The Garage Workbench: Buying, Building & Organizing Yours

Never again clutter your days or nights with so many menial
and unimportant things that you have no time to accept a real challenge
when it comes along.
” Og Mandino (1923-1996)

The garage workbench is the heart of any workshop or garage. If you are buying one, building one or organizing yours, use these tips to do it right.


Whether you are an occasional or regular user of your own workbench, you know how quickly it can become a cluttered space that robs your time and productivity.

Act now to reclaim your workbench, regain productivity and eliminate stress in your life. This is a great place to start yourgarage organization project.

Need a Workbench In Your Garage?

Choosing the right garage workbench depends on the type of work you do there and how much free space you have in the garage. If you purchase a pre-made workbench, there are many wonderful options available.

There are flip-down, flip-up and portable models, large and small options, wood and metal top designs, etc. The key is to determine how much space you have and what you will do there, and then choose accordingly.

If you are a “do it yourselfer,” you can even custom build your own garage workbench. A simple model can be built using plywood for the top, 2 x 4s for the legs and rails, wood glue, screws, and carriage bolts for stability.

Many people (including me) have built a garage workbench using an old or unused door as the top and simply supported it with a base constructed of 2 x 4s or 4 x 4s. Although this type of top may not be suitable for power users, it will suffice for most tasks.

Proper Garage Workbench Height

Garage Workbench
Workbench and Shelving Storage System with Hooks and Clamps

A workbench should be the proper height so you will be comfortable while standing. There are many prescribed methods for determining the “proper” garage workbench height, but it really comes down to your own personal comfort.

Some pundits will tell you to set your workbench at about the height of the crease on your wrist. Others will tell you your workbench is at the proper height if you can stand with your palms on the bench and a little bend at your elbows. Both methods place the bench height at between 33 and 36 inches for people from 5′ 9″ to 6′ 0″ tall.

If I was to follow the typical advice, my workbench would be between 34 and 34 1/2″ tall . . . but it’s not. At 5’9″ tall I prefer to have my garage workbench at 37″. That’s not as tall as my stand-up desk (40″), but it is a little taller than what is typical, and it works for me.

Remember the Workbench Stool

Even if you don’t plan to use a stool at your garage workbench, it’s not a bad idea to have one. What if someone stops by to help or your son or daughter wants to watch while you work? What if your 76 year old father (like mine) comes to visit and he needs a place to rest a spell while you enjoy one more opportunity to spend time together?

Having a place to sit may be more important than you think, even if it’s not for you. Think of the memories you could build and the opportunities to teach your kids, grandkids, or a neice or nephew.

There are a few things to keep in mind when choosing the right stool. Visit ourworkbench stool page for specific ideas and recommendations.

Finally (really!), some people like their workbench height to match the top of their table saw, allowing them to use the workbench to support longer material when cutting. That would probably make sense for some people, depending on where they placed their workbench in the garage.

My preference is to use a 10″ portable table saw with a standalone adjustable out-feed roller stand. Therefore, the table saw and the garage workbench are independent of one another.

Gorilla Rack Garage Workbench
Gorilla Rack GR2102B 5-Feet Workbench with 2 Drawers, Black

Proper Workbench Location

Against a wall? In the middle of the room? If the garage is attached to your home, install your workbench on a wall nearest to the house. This will save on wiring if you plan on putting an electrical outlet near the bench (a very good idea).

Plus, this area of the garage will be warmest during the winter since it is closest to the inside of the house. If you have not completed your garage organization project, this is a great time to find the best place for your workbench.

Beside and Under the Workbench

Installing a simple slide drawer directly underneath a portion of the workbench will allow you to have a host of small, frequently used items right at your fingertips, but also keep your work surface free from clutter. You could also install magnetic strips along either side of the workbench surface, or inside the drawer for keeping items in place.

Remember the ever valuable storage space beneath your garage workbench that often goes unused. This area is great for stacking boxes of infrequently used items. Just be sure to keep them up against the wall so they don’t inhibit your movement while working or sitting at the bench.

Among the long list of garage organization systems, clear plastic totes are a must. Using them to store things under your workbench allows you to see what’s inside without the need to open each one. You can also put printed labels on the plastic totes or label them directly with a permanent marker.

Above the Workbench

Garage Workbench Pegboard
Wall Control 30-WRK-400WB Standard Workbench Metal Pegboard Tool Organizer

Tools you use regularly should be close to the workbench. For most people the ideal location for small tools is on the wall above the workbench, and a pegboard hanging surface is an essential item to keep everything neat, but readily accessible.

The key is to organize your tools by type and choose the ones you use most often for hanging on the pegboard. The rest can go into toolboxes, drawers or storage bins.

When you buy hooks for the pegboard, try to buy enough to hang only one tool per hook. When hanging your tools, arrange them to allow a little space in between, making it easier to locate the one you need when you need it.

With so many sizes and types of tools, it’s a little like putting together a puzzle, but it should be pleasing to the eye when finished. That really helps!

Tool Tip: Use clear vinyl pencil cases that zipper to stay shut and hang them on a pegboard hook. This is a simple garage storage idea for storing the smallest of items such as screws, washers, nails, nuts and bolts. Be creative and use your imagination.

Garage Shelving and Garage Cabinets

Another way to keep the garage workbench organized and usable is to hang garage shelves either on the pegboard itself, just above it, or to the sides. Smaller shelves hung along side the pegboard are great for keeping items such as bottles of wood glue or unopened boxes of nails on hand.

Garage storage cabinets will not only add extra storage space to your garage, they will help you transform your garage into a clean, clutter-free environment. With so many options on the market today, it is simply a matter of choosing the right garage cabinets to suit your taste, the space in your garage, and your budget. From simple plywood cabinets to a complete set of customized stainless steel cabinets, the sky is truly the limit.

Conclusion

The garage workbench is an essential part of any garage. Remember to first tackle your garage organization project, then do some research and choose the right workbench for your work style and the space you have available.


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