Workbenches are probably the most important equipment in your workshop and are where you’ll carry out the majority of your work. Getting the right workbench to suit your needs means considering a number of factors:
Depending on the practical purpose of the workbench, you should give thought to its strength. You’ll want something that lasts; you don’t want to cut corners here and purchase something cheap, only to find that it needs to be replaced relatively quickly. Spending a little extra will ensure you get a strong workbench that will take the kind of punishment you throw at it on a daily basis. Commercial work usually needs heavy duty workbenches.
Within any working environment there are often different areas designated for separate tasks. Whether it’s a garage or a distribution centre, you will need to consider these as there are a variety of different workbenches suited to various tasks that are carried out within your business. For example, packing stations are designed for spaces where goods are prepared for dispatch, whereas industrial workstations are suited for designated areas assigned for computer use or to carry out paperwork. You may need a variety of different workbenches within your premises to meet the needs of your daily tasks.
Think about the variety of tasks that will be performed at the workbench and consider the space you need. Will you need to have tools and equipment directly available at the workbench? Are you working with large pieces such as sheets of metal or wood? The footprint of the workspace should be large enough for technicians to have plenty of space to work, but make sure you consider how much space in the workshop the bench will take up too. If you are short on room, folding workbenches may be more suitable for your needs as these can be stored away when not in use.
Many workbenches come with integrated storage or shelving, which is a great way of economising on space. Think about the tools and equipment that are regularly used at the bench and consider a work benches with storage options that will allow you to stow away the relevant items for use at that bench; it will help you to keep the workshop more organised. You should also consider workbench kits, which feature louvre panels that are compatible with small parts storage bins. These models are great for working environments that involve picking and packing.
Workbenches come in a variety of materials, each of which has pros and cons depending on their use. Consider the following:
WorkTop materials vary depending on your needs but this can be the most important factor in choosing workbench materials.
- Particleboard – Consisting of small pieces of wood bonded together under pressure, particleboard is economical and is suitable for light uses. However, it is not as strong as solid wood and therefore won’t last under sustained heavy use. For easy cleaning, choose particleboard that is topped with laminate or melamine.
- Solid wood – This is one of the strongest top materials you can buy. Solid wood will resist marring, impact and heat and usually comes in a thick maple that is resilient and will last for years.
- Plastic Laminate – This material is durable yet affordable and is non-conductive, which is important if you are working with electric tools. They are usually coated to protect against stains and scratches.
- Steel – For sustained, heavy work, stainless steel workbenches offer the most when it comes to hard-wearing and durable worktop materials. Ideal for the heaviest of work, thanks to underside reinforcement and strong welds. Be careful not to use steel with electric appliances.
- Anti-static – If you work with delicate electronics, the slightest discharge of static can damage them, so consider ESD workbenches made with anti-static material which prevents the build-up of static electricity.
- Hardboard – a cheaper form of wood core, this is comprised of high-density hardboard that is highly compressed. It won’t split or crack as easily as particleboard but offers an economic option for medium-weight work.
Workbench frames usually come in wood or steel, which are both durable and suited to most purposes.
- Wood – Hardwearing and durable, with solid, thick legs, these are also the heaviest of frames and are best suited for permanent installation
- Steel – The lower the gauge of the steel, the higher the material strength, so be careful to choose the correct gauge for the work being carried out.
- Angle iron frames – These have fallen out of fashion in recent years but are still used for their strength which is similar to steel.
- Resin – These frames are durable and resistant to breakage but they are also much lighter than wood or steel, and so are ideal for mobile workbenches.
Assembled or build it yourself?
You usually have a choice between workbenches that are delivered assembled or those that you build on delivery. The choice depends on a number of factors.
- Delivered assembled – this usually costs a little more but you don’t have to worry about self-assembly and you can be sure that the workbenches are built securely. It saves time and manpower. However, you need to check measurements in advance to ensure there is space to get the workbench through doors and corridors and into the workshop.
- Build yourself – usually a cheaper option but will take the time to build and you need to be sure that you follow assembly instructions to the letter to ensure safety and your warranty. However, if space to deliver the bench is at a premium, these can be a great choice as they will arrive flat packed and can easily fit through narrow doorways or cluttered spaces.
Is it customisable?
While there is a massive range of workbenches to choose from, it’s rare that a workbench is only ever used for one specific job over and over. Most workbenches will see a variety of uses over time. Not only that, but ready-made workbenches are built for generalised use.
If you have a specific requirement, or you think the workbench use will change over time, you should consider customisable workbenches.
There are two key options to choose between here: The workbench can be built-to-order, that is, the customisation happens on the retailer or manufacturer’s side, according to your specifications. The other is that you order a model that allows you to customise it yourself over time.
Which type of customisation you opt for will depend on your requirements. The latter option offers flexibility over time, while the former option means you can have a purpose-built workbench for a very specific type of work.
Over time, workbenches can become prone to bacterial growth which carries with it the risk of infection. Workshops are environments that are prone to microbial growth, thanks to the lack of airflow, clutter and by-products of manufacture.
In order to maintain hygiene, you should consider opting for a worktop material that has antimicrobial properties. Many of our workbenches are impregnated with antibacterial technology, which uses surface technology that makes materials inhospitable to bacteria, mould and other microbes, ensuring hygiene. This is incorporated at the point of manufacture offering constant, built-in protection and is effective against MRSA, E-Coli, Streptococcus, Black Mould, Salmonella and Listeria.
Your questions answered…..
What bench is best for a circular saw?
When using a circular saw on a bench, you need to consider all safety aspects. First ensure that the bench is strong and highly durable and has a flat top surface. You will also need to make sure that the bench is compatible with a woodworking clamp so that you can secure the wood whilst sawing to prevent any movement. Our workshop workbenches are available in a number of flat top designs, from budget to heavy duty, many of which can be used with a circular saw. Browse our benches for further details. If you are still unsure or for more info on choosing a bench for a circular saw, please speak to one of our team.
How much are foldable workbenches?
Foldable workbenches can range in price depending on brand, size and design. Our folding workbenches are currently available from £25, an efficient model that is ideal for light duty joinery and woodworking.
How high should a workbench be?
When choosing a workbench, the height you opt for will be dependent on your space and your needs. Most of our workbenches have a height of around 840mm to 900mm. Make sure that the height is suitable for you to work ergonomically at the bench, this means working with your back straight without feeling the need to crouch down, slouch or hunch over the bench. If you are going to be sitting whilst working, ensure that the height is compatible with the chair height. You can also opt for height adjustable workbenches. This allows you to alter the height when needed if you require more versatility.
For further advice on choosing the right workshop workbenches for your needs, speak to one of our team, who will be able to provide in-depth knowledge on all of our products and help you select the right one to fit your requirements.