UK Workbenches Limited

Types Of Wood For A Workbench - How To Choose?

  29/09/2020     Lee Burnham

Workbenches are forgiving when it comes to the choice of wood. You can use hardwood, softwood or engineered wood surface for a workbench and achieve similar results, although with certain work you may prefer one over another.

In this mini-guide, we will take a closer look at the types of common wood available to help you choose the right wood for your workbench.


Pine is a softwood best known for its use in furniture and floorboards. It is a cheap and readily available material that’s suited to light-duty workbenches. It is strong and durable enough to stand up to general use. It is not as strong as oak, however, and is, therefore, less suited to heavy work than oak.


Oak is a hardwood that has been used for thousands of years. It is perhaps the best hardwood for workbenches because it is incredibly strong. We recommend oak if you want a heavy-duty workbench. The downside to oak is it’s expensive, costing several times more than pine and other DIY-store woods.


Ash is perhaps the most versatile wood for building a workbench. It’s available in a wide variety of grades and it is an extremely hard-wood. It is considered one of the most durable woods for mechanical work and tooling. It is also relatively lightweight, making it useful for workbenches that need to be strong but light.


Plywood is an engineered wood made from thin layers or “plies” of wood. These layers are glued together to form a thicker, solid surface. Plywood is engineered to be strong, durable and hardy. It is mass-produced so extremely cheap. It lacks character and prestige, but it is a solid choice for a basic cheap workbench.


MDF is the cheapest type of engineered wood on the market but it is also the best choice for certain applications. It performs better than solid wood for strength and it stands up to changes in humidity very well. MDF is flat, cheap, strong and extremely stable. It isn’t going to win a beauty contest, but it’s a great functional choice. 


Hardwoods and softwoods are functionally sound and look good, but MDF is our overall winner in terms of form and function for a workbench. It performs no different to hardwood and is significantly cheaper to replace if it gets damaged.

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