A garage workbench is essential to most well-utilized home garages. They allow home projects and maintenance to be faster and easier. You don't HAVE to have a workbench, but having one will certainly make your garage more useful. Garage workbenches are usually made out of wood, but they can also be steel or plastic. You should consider the type of work youll most often be doing in your garage. This will help you determine what kind of workbench you need.
If youll mostly be using your workbench for light household projects, then a plastic or wooden bench will do the trick. However, its important to keep in mind that a heavy-duty bench is going to give you the most stability as well as the longest life. Unless you plan on welding, a steel workbench probably isnt necessary. Steel workbenches are definitely the strongest of the bunch, but theyre also bulky and difficult to move.
If youd like to build your own garage workbench, then youll have the advantage of a custom fit in your garage. You should also consider building a stand-alone workbench versus one thats fastened to any of your garage walls. A stand-alone workbench doesnt transfer any energy to the wall when you strike things on it with a hammer. This means you wont be damaging your wall studs over time, and youll make less noise that can be heard from inside the house.
Its very important to consider the size and position of your garage workbench. A good rule of thumb is to make sure youll always be able to house your vehicles in your garage. So, unless you have a 1000 square foot garage (which most of us dont), it doesnt make sense to install a 4 foot by 8 foot workbench. When you position it, think about some of the longer materials you may be working with in the future like a 12 foot long 2 X 4, or a 10 foot long piece of conduit or copper pipe. Make sure to leave enough room for the material to use up most of the workbench length as well as hang off one edge by several feet.
No matter what type or size of workbench you install, do yourself a favor and mount a vice on one of the corners that is nearest the most open space. A workbench without a vice is like a living room without any furniture. You can live without it, but having it sure makes your life more practical and comfortable!
Here's a few places where you might find the right one for your garage: Garage sales, Flea markets, Home improvement centers, Thrift stores, Pawn shops, Family hand-me-downs, and of course Craig's list!