The Handy Guide on Workbenches for your Home Garage and Workplace

Workbenches are a necessity in almost every garage area, workshop or warehouse. They provide the surface to work on at a comfortable height and range from simple toned designs to complex, specialty benches designed for specific industries and needs. There is a limitless amount of designs regarding both custom and pre-manufactured workbenches and one can quickly become overwhelmed when trying to decide on a design. For those people who are handy a custom built workbench can be a fun and very rewarding task. However it can be time consuming and if not really done correctly could end up in the garbage pile. Pre-manufactured workbenches can be an economical solution and with countless designs available may be a better choice. This post will focus on design and selection of pre-manufactured workbenches for the home garage plus workplace.

Workbenches in their basic form consist of a worktop surface and support legs. Two saw race horses with a sheet of plywood placed across them can be defined as a workbench. This design may be suitable for laying out drawings or holding a few tools, however without additional support expense provide much more in the way of functionality or utility. Basic workbench design should include additional support structures and a solid worktop surface that will increase the load capacity of the workbench. The design may include support stringers, lower shelves, storage, back and end stops, risers or any type of number of additional, specialty attachments.

A common material for pre-manufactured workbench hip and legs and supports is steel sheet. As we discussed in our previous article “A Handy Guide on Shelving Systems for the Home Garage and Workplace”, the thickness of sheet metal is called its gauge and the reduced its gauge number is, the particular thicker the steel is. Steel sheet ranges from about 30 gauge to 8 gauge, along with thinner 30+ gauge material known as foil and thicker 8 evaluate or less material called plate. Typical workbench supports range from about 12 to 16 gauge. Stringers plus lower shelves add stability and strength to the legs and allow intended for heavier loads to be applied.
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They actually this by connecting the legs together below the worktop plus forming a rigid structure that helps support itself. Without additional support the workbench legs would simply fold under and collapse when weight is applied. The design may favor stringers alone if the workbench is intended to be used while sitting, permitting the person’s legs to extend under the worktop. Lower shelves may also be incorporated to the design for storage below the particular worktop surface, and may be incomplete or full sized shelves depending on its use. Though load transporting capacities are frequently not listed upon workbenches, a general rule of thumb is to use the thicker gauge steel support framework for heavier duty workbench apps.

Worktop surfaces come in many material and designs. Depending on the intended use one material may be more suitable than another. Common materials are steel, wood, solid plastic, plastic laminate, yet others. Steel worktops are typical regarding heavy duty use. They will not become oil soaked or crack and are extremely tough. Mechanics and small engine repair shops favor this material and also welders who might damage some other work top surfaces. Disadvantages are usually scratching or denting if they are hit sufficiently hard. Wood tops could be made of solid hardwood like maple or made of plywood, MDF or other manufactured wood material. Hardwood worktops resist damage by sharp tools and hard blows, and is ideal for tool and die work, electrical wiring, fabric cutting and is favored by woodworkers. The drawback can be once damaged it may be expensive to replace. Manufactured work surfaces like MDF or particleboard is the preferred surface for industry. They are warp and splinter proof and are highly resistant to oil and moisture. They are also more affordable than hardwood and can be very easily replaced if damaged. Plastic worktops provide strength, chemical resistance, and are non-conductive. Plastic is great for electronics set up, circuit board repair or any app that may be prone to spills. However plastic-type may be too slippery for woodworking and favor applications like ceramics work, pottery or anything that needs moisture or chemical resistance.

Workbench size, height and mobility can also be very important and vary by program. Sail makers may require very large function surfaces to spread out fabrics while jewelers and electronics repair stores may prefer smaller work covers for easy tool and components access. The height also is important when choosing a design. Workbenches made for standing work in general are greater than those intended for sitting. The worktop height is also dependent on the workers individual height. Many designs include adjustable legs allowing for multiple heights, application types and for leveling the particular worktop over uneven surfaces. For a few applications mobility may be required therefore casters are installed allowing the workbench to be moved around. The best approach is to get a workbench that is sufficiently large for your needs, has changeable height for experimentation, and is on casters if mobility is required for the specific application.

In addition to the main pieces of a workbench there are many add-ons that are used to increase utility. Back and End stops might be installed to prevent things from rolling off onto the floor. Drawers, shelves and risers can be added for increased storage. Electrical power strips and outlet cutouts could be incorporated into the design as well to operate tools, grinders, drill presses, and so forth Vises and clamps can also be added to help secure whatever you are working on. The best place to start when choosing a style is to define the intended use. Once that is established the assistance structure, worktop, add-ons and size can be more easily selected. There are actually thousands of available workbench designs and configurations, many of which will suit your needs plus budget. When in doubt contact your own supplier for assistance selecting an appropriate design.

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