Ideal Workbench material

Thread Starter

quique123

Joined May 15, 2015
352
Hey guys

In fixing up my room and wanted to ask what is the best material for an electronics workbench.

Glass
When I started a couple of years ago all I had is a small glass table with aluminum legs. It's a computer desk left over from a previous project. Many times I've found it great for splatterings older while cleaning up because it comes off super easy. However things slide around quite a bit. It doesn't burn or catch fire easily which I think is a plus. However the biggest drawbacks are that it is small both in depth and width and is's height is for a chair with rollers that I have.

Wood
I'll have the chance of making a proper workbench out I'd extra wood I have. The biggest plus I think is that I'll be able to make it as wide and deep as I want (in order to fit many things on it at once such as laptop, multimeter, notebook, current project, lamp, Google home device and still have space for soldering). I can also make it as high as I want which would allow me to use a stool instead of a chair or at least a higher chair or ajustable height stool. On wood things will slide around less which is good for soldering since I've resorted to double sided tape many times on glass.

Metal
I just don't like the typical beige office desk because it'll just be as slippery as glass plus it'll scratch and conduct. So I don't see many benefits there. A black metal desk would make it hard to see pieces.

Any suggestions?
 

bwilliams60

Joined Nov 18, 2012
1,199
Melamine. Cleans easy, doesnt burn, choice of colors, size, and looks new even after a few years of use if you take care of it. Solder wipes right off and no burn marks left behind.
 

MrChips

Joined Oct 2, 2009
19,373
I would choose white melamine.
Or, what I do is I lightly tape a sheet of white Bristol board on the workbench top, certainly over the soldering area.
This is so that you can find the SMD components.

You also want to plan on having a magnifying viewer, for example, anyone of:
- lit magnifying lens on a stand
- viewing scope and lamp
- video screen and camera
 

Wolframore

Joined Jan 21, 2019
1,301
Another inexpensive but decent product is to use laminate countertop. Sometimes you can find offcuts perfect for a bench at a decent price. It has a melamine top layer. Use esc mats and silicone pads for hot stuff. They come in various edges and depth. Shop around. I have made several benches using old solid wood drawer base cabinets from old kitchens with a countertop for workbench.
 

Yaakov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
1,600
For my assembly bench (woodworking), I use a piece of tempered hardboard. It is tough, and it is screwed down to the ¾" MDF top so if it gets work out, it can easily be replaced.

Though I prefer laminate tops for electronics benches, I could work on the tempered hardboard surface, particularly with some silicone mats available. The hardboard is cheap and easy to work with.
 

OBW0549

Joined Mar 2, 2015
3,011
I'll put in another vote for melamine (Formica, laminate countertop, etc.). It's durable and somewhat anti-static, so good for electronics work. For my soldering area I have the table top covered by a piece of cardboard cut from a shipping box; cheap and easily replaceable.
 

djsfantasi

Joined Apr 11, 2010
5,680
I’ll add my vote for melamine. My last piece was a 4’x8’ piece of laminate from Home Depot and was purchased at a discount because the corners were damaged. I asked an associate for a discount and got the sheet cheaply. I just cut out the workbench top from the good laminate and routed the edges.

When soldering, I cover it with cheap poster board from Dollar Tree (a store where everything is less than a $1)
 

Yaakov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
1,600
So I could build a wooden workbench and then place a melamine top on it?
It is a laminate material, among several options of that sort. It takes some skill to apply, and a special router to trim, but the substrate is wood, usually a wood byproduct like MDF.

This is why I suggested tempered hardboard which simply needs to be cut to size, though as I said, I do prefer laminate surfaces for electronics benches.

Alternatively, you can get the finished countertop from any large home store in stock or custom sizes, and often, they have random custom ones available cheap because of either defects that won't bother you, or mistakes that won't either.
 

DickCappels

Joined Aug 21, 2008
5,928
I used a wooden hollow core door for over 30 years. When I finally left it, it looked great and thanks to the steel legs never wobbled. Had electronic test equipment on it, a bench grinder and drill press over the years.

The last 18 years has been a 1m x 1m wooden table with cardboard and a layer of newspaper over the surface. That layer of newspaper has lasted well over 10 years, except for the area on which I solder and cut things. A shelf over the table holds the test equipment. Most cutting and drilling takes place outside the house.

The benches overlapped for about 8 years in different residences.
 

Wolframore

Joined Jan 21, 2019
1,301
For electronics now a days I need something bright and one colored (white is great) so when that little SMD resistor gets away from me I can find it.
 

DickCappels

Joined Aug 21, 2008
5,928
When I drop a smd part on the bench or the floor,there is no hope. The choice is between spending five or 10 minutes looking for a 2¢ part or getting another part from stock.
 

Wolframore

Joined Jan 21, 2019
1,301
I miss those cool modular benches we had in the military but they were not that comfortable. And hurt when you banged into them.
 
Last edited:

ericgibbs

Joined Jan 29, 2010
8,841
hi W,
One simple/cheap method I have used are drawer shaped mini-benches, like this image, made from ply.
To quickly swap over a bench project just lift it off the mini-bench [ keeping all the bits for that project on the mini-bench] from the main bench and replace with another mini bench.

Mine were about a metre square, make the size to suit your Apps.

E
 

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