For some reason, garages have become synonymous with mess and clutter. This is not how they should be! Garages are useful spaces that can be used for storage and so much more.
The problem a lot of people have is that they’re not using the space effectively. My father’s garage started with some boxes and bags in one corner. They’d been put there for storage with the view of being sold later.
Obviously, the sale never happened. That small corner of junk spread throughout the garage over the years. Eventually, you couldn’t step further than a foot past the door.
When my father retired he got into woodworking and decided to finally reclaim his garage. The junk went and things that needed to stay were stored properly. One of the best things he bought was several workbenches.
Not only did they give him space for his woodworking, but they also helped him maximize the rest of the space in the garage. Now, it’s a total man cave with space for his hobbies, tools, and a beer fridge!
The fact is, workbenches are one of the best bits of furniture you can get for your garage. They help you maximize the floor, wall, and storage spaces as well as giving you surfaces to work on.
Types Of Workbench
Garages come in many different sizes and shapes. Luckily, so do workbenches! Here are some of the most common types and their distinguishing features.
- Woodworker’s Bench – This is sort of your bog-standard workbench. It has a thick hardwood top and four legs that are joined by a shelf below. These benches traditionally have two vices attached to one of the long ends and one of the short ends. Nowadays they are often sold without the vices. This is especially true of cheaper benches.
- Cabinetmaker’s Bench – The top of this bench is similar to a woodworker’s bench in that it is made from a thick durable material. They may also have vices at either end, though again, this depends on how much you are willing to pay. The major difference is what’s below the worksurface.
A cabinetmaker’s bench has drawers and cupboards underneath which come in useful for storing tools and materials. The more expensive benches will have bigger cabinets and more drawers. Basic benches may only have a single cabinet.
- Backboard Bench – These benches are more common in household garages than the other kinds. They are the best all-purpose benches though are more suited for repairs than crafting due to the lack of vice.
The main feature of these benches is the tall backboard made from wood or metal. It has two functions. The first is to prevent your tools and materials from falling off the back of the bench. The second function is storage. These boards can have shelves or pegboards which can store a variety of tools and materials.
More expensive benches may have drawers or cupboards underneath. Cheaper models may simply have a shelf.
- Folding/Portable Bench – These are ideal if you have a small garage or you need to take your bench with you.
There are lots of different designs for these kinds of benches but the major feature is that they have two fairly narrow planks as a work surface. Cranks are built into the bench that allows you to increase the distance between the two planks. This gives you more space to work with larger materials.
Other folding workbenches are more like fold-out tables. The legs tend to fold into the work surface or against it. Many of these kinds of benches will have carry handles along one side.
Some foldable benches are sold with clamps or vices attached. Others have drawers tucked away into the work surface.
These benches tend to be made from heavy-duty plastic or aluminum to make them more lightweight. In general, they won’t withstand the same amount of use and abuse as other benches.
Folding benches tend to be a lot cheaper and are pretty popular with beginners who don’t want to shell out for a large bench. If you want to get a folding workbench, take a look here for some advice.
Using Storage Space Wisely
The best way workbenches can help with maximizing garage space is with all the storage options they provide.
Portable benches don’t usually offer many storage solutions but the other kinds do. Here are some ideas for using getting the most storage space out of your bench.
- Organize your items by type and size. Keep your screwdrivers together, put your screws in one place, and sort them by size. This will make it easier for you to find what you’re looking for when you need it. It also means that you won’t need to dig through all your hardware to find the right size screw.
- Put your most used items to hand. Again, this is about ease of access. If you have a backboard or pegboard, put your most frequently used tools at eye level. If you’re storing them in a drawer or cupboard, make sure it’s within reach.
- Use the underside of your workbench. If you have a workbench without drawers and cupboards, you can add storage to the bottom of the work surface.
Attach mason jar lids to the bottom of your bench with screws or heavy-duty adhesives. You can fill the jars with screws, nuts, and other hardware.
You could also attach some rails to the bottom of the workbench. This will allow you to put buckets or drawers under the bench. You could also hang tools, tapes, and wires from here.
Remember that if you’ll need to secure them firmly because you’ll probably go to end up banging on your workbench quite often.
- Put Organisers In Your Drawers. Just because you can’t see the inside of your drawers most of the time, it doesn’t mean that you should let it become a mess. Use cutlery organizers or underwear drawer organizers to keep your items together and sorted.
Using Floor Space
How you plan on using your workbench and garage will affect where you place your workbench.
If you’re using large materials and creating items on your workbench you’ll want space around your bench. The best place for a workbench in this case is directly in the center of your garage.
If you place it too close to cupboards, shelves, and walls you’ll end up making a mess and getting frustrated as you knock into everything. At the bare minimum, you want about 2 feet between your workbench and other items.
If you have cupboards or doors nearby, make sure you can open them fully. Blocking cupboards and drawers just discourages you from using them to keep things organized.
If you have a backboard workbench, you’ll probably want to put it against a wall for stability. Put it close to electric sockets if you have them. It will save you from dragging extension leads around the place when you want to use power tools.
Again, the key thing here is to make sure everything is accessible. Blocked cupboards, drawers, and shelves are an ineffective use of space.
Making The Most of Folding Benches
If you have a real shortage of space in your garage, then folding workbenches are the key to success. They can be pulled out when needed and put away to give you space for other activities.
When you’re buying a portable workbench, you’ll want to consider how small it can fold up. This will give you better storage options. You also want to think about the weight of the bench. If it’s lightweight it can be stored on top of shelves or units.
Workbenches are vital to a well-organized garage space. They provide so many storage options and very much earn the amount of floor space they take up.
Use them wisely and place them properly and you’ll be able to maximize your garage space.