I remember when I bought the Black & Decker workmate, I was honestly not that sure I would ever get that much use out of it. However my Dad had one, my Uncles had them and many of my mates had one as well. Well there was just no way I was going to be left out so I got the wallet out and bought one. Before I had it, sawing wood was either done in my bench vice, or more often than not, I tortured the wife and got her to hold one end for me.
Enter my new workmate and many problems were solved. The principle behind one of these is about as simple as it gets and I often find that simple things just work a treat. For me it is just like having a spare pair of hands and yes it is also a bit of fun to play around with as well. At the end of the day if nothing else, it makes you feel like a real joiner. (Well inside my strange head it does anyway)
My Review of the WM301 Workmate
Black and Decker do a few different models in their Workmate range. This one is cheap and cheerful and does the job as good as any of them. I have been using this off and on for a couple of years and it is just a handy thing to have in your shed. Over the years we all gather up tools, bits and pieces and we all probably have some version of a Workmate somewhere in the garage or shed.
I could get into a whole lot of technical stuff about this, but let’s face it, nothing in this tool is that hard to figure out. I use it mainly for clamping wood and sawing it. You turn the handle on either side and that opens and closes the wooden vice. That bit holds the wood and then you work on it.
It folds away easy enough but it can still take up a bit of room. In some of the older versions the legs folded using a metal bit between the legs. That used to stick out and I would usually manage to walk in to the stupid thing. With this version they got rid of that and the legs just push together for easier storage. Here is a video of a chap putting one together.
Assembly of the WM301
Yes you do have to assemble this yourself. Yes they do give you a plan to do that. No it is never as simple as it looks. That is why I included this video. Here is an idea for manufacturers that they should do tomorrow.
Stop including those paper mystery instructions and put a web link to a video that shows us how.
Technology has moved on and this would make ALL our lives a great deal easier. I mean have a look at that paper instruction and see just how many things could go wrong here. I did this myself and it takes about 15 -20 minutes. In the video the chap shows us how to do this and he is right, watch out for those blocks. Otherwise it is pretty straightforward to get it done.
Buyer Reviews of the Black and Decker Workmate
Amazon is a great place to check out buyer reviews. When I went to have a look I found over 300 buyers who had taken the time to leave a review. Now some of the people doing these are in my opinion insane. However if there are enough reviews and the product is very good it should have an average rating of over 4. If it doesn’t then I would never buy the product.
The reviewers rate the product out of 5 stars. This Workmate gets an average of 4.1 out of 5 and that is both consistent and good. Most reviews are sensible so never be misled by what I call the “loopers.” I am convinced there are people out there who do nothing but complain.
This thing costs £20 so it is never going to be a high end product. It is a metal stand with two bits of wood on top that you can hold wood with. It isn’t a solid workbench made of mahogany and hand crafted by an Italian sculptor. The people who complained said that the instructions were rubbish. They are right about that, but as the video showed, it isn’t exactly like building a rocket.
Some said it wouldn’t go together and some said it was just rubbish, light and flimsy.
Well all I can say is it took me 20 minutes to put together and I have been using it on and off without any bother. It is all about expectations I guess. I could not make one of these myself and I do not want to fork out £50 on a really good one because I only use it maybe once a month. This one will do the job though it is not anything special.