Calling all home improvement enthusiasts! Are you thinking about buying a portable work table? If you’re constantly using the lawn furniture to saw things on, and don’t have space in your garage or basement for a permanent workbench, these useful tools could be just what you need. Designed to be lightweight and portable, you can set them up for use whenever you need them, fold them up to take to a family member’s house to assist with some DIY, and store them away using minimal space until you need them again.
There are a lot of portable work tables on the market, of varying prices and quality. In this review, I’ve picked out two models from leading brands (Keter and Black & Decker Workmate WM425 —*click* for more infos, specs & reviews!–), and am going to have a look at how the two products compare. In the same affordable price bracket, and with similar product descriptions and intended usage, each aims to do the same job. So, let’s see how they compare! Hopefully I can save you a bit of time trawling through reviews by giving you all the information here to help you make an informed decision.
First, have a look at the basic product information.
As you can see, the items are fairly alike in size, with a bit of extra weight on the Black & Decker. Both are designed to fold up and down easily, both support heavy weight, and both have clamping features to keep your work securely in place. They also provide convenient storage space for tools and parts.
So how do they stand up against each other in terms of usability?
Ease of assembly
The Black & Decker Workmate requires assembly, and comes with tools and directions to assist with this. Unfortunately, neither are as useful as they perhaps should be! Many users have complained about poorly-written instructions making the assembly process more tricky than it needs to be, and it’s probably a better idea to use your own tools to get the job done. Once you overcome these obstacles, however, you should be able to get your Workmate constructed and ready to use.
The winner in this category, however, has to be the Keter folding work table, as it comes pre-assembled and ready to use straight from the box. No set-up is required, so a quick start-up means the point for ease of assembly goes to Keter.
One of the main purposes of a folding work table (versus a permanent one) is to be portable and easy to fold away, transport, and store. Both of these tables are relatively lightweight, making them easy to carry, although the Black & Decker is a little bulkier and doesn’t have the advantage of the Keter’s convenient handles on both sides, making it a little more awkward to transport. It also takes a bit longer to set up after it has been folded away. However, both products fold down to a conveniently small size, and can be easily transported in the back seat of most cars. They also take up very little storage space when they’re packed away, so that’s good news for those with limited space!
The point for portability goes to Keter, for its slightly lighter weight, more convenient carrying handles, and shorter time required to set it up and fold it down.
Both tables are the same height, roughly 29 inches. The advantage offered by the Black & Decker model, however, is that the height is adjustable, so you can use it at two different heights. Using a simple folding structure, you can select the height you require by either folding out the spider-like legs or leaving them as they are. The second set of rubber feet on the frame of the Workmate means that the legs have secure feet to sit on whichever height setting you’re using, which is a nice addition to the table. The Keter model only has one height setting, so the point in this category goes to Black & Decker!
The built in clamps on the Keter table are very useful for small sanding jobs, quick cuts, and other light-duty work.The two 12” clamps are adjustable, and provide secure holding options, clamping down tightly without scratching or otherwise damaging the finish. They are well integrated into the bench, and can be used to clamp either vertically or horizontally. When the unit is folded for storage, they also fit neatly into the bottom of the second shelf.
Similarly, the Black & Decker Workmate comes complete with clamps, but in comparison with the Keter version, these ones aren’t quite as secure. This is likely due to the plastic (versus metal) gear holes that are used to rotate the knobs. The locking mechanism necessary for keeping the vice parts engaged occasionally slips as a result. Also, the clamps sometimes move up off their side supports when the crank assembly is being tightened.
A few slight design flaws mean that while the Black & Decker provides essentially the same service as the Keter in terms of clamping, the latter’s better execution wins Keter another point!
The Keter’s body is made of plastic, and the legs are aluminium. When properly locked into place, they are strong and sturdy enough to hold weights of up to 1000 pounds. The table does not move or slip out of place even when pressure is being exerted, and the plastic body means that it won’t rust or otherwise deform it it gets wet.
So are there any negatives? A couple. First, expect signs of wear and tear on the plastic table top if you are going to have any sharp metal edges pressing against it – it will get a bit scratched or scuffed up! Also, if it should happen to break, there’s not much you can do to repair it since it’s made from plastic, other than trying to purchase a new part. Since it’s so sturdy, though, there seem to be very few reports of any breakages. This is a very sturdy, durable product that is built to last.
Now for the Black & Decker! This table has the useful advantage of being able to articulate the front panel. It can be raised 90 degrees – excellent for clamping a board or other horizontal item on the work surface. The table itself has a heavy-gauge steel frame construction, supporting up to 550 pounds, and the three wood table tops are made from bamboo.
Any negatives? Again, as with the Keter – yes. A frequent complaint is that the boards are sometimes slightly warped – not seriously, but not completely flat either. Also, the Black & Decker does not seem to respond quite so well as the Keter when heavy pressure is exerted on it. Although it holds 550 pounds of weight, the mechanism will not support so much pressure. This is in large part due to the plastic ribbon used to open and close the table: apply too much clamping force, and it jumps out of the hole.
Because of the Keter’s ability to support heavier weight and pressure, it wins the point for structure.
So… which one?!
This race has a clear winner. Coming out on top in four of the five categories, it’s the Keter 17182239 Folding Work Table! Despite the Black & Decker’s W425 neat options of adjustable height and front panel, it can’t quite beat the Keter’s sturdy structure and reliable performance. If you’ve been trying to choose between these two products, I recommend the Keter Folding Work Table![clear]
(from amazon, because they offer good customer service and are very quick to ship your order!)
PS: If you’re still leaning towards the classic WM425, here is a more in-depth review of this work table![clear]