finish for automotive workbench?

I know there have been *lots* of theads about workbench finishes. But from my searches all I see is talk about a woodworking workbench. I have a bench I will use for working on car and motorcycle parts. I just want something that will keep dirt and grease from getting worked into the wood and looking bad.
The last wood bench I had I just put Thompsons Waterseal on, but I imagine there is something better I could use. Thought about just painting it too. Any ideas? I'd like something simple, that I can just buy a can of somewhere, not something I have to mix up.
Thanks for any help. -Ryan
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I had an auto shop once upon a time. I used sheets of thin galvanized metal that I placed on top of two pieces of 3/4 mdf and then bent it over the edges. Worked great! Impervious to everything but acid. I could take a heavy chunk of metal like a starter and toss it onto the bench without damage. Wood products is just too soft for heavy mechanical work. The next best thing would be 1/4" tempered Masonite, but NOTHING is gonna last like a sheet of metal on top of a thick substrate. You can weld on or near the bench without fear of starting a fire!
dave
Ryan wrote:

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groan. I changed a few words and neglected to reread: should be "Wood products ARE"
dave
Bay Area Dave wrote:
Wood products is just too soft for heavy
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Thanks for the replies. Many people suggested using a metal top. Well this actually is a metal bench that I got from the back room area of a store that went out of business. It had a wood top attached to the metal top, but the wood was in horrible shape. When I removed it, the metal underneath was very very rusted.
When I bought the bench I got them to throw in a piece of 1/2" (could be 3/4") plywood that fit the bench. I've already installed it. And I prefer working on a wood surface rather than metal. Also the bench will not see much grease or oil, it's just a possibility and I'd like to take some measure to protect it. It will see more dirt than anything else, and dirt tends to get 'worked' into wood, so I'd like a surface that cleans up easily. Someone mentioned polyurethene, I will probably go with that, or if I end up getting another can of garage floor paint to patch my floor, I will use that. I already have it on some other wood benches, and this way it will match.
Thanks for you help. -Ryan
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Ryan -
A thick coat of polyurethene would likely do the trick, but if it's going to get grease, oil, gunk and parts all over it, why not go get some sheet metal and put that, or either a piece of laminate on top. Either of those would be far more durable than any type of finish and would be a better work surface for keeping your parts clean when you're finished fixin'...
If you use the bench for WW also, perhaps just cut a piece of 1/4" hardboard (masonite) to match your top, and then remove it when you're going to make sawdust.
Any oils or the like WILL screw up the finishing, gluing or both of any WW project you'd undertake otherwise.
HTH
John Moorhead

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Ditto on the sheet metal, the only way to go. Another trick is to create a small lip at the edges so any oil leaking will be contained (cookie sheets work well for this also).
-Bruce

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I would go with the sheet metal if possible. However, I just finished a workbench that will be used for many purposes, including a lot of automotive work. I used some left over particle board for the top structure with a 1/4" hardboard "veneer" on top than can be easily replaced when it gets beat up or stained too badly.
Tom
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Two words...........stainless steel

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One word: EXPENSIVE!
dave
David Babcock wrote:

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How about covering it with a layer of masonite? Tack it down so that you can replace it when it gets too beat up. If you want to add a bit more protection from the grease and oil, give it a couple of coats of shellac.
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A rare top post.
Sheetmetal. the heavier the better.
If your not going to cover it with metal I wouldn't coat it with anything. Instead I would use a piece of sacrificial 1/4 or so plywood (MDF deteriorates with about any fluid). When it gets too nasty just replace it. One big advantage of a wood top is metal tends to not slide on it, and for scraping situations you can screw down some stops.
My bench has 5 (10) 4x4 legs notched for 2x4 stringers. It's 3' wide and about 12' long. It has 2x6s lengthwise with 1x6 widthwise and a 2'wide and 8' long piece of 1/4 inch stainless plate on top. The last foot is for boxes and has a 1/4 piece of POS ply. I have yet to hurt it.
If I use it on wood I will pull the covers (glad I have a cherry picker) and cover it with POS plywood.
Ryan wrote:

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Mark

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Finish for a automotive bench! number one 1 should hope...mjh

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On 9 Jan 2004 13:38:34 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (Ryan) wrote:

A lot of mechanical type shops have sheet metal bent to fit, but I see that is what you already have under your plywood.
I grew up at the local general aviation (think small planes) airport because my father was the FBO. His main workbench was made of wood and covered in a fabric reinforced, synthetic rubber gasketing material. It is oil, grease and gas resistant, non-slip, warm to touch, and didn't scratch expensive airplane parts. Been there for the better part of three decades. A similar material, which might be easier to find, is synthetic rubber roll roofing. It is typically only sold in full rolls, but a chat with a local comercial roofer would likely score you a cutoff for your bench for very little money. Would be best put down with some contact adhesive, but would probably work fine just wrapped around the leading and trailing edges of your plywood top and tacked on the underside with a stapler. As an added bonus, metal shows up real nice against the black of the roll roofing.
Hope that makes sense.
David Glos
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==================================== Ryan ... I restore and play with old cars in addition to being a woodworker... And I have NOT read the other replies you received..(yet)...
Honestly the workbench I have in the garage is covered with plain old fashion galvinized sheet metal that I purchased from a heating and air conditioning duct shop.. 4x8 foot sheet was cheap.... easily cut to size with tin snips and held in place with sheet metal screws...
The top is at least 10 years old now and has held up extremely well... I went nuts a few months after I installed it and took a buffer and polished the top so that it looked like stainless steel...and it still has that appearance...
Grease etc is easily wipped up with paper shop rags.. paint cpmes right off with paint thinner etc...
From Memory I think I paid about 15 bucks for the sheet metal but honestly I can not remember what guage it was...but it was the stuff that household AC ducts are made form...
Bob Griffiths 68 & 69 Chevelles 64 & 72, 76, 79 Corvettes Plus a 95 Corvette for traveling. Dodge Pickup for hauling parts and lumber ....
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (Ryan) wrote in message

Do you already have the top made up? What is it made of?
I used an old laminate counter top from my kitchen. But barring that, you can buy laminate sheets at home depot that you can contact cement on. That way everything wipes off of it, and it's a hell of a lot harder than any wood.
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