HackSpace magazine

Kennedy portable workbench review

By Jo Hinchliffe. Posted

We are big fans of portable tools and equipment that enable makers to carry on working on their project in different environments. From the backs of vans, fields, maker events, and everything in between, carrying tools and a workbench can be a challenge. So, we were keen to review this portable workbench that also offers some tool storage.

The Kennedy portable workbench is available to order online from numerous stockists, but we ordered ours from Cromwell Tools, as it was discounted at the time of purchase to just over £20. It was delivered promptly and came in a simple cardboard cover.

Opening the packaging reveals some instructions, but it’s pretty intuitive. The handles to wind the jaws/work areas are stowed in a small box in the upper drawer storage section, and they clip into holes to engage the lead screws to move the table and clamp work. It’s nice that these are easily removable so that it’s easy to pack and carry without the handles catching on things.

The upper tray with tools has legs on the back of it to keep it in position when open. Modifying this small vice to fit to the T-slots has made a useful accessory for smaller work

There are some supplied blocks that neatly slide into the aluminium extruded T-slots that allow for items to be clamped in different ways, and these are thoughtfully designed with a slip-on plastic block that enable different geometries of workpieces, like round bars or square stock, to be held in different orientations. Positioning items to be held vertically or horizontally, using either the jaws of the bench table or the plastic blocks was simple, and the clamping force between the jaws feels the same as any other workbench we have used.

Fold-out feet on the base of the unit are nicely designed to be stowed in transit, and they have a hole in each one so that they can be screwed into a surface. The feet are also flat-surfaced, allowing the user to G-clamp the unit down to a table. We also considered that if you were working outdoors and needed extra rigidity, you could peg/stake the unit into the ground. When folded in, the feet also help retain the lower of the two storage areas. The workbench has numerous useful markings on its work surfaces. While perhaps not useful for super-accurate work, the rulers and angle markings are usable for quick marking out or for checking rough dimensions.

At capacity

The storage areas of the workbench are made from hard, injection-moulded plastic and seem very rugged. It’s pretty intuitive, but it’s worth noting that you need to lift/carry the workbench from the handle which is a part of one of the drawers, or there is a chance that the drawers will remove themselves. You also have to rotate out the feet and slightly open the upper drawer to allow the lower tray to be removed from the bench. Having packed the drawers with tools, we found the bench carried them securely with no flex, although with the weight of the bench, you may wish to choose lighter tools to go in it, as it can become very heavy quite quickly.

The folding feet secure the lower tool tray when in transit, and help secure the bench in place when rotated out

We really liked the inclusion of T-slots and have had a few thoughts about how they could be used to extend the versatility of the bench. We plan in the future to 3D-print some extra work-holding blocks, for example. We have already made one little additional device. We had a small, cheap vice that was originally designed to clamp on to a table. We had upgraded to a better vice, so this was a spare that had sat unused for a while. We removed the clamping base from the vice and then drilled two 6 mm diameter holes through the base to allow us to use some 6 mm threaded bar and some square nuts we had that fitted the T-slots. It is great to be able to add a small vice to this bench, and we hope it’s the first of many extra uses we find for it.

Kennedy  £24.79    cromwell.co.uk

 

VERDICT

For the price, it is difficult to fault this portable workbench.

10/10

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