You don’t often think of a workbench as a “tool” in your workshop, but it is probably the most regularly used and most often overlooked. That’s because the effects of a good workbench are often unnoticeable but no less important.
Whether you are drawing, cutting, or drilling your materials, having a reliable workbench can make the process more enjoyable and trouble-free. When it comes to a workbench, you may think the only requirement is that it has to be big enough to provide an adequate surface for all your tools and materials.
If you are working with wood, leather, or other crafts, you will need a solid, sturdy material that can support heavy tools, especially if you need to clamp wood into the workbench for cutting.
But what really makes the best wood for a workbench top? Almost any type of lumber or sheet wood is good for creating a workbench top. Depending on your specific purpose and the type of projects that you work on most regularly, you will want to opt for durability, stability, strength, or affordability.
If you are looking for the perfect piece of wood to make a workbench for your DIY workshop, we’ll discuss some things you will need to consider and walk you through the most popular wood options for workbench tops.
Types Of Workbenches
Before you consider what type of wood to use for your workbench, you should think about the purpose of your workbench and how you will use it. This step will allow you to pick the most appropriate type of wood that works best for your craft and your budget.
A general workbench is used for various purposes, such as storing tools and organizing project parts. As the name indicates, you can use a general workbench for anything that doesn’t require a lot of strength and heavy-duty stability.
Most woodworkers often have two workbenches – a general workbench and a specialized workbench for woodworking.
A general workbench is especially useful if you are working on a project that requires a lot of small parts, as a general workbench would be the perfect place to organize those parts and mount your tools for easy access.
General workbenches don’t need to be too thick or sturdy since you probably won’t use them as an anchor to clamp parts into for cutting or gluing. For this purpose, a layer of plywood would be sufficient for a workbench top.
You can customize the size of your general workbench to fit the purpose of your projects. We recommend having a sturdy, stable frame for this workbench top that is 2-3 feet tall, depending on your preference.
That way, you will have a comfortable workspace at the perfect height that won’t strain your back and neck while you work.
Woodworking requires a solid workbench top that you can use to clamp wood pieces into for cutting or gluing pieces of wood together. For that purpose, you will want something flat, solid, highly sturdy, and reliable so that you will have an easier time with your woodworking projects.
A woodworker’s bench is also a great first project for anyone wanting to improve their woodworking skills. Since this is essentially a quick and straightforward job, you can take the opportunity to polish your skills.
You will need a relatively thick and solid piece of hardwood cut to size to make your workbench top. If you want your working surface to be smooth and pleasant to touch, you can sand it and give it a coat of oil stain and wax to finish it off.
If you love getting your hands dirty on various crafts, a crafter’s bench may be just what you need in your workshop. Depending on your specific craft – whether it’s a leather craft, sewing, pottery, or something else – you can customize the size and design that fits your needs.
For these types of crafts, you can use a sheet of plywood or MDF that is ¾” or thicker. These types of wood are affordable but still highly dependable.
If you are not a regular crafter, you can still benefit from having a workbench in your garage. These durable garage benches are best used for non-essential tasks such as storing tools and, sometimes, home repair projects.
For this type of workbench, it’s best to select a highly dependable hardwood that’s designed to last. Since you want this workbench to fit with a variety of purposes, plywood or hardwood that fits within your budget will be the best option for your garage bench.
Best Types of Wood for a Workbench Top
Almost any type of lumber or sheet wood is good for creating a benchtop. Depending on your specific purpose and the type of projects that you work on most regularly, you will want to opt for durability, stability, strength, or affordability. Below are some of the most common wood options for workbench tops.
Plywood is created by gluing various layers of wood veneer together. Each layer of plywood is perpendicular to the last, making the whole incredibly strong and highly sturdy. That’s why plywood is probably the most popular option when it comes to workbench tops.
Plywood is known for its durability, providing a flat surface that won’t bend or warp. Plywood is also highly customizable, so you can build it to be as thick and as heavy as you want, making it ideal for various tasks, from woodworking to a simple crafter’s bench.
Plywood also offers great value for money. You can build a decent woodworking workbench with about $100-200 worth of plywood, depending on the size and thickness of your build. This price range is highly affordable, especially if you are just looking for a general-purpose workbench.
You should know that plywood is only a general term, indicating many types of engineered woods. There are some types of plywood that provide capabilities that are not needed or require a huge amount of money.
The best types of plywood to use for a workbench are usually softwood plywood or MDF, which are both sturdy, solid, and highly affordable.
In particular, medium-density fiberboard is a super popular and highly affordable option for workbenches. As an engineered wood, MDF is made from fusing wood fibers together, creating a highly dense and sturdy type of wood.
MDF has a smooth, homogenous surface and is suitable for various types of woodworking projects. MDF is also highly affordable, perfect for a general workbench or a crafter’s bench.
If you are looking for a natural wood option that is highly affordable and aesthetically pleasing for your workshop, you can opt for a type of softwood such as pine or Douglas fir.
Pinewood is a popular option for a softwood workbench top. This beautiful wood is readily available in various countries around the world. Pinewood is more affordable than most other types of natural woods, thanks to its vast supply, so you can consider this option for your workshop.
Commercial pine plantations grow timber that is highly durable and dense. This type of wood is widely used in carpentry thanks to its affordability and availability.
Another softwood option is Douglas fir, a versatile wood that is known for its soft texture and resistance to rot. Despite being lightweight, this softwood is very sturdy and strong, making it an ideal option for a workbench top in your workshop.
If you are a professional woodworker looking to invest in a highly sturdy, strong, and dependable workbench top, there are many, many types of hardwoods that would be perfect for that purpose.
Since hardwoods are typically natural woods coming from hardwood trees such as hickory, maple, or teak, they are generally more expensive. However, the price tag matches the quality that you’re getting, especially if you are looking for something solid to clamp your wood for cutting or gluing.
Hickory, for example, is an excellent type of hardwood for a workbench top. Hickory wood is very hard, has a stiff and dense texture, and is shock-resistant. It is highly durable and can resist a lot of wear and tear.
However, due to its grain structure, this wood is more moisture-absorbent, which means it is prone to warping and losing its shape. However, if you don’t live in a humid climate, hickory is an excellent option for a vanity bench, thanks to its durability and good-looking finish.
If the price of hickory sounds unreasonable to you, you can opt for a more affordable option – hard maple wood. Hard maple is a durable wood that provides a pleasant, light-grain surface. Although maple wood is technically categorized as softwood, this wood is actually as strong, if not stronger, than most hardwoods out there!
Strong, durable, and stain-resistant, maple wood is a favorite among woodworkers who need a reliable workbench top. This material is also incredibly beautiful, which is great if you’re looking for aesthetics as well as quality.
Teak wood is another hardwood option that is known for its resistance to the elements. This high-quality wood has a tight grain and is known for its durability, which is why it is popular for outdoor furniture and boat decks.
Even though teak wood is more expensive than other hardwood options, it is worth the price tag because it will stay in your workshop for a long time.
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