Not having the right space to work on intricate projects can be frustrating, especially when limited space or the wrong kind of space negatively impacts the outcome of your project. For woodworkers, finding the right type of workbench is essential. Not only can the proper workbench give you room to spread out, but it can help keep your tools and supplies in one convenient location.
Not all workbenches are the same, and many are specially crafted for a specific hobby or sector of woodworking. Below, let’s look at the many types of workbenches available for various hobbies and crafts.
Probably the most common and easily recognizable workbench is the woodworker’s bench. Usually, the bench’s surface is made of hardwood a few inches thick. The workbench will feature two different vises at either end of the bench and typically have holes at the front to provide easy tools storage.
Sometimes the woodworker’s bench will feature a sunken well at the back of the bench to provide additional tool storage. This workbench usually has four legs supporting the bench with an integral shelf below the main woodworking surface to provide extra storage for more oversized items. The woodworker’s bench is very common and comes in several variations.
For those tight on space, a portable workbench may be a great solution. Portable benches are easy to pack up and move from place to place, giving you room to spread out once you tackle a project. Portable workbenches are also an excellent option for people who regularly take their tools to other people’s homes to work on projects on location.
There are two options for those who want a portable workbench. Commercially produced mobile workbenches are available for purchase that provide plenty of options, including various sizes and heights. Many of these commercially available workbenches will pack down into a portable workbench about the size of a suitcase.
The other option for a portable workbench is to DIY a custom-made creation that suits your needs. Many portable workbench designs and plans are easily downloaded from online sites and come in several convenient styles. DIY portable workbenches will double as a bench, provide a work surface, and can be packed up and transported from place to place.
Technically speaking, the Roubo workbench is a type of woodworking bench. This type of bench became popular in the 17th century. It is very functional and looks great in your garage or shed.
The main differentiator between a traditional woodworking bench and a Roubo workbench is the split surface on the top of the bench.
This split surface allows for better use of clamps and tools, making woodworking more accessible and more manageable. The bench usually features several precise angles and measurements to help facilitate woodworking. The bench’s surface should be made of hardwood at least three inches thick to prevent damage.
Not all workbenches are designed with woodworking in mind. A workbench can be used for just about any hobby, including gardening. A gardening workbench is ideal for those who regularly cut, trim, and pot plants and flowers at home.
Gardening workbenches are usually made with moisture and mold-resistant wood since people usually keep a gardening workbench outdoors or in uninsulated sheds. Constant exposure to soil can cause mold growth, so it is essential to keep the wood protected.
Gardening workbenches usually have a flat surface with individual slats to allow excess soil to drop to the ground. There can sometimes be a backboard to the workbench to allow easy tool storage. The bench is typically supported by four legs with a shelf to store large bags of soil, fertilizer, or large pots for planting.
Sometimes the best option for a workbench is a simple workbench table. This option usually features a flat surface that can be wooden or metal, with four sturdy legs. The tabletop is very simplistic, but it is sturdy and durable, giving people plenty of room to spread out.
The large and flat surface gives you room to use necessary vises or clamps still. The one downside of a workbench table is the lack of available storage space. Usually, this workbench style does not come with integral shelves or pockets to allow users to store tools and parts.
This problem can easily be remedied with an additional storage unit or drawers used separately from the workbench table.
At first glance, a cabinetmaker workbench may look exactly like any other workbench, featuring a large flat wooden surface used for building and designing projects.
The flat surface is excellent for attaching clamps and vises and can sometimes have holes drilled near the front to give additional storage options for handled tools. Where the cabinetmaker bench differs is in the storage options below the surface.
Usually, a cabinetmaker workbench will feature several drawers with pulls giving woodworkers plenty of room to store the necessary tools, parts, and hardware needed to craft. Usually, this type of woodworking bench is more expensive than other options simply because of the necessary time to craft so many individual drawers.
The cabinetmaker workbench is ideal for small to medium-sized rooms or workshops because it is a valuable bench that provides plenty of workspace and storage options.
