Is pine too soft for workbench top?

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A built a workbench out of construction lumber. The lower part is 2x4 framing. Joinery is nothing fancy; mostly rabbet and half-lap joints with plain old drywall screws for fasteners. It's also got a plywood back and sides, mostly to stiffen the structure (almost like sheathing on a house). The top is 5/4 x 6" pine screwed into the 2x4 base with countersunk sheetrock screws. The top is 8 feet long by about 36 inches deep.
I built some big drawers out of 3/4" pine, which are filled with tools. The extra weight of the tools adds to the overall stiffness of the thing.
It's fairly ugly, but strong as all heck, and I'm not afraid to beat on it. Overbuilt would be a good way to describe it. I drill dog holes in the top where and when-ever I happen to need them and don't fret that I'm damaging something that looks like a piece of fine furniture. Ditto for glue spills and the like. If I ever wanted to, it would be pretty straight forward (and inexpensive) to tear the top off and screw down something new.
I've got another table which is basicly a recycled drafting table, of a portable design. The top is 3/4 birch plywood with several coats of poly on it. It's not strong enough to take serious pounding, but I use it when I need a really smooth & flat surface for assembly work. It also does double duty as a big outfeed table when needed. These days, most of the time it lives folded up against a wall of the shop, out of the way (I can set it up by myself in about 20 minutes, quicker with some help).
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On 1 Dec 2003 12:30:16 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com (PC Gameplayer) wrote:

There was a cheapie just like you describe in FWW a while back (I can dig out the ref if you want) I built one and it's great. Solid like a tank. I finished it with several coats of shellac and a lot of soya-bean oil. No glue ever sticks to it. I drilled a grid of dog holes in it, but add more as I need them. I did not keep track of the exact cost, but it cannot have been more than $50-$60.
For the moment I have only 2 Chiwanese vices fitted, one on the end and side. That will change, but it's OK for the moment.
I also built a lot of bench accessories from "The Workbench Book" and "Making Workbenches" Both are must-reads.
Barry Lennox
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On 1 Dec 2003 12:30:16 -0800, PC Gameplayer wrote:

What you could do is use hardwood just for the areas that see heavy action eg. dog-holes and the front of the bench.
My bench is a mixture of 4x2 pine, some 4x2 oak, some 4x2 ash, some 1" ash and a few other bits:
http://www.esperance-linux.co.uk/photos/workshop1.jpg
If you look carefully you'll see a slab of 10x1" ash at the front with the rest of the surface doubled up 3/4" ply. Have also put some 1" oak supports under the ply where I've got dog-holes.
I'll take some better pictures of my bench sometime.
I don't know about laminating pine & hardwood together though - differing rates of expansion/contraction could spell problems.
--

Frank


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I am a newbie and currently building this bench: http://www.popularwoodworking.com/features/fea.asp?id 69
I am using Southern yellow pine, like they did. It is harder and stronger than 2x spruce, etc ( white pine). I bought seven 2x8x12' #2 common SYP boards and ripped them down to app. 3 1/2" ( which I will plane and joint down to 3") for the top and other parts. I was able to get 4 pieces for the top from each 2x8. The lumber cost me about $56.00 at Lowes. I spent some time at the store selecting decent stock and laid out the rips to eliminate as many knots and defects as possible. You would be better off spending a couple more dollars and going to real lumber yard and buying #1 common (less knots, etc.). SYP, of course, is not as good as maple, etc, but I would rather spend my money on fine wood for furniture and other projects. SYP is often used for floor joists where extra strength is necessary, pressure treated lumber, and is also commonly used for flooring and unfinished furniture. Another good choice would be Douglas Fir. Again it is harder and stronger than the regular 2x4 lumber. You should also consider plywood for a bench top. Laminating 3-4 3/4"sheets together would yield a very flat and heavy bench top. The new Popular Woodworking has an article detailing how to build just such a bench. I chose solid wood because I wanted to gain the experience of the various milling and jointing steps. Below is another link to a workbench built out of regular 2x lumber if you are interested: http://www.terraclavis.com/bws/beginners.htm

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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com (PC Gameplayer) wrote in message

Compared to no bench at all it'll be great. COmpared to a bench made from kiln-dried maple, beech, or birch it'll be cheap.
If you can get Southern Yellow Pine or Douglas Fir cheap where you are located, then it'll be about as good as any hardwood bench.
--

FF

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