What is the Best Woodworking Bench of January, 2020
If you engage in woodworking, you obviously need someplace to engage your craft. While any table or workbench can do, they are not truly ideal for the tasks you intend to accomplish and will ultimately add to your time and energy invested. That is why best woodworking benches can be a good investment.
That is why we have put together a list of the 5 best woodworking workbenches, identifying what each one is best for. Then we provide a helpful buyer’s guide, so you can find the woodworking bench that best suits your needs and budget.
Unless you are already fairly familiar with woodworking, the name Sjobergs might not mean that much to you.
For seasoned woodworkers, on the other hand, Sjobergs is well-known as one of the best manufacturers of woodworking tables.
Aside from the fact that the company makes it a point to use high-end materials, Sjobergs stands above its competition in one other important area too: craftsmanship. It may seem odd, but producers of woodworking tables rarely put the same level of excellence into their products that customers do in their projects.
This bench suffers from no such limitations as it provides an incredibly solid and stable workspace, albeit in a somewhat stripped down version. In terms of performance, Sjobergs tops our list at providing 80 lbs of weight capacity. This is one of the more quantifiable measurements to determine the quality of a work bench’s craftsmanship. This is achieved by using thick pieces of European birch wood and working it without using lower end joints – like butt joints.
Of course, few benches can be ideal, and this one does have some drawbacks. That being said, most of the disadvantages of this bench are minor annoyances rather than deal breakers. For instance, this bench does not include any kind of storage whatsoever. Though, it does have the option of adding numerous additional features like a storage area. Still, for the bench, you would expect a drawer at the very least, maybe a shelf below the main table area.
Another aspect that might irk some buyers is the fact that the capacity of this bench is less than great outside of weight. The top’s surface area is a bit on the smaller end, though its length is more in line with larger models. The width though is less than two feet which can limit some projects. Similarly, the vice capacity is the second smallest on our list at 4 ½”, though this too can be modded with optional additions.
Grizzly is a company currently undergoing an upheaval. This brand was once known as a manufacturer of professional grade tools and equipment for woodworking products. Though, in recent years, that reputation has begun to slip a bit since being bought by the Chinese company SIEG. These days, whether the Grizzly product stands up to its previous standards of excellence often has more to do with what you are buying than the company itself.
Thankfully, Grizzly stands and benches are still made at some of the highest standards available.
While a strict figure for the bench’s weight capacity is not available, a quick browse through their other stand and bench products shows a general weight capacity well above most other brands. As such, while we cannot say for certain that this bench provides the best weight capacity, it is more than likely that it the capacity is similar to the other products in the catalog.
This table top is also made from the hardest wood out of any manufacturer we reviewed: oak. In fairness, this can be both a blessing and a curse. The oak wood is extremely durable and noted for its lack of a porous nature. This means the top can withstand plenty of abuse from tool and workpieces. Moreover, you will not have to worry about liquids like lacquers and stains from being absorbed into the top. That said, the hard oak can also do a number on tool sharpness, dulling them prematurely if they are not carefully handled.
Windsor Design is an interesting brand in that it is not actually its own company. Instead, Windsor Design is one of the in-house brands sold by Harbor Freight. While it may be a store brand, that should not dissuade you at all as Harbor Freight is known for selling some of the best products available for all fields of construction. Granted, this may not strictly be the best table available, but it does provide a solid mix of features to make it a good value.
For one, the bench itself is a good size. While its width as a tad short at just over 1 ½’, the length is a great 5’ long. Even better, this bench is made out of birch wood. Birchwood is similar to beech in that it is strong but soft enough to prevent inadvertent dulling of your tools. However, birch has a bit of an advantage over beech in that it is not a porous which makes staining on the Windsor Design a more worry-free affair.
Another odd design feature of the Windsor Design is its dog holes. While this bench provides a variety of dog holes and even offers numerous pegs and dowels to go along with it, the dog holes are not spaced as closely or with as much variation as you see with many other benches. Ultimately, this means that smaller workpieces may not be able to use the dog holes and pegs as well.
One nice feature of the Windsor Design is its storage capacity. This bench offers the second most storage we saw with four large drawers and a shelf underneath. Even better, the four drawers are all lined with felt to ensure that the tools stored within remain sharp and do not unintentionally dull from running against the wood.
Though, this is an area where the dog holes make another unwanted appearance. Essentially, the dog holes are drilled straight through the tabletop which normally would not be much of an issue. Unfortunately, this allows some of the holes to open up into the drawers which can lead to sawdust dropping into the drawers.
