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Tools

Best Workbench

Every workshop needs a workbench, or two, or three. I actually have three in mine, four if you count the portable one. While some people like to build their own, it’s a lot faster and easier to buy one or buy a kit. That also ensures that you’ll have a workbench that’s going to hold up under heavy duty use.

The workbench is the center of the workshop, providing a place to work on projects, set your parts when you’re not working with them, store tools, and whatever else needs to be done. Without a workbench, you’re stuck with trying to find somewhere else to work and often that somewhere is someplace that’s going to get your girlfriend or wife upset at you!

Picking a workbench can be tricky, especially for those of us engaged in a variety of different tasks. Check out our buyer's guide below for some things to look for in your ideal workbench, before making a selection.

Sjoberg Elite 2500 Beech Work Bench

Sjoberg make what are probably the finest woodworking workbenches in the world. They have several benches in their line, of which this one is one of the largest. With a top measuring 93-3/4-by-23-5/8 inches you can build almost anything on this bench. The end vice runs full-width, with two bench dog holes. Two lines of bench dog holes run the full length of the bench, as well as running across the bench for the front vice. There are bench dog holes in the front legs, so that a bench dog can be used as a support in conjunction with the front vice. The front vice can easily be moved for either right-handed or left-handed woodworkers.

Pinnacle Large Traditional Cabinetmakers Workbench

The Pinnacle workbench is American made of 100 percent North American Beech. The end vide isn’t as wide as that on the Sjoberg Elite, having only one row of bench dog holes. This bench is based upon an Early American design, intended to replicate that design as much as possible. The large tool tray protects tools from falling. The top is 94 inches long and 22 inches wide. Comes with two brass bench dogs.

Rockler N2000, Large Beech Wood Work Bench

Rockler N2000, Large Beech Wood Work Bench

This Beech topped workbench is 72-1/2” long by 19-5/8 inches wide, with a 1-3/16-inch thick top. The end vice runs almost full width, providing plenty of clamping area. Bench dog holes run the full length of the workbench, along with the front legs for use as a workpiece support. A large tool tray is mounted under the workbench, leaving the top clear for working. It comes with four steel-cored bench dogs.

Windsor Design 93454 Hardwood Workbench

For the price, this is an amazing workbench. It has a lot of the features you’d expect to find on a more expensive bench, without having a high dollar price tag. It only has one vice, but that is the end-mounted one, which runs almost full width for the bench. It also has four felt-lined drawers for tool storage, along with a shelf. Overall, the top measures 60” long by 20-1/8 inches wide.

Garrett Wade 88A01-01 Folding Workbench

Garrett Wade 88A01-01 Folding Workbench

This unique workbench from Garrett Wade is the only true folding woodworking bench I’ve ever seen. It folds into its cabinet for storage against the wall, for those who have to share their workshop space with cars and other things. Yet it still has both front and end vices, along with a row of holes in the benchtop for the bench dogs. A couple of drawers in the cabinet provide storage for small tools. The top, which measures 28-by-43-1/2 inches and legs are solid red beech.

Black & Decker WM425 550 Pound Capacity Workmate Portable Workbench

Black & Decker really started the interest in portable workbenches, when they came out with the first Workmate. It combines the portability and compactness of a sawhorse with the clamping ability of a woodworker’s workbench. The key to the design is the split top, which has dual threaded bar clamps to pull it together. With it, you can clamp a board in place to work on it. This model has a “step” which you can put on foot on to hold it in place, so that the force of planning or working the wood doesn’t move the bench. Another way you can use it is to put the top together and use it as a small workbench/stand for bench mounted tools. This model comes with four swivel pegs, which are essentially like bench dogs used on a woodworker’s bench. All in all, a very versatile workbench, which gives you a lot of capability in a small space.

