A woodworking workbench can have many different built-in features to make it easy to handle almost any project. In this article, I will discuss some of the features to look for when buying or building a woodworking workbench. Additionally, you will learn how to make a good workbench.
11 Workbench additions
To make a good woodworking workbench, you will need to something that is sturdy and fits your needs. You can make a stationary larger workbench, smaller foldable workbench for smaller spaces, or a portable workbench for jobsite work. To learn more about creating a solid workbench for your needs, you should check out my article “Creating a solid workbench for your needs”
Some of the features to look for when designing or purchasing a woodworking workbench are..
- Tool organizer
- Tool storage
- Dog holes
- Rubber feet or locking wheels
- Movable light
- Electrical outlet
- Belt sander
- Router attachment
- Miter saw attachment
After discussing each feature, I will explain how to build a sturdy work bench and how to find the perfect size for you.
A vise attachment for your workbench is essential if you will be using any hand tools like chisels, planers, and sanders. A vise is used to clamp an object tightly. This allows for you to chisel, drill, and sand the object without it moving.
It also allows for you to clamp objects in different orientations based on your needs.
There are many different vises that you can use based on your needs. You can use a metal or wooden vise, a tableside or benchtop vise.
There are also other vises for different projects and uses. To learn more about vises, you should check out this article, “Woodworking vises”, where I explain everything you need to know about vises.
2. Tool Organizer
A tool organizer is essential to keep all of your tools in place and organized while you are working on them.
Some ideas for a tool organizer are to have a table-side or bench-top peg board, a bench top organizer shelf, or an under the table organizer.
I prefer peg boards because you can put almost any smaller item on there. You normally have to design organizer shelfs with the number of tools in mind. However, with a peg board, you can add attachments and organize tools to your changing needs.
3. Tool Storage
Tool storage is a very beneficial method to save space in your workshop. My work benches have storage to routers, bits, router tables, circular saw, nailers, polishers, sanders, and hand tools. Having that much storage saves me the need to have a separate cabinet for my tools.
You can incorporate draws for your smaller tools like drill bits, screw drivers, and chisels. You can design a space for your routers, saws, sanders, and maybe a smaller shop vac.
4. Dog Holes
Sometimes you will need to clamp larger pieces or pieces in a way where you would essentially need a clamp in the center of the workbench. To do this, you can use dog holes.
Dog holes are holes in the workbench that allow for you to add dowels for a clamping mechanism or to use as a stop block.
Clamping mechanism with vise
To use dog holes as a clamping mechanism, you will need to have a table side vise. You will then create dog holes in your workbench and at least two on the top of the vise.
You will then add the dowels in the dog holes and tighten the vise to clamp the wood.
Clamping mechanism with dog hole clamp
You can also use dog holes clamps to clamp your wood. To do this, you will purchase your dog hole clamp and build the holes according to the hole size.
There are many different designs for dog hole clamps, just like regular wood clamps that may suit your needs.
Stop block mechanism
Dog holes can be used as a stop block. This mechanism is very simple. To use dog holes as a stop block, you will just add dowels into the dog holes and push the wood up against the dowels. This will keep the wood from sliding as you are sanding, paintings, or marking the wood.
5. Rubber feet/ Locking wheels
Rubber feet are good to prevent the workbench from sliding when planing, chiseling, or heavy sanding. However, rubber feet are not ideal if you need a mobile workbench.
Rubber locking wheels are good is you need a workbench that you can move easily.
If you get rubber locking wheels, you will want workbench wheels so that they will not be under constant pressure.
6. Moveable light
A moveable light can be a really good attachment to help you see what you are doing.
These lights can be very inexpensive and mounted on the side of your work bench.
A moveable light is not essential because you can also purchase an inexpensive head lamp or a jobsite lamp to do the same job.
7. Electrical outlet
An electrical outlet can be very handy when using corded tools. It will allow for you to incorporate larger woodworking attachments like a shop vac hose, sanders, routers, miter saws, and lighting.
8. Belt Sander
A belt sander is used to sand smaller pieces that will be difficult to sand with a handheld sander.
You can use a hand-held belt sander to create a belt sander attachment to make it a table-top belt sander, a bench sander.
There are many creative ways to create a bench sander from a belt sander through the use of jigs on YouTube.
9. Router Attachment
A router is a tool that allows for you to create designs and shapes in wood. You can use a router to bore smaller holes, create curved edges, and other edge designs.
You can incorporate a router table into your workbench. You can attach the router table by using clamps or build the router table into your workbench directly.
A handheld router is ideal for larger pieces while a stationary router is ideal for smaller pieces. If you have a handheld router, you can convert it to a table-top router by having a tableside foldable router table.
10. Miter saw Attachment
The last common workbench feature is a miter saw attachment. I have seen many different attachment methods from a miter saw stand that flips so that when it is not in use it is under the table and when it is in use you can flip it to the top.
