A workbench is the cornerstone of your workshop, whatever field you work in. Finding the best workbench for your requirements can boost your productivity and improve your comfort.
There are a lot of factors to consider, though, to make sure you get the perfect bench for your needs. Here’s our guide to some of the areas that you should consider.
The size of the bench you get will depend on a couple of different things. Firstly, how much space have you got? You can’t get a huge workbench if your workroom is small, or if there are doors, fixed cupboards or essential equipment or machinery that you need to work around.
Secondly — what kind of work are you doing? Small, delicate work does not necessarily need a huge bench, whereas if you are building or repairing larger items, you need to work concurrently on a number of things or you need space for tools and plans, you’ll want the biggest bench you can get.
Will you be standing at your bench or sitting? Perhaps you’ll do both? If so, you’ll want to look at a height adjustable unit. This type of bench can also be great for detailed work, as the user can remain seated and bring the work closer to their eyes.
Some heavy-duty benches can safely hold up to 1200kg when the weight is evenly distributed. If you work on particularly heavy items you’ll definitely want to look at these heavy-duty options so you can work comfortably without any danger of the bench collapsing under the strain.
If your work typically involves lighter components however, you won't need these benches and you can save yourself some money.
Your choice of surface can come down to aesthetics, or it can be fully informed by the type of work you do. People working in food preparation or clinical environments might need to choose a stainless steel surface, as it is easy to clean and sterilise and will not easily scar.
Other surface options include laminate and solid wood and these are better than metal for absorbing the vibrations caused by power tools – but they will stain and scar up much more easily.
For people who frequently require a clamp, make sure the surface of your new workbench has excess area around the frame so you can easily attach one. Benches with frames that come right to the edges of the work top will not easily accept a fixed clamp.
Electrostatic discharge (or ESD) benches are an absolute must have for anyone working in computer, phone or tablet maintenance and repair, electronics assembly or any other work that involves delicate or sensitive electronic components.
A good ESD bench is manufactured from dissipative materials — typically a hard laminate or soft rubberised worktop, for example — and will incorporate some kind of grounding mechanism through which users can routinely earth themselves to prevent the build-up and discharge of static.
Are you looking for a basic workbench — essentially a sturdy table — or do you want integrated storage for components and tools? Some benches can be added on to as your needs (or your budget) grow, whereas other options are off-the-shelf with drawers, cupboards and louvres built in.
Make sure you think about the likely long-term requirements for your workspace. Mobility Most people want a fixed (or static) workbench. These can often be sturdier, more heavy-duty in terms of load bearing and can have more storage and accessory options. However, some environments and tasks are more conducive to a rolling bench. These are mounted on castors, allowing free and easy movement around your site.
Typically, mobile workbenches are smaller than their fixed counterparts but you can still find some options available with a choice of size and capacity variants. Cost Cost is always a factor, of course.
Don’t forget, though, that the workbench is the most used piece of equipment in most workshops and the benefits of an ergonomically designed, comfortable workspace shouldn’t be underestimated. Add in the increased productivity that comes from having tools and components organised and readily accessible, with a dedicated workspace, and you can see that cost isn't the only consideration.