Rockwell RK9000 Jawhorse

Rockwell once again shows their love of innovation, by coming up with the Jawhorse. This is a three-legged sawhorse with a built-in vice. The vice is clamped by a foot lever, allowing you both hands to hold the workpiece while clamping. Releasing is done with the flick of a switch. That makes it ideal for holding a wide variety of workpieces. The vice will open up to 37 inches, allowing it to hold large pieces as well. With three legs, it’s extremely stable, allowing you to do hard work, without tipping it over. A series of accessories extend the Jawhorse’s flexibility, making it useable for welding, sharpening chain saw blades, and other tasks.

Festool MFT/3 Multifunction Table

Even though Festool refers to this as a “table” it’s really a workbench. This folding-leg workbench is designed to allow precision a variety of precision cuts, with handheld power saws and routers. The clamps and guides (miter gauge and fence) make it possible to layout and cut your work with the same level of accuracy you’d expect from a stationary saw. Holes in the worktop work in conjunction with a variety of clamps to hold both regular and irregular workpieces. The extrusions on the sides are actually clamp rails for holding workpieces for cutting and shaping their edges.

Torin TSA5411A-X, 54 Inch Mobile Workbench

Torin produces a wide variety of toolboxes and workbenches. This portable model has four 4” swivel castors, which support 1200 pounds and allowing it to be moved to wherever you need. The top is 54-by-20-1/8 inches. Two locking drawers keep your tools safe and two shelves provide additional storage for larger tools or parts. The plywood worktop protects your work from damage and gives you ample space for your projects.

Excel TSC3201, 50 Inch Steel Work Station

This is another rolling work station, from Excel. The 50” split top can be separated to provide a larger work area and reveal storage space underneath. The work surface is metal, with a rubber pad on it. This makes it ideal for mechanics and for equipment repair. There is also a locking drawer, mounted on ball-bearing rails for storage of tools and parts. A tray underneath provides additional easily accessible storage.

Sam’s Club Rolling Workbench - 72" x 20" x 37.5"H

I was truly impressed when I first saw this workbench. I dont think I've ever seen a workbench with as much storage in it. The 12 steel drawers each hold 30 pounds of tools and parts plus have rubber padded pads to keep things in place and from getting scratched up. It also has a lockable cabinet to store larger tools, such as power tools. The hardwood top is nice and thick for mounting things to or just working on. Not only that, but the whole thing is movable, mounted on 5-inch heavy duty casters. I cant think of much where this workbench wouldn't be useful.

Seville Classics Ultra HD Lighted Workbench

This well-built workbench provides a lot of storage in a small space. Although only 48 inches wide, it has two drawers and a pegboard for tool storage. Hooks for the pegboard are included with it. The worktop is 1.5-inch thick hardwood. A fluorescent light provides ample illumination to the work surface. I guess if you needed more space, you could always put two of them side by side.

Gorilla Rack 5 ft. Rack Industrial Work Bench - GR2102B RAP005

This 5-foot wide workbench from Gorilla Rack comes with two drawers which have ball-bearing glides. The back pegboard allows hanging of tools where they will be readily available. A top riser shelf and an under shelf provide additional storage. The bench top and shelves are made of 5/8-inch particle board, which I must confess is a bit disappointing. Of course, you could replace that with something stronger, using the same frame and drawers. All in all, its a good deal for the price.

2x4basics 90164 Workbench and Shelving Storage System

Okay, this is just a kit, not a complete workbench. Youll have to buy the lumber yourself and assemble it. Nevertheless, you can make an eight foot long, 4-foot wide workbench, along with two shelves underneath and two riser shelves above. That provides lots of space for storing anything you need. Its easy to build, as the kit comes with the legs and shelf risers. All you have to do is cut the lumber and assemble it. Another nice detail about this kit is that you can customize the workbenchs size to meet your personal needs. That can give you the biggest possible workbench for your space availability, without wasting any space.

Aero Manufacturing 72” x 30” Stainless and Galvanized Steel Workbench

Aero Manufacturing 72” x 30” Stainless and Galvanized Steel Workbench

This workbench has a heavy-duty 14 gauge stainless steel top with galvanized steel shelves. That makes it perfect for automotive repair and other tasks where oil and other chemicals might damage a regular wood-topped workbench. The upper and lower shelves provide ample room for storage of parts and tools, while a single drawer gives a good place for small tools. The workbench is 72 inches long by 30 inches deep.

