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What Is the Best Wood for Workbench Tops? 7 Options Compared!

folding workbench

If you are building a workbench, one of the biggest considerations is the type of wood you should use for the top. You can technically use any type that you want, but some will look better and others will be less expensive. You may also need to consider hardness and durability depending on the type of projects that you will build. If you’d like help figuring out what type of wood you should use, you’ve come to the right place. Here, we look at several of the most popular varieties and why people use them.

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Best Types of Wood for a Workbench Top

wooden workbench
Image Credit: Gorlov-KV, Shutterstock

1. Pine Wood

If you are looking for inexpensive wood that is strong enough to work effectively as a workbench top, pine is a great choice. Pines are popular trees all across the United States, so the wood is easy to find and holds screws and nails well. Many people use it as a building material for various projects, and it looks nice when stained.


2. Plywood Wood

Plywood is a great choice if you’re looking for inexpensive wood to use as a workbench top. This material uses several thin pieces of wood glued together to create a board. The grain direction alternates with each layer to increase strength, making it a popular choice for people who prefer strength and affordability over appearance.


3. Douglas Fir

The Douglas Fir is an inexpensive variety of wood that’s a little softer than many others on this list. The primary reason for using this type of wood is for working on fragile projects that harder woods might damage. It’s resistant to rot and can last many years, but it’s easy to dent and damage.


4. Teak

You can find teak trees in Asia and on the Pacific Coast. Teak is one of the most attractive woods on this list and will look great in any workshop. It’s extremely durable and resists insects and rot with natural oils. It can get quite expensive, but it’s available in various grades, so you can find something that fits your budget.


5. Maple

Maple is a hardwood that’s extremely dense and durable, so it will make a great workbench top and is well suited to high-volume workshops. Maple also has an attractive grain that looks great stained while not being distracting, and it’s cheaper than other similar varieties, like hickory.


6. Hickory

Hickory is a great choice for a workbench that you intend to use frequently. The wood is extremely durable and will last many years, even under heavy use. Its cream to red color and soft grain look great in any workshop, and there’s no need for an expensive finish. The biggest downside of this variety is that it’s expensive.


7. Medium-Density Fiberboard

Medium-density fiberboard is a type of engineered wood. Manufacturers construct it using glue, wood fibers, and sawdust to create a durable board that can withstand extreme punishment. Its lack of grain gives it a homogeneous finish that many people enjoy.

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What Type of Wood Is the Best for a Workbench Top?

carpentry workbench
Image Credit: Zhuravlev Andrey, Shutterstock

The best type of wood to use as a workbench top will depend on how you will use the workbench. For example, if you need to do a great deal of cutting, you will likely be best off with something like a medium-density fiberboard that won’t show scratches as much as other varieties. If you are looking to create a workbench that improves the appearance of your workshop while being functional, one of the hardwoods like maple or hickory will make a great choice. However, most people looking for something inexpensive but easy to work with and durable enough to last many years will likely choose pine or plywood as the best workbench top wood.

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Unless you have special needs that demand the use of one of the more expensive varieties of wood on this list, pine or plywood is the best wood for workbench tops for most people, especially if it’s one of your first projects. These woods are inexpensive, durable, and easy to cut into the shape that you need. Pine will accept stain and looks attractive, while plywood is extremely tough.


Featured Image Credit: iliart, Shutterstock

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