I'm planning a sturdy but inexpensive workbench.

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Is a thick top made of construction 2x4 bolted and glued worth the effort or would I be better off with 2-3 inches of MDF with a replaceable plywood top.
What is the downside of using arborite desktops? They are 1" thick MDF and the standard size of 30x60 (my bench size) are cheap as hell from second hand office supply stores. replacing them would be a snap.
I've been using a old door for the past two years.
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I'd go with the laminated MDF. I wouldn't even use a plywood top personally.

Nothing. Many people use them. Solid core doors are another option.
Brian.
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I would need to seal the MDF.

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I've just completed my workbench. Top is 2 sheets of 3/4" laminated MDF sealed with 3 coats of clear satin Ronseal Varnish.
Malcolm Webb
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Rub it down with Johnson's paste wax. That makes cleaning up messes a snap.
Brian.
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Marine Varnish, about 3 coats take forever to dry, but it's worth the wait
Ryan Brooke wrote:

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I would use MDF but put a tempered masonite top on it. It is very durable, cheap and replaceable. max

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This group has become rec.mdfworking. :-)
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calmly ranted:

And rec.norm, rec.minwhacked, rec.stain, rec.poly, etc. <sigh>
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wrote:

I wish there was a rec.woodworking.constructiongrade.softwoods. :)
I can't afford much hardwood and have seen some beautiful stuff made with 'junk' softwood lumber. But I also realise there are tricks to using the stuff that don't apply to the pampered, dried, stored indoors hardwoods.
I would love to see more project pictures and talk about creating with SPF from the back lot.:)
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Gino wrote:

Gino...
There have been a number of projects discussed here and shown in ABPW. One of my favorites is Mark Johnson's 2x4 bench (posted about mid-August, I think.)
Earlier today I posted some drawings on ABPW for a 2x4 and plywood cabinet I'm building. You should be able to adapt many projects to softwood lumber if you're willing to do the additional work to plan and allow for shrinking and expansion.
There's at least one book out on building furniture with SPF; but I can't remember author or title - perhaps someone who has it will chime in to help out on this one.
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Morris Dovey
DeSoto Solar
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ranted:

That would be alt.construction.birdseyeSPF, Gino. Go for it! ;)
Also check back in Google Groups for Jim McNamara. He was an SPF artiste.
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wrote:

Just kidding JOAT, I'm sure we would get a few of the 'best' trolls as well.

built an addition and workshop. Now I need all the tips I can get on how to create nice stuff that won't turn to junk in a year or two.:) Even my book club is short on 'how to SPF' except for very rustic mostly outdoor and college dorm creations. Tips on building furniture on a weekend afternoon with a hammer and an axe I don't need. I've been doing that for years.:) Now I have a few good tools and a nice little shop to work in and no money left for the good wood.

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[snip]

subjects lines with SPF the way we use OT so the reader can skip the post if not interested?
Josie
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wrote:

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ranted:

For the price of bad softwood, sanding sealer, stain, and a poly topcoat (I gag just thinking about all that), you could have had real hardwood and a Waterlox/paste wax finish and be done in half the time with much prettier results. But it's your call.

You're probably right.

It's too bad Google didn't save the ABPF group or you could have seen a lot of Jummy's stuff.

You might be surprised. Look for garage sales. Wood goes for a SONG there, sometimes free with a small tool or something. And even if hardwood is a couple bucks more bd/ft, that usually doesn't put it much over $20 more for any given project. The difference is that it looks and feels better with a finish on it, it lasts a Helluva lot longer, and it's actually easier to work with, especially with hand tools despite its toughness.
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wrote:

and cut softwoods. I'm interested in seeing what can be accomplished with SPF.
You could tell a water color painter they would get better more durable results with oils but I doubt you would convince them to switch for those reasons.:)
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ranted:

Ah, the "Silk Purse Syndrome" rears its ugly head. Condolences. ;)

In that case, you'll absolutely grok my sig line.
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wrote:

Conservative estimate of it's value, $30,000.:)

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ranted:

There's a good old router table on Ebay going for $3,500 right now, with a $5k Buy-It-Now button. No sale so far, but...
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