If you are planning on building a workbench, an important factor to consider first is the height of the workbench. It should fit your height and the type of work you are going to be doing, to make it a comfortable working surface.
A general rule for workbench height is that it should be the level of your wrist when you stand relaxed.
A similar way to the determine the height is to use the “fall drop” rule. Relax your arms in front of you while standing. Then tilt your palms up 90 degrees, as if they were resting on an imaginary surface, which is the height of your workbench. This method gives a higher bench than the wrist method mentioned above and is better suited for jobs that involve modern power tools and precision hand tools.
Different workbench heights and their uses
- General height 34’’ – 36’’
General purpose height that is good for joinery or construction type jobs. It’s height that’s practical for various types of jobs. Use any of the two methods above to determine the best workbench height for your body frame.
- Low height 28’’ – 30’’
Good for jobs that require upper body strength, like sanding or cutting with a circular saw. This height allows you to shoulder over your workpiece, so you can use your weight to push the tools. To customize for your height – make it 6’’ lower than your average table height.
- Tall height 38’’ – 40’’
Assembly or repairs type jobs. Makes it easier to see what you are doing and you don’t need to bend over your workpiece, thus straining your back. To customize for your height – make it 6’’ higher than your average table height.
If you can’t make multiple tables for different types of jobs, like me because of limited garage space, consider the type of job you will be doing most often and make a table that fits the best.
Most likely it will be a general purpose height that is modified for your height. Later on, you can make additional devices that mount on top for your table so you can raise the workpiece for higher work and use the bench surface for lower work.
Also, a custom stool and different work supports can help ease your workflow. In general, choose what feels right for you as you will be the person that is using the workbench.
Try out different countertop heights beforehand, for example, kitchen counter to see what is comfortable for you. Maybe even create a mock up from easily available materials – chairs, books, and boxes.