What is it for
An incredible number of workbenches can be found on the market. Whatever the brand, size, price or equipment required, you can be sure that there is a model designed specifically to meet these specific needs. Workbenches can only be an essential piece in the equipment of a DIY enthusiast as well as of those who work professionally as craftsmen. Even those who do not often undertake these household tasks may still find it useful to purchase a workbench, perhaps small or foldable, to carry out all the necessary operations in complete safety. It is clear that the choice of the workbench will have to be influenced by one's own aptitudes for use as well as by the activities for which one normally expects to need it, which will imply a precise choice of the accessories that will be used and the tools to place on it. A workbench can cost up to a few hundred euros, but it is clear that these are models characterized by high resistance to wear, as well as obvious structural solidity. It is for this reason that its price will be depreciable over time and will not prove to be an unwise expense. On the other hand, the solidity of the workbench must be one of the first evaluations to be made at the time of purchase. The thickness of the wood and its resistance are two fundamental characteristics for this tool. The resistance of the work surface is also directly linked to a series of uses that would otherwise not be possible, such as those linked to the use of vices, to be fixed to the work surface itself. The basic versions are not always complete with additional accessories, but it could be very useful instead to spend a little more for a product that also has additional shelves, perhaps closed by doors. In this way, you will have space to store all the unused tools, while always having them at hand.
It is very interesting to note how the very first examples of workbenches date back to Roman times. In reality, we will talk more specifically about carpenter's benches and a need that arose with the spread of a new tool, the plane. The need to use the plane gives rise to a further need, that of holding the piece of wood to be worked firmly in place. It immediately appears evident that the only way to secure the table on which the planing work was carried out was through the use of wedges or metal stops, designed to fit the piece of wood onto the work surface. These tools, however, in turn had to be fixed to the counter below, in order to operate in maximum safety. Here, therefore, was the birth of the first workbenches. It is curious to underline that there was no significant evolution of this model in the following centuries, at least until 1700 in Europe. Only in those years, in fact, did we witness the definitive diffusion of screw vices for carpenters' benches. As we have seen, the modern workbench is a direct derivation of the eighteenth-century one, or rather, a mere variant but without substantial differences. It is clear that it is possible to find them of any size, but generally the thickness ranges from 5 to 10 centimeters, for a length that varies between 2 meters and 2 and a half meters, as well as a width between 50 and 65 centimeters. The bench frame is made up of four legs, which are also extremely robust and connected by cross tie rods. The top can be fixed to the base or just placed on it, so as to allow it to be dismantled and put aside more easily. Sometimes even the base and legs can be dismantled or folded, again to facilitate transport and storage when not in use. The height of a worktop also partly determines the type of primary use for which it was designed. In fact, workbenches around 80 centimeters high are preferred if you carry out many operations such as planing, while higher ones are more suitable for precision work, such as carving. Often, on one of the long sides of the workbench there is a special groove in which to place the tools during use but in a safe way for the user. In the carpenter's benches we then find two wooden vices with screws also made of iron. The fasteners used on a workbench are of various types and all have specific names. In detail, there are the dogs, composed of a square iron with a head, to block the piece to be worked; the crab, suitable for thin wood; the L-shaped bar with which the wooden board is held on the work surface. This mechanism of vices and stops makes it possible to clamp and work a piece of wood whatever its thickness or size, all in extreme safety for the user.
How to build a workbench
An alternative to purchasing could be to create a do-it-yourself workbench. This is an option that will appeal especially to those who constantly dedicate themselves to carpentry and DIY. The construction of a workbench, for those who are already quite familiar with this type of work, should not present major difficulties, however it is always good to keep some advice in mind and create a sheet of the object you are about to create, so to follow all phases of the work step by step, checking the work done before starting a subsequent phase. Generally, the tools needed are wooden planks, drill, router, vices, nails, sandpaper, screws. It must always be remembered that the worktop must be built in solid wood, choosing an essence that is capable of withstanding the different stresses to which the structure will be subjected. The height of the worktop is also crucial. It should not exceed 110 centimeters nor be less than 90, so as to ensure excellent comfort. It is clear that you will need a lot of space to carry out this work and also afterwards, especially if you do not intend to put the bench away every time after use. One of the first operations to be done concerns the decision to be made about the position that the metal tools will have. Specific holes will be made for them, placed at a certain distance from each other and, generally, square in shape. It is also possible to move towards the construction of a mobile surface, so as to avoid the continuous movements of the part being worked on in favor of more precise work. Any tools in use, however, must be fixed on special supports. Even if it is a workbench, you must not forget to sand it, so as to have a smooth and polished surface. To carry out this operation, all you need is good sandpaper.
It is true, as we have said, that you can also build a workbench yourself but, sometimes, this is not the best solution if you are not already quite practical and skilled in the trade. On the other hand, there are many possibilities on the market to refer to and you will find a product that can satisfy the main needs of each user. However, before the actual purchase, it will be a good idea to get enough information and keep some tips in mind, so you can make a careful choice. Otherwise, in fact, you could end up spending too much or preferring a low quality product believing in savings and not considering, instead, that you could then need numerous other accessories to actually have the tools you need available. it is needed. It seems appropriate to underline, in fact, that an important additional feature that, in our opinion, a good workbench must have consists of special additional shelves or drawers in which tools can be stored when they are not in use. This way, you will have the opportunity to always keep your workstation tidy, while having every tool at hand. Generally, this type of workbenches is slightly more expensive than the simple one, but it could really represent an optimal solution for those who have little space available and the need to keep everything in order. On the other hand, if you do not have a fixed place in which to leave the worktop, then a foldable and removable solution will be preferable instead, so as to take up minimal space when not in use. If we are true DIY enthusiasts, the workbench will be a bit like our personal workshop. In this case, it is better not to skimp on quality and think that you are making a sort of long-term investment, which may well be worth a few tens of euros more.
The workbench can be purchased new, of course, but also used. Especially thanks to the internet it is possible to find workbenches that are still in excellent condition despite not having just left the factory. It is obvious that a good worktop, with high quality and good technical characteristics can last for decades: so why not take advantage of it and purchase a good piece at a certainly more modest expense, rather than being forced to choose a cheap one? expensive and, perhaps, shoddy? There are several websites on which it is possible to carry out such searches but, above all, one cannot help but mention Ebay, where you can find new and even used objects to be won at auction. The best quality workbenches are made of solid wood with a single table and are equipped with a vice also made of wood: two little tricks to be able to easily evaluate the type of product you have in front of you. It is certain that a large workbench is much more comfortable than a small one, but if there is not much space, even a smaller version of the classic 2 meter x 1 meter version will do its job more than well. The possibility of fixing the workbench firmly to the wall using special pressure screws is excellent. Finally, to understand the price and customization range of this tool, we see two different types of commercial offers, probably also addressed to a different target:
- on Andromeda Shopping you can find various proposals for workbenches at affordable prices. They range from 22.51 euros for a simple worktop to around 107 euros for a more structured one, equipped with drawers;
- a specialized company, however, is Fami which produces different types of workbenches, also for professional use. The materials used are multiplex, beech, urphen with edging, galvanized steel sheet, with a wide choice of metal legs or drawer structures. Prices start from 530 euros, at least for some pieces on promotion.
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