Terminology – Common Mistakes!
Do you know what you are looking for when you say ‘workbench’? The term “workbench” is not as straightforward as it appears – many use the term interchangeably, when it can actually mean 3 very different things. It can be broken down like this:
These are usually portable, fold away units. Designed to be convenient and sturdy, they can usually double as a vice or sawhorse. Also called trestle-tables, these are very useful for DIY tasks, or out-in-the-field businesses:
However, there are natural limitations to the trestle, due to its design. They are simply not built to be used for very heavy tasks, nor can they offer a large, stable working surface. Trestles are great for saving space, but since you are looking to design your own workspace/workbench, these are probably not for you!
Though frequently mixed up with workbenches, these are in fact generally cupboards or cabinets, sometimes featuring a lectern styled-top. Also frequently designed to hold computer equipment too, you may find these items sold with worktops installed inside them. They offer ideal storage for workshops and other industrial areas, protecting the contents stored from damage or oily marks:
Again, this design has both pros and cons. These are not designed for mobility, but for storage and safety. Equally, they rarely offer a large working surface – the lectern surfaces are fabricated more for holding blueprints than heavy assembly – nor do they offer much scope to create a workstation that fits all your needs.
The item that most exemplifies the term ‘workbench’ is fundamentally fairly simple in design; shaped like a desk or table, but with an extra-thick surface, created to hold a much heavier weight. This is what the term workbench means to most people:
The beauty of the workbench is that – like any desk or table – the combinations of drawers, cupboards and shelves that you can add can be very flexible; near-unlimited choice in what extra storage you might require.
Questions to ask yourself:
Now we have highlighted the types of items that may be bracketed under the term workbench, let us consider what you need your own workbench to do. There are many factors to consider, but here are some key questions to ask of yourself:
What kind of tasks/jobs are you planning to do?
Trestles and Workstations are useful but fairly specific in what they are designed to do. A Workbench has a far wider scope in comparison – but it is still vital to consider what you intend to use the workbench for. The more varied the tasks you have in mind, the sturdier you should aim to have your workbench.
Bear in mind that the original intended purpose of a workbench rarely remains static; once you have started assembly work, you will frequently find yourself using your workbench for more and more tasks –that is, if others in your household don’t beat you to it!
What kind of weight will you be working with?
The heavier the weight you are expecting, the more you should look into heavier design for your workbench. It is too easy to cut corners on your initial buy, then find yourself having to upgrade or (worst case scenario) have to get rid of a broken workbench!
What environment are you planning on working in?
Space is always at a premium. But don’t forget: so is your time!
The very purpose of a workbench is to aid you complete your tasks with optimal efficiency – getting a workbench that won’t fit correctly into your working environment will be as bigger a waste as not having a workbench at all.
It is far better to think this through now. If you are (for example) expecting to have to regularly move the bench out of the way, or need to
move the bench directly to the task, a mobile workbench (with castors) will suit you much better than a static workbench. Otherwise, you may find yourself constantly struggling to move a recalcitrant workbench from one area to another!
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