Buyer’s Guide to Choosing the Best Workbench
You don’t have to be an expert handyman to appreciate the need for a garage workbench. A good workbench can serve as a safe, sturdy, and efficient workspace no matter what your skill level and can be an excellent fit for any number of projects. This buying guide will outline important factors to consider when shopping for a new tool bench.
There are several different types of workbenches to choose from, and selecting the right bench will depend on your needs. Consider how you plan to use your tool bench. Will you use it for woodworking, metalworking, gardening, or something else? Do you require a heavy-duty workbench? Are you in search of a workbench with storage? If so, do you prefer a workbench with drawers? Or do your equipment and tool storage needs call for a workbench with shelving? If you plan on working with equipment that requires a power source, look for an electronic workbench or invest in an electrical power strip add-on. Read on to learn more about the different types of tool benches available to suit your needs.
A workbench table consists of a tabletop surface, usually hardwood or metal, set atop sturdy wood or metal legs. This traditional workbench is the most popular and versatile type of workbench, likely because of its simple design and sturdy construction. This workbench table style provides little to no storage options so you will need to provide other means of storing tools and equipment, although some workbench tables may come with a single open shelf underneath the table’s work surface. Because workbench tables have an open base, they are usually conducive to tasks that involve a vise grip and clamping.
Unlike workbench tables, cabinet style workbenches offer an abundance of storage, making them an ideal choice for the handyman with lots of tools and equipment to store. Built-in storage options like drawers, cabinets, and shelving provide for easy access and added convenience while working. Cabinet workbenches are typically constructed of metal and tend to be more costly than other workbench styles, but the investment can be well worth it as you may be able to forgo other storage options that you might otherwise have to buy.
Workbenches with Pegboard
Workbenches with a pegboard back provide for loads of organization and function in your work area. These tool benches have a board across the back which provides a convenient place to hang tools and equipment as well as offers a backboard of sorts to keep supplies from falling or rolling off the backside of your bench.
Portable workbenches can be easily moved wherever they’re most needed. There are two main types of portable benches: folding workbenches and rolling workbenches. Folding workbenches will be small, collapsible, and relatively lightweight but still sufficient for most common tasks. Rolling workbenches, or mobile workbenches, will offer the sturdy structure of a standard workbench with the added bonus of casters attached to the legs or base. These wheeled devices give you the ability to easily roll the tool bench around but can also lock securely in place when necessary.
Wall-mounted workbenches are ideal for small spaces where floor space isn’t readily available. A major benefit of wall-mounted tool benches it that you can hang them according to whatever height you prefer, which can make for a much more comfortable working environment. However, keep in mind that wall-mounted workbenches will not be able to support the weight or wear and tear that standard workbenches supported by heavy-duty legs can.
Workbench height is very important when it comes to choosing a workbench. The work surface on most workbenches varies between 33-36 inches high. Keep in mind that while fixed-height workbenches tend to be slightly less expensive, what you see is what you get since these models cannot be adjusted in height. Adjustable-height workbenches on the other hand can be moved up and down to accommodate people of different sizes, ages, and physical abilities, which makes it simple for different people to work comfortably at the same workbench.
Work surface area is everything when it comes to a tool bench. Workbenches can start at two feet wide and go all the way up to ten feet, so there’s a wide range to choose from. Make sure to measure your space beforehand to make sure it can accommodate your choice. It’s also important to keep in mind that when it comes to workbenches, bigger isn’t always better. There’s no need to overcompensate with a ten-foot workbench when a more compact workbench will do the job just fine.
The two most important things to consider when looking for a tool bench are a durable work surface and a well-built foundation. Look for a workbench with 4 sturdy, solid legs or a sawhorse base for an even distribution of weight. Determining what type of tasks you’ll be working on at your new workbench is the first step in figuring out what type of material you should choose. Here are 3 of the most common workbench material options:
- Wood workbenches are some of the strongest available, and are built to withstand substantial weight, marring, heat exposure, and impacts. Wood-surface workbenches are typically built of thick, solid maple and are ideal for all-purpose work, including assembly, repair, and maintenance.
- Plastic workbenches are affordable, lightweight, and non-conductive, so they are perfect for working on electrical appliances. Most of these solid plastic tops have durable laminate coatings for protection against scratches and stains. If you plan to be working on projects including light assembly, packaging, or office use, you will be more than happy with a plastic laminate work surface.
- Steel workbenches are the most enduring and built to hold up to years of heavy use thanks to strong welds and underside reinforcements that provide increased weight capacities. Heavy-duty steel is likely the best option if you’re planning on working with solvents or oil as steel is resistant to solvent spillage.
For additional information about the best workbench tops, visit our Workbench Top Material Guide.
Once you’ve decided on the right workbench for you and your space, it’s time to trick it out! Choosing workbench equipment can be almost as exciting as choosing the right base. After all, your workbench is the base, but the accessories are what keep it usable.
- Metal tool boxes provide sturdy and dependable (not to mention retro) storage for all your important tools. Metal toolboxes are a bit heavier and more expensive than their plastic counterparts, but they also stand up better to heavy-duty usage.
- Plastic tool boxes offer a lightweight alternative for keeping your tools organized, and will cost less up front. A plastic toolbox is a good option for casual use and will hold up fine for most homeowner’s needs. For additional information about tool boxes, visit our Tool Box Buying Guide.
- Parts storage is crucial for keeping odds and ends where you need them when you need them. Small drawers and compartments make it easy to group small parts and find them at a glance. If you require more storage, look for a larger tool chest or cabinet.
- Workbench stools are almost as important as the workbench itself. After all, you shouldn’t have to bend over your workbench when you’re tinkering with a project.
- Pegboard is best used to create vertical storage space at the back of your workbench. Use it to add extra shelving, hang your tools within arms reach, or create extra storage for small parts.
No single tool or piece of equipment in a shop or garage receives more use (or abuse) than the workbench. For that reason, choosing a workbench that suits your needs and is equipped for the type of projects you plan to tackle is of the utmost importance. Ultimately, your bench choice will be unique to you but make sure to keep type, size, and material in mind during your shopping process to help you make the very best possible decision.