Workbenches: The Top 10 Woods to Choose From - Answers & Solutions  

Workbenches: The Top 10 Woods to Choose From

Every competent carpenter relies on his or her tried-and-true workbench. Since I was in need of answers, I wrote this post to assist you with the assembly of your workbench. So, which wood do you recommend for a workbench?

Since it is heavy, straight-grained, and rather dense, Hard Maple makes an excellent workstation material. Which type of wood you use may be affected by factors including availability, personal preference, pricing, and the equipment at your disposal.

The ideal wood for a workbench can’t just be picked at random. Prioritize your purchases based on your budget and the machines and tools you plan to utilise in the workshop. Pine, maple, and even plywood are all great options for the frame and top of the table.

Even the term “Whitewood” can be applied to certain species of pine. If you want to know what whitewood is, read my article.

In this article, I will discuss the several species of wood that are ideal for constructing a workbench, along with their respective advantages and characteristics. You want to get the most out of your money by preparing thoroughly before going wood shopping.

They’re widely available at hardware stores and on the internet. For those who are building their first workbench, I’ve addressed some of the most common concerns. Reading this page will have you prepared to go out and get the timber for your new, uniquely designed workstation.

Top 10 Woods For Building a Workbench

The following ten types of wood are among the best for building a workstation. The ideal bench can be crafted from a variety of different types of wood, and I have gathered a variety of them for you. Most benches will additionally have an additional top layer of material measuring several inches thick to ensure the bench remains flat, solid, and durable even under constant, intense use.

I’ve included both hardwoods and softwoods in the list below, but please note that you can receive a high-quality item by not opting for the more expensive hardwood. There is no particular order to them.

I conducted a survey among members of a popular Facebook group for woodworkers to find out which of these woods they prefer. You should read it down below.

Advantage Lumber has provided a handy scale table that provides a thorough explanation of the Janka rating that we used to determine the hardness of each wood.

Wood type Hardness (pounds per foot) Cost (per board foot)
White Pine 380 $2.00
White Ash 1320 $2.50 – $7.00
MDF Varies $1.00 – $5.00
American Beech 1300 $6.29
Yellow Birch 1260 $3.00 – $6.00
White Oak 1350 $4.10 – $9.25
Hard Maple 1450 $3.00 – $8.00
Douglas Fir 620 $3.00 – $7.50
White Poplar 410 $3.00 – $4.00
Plywood Varies $2.00 – $4.00

1. White Pine

Typical of Wood:

The texture is about average.
Uniform, straight grain
Softwood with a pale hue
Popular in the realms of construction and decoration.

2. White Ash

Typical of Wood:

Shades of white
Texture that is either medium or coarse
Use machinery, glues, dyes, and finishes to make beautiful objects.
Subtle wood
The mill, the floor, and the handicrafts all use this material frequently.

3. Medium-Density Fiberboard (MDF)

Typical of Wood:

Stronger than particle board
Made of resin, wax, and cellulose from wood
Used frequently in both indoor and outdoor construction
Extremely adaptable
Extremely level surface
If you want to know how to screw MDF without it cracking, read my article.

4. American Beech

Typical of Wood:

Shades of white
Beautiful results can be achieved using a wide variety of techniques, including hand tools, machines, glues, stains, and finishes.
Having a straight grain and a moderately rough surface
Hardwood is a popular choice for the production of many different types of things, including furniture, specialty items, and even sports equipment.

5. Yellow Birch

Typical of Wood:

Warm light reddish brown
Incredibly smooth and even in texture
grain that is either wavy or generally straight
Hardwood is typically utilised for adornment, packaging, and specialised uses.
Any birch would do, so feel free to substitute a more abundant local kind if you happen to have access to one.

6. White Oak

Typical of Wood:

A brown colour that is either light or medium
Very long lasting and resistant to decay by nature
It’s versatile in terms of machinery and tools, and it’s also very easy to deal with.
Wet iron could cause the wood to oxidise, causing a change in colour.
It’s common usage spans boat fittings, furniture, and decoration.

7. Hard Maple

Typical of Wood:

Having a mild hue
Uneven and has a coarse texture.
Hardwood with a Uniform Grain
Utilized frequently in the construction of floors, furniture, and cupboards

8. Douglas Fir

Typical of Wood:

A pale hue with rosy or cream undertones
Can the grain be straight or wavy?
Texture that is either medium or coarse
Popular applications include flooring, plywood, and structural repairs.

