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What is a Workbench?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 17 August 2016
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    Conjecture Corporation
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A workbench is a specialized table which is designed to be used in a workspace to provide a designated area to work. There are many different types of workbenches, each of which is customized to a particular type of work. Workbenches can be purchased from companies which make furniture and equipment, and they can also be built from scratch to suit custom needs. Many people grow quite attached to their workbenches, adjusting and organizing them to perfection so that they can work more efficiently.

The term “bench” is a bit misleading in this case, since many people think of benches as places to sit, rather than places to work. The relation between workbenches and conventional benches is that both are sturdy, durable, and designed for years of use. In some cases, both are designed as permanent installations, as well.

A good workbench has a large flat surface which can be used to spread out work, along with a surfacing material which is appropriate to the kind of work. Wood is a common choice, but slate and marble may be used in some cases. Workbenches also typically have built in shelves and drawers both above and below the bench for the purpose of storing tools and ongoing projects. Some may also include spaces to hang large tools, and the spaces in a workbench are often configurable, so that users can organize the workbench to suit their needs.

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Woodworkers use workbenches to work on projects, and many people like to keep a workbench or utility bench in the garage or shed for various construction projects. Gardeners also utilize workbenches for potting, managing seedlings, keeping records, and performing other gardening tasks. In laboratories, workbenches are critical for scientists and researchers, used to lay out laboratory equipment, samples, and other materials. Workbenches can also be used by jewelers, patissiers, cooks, electronics technicians, metalworkers, sculptors, artists, and essentially anyone who does work which requires constructing objects.

When selecting or building a workbench, there are several things to consider. The first is the height of the user, and whether or not the user uses a seat or stool, as the height of the workbench needs to be positioned for comfort. The size and type of projects which will be worked on at the workbench is also a consideration, as is the level of configurability required. A theatrical set designer, for example, might need a basic workbench with room to store construction tools, while a jeweler might require a workbench with cabinets which can be easily divided and moved around to hold metals, jewels, and other supplies. Other considerations include the need for a power supply, and special needs like a ventilation hood for safety, or a nonreactive surface to prevent damage from chemicals.

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