October 5, 2021
Quite frankly, woodworking may not be for everyone, and if you have not much patience, you might not thrive in woodworking. Yet, if you’re serious about beginning a career in woodworking, you might as well start with the building of your workbench. The workbench, of course, is the centerpiece of any woodworking workshop. It is where you cut, drill, glue, and fashion out your great woodworking ideas. But what makes up a workbench?
If you are DIYer, you can get by with a pair of sawhorses with a piece of MDF or plywood on top. Yet, such a minimalistic workbench may not enjoin you to engage frequently in woodworking tasks. On the other hand, a durable and engaging workbench can make you spend more time in your shop. So, it will help to invest in an excellent workbench if you want to get serious with woodworking.
10 Different Types & Styles of Woodworking Benches
Workbenches come in different designs and styles. Some have patented designs, while some are highly customized designs. But if you contemplate designing and making your workbench but do not have any idea yet, you might as well get some ideas from other workbenches. It will help if you are familiar with the following different styles and designs of workbenches:
1) English-style Workbench
You will find the oldest depiction of the English-style workbench in the Mechanic’s Companion, a book penned by Peter Nicholson. This book was dated 1831, which means the English-style workbench has been here for such a long time.
The English-style workbench, of course, is similar to a torsion box when it comes to its design. It comes with a thinner top with wide interior ribs and front aprons. Thus, you should not mistake it with the Continental workbench that you would often see in the market.
The thing about the English-style workbench is that you can modify its design with ease. You can also alter some of its wood materials and change parts according to your whims and fancy. Moreover, you won’t need much gluing with this type of workbench.
Compared to the Roubo bench, the English-style workbench doesn’t need more mass. Moreover, the design of this workbench suits more the woodworkers who use hand tools instead of power tools since this design was made when there were no power tools yet.
This bench style is mostly three feet tall and six feet long, enough for you to bend and do your woodworking tasks with ease. Moreover, it is three feet deep. It is suited for someone who uses traditional tools more often than someone who makes use of power tools.
2) Moravian Workbench
Some factors you need to bear in mind when building your workbench include portability, balance, sturdiness, size, stability, and many other essential factors. The Moravian workbench style aims to meet all these criteria and requirements. This workbench style differs a bit from the English-style workbench and the French designs. Moreover, it originated from North Carolina’s Salem Community of the 18th century.
The Moravian design is sturdy. It doesn’t flex or cave in under heavy pressure and loads. It also features a solid base characterized by the use of tenon joints and wedged mortise.
Workbenches of this style are robust, gauging from their excellent legs and surface. The workbench top consists of a tool area at the back and a solid workbench top surface in front.
This workbench style, of course, is portable. You can take it apart and bring it anywhere you would like to engage in woodworking. It also features leg vises (wood screws) that provide remarkable holding power. You can also disassemble this workbench and store it away inside a small closet.
If you want something like this, you should grab yourself a copy of this workbench plan and kickstart the building of your workbench.
3) Cabinetmaker’s Workbench (European Style)
If you want to be a cabinet maker, you might as well get a blueprint of the European-style cabinetmaker’s workbench. You can make this workbench using Black Locust or European Beechwood. One of the densest wood, of course, is the Black Locust. Moreover, it is one of the hardest. So, it will be an excellent choice for a workbench. It also looks elegant.
The cabinetmaker’s workbench got patterned after workbenches found in most woodworking shops at the end of the 20th century. It showcases a solid-wood top that comes with a large face vise and other shop-built tail vises. You will also find enough storage underneath the workbench top.
This workbench style appears to be durable and sturdy. It could indeed take a lot of beating. You can use it for years sans altering or replacing it. It is also of small size. It is perfect for a small space or basement.
4) Roubo-style Workbench
The Roubo-style workbench is patterned after Andre Roubo’s French-style workbench of the 17th century. This workbench style is quite popular among woodworkers around the world. It is unique and highly functional. Moreover, it is pleasing to look at. If you own this type of workbench, you are indeed fortunate.
When building this workbench style, you should meticulously choose the wood you will use. Check for the wood’s moisture. Moreover, the wood’s quality plays a crucial role in this type of workbench style. So, it will help to choose the correct type of wood for this workbench.
The making of this workbench requires careful planning on your part. This is because every angle of this workbench should be accurate. Moreover, you will need larger wood slabs to actualize this workbench style.
