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Workbench Tool Well? Yes or no and why.

27788 Views 96 Replies 56 Participants Last post by  controlfreak
Hi Guys and Gals,

I've been toying with idea of adding a tool well to my workbench. Something like this:

Wood Wood stain Hardwood Gas Plank

My goals:

1. To keep tools from rolling off the back of the bench to fall to the concrete floor below.

2. To keep tools handy in the middle of a build.

3. To keep tools out of the way while I maneuver wood across the bench top during a build.

Here's my questions:
In your experience what are the pros and cons of having a tool well?

What dimensions would you suggest for a tool well?

What features would you add for a tool well?


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I also struggled with that idea when building my bench and decided against it. It was the same reasoning that there are hardly any shelves or counter space in my workshop: If you have a flat surface, you will stack stuff on it instead of putting it away.

I reasoned that if I had a tool well it would quickly be filled with tools, cut offs, glue rags, etc until it was full. By deleting the well I am forced to clean up and put away as I go along, that way I have an uncluttered workspace.

Just my opinion since I work with a little OCD when it comes to clutter!
I am a organizational nut - everything in its place and a place for everything. I built my workbench out of a 2-inch, solid-core door; I wanted a large flat work surface. I have never wanted a tool well because of the way in which I organized my working are/shop.
When I built my workbench I made a conscience decision to not add a tool well. Here was my reasoning.

-I left a spot above the drawers so I could slide the tools under my benchtop.
*The well would constantly fill up with dust, dirt and shavings, thus hiding any small tools, bits, blades and the like that wound up in there.
-I figured if I built anything with legs (and I often do), one set of legs would always be falling in the well.
-I didn't want to loose that much benchtop.
-I would rather have a rolling cart or tool chest (not the Swartz style, more like a mechanic's box) that I could roll around my bench to set tools on, but I have another bench behind mine that I often set tools on while working with them.

As unorganized and haphazard as I am, I'm pretty good at not pushing my tools off the other side. If it was a problem for me, I'd rather make a sideboard that could be raised and/or lowered. To form something like this style benchtop. The other option, put it against a wall.

Cabinetry Interior design Wood Floor Drawer


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I will design a tool well into my bench, not just for the utility of it, but also to save on cost. It's a good way to get more working area. A prime example would be if you wanted a 30" deep bench…by adding a tool tray you can build a double layer mdf or plywood bench using only 1 sheet of it.
I go with the tool well.

Yes it collects a pile of …... but makes it easy to

clear a flat piece without putting all the tools you

are using. But I'm a slob :)

No tool well for me.
It will get filled with dust and chips, along with tools. Especially small ones that are easily vacuumed up when you decide it's time to clean the well out.
I regret incorporating a well into my workbench. It's a magnet for shavings, chips and other workshop detritus. I don't need the storage space either as the cabinet beneath has a 5" gap between it and the bench top - the gap gives 3 times the capacity of the well, but doesn't fill up with junk.
I have one. It's unusable work space and a junk collector. I'd rather have work surface.
I chose against it on my bench for the reasons others had stated. If you decide to go with it, make it easy to clean the chips out. The incline end it ok, but a open end is better if it is possible.
I had one in a table saw leaf, collected a lot of dust so, I replaced the bottom with Chicken wire fence. This helped a lot with dust.
really glad to come across this topic. I will be building my bench this winter and had never heard of a tool well. At this point I think I would forgoe it based off of others negative reviews, but its a good option to think of as I continue to design in my head.
I do not have one on my bench; never wanted it and will never want one. For a hand tool user, that tool well is not only a magnet for shavings, dust, etc, it is a place where tool edges are going to get ruined from banging into each other and tools getting dinged up. I also use all four sides of my bench for clamping and such. The tool well is detrimental to that.

I have a home for all of my tools. Some of them are sharp and I do not want them to get dull by any other way then usage. Some of them are expensive (or they are restored) and I do not want them banging into other tools. They take their share of nicks and dings from normal use, no sense in damaging them further. I work at the task at hand and then put the tools away. I spent most of the day working in my shop this day (see my blog - shameless plug!). During that time, I think I pulled out and put away my miter box and saw like three or four times. I was finished with it for the time and I put it away. I used a few planes and every time I finished with them, I put them away. I am really glad they are not hanging out in a tool well.
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The tool tray bottom has a structural roll in a skirted bench
with end caps, like my bench.

I've got used to the tool tray. A drawer under the bench
to sweep clutter into would serve a similar purpose. If
all you do on your bench is work with wood and set
woodworking tools, you won't have screws, fasteners,
switches, capacitor covers, fret wire and stuff like that
cluttering up your bench…. but I usually do and the tool
tray gives that clutter a place to go until I get around
to sorting and putting it away.
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I am currently building a workbench, and I am incorporating a tool well because the way I have mine designed is with splayed back legs, and a narrower (10.5" wide) bench top. I am also planning on making it so I can put a cover piece over the tool well that sits flush with the top of the bench, so I can have a larger flat surface when I need it.
I would not build in a tool well but instead make one that slides/attaches under the top. So if you need one you just slip it in and if you don't need it don't attaché it?
Make the well the same thickness as the top then just attach two long pieces of wood in the middle of the well sticking out the side , then make two pockets /brackets that would accept the long pieces of wood. Slip the well off or on as needed. That way you can clamp any were on the bench.

Good luck
When I finally get started on mine, I'm adding the trays that turn over. Sort of the best of both worlds thing. Something else to consider.
I have a simple bench and I pretty much turned my back on attaching any storage options to it. I wanted to avoid drawers, wells, trays, etc. The reason is that I wanted to utilize as much clamping, assembly, working, etc. space as I could. Everyone's needs are different. My space is limited and open storage areas like this eventually turn into headaches because it ends up becoming a resevoir for all the tools, hardware, fasteners, etc. that I do not already have a pre-assigned location for. Eventually, that chaos overtakes the bench and then requires me to clean off my bench before I can use it.
I do not have a tool well but I am considering building several slide out trays/drawers that would utilize a strong wire mesh bottom as opposed to a solid bottom so chips and sawdust could fall through.
I have a tool well because the benches I looked at before I made mine had tool wells. I can't say that I like a lot though. I probably wouldn't make one with a well again.
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