Reviewed and Rated

Reviewed and rated: The best workbenches in 2023

by Tom Barnard
17 June 2022 5 min read
Reviewed and rated: The best workbenches in 2023

Every car enthusiast dreams of having a pristine workshop, filled with equipment and with a spacious workbench for tinkering with broken bits of their car or motorcycle.

For most of us though, our garage only has space for a car or a bench – but not both. The compromise is to use one which can be tucked out of the way when not needed.

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These are almost universally known by the name of the original – the Workmate – which was invented in the 1960s by a Ford and Lotus engineer. Whoever makes them now, they allow you to safely clamp parts to cut, paint, clean or disassemble in comfort and safety.

We reviewed six of the best-selling workbenches to see which stood out for the motoring DIYer. We tested how well they gripped a radiator hose while being cut, held a wheel while it was being wire brushed, and provided a platform to hold a differential.

We then checked how easy they are to fold and unfold, the stability, and any clever extras. Finally, we judged them for value using the best online prices we could find.

Which will really become your mate when you work on your car?

Black & Decker Workmate WM536 – Winner

Workmate workbench

Price: £44
Max Weight: 250kg
Width: 610mm
Score: 10

If you buy a can of Heinz Beans, you know that it will have a certain level of quality and you also expect to pay more than you would for a lesser-known or supermarket own-brand. It came as a pleasant surprise therefore that Black & Decker’s Workmate was far from the priciest in this test. It’s also evolved over the years to become more useful than ever.

It folds up into a compact and almost flat shape, making it practical to hang on a wall. When unfolded, the hinged legs allow for two working heights, meaning you can work on taller items without having to stand on your tip toes. There’s also a step, which can also be used to steady the bench while sawing or wrestling with a rusty bolt.

The two bench boards are fixed horizontally, but the clamping edges are shaped to grip smaller items such as pipes or fastenings.

The really remarkable feature of the Workmate is the maximum load capacity – a whopping 250kg. That’s enough to hold a Rover V8 engine. We didn’t test it to that extreme, but it certainly felt perfectly secure with our heavy wheel and differential.

MacAll workbench

Price: £66.99
Maximum weight: 180kg
Width: 850mm
Score: 9

Mac Allister seem to have reinvented the wheel with this workbench. Unlike the others in the test, it doesn’t follow the ‘replica Workmate’ formula, instead using a mainly plastic construction and a clever folding mechanism.

This means it folds down into a neat package that resembles an oversize briefcase, but when erected it provides a solid and stable bench with a huge working surface. Its loading capacity is a hefty 180kg, enough for a smaller engine and only beaten by the Workmate.

A second, lower shelf also provides a handy place to put tools, rags or cans of WD-40 while tackling a job.

Two detachable clamps are provided to hold items in place, which can also be used off the workbench. We really liked the Mac Allister but we’d only be able to justify the extra cost over the Black & Decker if we were using a bench regularly.

Toolstation workbench

Price: £29.98
Max Weight: 100kg
Width: 605mm
Score: 7

Some classic Morris owners might buy this good-value workbench just for the name, but it has another useful feature. In addition to the conventional clamping action of the two plank-like work surfaces, they can also be individually tilted to 45 or 90 degrees. This makes it far easier to hold awkwardly shaped or large components.

There are some downsides though. The half-hour it takes to assemble the bench might be forgotten after a while but is certainly an irritation at the time. But the weedy 100kg capacity means you’ll be a little limited as to what the Minotaur can be used for, and it feels a little wobblier when faced with a heavy wheel or other weighty component.

If space is at a premium you’ll need to think about storage too, as the Minotaur’s switchable clamping jaws mean it is an awkward and lumpy shape once folded.

Draper Fold Down Workbench 800mm

Draper workbench

Maximum weight: 120kg
Price: £42
Width: 800mm
Score: 6

Draper’s workbench is gimmick free and looks a little old fashioned compared to our winners. There are no tilting surfaces or adjustable gizmos, but that said it does many jobs well enough. We especially liked the 800mm width, which made it feel more stable as well as being usefully larger than the other budget options here. A 120kg maximum load capacity isn’t the most generous, but it should be enough for most automotive tasks.

The work boards themselves are larger too, with handy measurements for length and angles which could make fabricating parts easier. Once you’ve finished working, the Draper collapses easily and folds almost flat to make storage easier.

The Draper is a sensible choice which does the basics well, but the Black & Decker is just a couple of pounds more and far superior.

Silverline TB01

Silverline workbench

Price: £19.97
Max Weight: 100kg
Width: 560mm
Score: 6

Most of us will have some Silverline tools in our garage or shed. They are good value and useful for jobs which you don’t do often or won’t need anything too sophisticated, such as chisels and hammers. The TB01 follows the same pattern and is excellent value; in fact it is the cheapest workbench we could find.

To save costs it comes as a big bag of bits, so you’ll need to do about 40 minutes of assembly yourself, but once built you are left with a pretty basic – and small – bench. But it is uncomplicated, easy to use and folds up to a smaller size for storage. The 4.5kg weight means it’s not too much effort to lift off a hook on a garage wall either – that’s less than half the weight of most other benches here.

The stated maximum weight capacity is 100kg, but it felt wobbly even when we loaded it with a wheel and tyre. It’s best left for lighter duty jobs such as painting, where the price means you won’t be so worried about messing it up like you might a more expensive workbench.

Clarke CFWB1

Clarke workbench

Price: £53.99
Max Weight: 150kg
Width: 715mm
Score: 5

At first glance the Clarke bench looks similar to our winning Workmate, with legs that can be deployed or folded to give two possible working heights. It also has a step so you can put a foot on it comfortably to steady the bench while using a saw, or can reach high up if working on a tall parts such as a bumper.

It feels solid and stable too, and has a decent 150kg load capacity, which should be enough for a small engine. The downside to this is a comparatively heavy 11.7kg overall weight.

But our main gripe with the Clarke is the amount of time it takes to use every time you need it. Folding and unfolding is a complicated process that involves putting legs into place and tightening knobs. The Black & Decker does everything better, is easier to use and costs less, which makes the CFWB1 difficult to recommend.


1. Black & Decker Workmate WM536
2. Mac Allister Folding Workbench 850mm
3. Minotaur Tilt & Fold Workbench

If money was no object, we’d choose the innovative Mac Allister Folding Workbench. It is easy to use, and the size of the surfaces makes it much more useful for most automotive tasks. It also folds down neatly for storage.

But not everyone will want to spend £67 on a bench, and the Black & Decker looks conspicuously good value. It does most things you’d need and has a massive weight capacity. It takes the winning spot.

The Minotaur is even better value and the tilting boards come in useful of a variety of tasks.

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