The Roubo style workbench is also heavily set since it comes with large, heavy slabs. But it is finely built and features precision angles and measurements.
This workbench style has a provision for clamping workpieces down so that you can work on your wood pieces well. Besides, you can equip it with your favorite vises and clamps for easy handling of your workpieces. This workbench style is perfect for cabinet makers as well.
5) Workbench Cabinets
Another style worth considering is the workbench cabinet style. The cabinet style provides enough storage space for your tools and equipment. As such, this style is perfect for handypersons who got plenty of tools and who want their tools within reach. This workbench style also comes with drawers, shelves, and cabinets that you can easily access while working on this workbench.
Cabinet workbenches are mostly of metal. Online, you will find various types of workbench cabinets. If you want this type of workbench, you can choose from any available workbench cabinets online. These cabinet workbenches also tend to be more expensive than other styles of workbench. Yet, buying a workbench like this is worth an investment.
6) Workbench Tables
The workbench table style comes with a design like a table. It comes with a tabletop surface made of metal or hardwood. Moreover, you will usually set this tabletop over metal legs or wooden legs. This workbench is also of the traditional style of workbench. It provides versatility despite its simplistic design. Besides, it is also sturdy and durable.
The workbench table style, unlike the cabinet workbenches, offers not many storage options. So, you will be needing another storage area for storing your tools and equipment.
Nevertheless, you will find some workbench tables with a solitary open shelf below the tabletop for storing some of your things and tools. Since this workbench style comes with an open space underneath, you can equip this workbench with clamps and vises.
7) Backboard Workbench
The backboard workbench is simplistic in design and is simple to build. It simply offers the bare essentials of workbench without the pomps and glitters of other workbenches. It appears like a tall and long table. Moreover, a board spans this workbench length. This board prevents your tools from fall off the workbench. It also comes with a shelf underneath for storing your tools and accessories.
This workbench style is an all-purpose workbench. You can use it for making repairs and fabrications. You can also use it for any other applications. You can also equip it with an engineer’s vise for working on non-wood workpieces. Moreover, you can permanently affix useful woodworking vises onto this workbench to make your woodworking tasks easy.
8) Movable Shop Workbenches
You will find this type of workbench in many workshops worldwide. This movable type of workbench is excellent for itinerant woodworkers or in constant movement from one workplace to another. It is also portable and is lighter than other workbenches.
This workbench can be conveniently attached to workstations that don’t need a permanent surface for working. This workbench also comes with casters, and its legs are foldable for better portability.
The wheels of this type of workbench are usually acid-resistant and oil-resistant. These wheels also come with parking brakes for better stability and to prevent movement when you want it stationary. Besides, the worktop of this workbench, of course, is large, allowing for comfortable usage.
9) Wall-mounted Workbenches
In some workshops, you will find wall-mounted workbenches. This type of workbench is perfect for cramped spaces where you need to free some areas after using the workbench. You can hang this wall-mounted workbench every after use to free some spaces in the room.
One downside of a wall-mounted workbench is its inability to support heavy loads. Moreover, it cannot withstand wear and tear compared to other standard workbenches with heavy-duty leg supports.
10) Portable Bench
Like the movable workbench, the portable workbench is designed for highly mobile woodworkers. Portable workbenches come in two types: rolling or folding. Rolling workbenches, of course, come with casters for easy mobility from one place to another.
Folding workbenches, on the other hand, are small and collapsible, with foldable legs. They are lightweight for easy carrying likewise. Rolling workbenches are sturdier than foldable ones. They also come with lock features for better stability and to make them stationary.
When selecting a style for your workbench, you need to consider your needs carefully. The worktop, of course, is an important consideration, given the fact that most works happen on the worktop. You should also consider the materials and make of the workbench. Moreover, you should check for its rated load capacity. In this way, you will have a good idea of how much weight a workbench can bear while you work on it.
If you are a newbie in woodworking, you might get confused about which design you will use for your workbench. Knowing the abovementioned styles of workbenches can help you zero in on the ideal one for your use. Of course, you can buy a ready-made workbench, but it is always fulfilling to make your workbench. In fact, making your workbench is an excellent way to jumpstart your woodworking career.
Jason is a 40-year-old woodworker, carpenter and author who have been involved in the woodworking and woodcraft industry with 17 years of experience. He is expertise in technical aspects, woodcraft and furniture building projects.