Buyer's Guide

Workbench Buyer's Guide

Anyone who does any amount of work with tools ends up needing a workbench. I went for years without one when I was younger and always had a problem finding somewhere to work. It wasn't just finding someplace that was available, but also someplace where I could work without damaging the surface I was actually working on. After all, tools and finishes tend to be a bit hard of most surfaces.

While most types of work can be done on pretty much any workbench, some types of work have specific requirements. Jewelry makers have their own special workbenches as well as welders and woodworkers. These specialty workbenches have evolved over the years to provide for the exact needs of that trade. Welding requires a heavy-duty metal workbench that can ground the part being welded and won’t be damaged by the high temperatures. Likewise, auto mechanics usually use a steel-topped workbench so that oil and grease can be cleaned off easily. So, always make sure the workbench you choose is appropriate for the work you're going to do.

What Kind of Workbench do You Need?

Workbenches come in all shapes and sizes. For most do-it-yourselfers, the deciding factor for their selection ends up being a combination of available space and price. However, the configuration of the workbench itself is actually a much more important consideration. A properly made workbench can actually help you do the work much better than a simple tabletop can.

Woodworking Workbench
This is a workbench with a hardwood top normally made of laminated maple. It's extremely flat as the bench needs to be able to help align the pieces being put together and ensure they're flat. It also has a sophisticated clamping system which allows for the clamping of large projects such as table tops and doors which can't be clamped effectively any other way.

General-Purpose Workbench
For those that don't do large complex woodworking projects, a simple workbench might do the trick. You still need a flat surface which is essential for aligning parts when gluing and clamping. But a simple workbench won't have the clamping system that a true woodworking bench will.

A general-purpose workbench is usually made with a wood top and metal legs. This provides a good combination of strength along with a smooth work surface. The better ones will have a hardwood top while lower priced ones will have plywood or particle board. Workbenches for woodworking will always have a laminated hardwood top which is extremely flat and smooth.

Portable Workbench
Another type of workbench to consider is a portable workbench. Even if you have a regular workbench in your shop, having a portable gives you more work area and flexibility. A portable unit can be used for quick repairs and tasks when your main workbench is filled with a project. Or, it can be taken to a remote location to provide you with a workspace when you need it.

Portable workbenches were originally developed for use on construction jobsites. However, they are just as useful in the garage workshop, especially for those who don't have a lot of room. Having something that you can set up to do the work and then fold or roll away when you are done helps maintain the functionality of your garage space.

The major difference between most portable workbenches and sawhorses is that these benches usually have some sort of clamping system built in so that you can use them to hold whatever you're working on.

What to Look for in a Workbench

To start, you want to make sure that the workbench you choose is actually going to help you do the type of work that you are planning on doing on it. If you do lots of different types of work, you may want to consider having more than one workbench with each one set up for a different type of task. You might also want to consider something like a standard workbench, with a portable for working on larger projects.

Strength
The strength of a workbench is of utmost importance. You’ll subject it to pounding, clamping, pushing, and stacking heavy materials on top of it. If the workbench isn’t strong enough, it will start wobbling and eventually break after a while.

A sturdy top is also critical for most types of work. Most manufacturers provide a plywood, particle board, or MDF work surface. Of these, the MDF is the smoothest but plywood is stronger. You need to consider if you are going to be pounding on the top and if so, you want to make sure you buy one that will offer soldi support without the top breaking.

Clamping
Woodworkers need to think of clamping capability more than anything else. Does the workbench have clamping built into it? Is it possible to use standard clamps with it? Is the top flat enough to ensure proper alignment of the workpieces when gluing them together?

Storage Space
For those who are doing other types of work on their workbench, storage space is often an important criterion. Being able to store your tools on or in the bench itself can be a great convenience as well as a space saver.

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