Some people have a section in their workbench set aside for just the miter saw.
I do not use any of these attachment methods since most miter saws have exceptional clamping mechanisms to keep the wood in place.
You can use rollers to move the wood smoothly over the surface. You will want the wood to move smoothly over your workbench if you use it as an outfeed table for your table saw.
An outfeed table is a table that goes behind the table saw to support the wood as you cut it.
How to build a sturdy workbench
It is best to build a workbench to suite your needs. You should also think ahead and build a workbench that can modify and grow into.
The three steps to build a sturdy workbench are
- Plan what you need your workbench for
- Create a solid base
- Design legs, end assemblies, and support stretchers
- Create a sturdy tabletop
- Design solid or particle board tabletop
Below, I will go over how to do each step and basic guidelines to follow
1. Plan what you need your workbench for
The first thing that you need to do when deciding or shopping for a workbench is to find what you are looking for in a workbench.
- Do you have the space for a workbench, or will you need to make a workbench that you can fold away?
- Do you need a workbench that is moveable or portable?
- Do you woodwork larger pieces like furniture, or smaller pieces like desk décor?
These questions will help you design the specifics of your workbench, however, the fundamentals will stay the same.
2. Create a solid base
For any workbench, you will need a solid base. Of course, this base will vary based on the type of build that you want to do.
To create a traditional base, you will need to design legs, an end assembly, and support stretchers.
An end assembly connects the two legs on the right side together and the two legs on the left side together. An end assembly will be the end structures of the workbench.
Support stretchers connect the two end assemblies together to create the fully workbench base.
To create a foldable base and a portable workbench, I would recommend that you check out my article “foldable workbench plans”.
The following plans are for stationary workbenches.
The legs for a woodworking workbench should be at least 3.5×3.5 inches thick. The most common method of creating workbench legs it to use 4×4 wood.
The 4×4 solid wooden legs are ideal if you want to use very strong joinery like mortise and tenon to attach the end assembly and support stretcher.
To create the end assembly for 4×4 solid wooden legs, you can use 2×4’s or to attach the legs together. Using larger wood like 2x6s, 2×9’s, or even 2×12’s will give you more stability to prevent rocking.
You will attach two legs together to create an end assembly. Your workbench will have a total of 2 end assemblies.
Lastly, you will need to create support stretchers to connect the two end assemblies to form the base of your workbench.
You can use support stretchers to attach two end assemblies together, just as you use the end assemblies to attach two legs together.
Just like the end assemblies, you will want wood that is either 2×4, 2×6, 2×9, or even 2×12 to attach the end assemblies together. The wider the wood, the more sturdy the work bench will be.
One of the best support stretchers that I like to design are shelves that stretch from one side end assembly to the other. The shelves can then be used as additional storage for your workshop.
2. Create a sturdy tabletop
Now that we know how to design a solid base, we are going to learn how to design a sturdy tabletop for you workbench.
To create a tabletop, you can either use solid wood or particle board.
To create a tabletop with solid wood, you will need to edge join at least 3 inch thick wood slabs. The tabletop for a woodworking workbench should be at least two inches thick if you are using power tools and 3 inches thick if you are using hand tools. To do that you will apply glue to the sides of the wood and clamp the wood together to form the slab.
To prevent the slab from bowing in or out, you will need to apply clamps to the top and bottom of the wood.
To learn more about how to edge join wood together, then you should check out my article “How to edge join wood”.
To create a tabletop using particle board, you will need at least 2 inches thick of particle board. Since MDF board can get up to 1 inches thick and plywood 1 1/4th inches thick, you will need to combine at least two boards to create a sturdy table top.
Plywood and MDF board are strong enough to be used as a workbench tabletop as long as you layer it so that it is at least two inches thick.
Additionally, I also recommend running at least 2×4 board under the particle board, in the middle from the front to the back of the workbench, to prevent the table top from warping in the center.
3. Incorporate additional features
Now since you know how to create the basics of a workbench, the base and the tabletop, you can now design additional features.
Earlier in the article, I went over some common additions that you can add to your workbench. Some features I deem as essential and others would be nice to have depending on your woodworking needs.
What is the best height for a workbench?
The average height for work benches are between 30 and 36 inches tall. The ideal height for a workbench is 34 inches.
I personally do 34 inches for all of my work surfaces because the standard table saw height is 34 inches. So, if you have the same height for your work bench, then you can make your workbench an outfeed table for your table saw.
Some people like to go an inch or two lower so that they can add rollers to their table. The rollers included will add up to 34 inches so that the outfeed wood will roll over the rollers and not slide on the wood.
For a workbench, 30 to 36 inches is standard and suitable for most woodworkers.
In this article we went over 11 workbench additions, how to create a sturdy workbench, and the best height for a workbench.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this article and I wish you luck on your woodworking journeys!
EverythingDiyProjects is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. We also participate in other affiliate programs which compensate us for referring traffic.