Suitable timber for workbench


Hi folks,
I wish to build a workbench for general garage use. I'd like it to be heavy, strong and durable.
A helpful fellow at my local hardware store suggested the use of merbau timber. Merbau is a beautiful hardwood which is dense and very strong - perfect for the job! Unfortunately it comes from rainforests in South-East Asia. I do not want to contribute to the destruction of the world's remaining rainforests.
My question:
Can anyone suggest a type of timber which is:
- A heavy and strong hardwood. - Readily available in Australia (New South Wales). - Produced/grown in an environmentally responsible manner.
A bit of google research would indicate that some possible candidates are:
- Yellow Stringybark - Yellow Box - Sugar Gum - Red Ironbark - Grey Box - White Cypress Pine
I don't know a great deal about timber and would really appreciate any thoughts or comments!
Thanks in advance.
Alan
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Hi folks,
I wish to build a workbench for general garage use. I'd like it to be heavy, strong and durable.
A helpful fellow at my local hardware store suggested the use of merbau
timber. Merbau is a beautiful hardwood which is dense and very strong -
perfect for the job! Unfortunately it comes from rainforests in South-East Asia. I do not want to contribute to the destruction of the world's remaining rainforests. My question: Can anyone suggest a type of timber which is: - A heavy and strong hardwood. - Readily available in Australia (New South Wales). - Produced/grown in an environmentally responsible manner. A bit of google research would indicate that some possible candidates are: - Yellow Stringybark - Yellow Box - Sugar Gum - Red Ironbark - Grey Box - White Cypress Pine I don't know a great deal about timber and would really appreciate any thoughts or comments!
For a garage workbench? If you're not doing critical joining, just general use, I'd use the cheapest environmentally responsible stuff that meets your needs, and a skin of hardboard or the like for the top. Easily replaced "durability". HTH. Tom
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Well, whatever lumber you folks use for common construction house framing down undah... use that. Frame up a trestle of 4x4" legs and 2x6" braces and stretchers, nuts washers and bolts. 3/4" plywood top screwed down and you're better off than you think.
But, on that ply top I would go further personaly,
...and glue-laminate 2x2" together going from one end to the other as several smaller gang gluings, then one final, using "titebond II extend" if you can get it. This is something like butcher block but not smaller pieces, full length and width.
For this you will need lots of clamps. If not common pine then the cheapest hardwood decking you can get, each ripped down the middle and stood up side by side for the gluing.
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Alex - newbie_neander in woodworking
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Alan:
IMHO: What you want and what you need seem to be two separate subjects.
If you are going to impress your fellow woodworkers- go for the expensive wood by all means.
If you truly just need a general garage use work bench: Build the frame with what ever is heavy and massive and has some adjustment for leveling. You are going for mass here, so when you hand plane a piece of wood, the wood is shaved with out the bench moving. If you could figure out how to connect the top, concrete in a 6 or 8 inch diameter cardboard mold would do for the legs. You know, the cardboard molds sold for fence post concrete support. The Top, however, must be made of wood, be flat and level and remain flat and level over time. A plus is to be able to replace the top skin when you lose concentration for a moment and your lawn-mower gas engine gets repaired on your work-bench. (the spilled oil is bad when it gets on your wood projects; some wood finishes don't like engine oil.) A thick wood top is usually needed for the many vises and bench dogs. But that can be overcome with thinking through your options.
Again, if you are trying to impress someone, go for the expensive, if just to fit your needs, well spend you money on good fancy wood where it counts, in project wood.
Phil

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Phil wrote:

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I used MDF 3/4" thick - 3 layers glued up with 6/4 oak edging on my current bench, with some varnish on the top. It is very heavy but has worked extremely well with daily use for 2+ years. There is a new lighter MDF which also might be suitable. The bench is dead flat and very durable, dog holes hold up well and easy to drill new ones. Is not the prettiest bench but very serviceable.
MBR
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Hi Folks
Thanks for the many helpful replies - they are much appreciated.
The idea of using concrete seems to be a good one, but I don't think I will do that as I need to be able to disassemble this bench and move it easily (I'm likely to move home in the near future). Perhaps a whole lot of small concrete blocks (or bricks) sitting in a wooden frame would add useful mass.
Most houses here are built using pine framework. I think perhaps I will use pine to build the legs and frame with the benchtop made of some kind of composite (MDF or ply). That seems to be in line with most of the posts.
I also like the idea of a replaceable hardboard surface.
Thanks again!
Regards, Alan
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On Sun, 03 Jul 2005 13:41:29 +1000, Alan Turner

Mine is a pine base, with a pine top (2x4's glued face-to-face and then planed flat) Works really nicely, and it's as heavy as I could ever want. It gets a few dents from time to time, but nothing that makes it unusable by any means. It was about the same price as the plywood would have been, but much bulkier, and looks better with the vise installed.

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