9. White Poplar

Typical of Wood:

Widely customised and used for a wide range of applications.
Subtle wood
Having a mild hue

10. Softwood Plywood

Typical of Wood:

Colorless to a light or ruddy brown
Less sturdy than MDF
Regularly employed in the building, furnishing, flooring, and fencing industries
Keep your plywood from becoming wet. Take a look at the results when this area is soaked.

Where Can You Purchase Wood For Your Workbench?

Once you’ve settled on a specific species of wood, you may begin your search. Numerous options exist for obtaining reasonably priced, high-quality timber. To help you get started on building a workbench, we’ve included a few options for wood suppliers below.

To learn where to get wood, read my article.

Home Repair Store

It’s possible that you’ll be able to find reasonably priced wood suitable for making a workbench at your neighbourhood hardware store. This is a handy choice because the wood may be custom-cut to your measurements, you can personally inspect each plank to verify you’re getting the highest quality material, and some shops will even bring the wood right to your door.

Individual Seller

Find out if anyone in your area is selling any excess wood by looking in the classifieds and on social media and classifieds sites. If you’re lucky, you can pick up some great stuff completely free of charge.

In most cases, you should be able to negotiate a more acceptable price with a private seller if you find that their asking price is significantly more than the going rate for the type of wood you want. The risk of purchasing from an individual is that the wood will be of varying quality and there will be no warranties.

Online Lumber Catalog

You may locate the best lumber prices and shipping options from any of a large number of online lumber catalogues. Here are some of the most frequent:

Woodworkers’ Advantage Lumber Rockler Source Rockler Woodcraft

Local Lumber of Woodworking Sources

If you’re in a town with a mill, you might be able to score a good deal on some rough lumber for your building endeavour. Where to discover the best local wood resources is also something that most woodworking communities can help you with. For more information, you can visit online forums and local woodworking shops.

Auction Site

Online auction houses are still another option. When a business such as a mill or woodshop closes down, there is often still surplus lumber that needs to be moved. If you want to build a workbench and still have some wood left over for your first few projects, you should look into purchasing it at an auction because it is usually sold in large quantities at a slight discount.

However, a search for your state will typically get the best overall results, even though there are numerous generic auction sites like eBay. If you happen to call Ohio home, you might do an online search for “Ohio lumber auction.”

Mistakes to Avoid When Building a Workbench

If this is your first time constructing a workbench, there are certain common mistakes you should try to avoid making. These are elementary but easy to overlook in the heat of the moment.

Make a Strategy: Failing to create a plan is the most common error that people make. You need to know where the bench will go, how much room you have above it, how much money you have, and what sort of look you’re going for. You could waste money or get a workbench design that can’t do what you need if you don’t narrow down those key factors.
Too many holdfast/dog holes are drilled by inexperienced workstation constructors. You shouldn’t have more than eight separate holes in your first attempt. If you find that you need more down the road, that’s fine. Read my essay for more on the significance of the holes on workbenches.
Likewise, be wary of using an excessive number of leg vises. All you need is a tail and a face vice to lock someone up.
Having cleverly concealed drawers or shelves that are ultimately more bother than they’re worth is not a good idea. While they may sound impressive on paper, in practise they often prove to be cumbersome, pointless, and expensive.
Overanalyzing: giving too much thought to one component of the construction can lead to paralysis by analysis and wasted resources. After you’ve finished the preliminary planning, try not to overthink things. Mastering the fundamentals will pave the way for later refinement of your finished bench.


The ideal wood for a workbench has been identified, but there are still some things to think about before beginning construction. What follows are some answers to the most common inquiries I get about building a workbench and the kinds of things people typically use for it.

What Kinds of Workbenches Are There?

You’ll need to pick what kind of workstation you want to construct before you can choose the material. There are benefits and drawbacks to each, but your final decision should be based on the type of work you plan to conduct with them.

To create a one-of-a-kind workbench is a passion project for some, while following a tried-and-true blueprint is more their speed. Listed below are the most popular varieties of workbenches and brief descriptions of their main features.

A standard woodworking workbench will include four legs, a shelf, dog/holdfast holes, vises, and sometimes another inbuilt equipment. To guarantee a sturdy and level surface for work, the top is typically several inches thick. It doesn’t matter what kind of wood you have on hand, this bench will look great.
Drawers and extra shelves to store a cabinet maker’s assortment of tools distinguish a cabinet maker’s bench from a standard woodworking bench. Building one of these will be a labour of love and an investment of time and resources; as such, you shouldn’t waste either by using a wood that is prohibitively expensive or impossible to source in big amounts.
A backboard bench is the simplest type of bench to construct. It has a surface for working on, a backboard for holding things like tools, and a shelf underneath. You can attach a vise to it, but otherwise it serves as a huge table for working on simple home improvement jobs. All sorts of woods can be used to fashion this.
A portable bench is a good choice if you conduct a lot of modest jobs around the house or out in the field. They typically collapse to a size that can be stored in a car’s trunk. You can be as elaborate as you like with your folding workstation, or keep things simple with one of many available plans. Woods that are not too heavy should be used.

