If you are working on a specific trade, or you are a “handyman” at home with lots of jobs at hand, you really have to avail yourself of a portable workbench to facilitate your work. It is really necessary to have one, considering the fact that it could readily provide you with a suitable flat surface to work on. Moreover, it would enable you to easily move your tools from one place to another. In fact, the portable bench is often referred to as a “workmate” because it has become imperative for a tradesman to have one. This handy bench can be easily unfolded when needed and can likewise be folded away for easy storage.
The usual work surface of a portable bench is composed of two pieces of very hard materials. One of the surfaces is strongly fixed on the support, while the other surface is mounted on a flexible and movable mechanism which permits it to clamp the materials on the fixed surface. This basically allows a tradesman to secure his materials on the surface. Furthermore, it is designed to hold various tools. Moreover, you could use the surface of the workbench as a stable sawhorse, and as a platform for your works, making it very handy, especially, for specific works at different sites.
Characteristics of a good portable workbench
One of the most important characteristics of it is its sturdiness. A good workbench should exhibit a certain amount of firmness to withstand a hefty amount of weight. It should also have strong supports to avoid wobbling and eventual collapse. A weak and unstable bench would never be reliable enough and may cause accident. Thus, we have to ensure that we would only buy the best and most sturdy workbench for our safety and ease of work.
Most workbenches function like a vise. This is possible by clamping the two panels of the top surface of the bench, one on top of the other. A crank could be used to adjust the two panels of the workbench to secure the items in place. This is very important, especially, if you are working outdoor where strong wind and other factors can readily knock your tools and materials off with a single blow.
Some well-developed and high-end portable workbenches have built-in cabinets in which you could store your important tools and materials. Moreover, these are so well-crafted that they are fitted with drawers. Likewise, these high-end workbenches are fitted with sturdy wheels allowing you to move them to wherever you want to work. Likewise, these wheels are fitted with locks to avoid them from readily sliding.
The prices of portable workbenches depend on its design and workability: the larger the benches the higher their prices are. The prices range from several dollars to several hundred dollars.
Types of Workbenches
There are various types of workbenches depending on what trade you usually engage in. There is the woodworking, garage, industrial, and folding workbench. However, portable workbenches are usually divided into three basic types:
The workmate is a portable workbench which we usually use in our garage, or for simple works which require not-so-complicated works. Black & Decker produces this kind of workbenches. Just like the ordinary portable benches, this type can be easily folded and stored away in a closet. The top surface is usually made of wooden slats. These 2 wooden slats act like a vise with a crank to adjust the distance between these two slats. Likewise, the crank makes it possible for the slats to move closer and act like a vise, which grips the materials and items, keeping them in place. The workmate is sturdy and can carry a lot of weight; yet it is also lightweight and can readily be carted away to wherever you want to work. It also has a footrest for comfort. This footrest however works as a weight balancer for the whole bench. The workmate is ideal for use of do-it-yourself guys (DIYers). Likewise, it is the most widely used among the different kinds of portable workbenches.
The wheel-mounted portable workbench is also commonly used by tradesmen and do-it-yourself guys. This type of workbench is fitted with wheels for easy movement and carting away. Yet, it does not fold, but can be easily wheeled away to your work place. The wheels are fitted with locks which fix the it in place while you are working. The wheel-mounted workbenches have several advantages, especially, if you have lots of tools and materials to move from one place to another.
The Professional Portable Workbench is another type which is larger in size than that of the “workmate” and is definitely designed for more advanced professional works. It is sturdier than the workmate and the wheeled-mounted. Likewise, it is fitted sometimes with drawers and cabinets where you could stash away your tools and work materials. This type of workbench is bulkier and is definitely more expensive.
The different materials used for workbenches tops:
There are various materials which can be used for the top surface of the workbench: Here is a list of these materials:
- Solid wood is usually used for the top of a workbench. Wood is durable and can readily absorb abuses and stress. Solid wood is usually used for durability and strength.
- Plywood is also used because of its versatility and strength. It is indeed a great choice for vise function. Moreover, it readily provides a very smooth and flat surface to work on.
- Particle Board is not usually used for tops because it easily crumbles, and eventually collapses. It does not readily handle stress. However, if you are short of budget, you can make use of it.
- Ceramic workbench tops is ideal for working with hot materials.
- Metal tops are ideal for a workbench top. It is durable and does not burn. It can handle a lot of stress and pressure.
A good workbench will definitely facilitate your work by giving you a sturdy surface to work on your trade. Likewise, a good product will help you organize your tools and materials while working. It will always be worthwhile to invest in a good and sturdy portable workbench. After all, it is really your best workmate.
Black & Decker WorkMate 425 – a solid, foldable workbench with a bamboo surface. Lightweight enough to be portable, but still packs enough features for ambitious projects.