Best Portable Workbenches

Updated January 2021
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

30 Models Considered
24 Hours Researched
2 Experts Interviewed
60 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for Best portable workbenches

Whether you’re a weekend DIY hobbyist or a seasoned home improvement pro, you know the importance of a sturdy and strong work surface. One that will also allow you to quickly set up shop in the basement, attic, garage, or even off-site is a big plus. A portable workbench can provide you with a safe work surface in a movable format so you can tackle a variety of tasks in pretty much any location.

When setting out to purchase a portable workbench, you have a wide variety to choose from. This guide can help you to focus on the features and capabilities of these workbenches — everything from surface area and weight capacity to clamps and build materials — that you need to know before purchasing. In addition to examining what you can expect to pay for a portable workbench, we’ve also included some of our favorites and why we recommend them.

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Some portable workbenches include holes for accessories like bench dogs, which are used to secure wood so it can be safely planed or sanded.

Key considerations

Components

When considering the build of a portable workbench, there are three primary areas to focus on: work surface, support structure, and hardware. The failure of any one part can lead to the failure of the whole, so it’s important to verify that all three are durable and long-lasting.

Worksurface: This is usually made of plastic or some form of polypropylene resin, although some are crafted from wood or even steel. A lower-quality plastic will be lighter in weight but less durable. Wood is generally stronger than plastic, and it has the advantage of offering a completely flat surface on both the top and bottom, so clamps can easily be used on it. For the strongest work surface, choose a portable workbench with a surface made of steel.

Support structure: This comprises the legs and support struts of the portable workbench. While some support structures are made of aluminum, stick to the more common steel, which will provide more support and last longer.

Hardware: Any locking mechanisms, hinges, or other hardware should be crafted from metal. Some workbenches have hardware elements made of plastic, which can break far more easily than those made of metal.

Specifications

Worksurface: The size of the work surface is a primary consideration when choosing a portable workbench. A larger surface provides more area for your projects and tends to be more stable than a smaller surface. If you plan to work on large projects, such as furniture, a larger work area is a must. Also consider the space in which you’ll be using the workbench, because a large portable workbench can quickly overwhelm a limited space.

Height: Your comfort when using a portable workbench is affected by the height of the work surface. A workbench that’s too low for you forces you to bend over and could result in back pain. The height varies from one model to the next, so be sure you know a bench is the right height for you before buying it. While not standard, some portable workbenches are adjustable, which is helpful if several people plan to use the workbench.

Weight: The weight of portable workbenches can vary widely from under 5 pounds to more than 50 pounds. A lighter workbench is easier to carry around but offers less stability and support, particularly for large projects. Lighter workbenches are also less durable. If you have your heart set on a light portable workbench, go with one constructed from plastic and aluminum.

Weight capacity: While most portable workbenches can hold up to 300 or 400 pounds, some are rated for up to 1,000 pounds. The higher the weight rating, the more you can do with your workbench. A bench with a higher weight capacity will probably cost more, so carefully consider how you’ll be using the workbench before buying.

A ruler built into the surface of a workbench can be a handy feature when rough cuts will suffice.

Staff
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Features

Surface

As noted, the work surface can be made from various materials, but that isn’t the only factor that sets one apart from another. The work surface often has holes for accessories, such as bench dogs. Some also have a built-in ruler or various mounting areas for clamps or power tools. Some portable workbenches also fold down for use as a sawhorse.

Clamps

When working on a project, you don’t want it moving around, so you’re going to need clamps. Some portable workbenches don’t come with clamps, but this is rare. Most include some form of clamping system, which varies depending on the workbench you buy. Know what type of clamps ship with a portable workbench (quick clamps, swivel peg clamps, or bench dogs, for example) in addition to how wide they open. The quality of the included clamps is a common complaint, so check the online comments section for the workbench to discover any problems in this area.

Legs

Look for reinforced legs with support struts. These are more stable and can generally hold more weight. The legs should also have robust locking mechanisms, so the workbench doesn’t buckle under the weight of your project. It’s also helpful to have legs with durable rubber feet to keep the workbench from moving around when in use.

