What's The Ideal Workbench Height? (For Woodworking & Garage)
The average workbench height is between 34 and 36 inches, but there are many reasons why you would want your workbench to be shorter or taller. As a result, finding your ideal workbench can be complicated.
To help you find a workbench height that’s best for you, let’s look at the key factors that go into ideal workbench heights.
Why Workbench Height Matters
Have you ever been working and experienced back pain during or after your time at the bench? Or, have you ever been working but found that it was too high to place heavy objects on? Both of these scenarios result from ill-fitted workbenches.
Comfort & Safety
Finding the ideal workbench height is crucial because it ensures the comfortability, safety, and functionality of the bench. Most importantly, working at an ill-fitted workbench puts your health and safety at risk. Whether your workbench is too short or too tall, you may find yourself experiencing back, shoulder, or neck pain.
In fact, the United States Department of Labor specifically lists “poor design of job or work station” as a factor associated with back disorders. They even go on to state that workbenches should be corrected to the height of the user in order to reduce the risk of back pain and disorders.
Functionality Matters Too
Additionally, ill-fitted workbenches can reduce the functionality of your workbench. If the workbench is too short, it may hinder your ability to see your projects. In contrast, high workbenches can prevent you from reaching the entire width of the bench and make working with your hands awkward and unmanageable.
With this in mind, it is crucial to find the ideal workbench height in order to protect your health and maximize the full use of your workbench.
Why Ideal Workbench Height Varies
As we have already stated, there is no one ideal workbench height. The ideal workbench height varies from person to person for two reasons. Firstly, workbench height is dependent on your own stature. It’s no surprise that taller people will need taller workbenches, while shorter people will need shorter workbenches. As a result, the ideal workbench height depends greatly on your height.
Secondly, workbench height is dependent on what you plan to do on your workbench. Tasks that involve fine detailing and power tools, for example, will benefit from the closer viewing that taller benches provide. Other tasks, such as woodworking, will benefit from a shorter workbench. So, you need to factor in intended use when deciding on your ideal workbench height.
Finding Your Ideal Workbench Height
To find your ideal workbench height, it is important to consider both your height and the workbench’s intended use. If you consider both of these items, you are going to build a safe and effective workbench.
Finding the Ideal Workbench Height According to Your Stature
Generally speaking, your ideal workbench should fall between the middle of your thighs and waist. This height is ideal because it is proportionate to your height, thus minimizing your chance of injury and maximizing the effectiveness of the bench.
The best way to approximate your ideal workbench height is by conducting this thumb-knuckle test. Simply allow your arms to fall by your sides. With your arms relaxed, have a friend measure the distance between the floor and your thumb knuckle. That distance is how tall the workbench should be. You may want to give or take one or two inches from this measurement to match your preferences.
Measuring your workbench in this way ensures that it matches your height. More so, it allows you to feel where your arms will be situated, which can help you to confirm the comfortability of the height beforehand.
Finding the Ideal Workbench Height According to Your Intended Use
Another factor that you should consider when building your workbench is its intended use. The reason for this is that certain tasks may require a further distance from your face, while other tasks may require a closer viewing angle.
You should use the distance from the thumb knuckle test as the basis of your ideal workbench height. Then, you should give or take inches according to your intended use. This ensures that both your height and the bench’s intended use are factored into the ideal height.
You may be thinking, “But I don’t have a single intended purpose for my workbench.” If this is the case, that’s okay. Just imagine what kind of work you most likely will be doing and go from there.
Low Workbenches: Best for Woodworking
Workbenches between 29 and 30 inches are considered low workbenches. This workbench height is ideal if you intend to do a lot of handwork on the workbench. Woodworking would especially benefit from a workbench of this height.
The reason that you will want a low bench for tasks like this is that it gives you more of a bird’s eye view on your work. A bird’s eye view is beneficial for woodworking and related tasks because it allows you to better see the proportions, sizing, and the big picture, which results in finer looking projects.
