bought a Black & Decker workmate for $40 from a guy off craigslist.
It is a great tool. It allows secure clamping of materials for fabricating, and gives a solid footrest to use your body weight to stabilize the project.
I never used one before. I always thought they were toys. I was wrong. It will make my work safer and more accurate, but that is not the story....
I decided I needed one when I had a metal job that needed clamping, and the choices were a vise and bench or a workmate. Or working on the floor.
So I decided I didn't want a big heavy-ass workbench, and started shopping for a workmate.
I looked online. They sell for $90-$150 through all the standard channels including Home Depot, Ace, Lowes. I thought great, drove over to HD, but all they had was the model 125, a cheap scissors leg rickety piece of junk. I needed the 225 or 425.
I called around, and kept calling. There was not one new one for sale in Grand Rapids, a city of over a million people. Grainger promised one ovenight, but at $150.
The B&D workmate has been sold since 1973. 10s of millions have been sold.
And we wonder why our infrastructure is crumbling...The links point to stories about Ron Hickman, the inventor of the workmate and designer of several cars for Lotus, including the Elan. So he was a talented guy. The part that I thought was interesting though was that he moved to New Jersey from England. New Jersey, the butt of every New York joke, the home of Snookie (reputed to be the a fine example of a New Jerseyite). Something is really wrong with our country when people who actually make things are ridiculed and people who only sell stuff are worshiped. Well, I guess if I was selling stuff, I would be selling the idea that the people who sell stuff should be worshiped, not the rubes who actually make stuff.