What Additional Accessories Can You Add To Your Workbench?

You should not forget the following helpful extras when upgrading your workbench with do-it-yourself tools, more storage options, or anything else.

Storage magnet for hardware
Benches with castor wheels on the legs are more portable and lightweight.
The power strip is integrated into the design.
Clamp edge track
Numerous hooks for hanging things and securing cords and equipment
One or more means of directing light where it is needed most, such as an adjustable lamp, to facilitate the completion of tasks

How Thick Should You Make Your Workbench Top?

Typically, the top of a workbench should be between two and three inches (62.5 to 75 millimetres) thick. The thickest and most durable surfaces are those made by glueing together layers of wood.

The top of your workbench should not be overly substantial. The top of your workbench will often be constructed from the same material as the bench itself. However, in addition to wood, the following are also frequently used for workbench surfaces.

Softwood Phenolic Board Baltic birch medium-density fibreboard (MDF) Appleply marine-grade plywood
MDF is strong, fairly flat, and can be layered to your desired thickness, so it is a great choice for a top material. Below, I discuss the benefits and drawbacks of MDF, so you can make an informed decision about whether or not to use it. Please refer to my hints on how to screw MDF without causing it to crack.

Should There Be An Overhang Around The Edges Of The Workbench Top?

It’s up to you whether or not to go with the standard 4-inch (100-millimeter) overhang, which might be useful when utilising clamps for securing objects.

If you’re planning on extending the workspace by several inches along three of the sides, you’ll need to account for the width of the workbench top to ensure you have adequate room to move around.

What Is The Best Material To Use For a Workbench Top?

The top of a workbench is typically made out of the same material as the bench’s base or frame. You are free to use something else that is less expensive or easier to replace if you like.

Whether you prioritise the workbench’s aesthetics or its practicality will determine the type of material you use to construct it. On the basis of these three criteria, we present the following material alternatives.
Beech, pine, and medium-density fiberboard (MDF) are all relatively inexpensive choices that offer a range of hardness grades.
Hardwoods such as pine, ash, or oak will produce a stunning bench with a timeless classic look.
Poplar, maple, douglas fir, and the woods we beech, pine, and oak are just some of the readily available and workable options available at your neighbourhood hardware or woodworking store.
Making a stunning bench need not break the bank. Check out what I found to be useful in the following hints.

What Is The Best Plywood For a Workbench?

You can make a workbench out of birch plywood or any other high-quality type of plywood. If you want a really sturdy frame, go with something that’s at least 1′′ (25mm) thick, or laminate two pieces together. Sheets of plywood make this material very convenient.

But I suggest medium-density fiberboard (MDF), softwood plywood (SPF), phenolic board (PB), and appleply (AP). They will provide the necessary support for your task without breaking the bank.

Since the top will be several inches thick, the wood you select should be available in the appropriate thickness or easily sanded and glued together to form the required proportions.

When Cutting Plywood, Do You Prefer A Circular Saw Or A Jig Saw?

Does Medium-Density Fibreboard (MDF) Make a Good Workbench Top?

Workbenches with MDF tops are wonderful since the material is flat, stable, simple to work with, and can be easily replaced as it wears out. It’s available in a range of thicknesses, each of which contributes differently to the table’s overall stability.

But since using MDF is a matter of taste, I thought I’d lay down some additional considerations you might want to give before rushing out to get some.

Tell me about pocket-holing MDF. In my comprehensive tutorial on making pocket holes in MDF, I detailed the process.


It’s available almost everywhere
Depending on how thick of a ceiling you want, it’s simple stacked in layers to get there.
Extremely flat and even in texture.


Since MDF may soak up whatever liquid it comes into touch with, it might eventually become discoloured and bumpy as a result.
The edges of any holdfast holes are likely to fray noticeably. While the finishing procedure can help minimise this effect, abrasion and frayed strands are still possible indicators of age in the holes.
is easily damaged by screwing, however I’ve written a guide on preventing this issue.




Leave a Comment