Apron for MDF workbench top?


I'm in the process of finishing the base of my first workbench. I have decided to go with a laminated MDF top, with masonite on top of that. I am trying to figure out how to attach an apron to the top and can't come up with any good way. Since this type of top seems to be somewhat popular, I would like to see how others have done this. How is the apron physically attached to the MDF? How did you do the corners of the apron? I was thinking to miter them and glue in 2 dowel pins, but I'm not sure if that is a good method. One other question is how did you go about mounting the MDF top to the base of your workbench? Thanks so much.
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Lance,
I've built several of these over the past few years with the last one being an "L" shaped hobby-bench, (7' long each way). The top was made from a 3/4" thick MDF with a 1/4" thick hardboard top. I built a frame using 2x4's which I milled down to 1-1/4" x 3-1/4" to be sure they were square. I made a box frame with cross bracing dado'ed into the long frame members at 16" intervals and the 2x4's were used on edge. The frame was setback about 3" (not critical) from the edges of the MDF top. I then pre-drilled, countersunk and screwed (#8's 1-1/2") the MDF to the frame. In essence, the frame then became a torsion box - real solid. The 1/4" sacrificial hardboard was placed on top and held down all around the edges with slightly countersunk screws (#8's 3/4").
Under the lip of the top - all around the edge, I milled up some 1" thick x 3" wide poplar (3/4" thick pine will work fine) and pre-drilled and screwed and glued this to the MDF top (underneath) making a 3/4" x 3" wide solid wood edge that can be used to attach the (1-3/4" wide x 3/4") thick apron I made from poplar. I did miter the ends but used a FF biscuit at each miter but you could use a dowel or a spline or simply cross-nail the miter. This "solid" wood piece not only allows for attaching an apron (use screws) but also serves as a clamping edge so the MDF isn't damaged.
With the torsion box frame there is no bounce to the tabletop and it's plenty heavy. On this bench, I made two pedestal ends that had 3 large drawers in each and made the height at about 41" so she (SIL) could stand and work comfortably or use a stool and not be bending over when she's working on crafts. The whole bench was designed to be dismantled and moved.
I think that answers all your questions and hopefully the ASCII art below will help. You may have to open your email window to full view so the art comes out correctly. If I can find the pics I'll post them to abpw.
___________________________________ ___________________________________| < 1/4" Hardboard - Sacrificial top | ___________________________________| < 3/4" MDF top | ___________________________________| < 3/4" x 3" wide pine board all around | the apron attaches to this with screws | covered with wood plugs to hide them | | | | | < 1-1/4" thick x 3-1/4" wide frame ~ 3" setback _____________ |
Bob S.

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Thanks for the detailed explanation, Bob. I like your design. I don't know how you did it but your produced the first successfule ascii drawing I have seen in this group. Every other one gets mangled so badly in transmission that they are unreadable. Yours was very readable and a useful adjunct to your explanation.
Best regards, Bob Davis
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[...snip...]

What's really interesting is that it only looks right when you view with a proportional font like Arial. Generally ASCII art looks right when you view with a monospaced font. Which is probably the critical piece you are missing in all the other examples.
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Do you really mean "apron" as the part under the top that the top is attached to, or do you mean an edging around the MDF?
I built a table top for an oak kitchen table by gluing 2.5" x 3/4" oak to the edges of the MDF, lined up with biscuits, but it could have been splines. They were not mitered at the corners, but simply butt-joined and double-dowelled at those places. Only the top had MDF in case anyone's wondering, so "oak" is still appropriate. The hard finish potected it from spills and light dents.
If I'd calculated right, I'd have been able to attach the table apron [the part underneath] directly to the oak edging. However, I was intent on appearances. I got around that by first starting to attach as if to the MDF, but only to get initial screw marks. The top was being attached with hardwood blocks screwed into the apron and the top. Then I took the top off and used a plunge-router to drive 1" holes partway into the MDF on those marks. These I filled with solid hardwood dowel, glued into place. When ready, the top was attached by re-drilling into these dowels and inserting the screws. It hasn't budged, even lifting the entire table by the top.
Either way, the hardwood trim around the edge can be as wide as necessary to allow attachment into the wood instead of the MDF.
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