mdf workbench top questions

Hi,
I am building a workbench and using 2 pieces of 3/4 inch mdf for the top.
Question 1: Should I seal/paint it with something or use a veneer?
Question 2: If I am not sealing it I would like to be able to flip the top and use the other side after it gets gummed up. I once saw a plan that screwed the pieces together with the idea of being able to unscrew the layers and rotate them but am unable to find it online, anyone know where such info is available? I was planning on edging it but don't want to loose the middle layer.
Question 3: Should I be using pre laminated MDF?
Thanks,
Gus
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I used 2 sheets 3/4 mdf for the top of my bench. I glued and screwed the two sheets together from the bottom side. I also put several coats of poly on the top and wraped it with a hardwood. I've been using it for 1 1/2 yrs now and haven't had to replace it. Every few months I might scrape any poly, glue etc drippings, give it a light sanding and apply a coat of paste wax & buff it out.
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Mike S.
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And if the top gets really crummy, scrape or sand it down enough to glue & screw on another layer...
Patriarch
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Similar approach here. Except that oil poly takes too long to dry, and water base poly soaks in and swells. So, first coated the top and edges with shellac to seal it. Then two coats of water base poly. A hand scraper picks up any glue droppings. Every so often, resand with a random orbital and another thin coat of poly with a foam brush. Same hardwood edging applied. Used one for over 10 years that way. GerryG

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How about making a 1.5" deep "box" with the edging and some crosspieces on the bottom. Then you could just drop the pieces in and take them out and flip whenever you are ready?? Wilson

rotate
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Fun-Gus wrote:

I seem to recall Norm making a workshop table that used hardboard on top of MDF or similar. He wrapped it such that the hardboard fit into the edging, and just let gravity hold the hardboard in place. This allowed him to switch out the hardboard as it got gummed up. I don't remember it looking like the one pictured here http://www.newyankee.com/getproduct3.cgi?102 , but it seems to use the same concept.
The workbench that came with my house has a similar arrangement (without the oak trim, though). It is held in place mostly by a vice that is bolted on top of the bench. It is nice that I can easily get rid of the oils that built up from a prior owner's cuckoo clock hobby.

As I was searching for the hardboard example, I came across this one. http://www.newyankee.com/getproduct3.cgi?102 . It seems like it would be especially nice if the bench was to be used in such a way that being slippery would be an advantage.
Mike
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Mike Gerdts wrote:

I'm thinking about MDF for a top, two layers and then thin strips in the middle for a torsion box design, then covering with laminate. I've seen a couple router table plans using laminate so I think it should hold up well.
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------------- Good choice. I used 4 layers of 3/4 for mine (bottom layer 6" deeper than the others so I ended up with a tool-well) and wrapped the lot with 4x2 as an edging.

------------ MDF is like a sponge. So it does need something to seal it. I used loads of bee's wax. Works a treat, so would other stuff I'm sure, but it does need sealing.

---------------- If you don't seal it you'll end up having to scrap the lot once you spill your coffee or beer on it.

rotate
------------------ The idea of a replaceable top-sheet is a good one. I didn't think of it at the time.

------------- Didn't even know you could get it. If you can it's not a bad idea. MDF sags a little when covered in glue so unless you have a perfectly flat surface to base your home-made lamination on you will not get a perfectly flat result.
Personally I chose not to use screws and glued the whole lot together.(I don't want to remember where the screws are just after I've hit one should I ever get around to wanting to drill through the thing, curently I just nail-gun bits of scrap on it and create 'dogs' wherever and whenever I need them)
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This is probably more info than you're asking for, but when I build my 40"x60" workbench in my garage, I build a frame out of 2x4's, basically like a floor with cross pieces on 13" centers. I then used a piece of 3/4 MDF screwed to the frame, then a layer of 1/4 hardboard on top. I didn't glue the hardboard top on, I just used some flat head screws (countersunk) around the perimeter and a few in the middle. I edged the table with some oak molding to keep the edges from getting mangled so easily. I sized the 2x4 frame so I'd get a couple of inches of overhang all around for clamping. One long side of the table is attached to the wall, and the other is on three sets of doubled 2x4 legs (each corner and one in the middle), so it's pretty solid. I adjusted the lengths of each of the legs to make up for the slight slope in my garage so that the table is level.
I coated the frame with one coat of polyurethane, the MDF (top and bottom) with a couple layers (soaks it up like a sponge), and about 4 coats of poly on the hardboard top & trim.
I figure if the top ever gets so bad that I can't sand it & recoat, I'll just remove the screws and replace the top.
One tip that I had seen (and used), was that I made the bench height to match my table & miter saw heights; they're both close enough to the bench to allow it to be used as a work support.
Mike O.

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I needed an assembly table this week for a pair of large kitchen cabinets I'm building, so I built a platform much like you describe for the task. It currently sits on standard height sawhorses in the driveway, but I'll need to lower it some to complete the project.
Having great weather enables these larger projects, because making them fit in the former garage just doesn't work, without emptying all the tools into the driveway or the truck....
Patriarch
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