The workbench receives the most use in a shop as it is on this bench that project parts undergo scaping, shaving and sanding. Projects get prepared for finishes and hardware, and assemblies take shape with the help of glue, clamps and mallet on this workbench. Whatever the task might be, there’s no doubt that the workbench is the woodwork shop’s primary activity center, and choosing one is as essential as selecting a partner. For DIY tasks, just any workbench or table can do, but if you engage in professional woodworking and you spend rigorous time in the shop, then you’ll have a pickier choice as you need a workbench that can ultimately serve all your needs.
The bench can make working on your projects more precise and much more comfortable. This is why the best woodworking benches are a good investment. Thus, before purchasing a woodworking bench, you need to assess your needs against the top features of a good workbench. No two woodworks are the same so your choice of a woodworking bench will be based on these factors:
Size of Workbench
The workbench dimensions, to an extent, can be a matter of preference. Typically, most woodworkers prefer wider and longer benches, which allow them to work on big projects comfortably. While bigger is better, the size of your workshop and the size of the workpieces you handle should play a role in determining your workbench size. Commercial workbenches range from 19/12” to 30” in width and 53” to 90” in length.
For the workbench to be practical, tall woodworkers need to use a tall bench; short woodworkers, a short bench. The importance of establishing the right working height cannot be over-emphasized. If you’re a tall woodworker, standing for long hours and leaning over a bench that is too low can lead to backaches. Most workbenches have a height range between 32” and 38”, and you can arrive at an ideal height by measuring from the crease of your wrist to the floor. Keep in mind that the thick pieces projecting from a vise will inevitably add to the working height. As the top surface height of most workbenches is about 35”, you can add to this if you’re taller or subtract from it to purchase a workbench.
Similar to the dimensions of the bench, the weight capacity will affect the size of the woodworking projects you can work. The typical weight capacity is between the range of 220 – 250 lbs. Though this is an okay weight, it will limit some heavier projects. So, ideally, you should go for 300 pounds. Some benches still offer a 500 lbs. capacity and more.
Mobile vs Stationary workbenches
Hand-tool woodworkers usually prefer stationary workbenches as these stay in place when shoving and pushing against it while scraping and planing. Indeed, most European-style workbenches weigh over 700 lbs. and aren’t meant to move from a position, offering significant size and unmoving stability. However, if your workshop has a multipurpose space like a garage, mobility might be a vital factor in a workbench.
When shopping for woodworking benches, you have to constantly be on the lookout for the quality of the wood. The better the quality, the better the durability of the bench, and the better its resistance to dings and scratches. Typically, the main problem of inferior wood quality is dings and scratches because you’re always using tools and machinery on it. Regardless of how careful and meticulous you are, it is expected that something will eventually slip and hit your work surface. However, harder woods have a better resistance to dings and scratches when that happens. Small dings can lead to minor cosmetic damage, but larger dings are more dangerous as they can generate pits that catch your work while you’re sliding it around. As a result, it is a good idea to invest in a quality workbench surface, even if you don’t end up using the same quality for the bench support pieces.
Also, if your workbench does not come with lacquer or varnish on it, then adding one is a great idea, especially if you work in warm climates. This is inexpensive, and it can add many years to the life span of your workbench.
Stability and Sturdiness
One of the most critical factors to look out for in a workbench design is its stability and sturdiness. Hard sawing and planing on a flimsy workbench will quickly become frustrating as the workbench shakes and moves across the workroom. Solid construction, good joinery, weight and sheer mass are usually the solution for a sturdy workbench. Some specially-constructed workbenches enhance sturdiness through designs such as splayed legs, mortise and tendons, etc.
Another area in which woodworking benches differ is storage locations. Even for the same price, you can gain or lose value when it comes to the storage solutions provided. So, it would be best if you got a workbench with good and useful storage solutions. There are a lot of storage options available when you’re shopping for a woodworking bench. If you work with several lightweight tools that you’d need to keep in reachable positions, get a bench with few accessible drawers. Though these drawers can’t hold large tools or machinery, they can help you keep hammers, screwdrivers and other small tools nearby.
Most woodworking benches also include lower storage shelves. These shelves are useful for storing larger tools like electric power tools or planes, and you can also use them for storing lumber that you intend using soon.
These are valuable items to have on your workbench. They are used to pin your workpiece to the bench so you can saw, plane, or shape it in several ways. The capacity and location of the vises are important factors to consider. Most are sold with a right-hand configuration at the side or front of the bench. There are two categories of traditional vises:
- Faces Vises: These vises point towards you on the face of the workbench
- Tail Vises: These are fastened to the end of the workbench
The type of vises that you decide on is based on your personal preference. Some woodworkers even prefer vises that can be repositioned.
