If you have been in the woodworking industry for a while, then you know just how important it is to have a comfortable and supportive workbench at the right height. But, with woodworkers having different physical builds and woodworking needs, is there an ideal height that can cover it all?
The best workbench height for handwork (hand planing, thickness work, etc.) is a low height between 29-30” while the best for detailed work (creating dovetails and precision designs) is a tall height between 37-39”. The most popular height for a workbench compromises between the two at 34-36”.
However, finding the right workbench height for your woodworking tasks can ultimately depend on what you intend to do on the workbench the most frequently. If you spend your days hunched over a low sitting workbench, this could result in just as much pain and frustration as having to reach too high. So, choosing the right workbench height for your particular woodworking tasks and physical stature is imperative for your success as a woodworker. Let’s take a closer look.
Choosing the Best Workbench Height Measurements
If you are new to woodworking, then you are likely just starting to prepare your woodworking shop. There are plenty of tools (as well as skills) to acquire, but the one piece of your woodworking shop that cannot be missing is the workbench. Unfortunately, many people do not see the importance of choosing the right height for their workbench and end up feeling the physical toll that the wrong height can cause.
With this in mind, it is important to choose the best workbench height. Keep in mind that these measurements are for a person with an average height of 5’9” to 6’, so adjust the measurements accordingly if you do not fall in this range. Consider the best workbench height measurements determined by your woodworking task.
Best Workbench Height for a Low Workbench for Handwork (29-30”)
If you are someone who leans over your workbench with a widened stance, feet spread apart and your shoulders really putting some power into the tools that you are applying to your woodworking project, then you probably want to opt for a low sitting workbench. In this case, you can use a low workbench height of 29-30”.
Now, when you walk into a woodworking shop and the workbench is sitting at 29-30”, it will feel incredibly short compared to some other more average workbenches. However, if you are someone who consistently does handwork like applying pressure with your hand planes or other types of thickness work, then you are going to want to be able to use your body to put some force into this type of work.
Because of this, you will want a workbench that does not sit very high. You will want to be able to lean over your projects and, thus, your workbench, to achieve the desired result. However, this is not an ideal height for work that requires you to be on your feet doing detailed work. That could leave your back aching for days.
Best Workbench Height for a Tall Workbench for Detailed Work (37-39”)
Now, if you are looking for the right workbench height that you will not have to lean over (such as a workbench that you can comfortably use for detailed work with precision designs), then you will want to opt for a tall workbench at 37-39”. Of course, this is far higher than the type of workbench you might want if you are having to put your body into the woodworking action.
However, if you are creating dovetail joints or etching in a new design on your beautiful piece of wood, you will want something that you are not having to slump over all day long. Yes, we have all been there, and there is no turning back after finding the right height for your workbench.
Another reason that you might want a tall workbench is if you are working with power hand tools to secure the finishing touches on your woodworking project. You will not want to have to lean over to place a screw or to adjust the placement of your miter cut ends. Instead, you will want something that you can easily rest on while working to finish up your project.
Then, another reason that a tall workbench is preferred is if you are applying any type of pre-sealant or treatment to your project before you place the pieces together. You will want to be able to see this job up close, so having a comfortable height is important.
However, keep in mind that a tall workbench is not ideal if you are trying to place pressure on a miter saw or move around with your other woodworking tools while trying to peek to see what they are doing to your wood.
Best Workbench Height for an Average Workbench 34-36”
Many woodworkers find that they are not just using hand planers, and they are not just doing precision work when woodworking. Contrarily, they are doing a combination of these among other woodworking tasks, and they will need a workbench that can accommodate all types of tasks. In this case, a woodworker can opt for a compromise between a low and tall workbench height for an average workbench height of 34-36”.
This type of workbench is incredibly popular- especially when space is limited in a woodworking shop and there is not room enough for multiple workbenches. Along with that, many woodworkers find that they prefer to have one main workbench so that their tools are not scattered all throughout the woodworking shop.