Storage

While not standard, some portable workbenches include a drawer or other onboard storage option, which can be handy for keeping track of tools, accessories, or hardware for projects you’re working on.

 

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Did You Know?
Rotational mounts on a portable workbench allow you to easily move a power tool out of the way when it’s not in use.
Staff
BestReviews

Portable workbench prices

Portable workbenches range in price from less than $40 to more than $300, with the average in the $80 to $90 range.

Inexpensive: At the low end, you can find workbenches of lower quality, often made of aluminum and plastic. These tend to include few or no accessories. These are perfect for anyone who needs a compact work surface for lightweight projects.

Mid-range: Around the $80 to $90 mark, the build quality improves considerably. These workbenches tend to be more durable and stable and include a larger work surface. You receive more accessories like clamps with these workbenches, but pay attention to their quality, which can vary considerably.

Expensive: Serious DIYers will want a high-quality portable workbench. These have better build quality, better accessories, and a weight capacity of up to 1,000 pounds. Some workbenches in this range are also designed to hold power tools such as saws or routers.

Any rulers or other markings that you use on a workbench should be laser etched to keep them from fading over time.

Staff
BestReviews

Tips

  • Buy the right size workbench for your projects. While a portable workbench capable of supporting 1,000 pounds may be enticing, you’ll probably be spending too much if you only plan to use it for sawing boards or other simple tasks. Go with a bench with a lower weight capacity to save money.
  • Use clamps on a wooden workbench. Most plastic or composite workbench tops have webbing underneath for added support. This webbing creates a surface that’s difficult to latch onto with a regular clamp. If you plan to use your own clamps with your workbench, consider going with a bench that has a wooden work surface.
  • Check the accessories. Before deciding on a particular workbench, find out what accessories, add-ons, tools, or other items the manufacturer produces that can be used with the workbench. This is an easy way to add functionality to a workbench without spending a lot of money.
  • Make sure the workbench you buy is the right height for you. If you spend a long time working at a portable workbench that’s the wrong height, it can lead to back problems. To find the right height for you, spend a few minutes working on various countertops, tables, and other surfaces in your house. Measure the height of the surface that is the most comfortable for you
  • Buy two foldable portable workbenches. If the portable workbench you want can also be folded down into a sawhorse, consider picking up two. This will give you twice the surface area to work on, and you can fold them to have two sturdy sawhorses.
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A quality portable workbench should be able to handle a variety of DIY tasks, including carpentry and mechanical jobs.

FAQ

Q. Can a portable workbench be used outdoors?

A. Yes, although you should avoid leaving it outside in bad weather. While some portable workbenches are advertised as weather-resistant, others will fade in the sun or rust in the rain. Take particular care with a workbench with a woodwork surface, because moisture can warp the wood.

Q. Do all portable workbenches fold?

A. While the overwhelming majority of them do fold up for transport or storage, some portable workbenches include wheels or casters. These allow you to easily roll the workbench around and are more suitable for transporting a workbench over a short, flat distance. Any wheels or casters should include some form of locking mechanism to keep the workbench from rolling while you work.

Workbenches that fold — no wheels —  are much more common. When purchasing a workbench, note how it folds. Some fold flat for storage. A folding workbench should also have some form of lock or fastener to keep it from folding or unfolding unexpectedly. If you will be transporting the workbench frequently, be sure it includes some type of comfortable carrying handle, too.

Q. How do I select the right portable workbench for my needs?

A. Start by considering what you want to use the workbench for. If it’s an easy way to cut the occasional board, as opposed to building large furniture, a small, light workbench should do. Also, will you be using the workbench primarily at home, or will you be frequently taking it on the road? A lighter workbench is much easier to transport.

Finally, create a list of all the features you want in a portable workbench. Take these factors into consideration as you compare workbenches, eliminating those that don’t meet all your needs. Your final selection from the list of remaining workbenches depends largely on how strongly each workbench aligns with the features that are most important to you. Also, factor in price, if that’s a primary consideration.

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