Saturday, 11 June 2011

Black & Decker Workmate refit

First made in the early seventies, the Black & Decker workmate now has worldwide sales topping 35 million.
 Invented by Ron Hickman, the workmate was rejected by many companies as being not commercial enough. It was famously rejected by Stanley tools as 'Sales possibly being in the dozens'. Ron had that rejection letter framed and mounted in his office.
The workmate is superb, well, I say the workmate, I mean the original aluminium framed WM625 workmates, that were manufactured in Ireland in the 70's. They are robust, adjustable, great looking benches, something I feel the later models lack.
Originally in powder blue these workbenches sold in their millions all over the world and made Ron a multi millionaire. I own two 625's an early alluminium model and a more recent steel framed one. I use them all the time, they really are a versatile tool and I would reccommend every DIYer to get one (or two)

An early WM625 (right) and the latter all steel version.

I bought the latter at a car boot sale for a fiver. The wooden bench tops were shot so i replaced them with solid oak jaws.
One of the damaged jaws.

The solid american light oak jaw replacement.

Oak WM625 bench top

Having a pair of workmates allows you to work really long pieces of timber and also they're great as a portable working platform. Clamp a couple of planks across them and you can do indoor decorating, easily make repairs to garage gutters, tall fences and hedges etc.


  1. Graeme,
    love the workmate project and the boxes are interesting too. I also see you have my old woodwork teacher on your links. If you would be interested in being interviewed about your workshop then let me know.
    andy from

  2. Hi Andy.
    Thanks for your comments. What form will this interview take? I'm no carpenter just a DIYer in my shed. I'd be happy to help him out or send some photos etc.

  3. I spent the day yesterday replacing the jaws on the my old workmate [I got for free from a neighbor], with some Douglas Fir I got for free from another neighbor.

    The holes for the pegs must be 20mm or 25/32.
    I don't have such a drill. I suppose I could get close and do a boring bar, or use an adjustable wood bit.

    See if I can post a pic

  4. Hi Grahame,
    did not see you reply on the comments until now. The workshop
    interviews are done via email it's just a few questions on what you do
    in your workshop, what kind of tools you use etc.

    Here are some other examples:

  5. Hi Graeme
    I found this site when I was looking for details on my early WM625 (with the aditional lettering Eo5 on the underside of the wooden jaws - would this mean type5?), the aluminium version, which I bought new some 40 years ago.
    I have used it extensively - well, I am actually using it right now. It is in need of a bit of an overhaul - some time ago I even had to bush and re-thread one of the screw holes on the rear aluminium leg, which had become worn - but I always seem to be needing it and am always postponing that overhaul. Your idea of making solid wooden jaws is interesting, I will consider it.
    I don't know how, living in a flat, I would manage without one of these (I would indeed buy a second one if only I had the place to store it)
    G. in Portugal

  6. Hi,
    strangely, B&D was unable to give me any information on my bench, and I have been unable to find any on the net(please see my previous post).
    It may have been a transitional model between the WM625 with the aluminium frame (which it has) and the all steel one (which it isn't).
    The upper feet are adjustable, but the lower ones are not. The step has both longitudinal and traverse ridges, like in the all steel model.
    Unlike in the previous versions that I have seen, the bench top does not have the double thickness on the jaw edge.
    This version may have been manufactured in very small quantities just prior to the introduction of the type6 (the first all steel version, I believe), which would explain the lack of information available.


  7. Hi Graeme, I have a 1970's Irish made WM 625 LO which I bought new, ( the same as the part aluminium one in your photo ) Of course the jaws on this are the bolt through from underneath version, as opposed to the visible bolt through from the top later versions. Having fitted thousands of doors and floors etc. using this bench, the jaws are very much past their prime. I intend replacing them with some excellent multi-ply, oak faced flooring board, much the same as the originals. Without taking the bench apart to check, could you please tell me if there are threaded receivers set into the jaws, or do the bolts thread straight into the wood?
    I would appreciate your advice.


  8. I see this is an old post. I hope I will get an answer. I came across my Dad's WM225 the table has these plastic brackets 4 of them. The wood top got some weather and is totally unusable. It was so bad I could not see how the plastic brackets were attached to the wood and metal rails. Can you send me some pictures? I have 4 plastic brackets and 4 bolts that screw into the brackets they mount somehow on the metal table rails... Thank you for your help in this matter.

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