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It should be said that the best workbench is the one that suits your own needs in terms of what projects you will be undertaking, how large your workshop is and the budget you have.
It’s all well and good having all of the right tools for woodworking, but you need a stable and suitable surface to create your projects. Looking for the best woodworking bench can feel like a mammoth task, especially when you realise how many things there are to consider.
But it might not be quite as difficult as you thought if you spend some time mulling over the most important features of each potential bench. This will ensure you source a product that effortlessly does the job. In this guide, we will be talking you through everything you need to know to confidently purchase the best woodworking bench as well as introducing you to some of our favourite products.
DIY vs Buy
Let’s face it, buying a bench is always going to be the more convenient option; it’s less time consuming and you won’t need to plan and create an entire project. That said, for many of us, that is the very beauty of woodworking and the idea of making a DIY bench is hugely appealing to many people. If you want a project to get your teeth into, this is a great option.
The cost of buying a woodworking bench compared to making your own is quite high; this is a relatively pricey bit of equipment. That said, the quality of some of the benches available for purchase is second to none so if you want something reliable that’ll last many years, it’s always better to buy.
Of course, if you’re totally new to woodworking, you might like the idea of making a bench purely to expand your skillset and gain some experience. There’s nothing wrong with that. Moreover, when you make your own bench from scratch, you can customise it to suit your exact needs.
Here is a great video that explains how to make a simple workbench yourself:
What To Look For When Purchasing A Woodworking Bench
If you have decided to purchase a woodworking bench then there are a few things that you’ll need to keep an eye out for. While you might be forgiven for thinking that this is an effortless purchase, your woodworking bench is one of the key components of your workshop so it’s important to take your time and choose wisely.
Your new workbench is going to see a lot of action so it needs to be able to stand up to the challenge. Many who make their own workbenches will do so using hardwoods such as maple and you’ll need to purchase one that is made from just as durable and hard-wearing materials.
It is imperative that your workbench provides you with a sturdy and stable place to complete your projects. Having a rigid, solid bench is of the utmost importance. When using certain tools such as saws and hand planes, you’ll find that a less rigid bench moves around and this can quickly become annoying, not to mention unsafe.
The weight of the workbench is important for two reasons. Primarily, this is something you will need to think about if you plan on moving the workbench around (we will look at portability in a little more detail later on). If this is the case, you won’t want something that’ll give you a mini workout every time it is relocated.
That said, you want something weighty enough that it doesn’t rock about when you’re using it which takes us back to our earlier point about stability and materials.
It’s a good idea to consider your woodworking bench as an investment and we would strongly recommend choosing one that is well put together and that will stand the test of time. While this may come at a slightly higher cost, it’s not something that you’ll ever have to fork out for again.
There are many different types of woodworking benches; some are designed to be left in place and are ideal for the workshop whereas others are portable and great for people who travel when working. Perhaps you’re a self-employed joiner or maybe you spend your hobby hours in different locations.
There are a lot of folding workbenches which are great for moving around. They’re lightweight but feature a sturdy metal frame and many have additional features like a vise so you’re not limited as to how you work. There are others that sit on wheels and are perfect if you’ll be using the same workshop but need freedom of movement around the space.
The last thing you need when using your workbench is to have to keep going backwards and forwards to your tool chest. Choosing a bench that has storage options will allow you to keep your most essential tools at hand, limiting the time you need to spend away from the bench.
If you’re working on smaller projects then the chances are that you won’t need a huge workbench. This is even more important to think about if you have a small workshop. However, for large projects, you will need to consider the fact that the bench will need to meet this need and you’ll need a much bigger workspace.
It’s entirely possible to pick up an affordable portable workbench for less than £50 and if it meets your needs and is a quality product then there’s no reason that you shouldn’t buy it. However, if you’re looking for a fixed woodworking bench that is going to last you a lifetime, then you’ll need to be willing to spend a little more. In some cases, this can mean going well into double figures, if not beyond.
The above features are among some of the most important to think about but if you want a workbench that takes your woodworking to the next level then you might also wish to look for the following.
There are many benches that have a built-in vise and this is massively convenient. You’ll almost always use a vise for a whole host of projects and as long as what comes with the bench is of decent quality, it’s a handy addition.
When choosing the type of vise attached to your workbench, you’ll typically be confronted with two options; a face vise or a tail vise. The face vise points towards the user while the tail vise is attached to the far end of the workbench. Neither is better than the other and it’s really a matter of preference.
Even if it doesn’t come with a bench, you’ll want to make sure that one can be easily attached. Is there a dedicated space for it? Can a vise be attached in the locations that you’re going to need it? And so on.
Holes For Bench Dogs
Dog holes are lined up in the bench perpendicular to the vise jaws. Usually they’re spaced between four and six inches apart and these allow you to secure timber in place on top of the bench. Some benches will have two sets in parallel lines which are ideal if you’re going to be working with broader boards.
Woodworking Benches - Our Top Picks
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A woodworking bench is an essential part of any workshop but you must be mindful to choose a product that’s going to meet your needs and be suitable for the type of work you do. Whether it’s a large, fixed workbench or something portable, you’ll need to check out things like weight, size and whether there is a vise included. Our top picks are a great place to start when shopping for your new woodworking bench.