This simple workbench style is commonly found in homes across the world and has long been held as a residential workbench option. Usually, a backboard workbench consists of a simple, long table supported by at least four legs. The table is made of a flat metal or wood surface, and sometimes simple plywood is used for its construction.
The back of the bench features a backboard, usually made of pegboard. The backboard can be customized with holsters and hooks to give plenty of storage options for tools. There are several significant advantages to this style of workbench.
Not only are your tools easily within reach, but this type of workbench can be a straightforward and affordable DIY project for most homeowners. Plus, the design gives you room to build an integral shelf below the workbench’s surface to provide storage for larger items or tools. This type of bench is usually better for people who use their workbench to make repairs rather than create new projects.
Not every workbench is intended for building. A laboratory workbench is a specific type of bench used for people who work in a laboratory. Usually, these workbenches are more delicate since people won’t be operating heavy power tools around them.
The tabletop is made of a smooth slate, able to withstand spills from chemists working at the bench. Sometimes, thin metal is used for construction because it is smooth, sterile, and resistant to infectious or potentially caustic chemicals. These benches are usually found in hospitals or labs where biologists or chemists use them most.
Jewelry and Watchmaking Workbench
Specialized work calls for a technical bench. Jeweler and watchmaker workbenches usually have a smaller footprint because they are designed for detailed work. These workbenches will have a small wooden surface that generally projects into the room, allowing the worker to get close to small objects.
Usually, a surface underneath the main work surface helps catch fallen beads, stones, and components so they don’t drop to the floor. Jewelry and watchmaking workbenches will usually feature several drawers, hooks, and cabinets, so there will be plenty of storage room for the specific jewelry-making tools and supplies.
Wall Mounted Workbench
Sometimes, having a workbench that affixes to the wall is a great way to minimize your workbench’s footprint. This style of workbench is ideal for small spaces or places where a workbench might not always be in use. Most wall-mounted workbenches can attach to just about any material, making this a versatile option.
The one downside of a wall-mounted workbench is it may not be able to support a heavy load of weight without having industrial strength legs to support the work surface.
FAQs about Workbenches
Finding the right workbench can be a challenge, especially if you are unsure of what to look for. Luckily, we have answered some of the most frequently asked questions about workbenches to help set you on the right path.
How big is a workbench?
One of the great qualities of a workbench is there are many size options available. Creating a custom workbench that suits your exact size needs is possible. Small, portable workbenches may be a great option if you are tight on space.
Or, if you have a large workshop, consider crafting your own workbench where the only limitation is your imagination. Commercial workbenches are about 28 to 36 inches from front to back, between 48 and 96 inches long, and about 28 to 38 inches tall. These size ranges provide the most usable and universal workbench possibilities for woodworkers or crafters.
Are workbenches expensive?
Workbenches, particularly simple benches like a backboard workbench or a tabletop workbench, can be extremely affordable, especially if you choose to create a DIY project, making your own customized workbench. It is possible to create a functional and practical workbench with enough size to allow you to complete projects at home for a few hundred dollars. If you choose to purchase a commercially produced workbench, the cost will be more expensive.
While some ready-made workbenches are available for around $500, more specific workbenches, like a good cabinetmaker workbench, could cost upwards of $4,000.
How do I know what workbench is right for me?
Choosing a workbench is a big decision and not one that should be taken lightly. Before selecting a workbench, think about the type of work you need to complete on the workbench. If you are a basic homeowner with some simple projects, a standard woodworking bench or a backboard bench might be the right option.
If you plan on doing specialty work or detailed work, a more refined cabinetmaker bench or a Roubo bench may be the right option. Before choosing your workbench, think about how much space you have to move around your workshop and the price point you want to pay.
Can I move a workbench once it is installed?
Some workbenches can be moved once they are installed, and others have a permanent installation. Usually, a backboard workbench will be semi-permanent and sometimes affixed to the wall. Woodworking benches or cabinetmaker benches can be moveable but are often extremely heavy.
If you need a workbench that can move throughout your workshop, consider a tabletop workbench or even a portable workbench. If these options don’t give you what you are looking for, consider searching for workbenches with lockable wheels, making them easy to move throughout your workspace.