The workbench or work table is one of the most important piece of equipment needed both in the workshop and on the jobsite for carrying out projects.
As the name implies, it’s a bench or table for carrying out manual work such as fixing an electronic equipment like a TV, building a wooden jewelry box or even carrying out laboratory work.
There are different types of workbenches you can use for carrying out projects. They usually come in different designs with most usually rectangular in shape with a flat top surface, but there’re also more complex designs depending on the type of project or work that is carried out on it.
The type you choose usually depends on the type of work or project you’re trying to carry out, because each workbench is designed to carry out specific types of projects.
There are workbenches for woodworking, for metalworking, for laboratory work, for electronics repair, for product assembly, for arts and sculpture and so on. Some are multipurpose for carrying out a wide range of projects.
No matter the type of work you plan to carry out, here’s what you should consider when choosing a workbench.
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One of the most important feature one should look for when getting a workbench is the height.
Whether the user is standing or sitting, the surface of the workbench should be at a comfortable height so the user can work with ease without overextending legs or arms to reach the surface.
Some workbenches features adjustable legs that allow the user to increase or retract the height of the workbench to compensate for the height of the user.
That means it can be adjusted for sitting and standing working positions with ease, making it very versatile for use in different conditions.
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The size of the working surface is another important feature to look for when choosing a workbench for your projects.
Depending on the size of projects or work pieces that will occupy the surface, a large workbench or a small one might suffice. Woodworking, metalworking, laboratory and industrial workbenches tends to be a bit large in order to accommodate large work pieces.
Whereas gardening workbenches or potting benches tends to have smaller working surface because there’s not much placed on them apart from small potted plants, small pots and simple hand tools which does not occupy a large footprint.
Workbenches are usually built with different types of materials which usually determines their load carrying capacity.
For instance, the surface or top which is one of the most important part of the workbench can be built with 4 different types of materials. Which are: wood, particleboard, plastic or resin and steel.
The type of material used for the surface as usual depends on the type of work that will be done on the surface and the type of materials that surface or top will be exposed to.
For instance, laboratory workbenches are usually exposed to different types of chemicals which can be very corrosive and damaging if a good material is not use.
That is why they’re usually made with chemically resistant materials such as stainless steel, high density polyethene, epoxy resin and phenolic resin.
Woodworking workbenches surfaces are usually made from solid hardwood equipped with integral clamping mechanisms, although some are also made from steel.
Apart from the surface, the body and legs of the bench also needs to be built with materials that match the type of projects they’re meant to handle.
For instance, the major parts of an industrial work bench such as the surface, body and legs needs to be built with heavy duty materials like steel that can withstand the demanding projects carried out on it.
On the other hand, a jeweler’s or watchmaker’s work bench does not require the use of heavy duty materials like steel for its construction due to the light-duty work and materials handled on it. That’s why it can even be made of plywood without any risk of failing during use.
Provision for Mounting Work Pieces and Tools
Because workbenches are meant to hold work pieces, it’s very important they have integrated clamping systems or mechanisms for holding these work pieces in place while the project is ongoing.
For instance a metalworker’s bench should have a vise mounted on top for holding work pieces and tools.
A woodworker’s bench should include a few clamps and a stop block for holding the wood to the bench. For instance, wood planing with a hand plane requires the wood to be clamped to the bench to keep it stationary while pushing the hand plane across the wood.
A jeweler’s workbench houses a bench pin for holding and working on small work pieces.
So, whatever the type of project you’re carrying out, ensure the work bench you choose houses the appropriate clamping mechanism for your work to go smoothly.
Apart from holding work pieces, workbenches also house tools and other accessories needed to carry out projects on it.
For instance, some benches features a cabinet base with drawers and shelving units for storing tools, accessories and other important items.
Some even come equipped with a pegboard or similar tool storage units for holding and accessing the tools.
So, if you need extra storage for your tools and accessories, consider getting a workbench with a cabinet base, a pegboard or any other suitable storage solution you need to access your tools easily without leaving your work station.
A workbench can either serve as a stationary equipment, or it can be portable, capable of being moved easily from one place to the other.
If you carry out most of your projects in the workshop, then getting a stationary work bench is okay, because you don’t really need to move it from the workshop.
For instance laboratory and industrial workbenches does not necessarily need to be portable, because they’re always used indoors inside the lab or in the workshop.
On the other hand, a contractor or craftsman who works and moves from jobsite to jobsite constantly needs a portable work bench that can easily be moved as well.
Most of these portable benches are collapsible, making it easy to fit them in trunks and moved from one site to the other. Examples include the Keter folding work table, the Worx Pegasus and the Bosch PWB 600.
Access to Power and Lighting
Sometimes, it’s important to have power outlets and lighting built in to the workbench so tools can be powered easily without requiring an additional source of power.
For instance, electronic work bench should have a power supply outlet built in so that tools such as the soldering iron can easily be plugged in. Same with a laboratory workbench.