The 84-906 fits this bill perfectly as the table offers all of the qualities and features that you would expect but does not truly blow you away with any of them. For instance, this bench is made out of rubberwood. This wood is decent in that it provides the strength you want, but it is also extremely porous and rough-grained. The porous nature would generally make it susceptible to rotting and staining, though the bench has been lacquered. The rough grain will potentially cause tools to dull over time if you do not regularly relacquer it.
A couple nice qualities about this bench include the weight and vice capacities. The weight capacity of this bench is 330 pounds which is decent, though it will not wow you too much. The vice, on the other hand, provides a 7” capacity which is tied for the most on our list. That said, there is only a single vice, and it is not able to be repositioned. This can make things a bit frustrating for lefties as it is a right-handed configuration.
One quality about this bench that is definitely lacking is space – both tabletop and storage. The Olympia Tools does provide an adequate shelf, but it does not come with any drawers, nor does it offer the option of adding them later. The table top is the smallest we saw at 50” long and 2’ wide, though the width is actually better than most of the other table we reviewed. Still, a significant chunk of that width is occupied by a trough. This trough is designed to hold smaller workpieces to keep them from falling or getting knocked over, but it removes about 6” of width from the tabletop.
Sjobergs has been making professional grade woodworking benches for over ninety years. That is longer than many of the other companies combined have even been in existence. Over the course of that time, Sjobergs has refined their manufacturing process following an almost Arts and Crafts style.
By doing so, the company places quality and craft above embellishment. That said, the flagship workbench from Sjobergs manages to do both exceptionally well.
Though still straightforward in design, this bench distinguishes itself from many of its competitors with the sheer wealth of storage options. It includes two drawers of equal size with an additional drawer of double size as well as a spacious cupboard. Altogether, this provides for more storage space and organization than any other workbench we reviewed. Of course, this bench also comes with many of the same advantages and disadvantages that you would expect to see on other models within this lineup.
That said, the Elite 1500 does offer one of the larger vice capacities for the brand at 5 ¾”. This model bench also features extremely durable hardware for both the vices and bench as a whole–including the cabinet.
In terms of size, this bench is another Sjobergs that is a bit on the small side, though it is actually far more squared than some others. While its length is a bit disappointing at 54″, the width is over 24″ wide which does provide for more diverse projects. Even better, this product still features the incredibly 500-pound weight capacity and continues the Sjobergs trend of avoiding joints that are not as durable as they otherwise could be.
To provide further stability, this bench can be bolted directly to the ground without having to modify it. The beech wood used in the construction will provide a sturdy build but is still soft enough to avoid accidentally dulling tools, though you may want to be careful when applying stains or other liquids as it could be absorbed by the wood.
There are a wide variety of woods used for woodworking benches. Generally, you will want some kind of hardwood since softwood cannot withstand the years and weight that harder woods can. That being said, too hard of wood will prematurely dull your tools, so it is a good idea to look for a medium hardwood over the hardest woods in this respect.
This is clearly one of the more important factors as it will have an impact on the size of projects the bench can assist you with. For length, you will generally want a table that is 5’ long but no less than 4’ long. For width, 1 ½’ feet is about as little as you can accept with anything over 2’ being the goal.
Much like the dimensions of a bench’s tabletop, the weight capacity will similarly affect what size of projects you can work on with your bench. A common weight capacity sits between 220 to 250 pounds. While this is okay, it will limit some heavier projects. Ideally, you should shoot for 300 pounds, though some benches can offer 500 pounds of weight capacity or more.
This is technically a vanity factor, though the ability to store tools and other supplies at quick reach can be a time and energy saver. At the least, you will want a bench that comes with a shelf underneath. This will allow the storage of larger items that can otherwise be difficult to find a place for. Drawers are the other popular storage for benches and can make retrieving tools much easier – just make sure the inside of the drawer is lined with felt or the wood may prematurely dull your tools.
This is used to secure workpieces in place while you work on them – often for jointing. The location and capacity are the important things to look at. Most vices will come on a right-hand configuration either on the front or the side of the bench. If possible, it is a good idea to look for vices that can be repositioned. In terms of capacity, anything over 5” is solid while anything under 4” is likely a bit too small for all projects.
In terms of professional use, the two Sjobergs are fairly easy choices. While they are significantly more expensive than the other benches, they offer multiple vices and are some of the most solidly constructed benches we saw – with a 500 pounds weight capacity to back that up.
If you are looking to save a little money and are not yet a professional level woodworker, both the Windsor Design and Olympia Tools are decent options. Both only provide a single vice and have a bit lower weight capacity, but the Windsor Design provides the second best amount of storage space.