I want to use a 30"x80" Solid Core Door Slab for a benchtop for a new
workbench I'm building and have a couple of questions someone might be able
I have found at both Lowes & HD, 30"x 80" birch skinned solid core doors, is
there any diff in the two stores doors? Does anyone know what is under the
skins? (mdf, ply, pine, ecte) this is important because I will be drilling
holes for bench dogs and of course need to mount the door to frame via
Thanks for the help!
This was just dsicussed a couple days ago. I can't remember if it was
here or over on woodnet. You might want to search for it.
The jist of the discussion is that it's difficult to know what's in the
door. Sometimes, it's real wood. Other times, it MDF or worse. One
person mentioned getting a door filled with poorly-glued-together
particleboard. When he drilled a hole in it, it disintegrated and made
a mess. Just make sure you know what's in the door, which may not
really be possible.
Ya pays yer money, ya takes yer chances.
The last few I have put in over the last 6 months or so have the extra
fine grained mdf on the top and bottom, with a 2X2 (app.) of wood on
each side to mount hardware and hinges.. They have about an inch or so
of space behind the 2X2 with nothing but air... it is hollow all the
way up and down (except the end caps), then you hit some really coarse
compressed chips for the "core". I see this when setting the plunger
on a lock, and drill through the edge of the door. Sometimes the
hollow spot is apparent even when boring for the lock.
As a variation, some are wood all around, and have the coarse chipboard
in the center with no hollow spot. None of the doors I see, none, are
not the qualtiy of doors of even a few years ago.
For a table top, I would find myself a solid core door with a tempered
masonite ply on one side. The "birch" on the birch doors is just a few
thousands thick, and covers in many cases luan, or some other trash
wood. The birch chips off, splinters, and generally looks like crap.
After glueing a new masonite top on a workbench and then routing it off
flush for a buddy of mine, he is in heaven. The surface can be a
little slick when it is new but it cleans easily, requires no
maintenance at all, and after he has bunged it up pretty well it hold
the projects just fine. When this top is worn out, we will put another
layer right on top.
Just my .02.
core. A solid wood core can be ordered at much higher cost.
I have a couple of benches that are mede from 36 x 96 x 2-1/4 solid wood
doors (except for where a full mortise lockset was installed). These
were from a job we did replacing doors in an old school building.
Check with commercial door companies or watch office building rehabs.Old
doors have to go somewhere. Try asking larger independent lumber yards
that supply contractors for names of guys buying that type of door (if
purchased without frame chances are that he is replacing something)
I've seen a lot of old doors go in the dumpster simply because there was
nowhere to store them. a little sanding or cover with hardboard and you
have a great solid bench.
You are likely to find variability in the composition of the doors
within the same store, not only between stores. It's all going to depend
on who manufactured them, with what, and for what price point.
My solid core door benchtop consists of really really thin birch veneer
over a core of fine particles. It almost looks like MDF but it's not MDF
as it is not as dense or as heavy as "real" MDF. For a door though, it's
pretty heavy. I routed a recess into the door/top for my router plate
and when routing this stuff you get nice crisp clean edges in it.
They've stayed that way because the router plate seldom leaves its
recess. But when you make through holes, whether for the router or for
bench dogs, the stuff crumbles. I wound up making and applying 3/4
edging to the router cutouts, and applied a thin layer of wood filler
into the recess where the router plate sits just to keep this stuff from
chipping, etc. (The door overhangs the end of the workbench and the
router mounts in the overhang - thus I have a workbench and router table
in one.) The dog holes were a disaster. After a handful of uses the
holes became misshapen and the area around them "mushroomed." The
solution for me was to inlay a 3/4 inch thick strip of hardwood with
suitably sized dog holes in it. I also glued a 1/4 thick strip directly
below (on the underside of the top) to prevent the same from happening
on the bottom. Keep a 3x5 block of pig iron or steel at hand as an
"anvil" because if you do any serious pounding on the door's surface it
will quickly go to hell on you.
I got the door because a neighbor was giving them away in a remodeling
job. It is heavy and flat, and all things considered it has stayed that
way over nearly 10 years in an unheated garage, so I am not dissatisfied
with it. The bench does NOT move no matter what I do to/with/on it. But
if I had to spend my own money on materials I'd go with a couple of
layers of 3/4 plywood and maybe a sacrificial hardboard surface and take
the trouble to get it flat as I do not have access to sufficient
quantity of good hardwood (or money) for a solid wood top.
James Williams wrote:
The heart of my shop has been my Solid Core Door bench top. My bench is of
unconventional dimensions.... I made it wide because it doubles as the table
saw run-off. It is heavy and sturdy and has stood the test of time. I
purchased the door from a lumber supply house as a second for just a few
dollars. But, my door is gypsum filled, so I edged it with 2 x 4 yellow pine
and made a trestle base of 4 x 4 yellow pine. It has been performing for me
in a South Florida Garage shop for over 15 years now.
The only thing I would do differently when I rebuild the top is I would not
use the 2 x 4 on edge. It makes the top too thick for using some clamp on
I also bought a second door of standard width and use it as a very heavy
portable work table across two folding steel saw horses. When not in use it
is stood on edge along the side of the shop. It is still as flat as the day
I brought it home.
Most any good door shop has an 'oops' pile. A really sturdy fire-rated
door can generally be liberated for $10-$15, preferably in cash.
My last trip there resulted in three workbench tops, after the Thanksgiving
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