Product Knowledge Guide: Work Tables

Foodservice operators generally use commercial work tables for food preparation and packing.

Along those lines, operators can choose from different styles of tables available for various tasks. For instance, when using a heavy slicer or dough roller, an operator may want to consider a welded base type rather than an assembled work table because applications like these cause heavy movement and rocking, which require a sturdier base.

When it comes to work table construction, operators can choose from two options. Tables with stainless tops and galvanized stainless undershelves and legs tend to be more economical. Some work tables also have stainless steel tops, shelves and legs for higher-end applications. Operators can choose from 18, 16 and 14 gauge stainless steel. Both 18 and 16 gauge stainless are popular due to the cost but certain heavy-duty applications tend to require 14 gauge stainless steel.

In terms of sizes, standard widths are 24 and 30 inches. Work table lengths can run anywhere from 24 to 96 inches in even foot increments, with some as long as 120 inches.

Foodservice operators can choose from a number of options when purchasing these units. For example, operators can include a sink to create a full-service prep table. Also, they can add overshelves and double overshelves for extra storage capabilities.

Common Applications

  • Operators can use work tables for any preparation work, such as vegetable slicing and meat cutting. Some operators designate these units for preparing salads, sauces and other meal components.
  • Retail establishments utilize work tables with casters for folding clothing or transporting goods for merchandising.

Specifying Considerations

  • Operators need to determine whether staff will perform light- or heavy-duty applications on these tables. Specifying the improper work table can lead to worker safety issues. For example, using a dough roller on a light-duty work table, the table may collapse.
  • Verify the type of backsplash necessary.
  • Consider the kitchen's size constraints when purchasing a work table. Understand the depth and width since these sizes are dictated by space constraints.
  • If staff will transport the table from one position to another, specify the unit with casters. This typically includes two locking and two swivel wheels, so operators have the flexibility to move the unit. Casters are not recommended for tables that will be used with slicers or dough rollers, since this equipment requires added stability.
  • If supplementary storage is a consideration, operators should specify work tables with additional shelves.

New & Notable Features

  • Operators can choose from optional built-in pan or pot racks.
  • A variety of backsplashes are available for work tables.
  • Welded, sanded, buffed and polished end caps can be specified for higher-end kitchens, which add to the table's aesthetics.

When to Replace

  • Broken welds: Welds on the gussets, which hold the table legs, can come loose or break over time.
  • Surface pitting: Items with high-acid content, like tomatoes or citrus fruit, can cause pitting on stainless steel tables. The pits can harbor bacteria if excessive, thus resulting in the need for a new table.
  • Dents and dings: If the surface is no longer smooth, food safety could be compromised. In this case, a new work table is warranted.
  • Rust: Contrary to popular belief, stainless steel is not impervious to rust caused by acidic products and improper cleaning. Rusted work table surfaces are a sign that the unit has reached the end of its service life.
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