Average Workbenches: Best for a Variety of Tasks
Most workbenches are between 34 and 36 inches tall. This workbench height is ideal if you plan to do a variety of tasks on your workbench. The reason for this is that this height is neither too short nor too tall for most workbench functions.
If you are unsure of your workbench’s primary intended use, you should opt for a workbench height between 34 and 36 inches tall.
Tall Workbenches: Best for Detail Work and Power Tool Use
Tall workbenches are between 38 and 39 inches tall. Tall workbenches are ideal if you plan to do a lot of detailed work, cutting joinery, and power tool use. The reason for this is that the tall height will allow you to see your tasks up close, which will allow you to work more precisely and intentionally.
Other Factors to Consider When Deciding on a Height
In addition to your height and the workbench’s intended use, there are some other factors that you may want to consider before deciding on a workbench height. These factors may not be relevant to all workbench users, but they are certainly worth thinking about.
Pre-Existing Back, Neck or Shoulder Pain
Obviously, you want to choose a workbench height that does not exacerbate any back, neck, or shoulder pain. If you already experience any of these symptoms on a regular basis, you should certainly factor that into the height of your workbench.
If you experience back or neck pain on a regular basis, you should consider making your workbench a little bit taller. The reason for this is that a taller workbench will prevent you from leaning over unnecessarily, which will make the back and neck pain less likely to be exacerbated by working at the bench.
In contrast, you may want to make your workbench a bit lower if you experience frequent shoulder pain. The reason for this is that lower workbenches will allow your arms to rest at a more natural level, which will then relax your shoulders and prevent pain from occurring.
Another factor you may want to consider is storage. Depending on where you are putting your workbench, you may want to either use the space above or below the workbench as a storage space.
If you want to use the area above your workbench as storage space, you might want to consider a workbench of a lower height. Building a lower workbench will create more room above the workbench, which can be used for storage.
In contrast, you may want to make your workbench a bit taller if you want to utilize the area below the workbench for storage. The taller the workbench, the more storage that the area below the workbench will provide.
You may want to consider whether or not you plan to share your workbench with other people. If you are going to be the sole user of the workbench, then you can skip this factor. If a friend, partner, or child intends to use the workbench too, though, you should factor in their height and preferences as well.
In the case that you and the other workbench-user are of similar heights, then sharing the workbench should be no problem.
If you and the other user have a big height difference, you should opt for an average height workbench (34 to 36 inches). A workbench of average height will be ideal for both parties because it will be neither too high nor too low. It may not be your exact preferences, but it will get your shared work done most effectively.
What is the ideal workbench length?
Most workbenches are anywhere from 48 inches to 96 inches long. The longer the workbench, the better. Long workbenches will allow you to store more items on top and spread out while you work. This increases the functionality and comfortability of the workbench.
In fact, there is no such thing as too long of a workbench. The only way that a workbench can be too long as if it does not fit in the workbench area. So, the only factor to consider when it comes to the workbench length is the size of the garage or area that your workbench will be placed in. You should aim to maximize the space length so you can have the longest workbench possible.
What is the ideal workbench depth?
Workbench depth is another important dimension to think about. It can affect the functionality of your workbench and cause some safety risks as well. In general, you should aim for a workbench that is 16 to 24 inches deep. This depth size will provide you with enough room to work without making it hard to reach the far side of the bench.
If your workbench is deeper than 24 inches, it may make working difficult and pose some safety risks. The reason for this is that anything deeper than 24 inches may make reaching the opposite difficult, if not impossible. If you try to reach the other side but it is not easily accessed, you run the risk of straining your back, knocking over your project or tools, or injuring yourself on any tools.
What wood type should I use on my workbench?
Homemade workbenches are almost always made out of wood. When choosing a wood type, you should consider the cost, durability, and appearance of the wood. These factors will allow you to pick out a wood that best suits your wallet and workbench use.
The most frequently used workbench woods are pine or ash. These wood types are durable and won't break the bank. If you have a little extra money to spend, you may want to consider building your workbench from oak.
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