Because of this, an average workbench height of 34-36” can provide somewhat of a happy medium between a workbench that is ideal for handwork and detailed work. Of course, you might find that if you are using an average workbench height for something that requires a bit more pressure, you might need to stand a bit taller or even build a small platform on which to stand during this type of project.
Similarly, you may find that the average height sits too low for what you are comfortable with while doing detail work. It can be incredible how much of a difference a few inches can make, but that is why it is ultimately so important to find the right height for your stature and woodworking needs.
How to Measure the Perfect Workbench Height for You
Now, if you are taking these recommendations into perspective, you have the option to purchase a pre-built workbench, or you can choose to customize the perfect workbench height just for you and your unique woodworking tasks. After all, you are a woodworker, right? What better project than to build the perfect workbench for all of your woodworking needs.
To measure the perfect workbench height for you, consider the following steps:
- Determine the woodworking tasks you will be performing the most. If you are someone who works on smaller projects that require a high level of detail, you will want to consider a taller workbench height. This will allow you to see what you are doing up close without having to hunch over.
Alternatively, if you are someone who does a lot of thickness adjusting and needs to use the weight of his or her body applied with the tools to achieve the best results, then consider a low sitting workbench. Finally, if you are someone who plans to do some of each, then you can either make two workbenches or choose an average height.
- Take measurements of your physical stature. There are a few different methods that you can measure your physical stature and how this will translate into the perfect height for your workbench. Choosing one of these options can help you to determine the right height for your projects- a truly customized workbench.
One method that you can use is to leave your arms hanging at your side and measure from the floor to the crease of your wrist. Then, use this height as the workbench height. Another option is to measure from the floor to where your fingers reach if pointed downward. This is perfect for creating a lower sitting workbench.
Finally, another option is to hold your arms out at your sides at a 90-degree angle. From here, you can have a friend measure from the floor to where your hands are sitting in this position. This is ideal for a taller workbench height as it mimics where your workbench would be sitting once your hands are out of the way.
In choosing the right method, you can always add or subtract an inch or two from these measurements to give or take a little height from your table. This can help you to determine the right measurement for your particular height as well as give you the freedom to make adjustments according to your woodworking needs.
- Add adjustable legs. If you are someone who plans on doing multiple types of woodworking tasks (as most of us will), then you can also add adjustable legs to your workbench. These are not sold quite as frequently, but they can be an incredibly functional add-on that you can build yourself.
In adding adjustable legs, you will have an “on” and “off” position or an “up” and “down” position that allows you to add a few inches to your workbench when you are in need of a taller setup (or lowering it when you are in need of that option). To do this, you will create your workbench at your personalized height.
Then, you will add a set of legs adjoined to the bottom of your workbench by 3” butt hinges that can be secured for an up or down position for your workbench. In adding these to your workbench, you get the best of both worlds with two height adjustment variations in your workshop setup.
- Follow workbench height recommendations. Even as you personalize your workbench height to meet your needs and physical stature, it is recommended to follow the standard workbench height recommendations. This does not have to lock you into this range, but it can give you a better idea of what your measurements will mean for your woodworking performance.
In doing this, consider the following workbench heights depending on the purpose of your woodworking task. Again, keep in mind that these heights are based on an average height (of the woodworker) between 5’9” and 6’. So, if you are shorter or taller than this, you can add or subtract the appropriate number of inches in your range from 5’10” to hit the right height.
|Workbench Stature||Workbench Height (In)||Ideal Workbench Tasks at this Height|
|Low Workbench||29-30”||Handwork (Hand planing, applying pressure, adjusting thickness)|
|Tall Workbench||37-39”||Detail/precision work, using power hand tools, joint work|
|Average Workbench||34-36”||Combination of tasks (ideal for a woodworker who does it all)|
|*Optional Adjustable Legs||3-4”||Optional add-on with butt hinges to provide two workbench heights in one setup|