I have just completed building myself a "real" bench for doing
hand-tool work. 3x laminated MDF core with Red Oak skirting, side and
end vise jaws - the works. Turned out quite well if I do say so
My question is, will the bench suffer any ill effects if I leave the
wood "natural" - that is, unfinished? I am not asking if I SHOULD
finish it - I already know the answer to that one. I was going to
finish it with a few coats of tung oil varnish but my shop is -
temporarily - in the basement of a townhouse AND my wife is 8 months
pregnant and I am concerned about the fumes. I read the MSDS sheet on
the Waterlox Original Sealer / Finish I was intending to use and there
are some spooky sounding chemical names on there and I am not going to
take the chance and expose the wife to them at this delicate stage
(IMO, just not worth the risk).
Thanks in advance for your time . . .
Will also keep the MDF from outgassing, if you're paranoid.
Sure as he doesn't protect it with some shellac and perhaps a touch of wax,
he'll get glue drips that go unnoticed until they lift a bunch of wood dust
out of the top when he tries to scrape it off..
On 23 Sep 2004 19:46:42 -0700, email@example.com (Larry Fox) wrote:
I researched "traditional" benches for a long time before ignoring all
the info and building mine.. *g*
Most folks said that you don't want a finish on the bench top, as it
could transfer to the wood that you're working on.. I tried a few
coats of paste wax, power buffed, but still noticed a bit of wax here
and there on a project that I was staining...
If/when I do it again, I'll probably soak it in linseed oil or
IMHO, wife and baby come way, way before the bench... the worst case
is that down the road, you have to sand or resurface the bench and
apply the finish of choice.. which I'd prefer to risking my wife or
kid's health.. YMMV
I made a bench roughly 10 years ago with a hard maple top. I never
put a finish on it. I put an old hollow core door on top
whenever I do any gluing on the bench. I have no regrets about
not "finishing" the bench at all.
For those with voyeuristic inclinations, you can see said bench in
the background of this picture:
As you can see, I've protected the bench with a thick layer of
clutter. :} (You can also see the hollow core door doubling as
a cover for the saw when painting.)
I would consider at least a Danish Oil such as Watco Natural. It does
smell a bit when wet but dries over a few day's time and at least offers
some protection for the red oak. You can put wax, varnish, or poly over
it once it has fully dried. The driers in the Watco evaporate and leave
a non-toxic finish. Leaving bare wood invites a few problems. Dirt and
grime will get into the pores of the oak. The wood will be continually
moving with humidity changes - a finish will help minimalize this
movement. Glue drips, and possibly finish spills will enter the wood's
pores and leave a pretty permanent mark on yer nice workbench.
So put a finish on it. Put it on in a well ventilated space.
Why not wait a couple of months until the little one has arrived, then
finish it? At that point, your concerns should be alleviated, any fume
concentrations that cause the child harm you should not be breathing either
(ie, provide adequate ventilation while it dries).
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