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Standard Workbench Heights (For Different Applications)

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Don’t suffer back, arm, or leg strain. Why the height of your workbench matters.

Whether it’s in your garage or woodshop, your workbench is a workhorse. But what is the ideal workbench height, and why is it so important? Considering most woodwork tasks involve using the workbench, setting the correct height is crucial to avoid muscle fatigue.

We look in detail at the standard workbench height and discuss when to adjust the size to cater to different tasks.

Workbench Height Settings

Make sure your workbench is adjustable because different projects call for different heights. For fine work, set the workbench between 37 and 40 inches. For light work, it should be set around 36 inches. When working on heavy objects, you need a lower height setting, somewhere between 25 and 33 inches.


Why Is Workbench Height So Important?

When it comes to the proper workbench height, it’s all about user comfort, the task at hand, and the weight of the object you’re working on. Woodworking involves a lot of standing at the bench, which takes its toll on your lower back.

Getting the right workbench height prevents strain in your arms, back, and legs. It also makes it easier to get accurate results and is more comfortable to use tools like chisels and hand planes.

The more strain you suffer, the faster fatigue sets in, which cuts the amount of time you can keep working.

Adjusting your workbench to the correct height for heavy projects also improves the table’s stability, making it safer for you to use.

Safety Notice

Fatigue around machinery and tools could lead to injury. Please take a break if you are feeling the effects of tiredness.

What Is the Ideal Height for a Workbench?

There is no ideal height because each person is different. Also, the type of project and the weight of your workpiece determine the correct size of your table. However, the average height of a workbench should be between 36 and 38 inches for most light work.

The easiest way to measure the height of your workbench is to stand next to the table with your palms outstretched, facing the floor. Get someone to measure from the floor to your palm. Setting the table at this height is best for general hand tool woodworking.

Some experts tell you to measure down to your shirt cuff, which is essentially the same as measuring to your outstretched palm.

However, this measurement can feel low for detailed work and joinery. Adding a couple of inches to your palm height improves posture and makes it easier to perform intricate work.

Top Tip

A great way to check the height is set correctly is to place your palm on the bench without bending your arm. If you can do this, your workbench is the perfect height.

Standard Workbench Dimensions

A lot depends on the space you have available. If you custom-build the workbench, it can be any shape or dimension. However, shop-bought models come in standard sizes. The table should be around 48 to 96 inches long, 28 to 36 inches in depth, and 28 to 38 inches in height.

Workbenches in professional settings like workshops and bespoke furniture manufacturers tend to be larger to cater to any size of workpiece. They have the space to accommodate more significant workbenches because they need the extra capacity.

Best Workbench Height for Your Task

The type of task you undertake has a bearing on the workbench height. Most of the projects will be lightweight, but occasionally, you will need to adjust the table height for heavier tasks.

Getting the right height of your workbench makes woodworking safer because the table is less likely to topple under a heavy weight or become unstable when you start planing or sanding.

For Fine Work

When working up close, you need good hand-eye coordination to get better precision. You should set your table to a position where it is comfortable to rest your elbows at 90 degrees.

Also, allow a margin of two or three inches up or down for adjustments to increase comfort levels. So, the best height range is between 37 and 40 inches.

The additional height brings the workpiece closer and supports your lower back when you need to lean in for drawing and measuring.

For Light Work

When conducting light work, bend your elbows and measure the table height to make it a couple of inches lower. The overall size of the tabletop should be between 31.4 and 43.3 inches, with an ideal average working height of 36 inches.

It enables you to lean forward to get closer to the workpiece while resting your elbows for comfort.

For Heavy Work

Working with heavy workpieces is more challenging because if the workbench is set too high it could make it unstable. Also, if you are sanding, chiseling, or planing, you need to apply downward pressure, so the table should be set at a lower height.

Measure the table between four and 10 inches below the height of your bent elbows. It should make the overall height of the tabletop somewhere between 25.7 and 33.4 inches.

This is probably the only time you would consider working at this height, but the lower center of gravity increases stability and gives you a more comfortable working position.

Best Workbench Height for Your Size

Here is a simple formula to help you decide the height of your carpentry table based on your size:

  1. Ask someone to help you measure the distance from your crown (top of your head) to your wrist (hold your arm straight alongside your body so that your palm is parallel with the floor).
  2. Minus measurement from your overall height.
  3. This is the ideal workbench height for general work.

If you build a bench from scratch, convert your height into cm and drop 100 from the total. This gives you an approximate size for your workbench.

Here’s a handy at-a-glance guide:

Your Height Table Height (General Work) Table Height (Sanding/Cutting) Table Height (Assembly/Repairs)
5ft 4 inches 2ft 1ft 6 inches 2ft 6 inches
5ft 5 inches 2ft 2 inches 1ft 8 inches 2ft 8 inches
5ff 7 inches 2ft 4 inches 1ft 10 inches 2ft 10 inches
5ft 9 inches 2ft 5.5 inches 1ft 11.5 inches 2ft 11.5 inches
6ft 2ft 9.5 inches 2ft 3.5 inches 3ft 3.5 inches
6ft 2 inches 2ft 11.5 inches 2ft 5.5 inches 3ft 5.5 inches
6ft 4 inches 3ft 1.5 inches 2ft 7.5 inches 3ft 7.5 inches

What Is the Ideal Height for a Sitting Workbench

Typically, most carpentry is performed standing up, but some tasks call for a sitting position. Carving or using a scroll saw is easier when seated.

Sometimes working on larger projects is easier when you are sitting down. It certainly helps your legs and lower back by relieving pressure and means you can keep working for longer between coffee breaks.

To calculate the best height for a sitting workbench, simply subtract 43 inches from your height measurement.

FAQs

How Tall and Wide Should a Workbench Be?

The width and height of your workbench depends on the space you have available. For professionals, the workbench will likely be a maximum size of 36 inches in depth, 96 inches in width, and 38 inches in height.

For general woodworking at home, the table doesn’t need to be quite so large. You will probably only need something about 30 inches deep, 50 inches wide, and 31 inches high.

What Should I Look for In a Workbench?

A good workbench should be sturdy enough to withstand daily use. Make sure it doesn’t move while you are working, and joints don’t work loose under force. It should be able to cater to most woodwork tasks, and it should have anchor points to hold your workpiece still.

How Far Should a Workbench Top Overhang?

The overhang on your workbench should extend out over the base by four inches on the sides and ends.

What Kind of Wheels Do I Need for My Workbench?

Your wheels should be rubber, sturdy, and lockable. The harder the rubber, the more weight it can bear.

FYI

Softer rubber casters are liable to suffer flat spots, which is where the rubber forms a flat surface when it sits under a heavy weight.

If this happens, the table will not be maneuverable, which is a pain if you want to rearrange your garage.

How Flat Should a Workbench Be?

Your workbench should be completely flat. If not, it could affect the quality of your finished projects. If you have a wooden workbench, the good news is you can flatten it using a hand plane.


The Final Word

We said at the start that your workbench is the workhorse of your garage or woodshop. Getting the height right makes woodworking a breeze. It removes lower back strain, hand and arm fatigue and improves your accuracy.

Whether you buy a workbench or build one from scratch, make sure it is ergonomic and adjustable to cater to different applications.

Headshot of Mark Weir

About the Author

Mark Weir

Mark spent 24 years working in real estate, so he knows his way around a home. He also worked with contractors and experts, advising them on issues of planning, investments, and renovations. Mark is no stranger to hands-on experience, having renovated his own home and many properties for resale. He likes nothing better than seeing a project through to completion.