Unfortunately, given the numerous features on a workbench figuring out which one is most suitable, especially with the different price ranges, can be an arduous task. That’s why this guide has assembled a list of the best woodworking benches of 2019. This review covers the excellent features and the quirks to each model so you can understand what you’re purchasing before spending your money on it.
Sjobergs SJO-33283 Woodworking Workbench
Sjobergs is well-recognized as one of the best manufacturers of woodworking tables. Apart from the brand’s use of high-end quality materials, Sjobergs stands out in the area of its craftsmanship. They put in the same level of excellence into the workbenches that you apply for your woodwork projects. The best feature of this Sjobergs SJO-33283 is its hard birch top which makes it one of the most durable work surfaces in premade workbenches. This workbench is hard to scratch or ding, and it has attractive looks, classifying it as the best working surface on this list. This model has double vises, one on the side and one at the front. This enables you to clamp several objects at the same time or clamp the object you want to work on in a more suitable place. Assembling this Sjoberg workbench is a quick task, and it is sold with easy-to-follow assembly instructions.
- Very durable working surface
- Two vises
- Easy assembly
- Top craftsmanship
- It is relatively expensive
- Its storage space is not as much as that of the previous model.
Olympia Tools 84-906 Hard Wood Workbench
This Olympia Tools workbench is also classified as one of the top best woodworking benches on the market today. It comes with a vise, a drawer beneath the main working area for securing smaller tools, and a bench between the legs where users can store larger tools. Moreover, it includes a lacquer finish that’ll go a long way in ensuring the durability of the workbench for years to come. You can easily put this workbench together, and for the price, the value of this workbench is impressive. So, if you’re looking for a sturdy, durable workbench with a single vise, then this model is an ideal option.
- It includes a vise
- It has both small and ample storage for tools
- Manufactured with a bright lacquer finish
- Assembly is quick and easy
- The price is budget-friendly
- The assembly instructions are not easy to follow, and sometimes, they reference hardware which is not available.
Sjobergs Elite 1500 Workbench plus Cabinet
For over 90 years, Sjobergs has been manufacturing professional-grade woodworking benches, and of course, their quality, craftmanship and embellishment is top-notch. This flagship Sjobergs workbench has a straightforward design and its vast wealth of storage options stand it out from many competitors. It includes double equal-sized drawers, an extra drawer of double size and a spacious cupboard. This Elite 1500 model offers a large vise capacity of 5 ¾”, and it features very durable hardware for the vise, the cabinet and the bench as a whole.
Even better is its incredible 500 lbs. weight capacity and 24” width, which provides for more sophisticated and diverse projects. To further ensure stability, you can bolt this bench to the ground directly without having to do any modification. As beech wood is used in its construction, this bench is sturdy enough to prevent dings and scratches, but it has an element of softness to prevent it from accidentally dulling work tools.
- Offers top storage capacities
- Provides two vises
- The weight capacity ensures stability
- Designed with multiple dog holes
- Made with durable hard beech wood
- Can be securely bolted to the floor
- It is very expensive
- Requires long assembly
- It does not include many pegs and dowels
- Stains and other liquids can easily be absorbed into the wood
Grizzly Oak Workbench T10157
Grizzly benches are made at the highest possible standards of excellence. This Grizzly workbench offers one of the largest table tops available on the market. The workspace features 5” length and 2 ½” width, making it a unique bench. Another advantage of this Grizzly is the thickness of its table top. On a standard quality woodworking bench, the thickness is 1”, but the Grizzly provides a 1 ½” thick table top. Moreover, it is manufactured from oak wood, which is very hard and durable. It can withstand plenty of abuse from tool and workpieces, and you don’t have to worry about liquids like stains and lacquers being absorbed into the top.
- It is one of the largest benches available on the market
- It is made from the hardest wood
- It provides adequate storage
- Features adjustable height
- Thick table top
- Provides two vices
- Features an impressive weight capacity
- It is not easy to assemble
- The hard oak makes it liable to dull the sharpness of tools if they are not handled with care
- The storage shelf is tight.
Keter Workbench Work Table 197283
If you are looking for a high-quality woodworking bench which wasn’t made from wood, then this Keter bench should spark your interest. Though it is made primarily from plastic parts, this bench is incredibly strong, and it can support a maximum capacity of 1000 lbs. on its work surface, making it a very versatile bench. Moreover, it comes with double 12” clamps, which make working on your project hassle-free. The highlight of the Keter workbench is its foldable legs, as they allow the body to fold up to the size of a suitcase. Weighing on 27 lbs., this is a portable workbench that you can move around your workspace.
- It is portable and mobile
- Incredibly strong
- Includes clamps
- Poor instructions make it difficult to assemble.
A good woodworking bench is meant to be a valuable investment that can make your job more efficiently, so lowballing to save cash is a wrong choice. This guide has provided you with a review of the best five woodworking benches 2019 and a buying guide to help you find the bench that best suits your skills, workspace and needs.