Using old maple flooring for work bench top

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Hi folks. I have a fair amount of 100 year old 2 inch maple tongue and groove flooring, and I'd like to glue this large face to large face to make a work bench top. I realize that I'll have to machine the bottom side flat. Which would be better to use, a 10" table saw or a router table? I do have a 2.5" carbide straight bit for the latter. The other face is covered with a very thin layer of poly varnish. Do I have to remove this, or could I just sand it lightly and glue it? I'm a newbie and so any constructive suggestions are welcome.
-Peter De Smidt
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wrote:

Why? The grooves are there when you use it for flooring, unless you are going to have _very_ localized pressure it's not a problem to have those small, consistant voids.
As someone who has (attempted to...) reused old 2" maple flooring, I'd like to warn you that it's going to be a pain in the (butt) to work with. Splitty, gritty, dirty, and ill-fitting are all possibilities. But, if I was going to do it, I'd lay it just like hardwood flooring, treating the plywood top of the workbench exactly as if it was a subfloor. Maybe the tar paper and everything. Should make a nice looking workbench; once it's all down, _then_ sand & refinish it.
How does that sound? Dave Hinz
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Sounds something like my bench... maple T&G flooring glued to a solid-core door.
Construction pics here: <http://www.balderstone.ca/workbench/
I edged it with hickory and have installed a pair of Veritas bench vises (no pics of that stage though).
djb
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Very nifty! Can I get some advice?
I have my granny's old maple breakfast table with lots of wood in it. I am thinking of cutting it up and doing the same thing, it's got one leaf. Do you think I should TS it into 2" peices or leave it all they way it is, cut off the routed bevels on the edges then using it all as solid top?
Alex
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Yes.
;-)
Unless it's very flat I'd probably consider cutting it into strips, depending on whether the loss of wood from the saw kerfs would leave me with too little wood.
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Hi Dave,
Thanks for your suggestions, but I don't want to lay it like flooring. I'd rather glue the wide faces together (the ones that were the top and bottom when it was used as flooring.) Once the tonge grooves are removed, I should have a top roughly 2" thick.
So my questions remain: 1. Do I have to get rid of the varnish? Will it cause a joint with less strenth? Will the varnish cause a problem when I plane the top flat. (Remember, it's flooring, and so it has a layer of varnish on one side.)
2. Since I want to glue the top of one board to the bottom of another, I should machine the bottom of the boards flat to get maximum joint strength. Should I use a 10" tablesaw or a router table with a long straight bit? (I don't have a jointer or planer.)
-Peter
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On Wed, 22 Sep 2004 18:31:07 -0500, Peter De Smidt

Yes. No glue will stick adequately to poly varnish. If it is non-poly it probably has wax on it. In any even a trip through a planer that you don't love too much or a drum sander should take care of it.

I can't imagine a reasonable way to mill the bottoms flat short of a planer. Trying to do it with the router would at a minimum require a router table and a good, square fence and still might not produce a truly flat and parallel piece.
Tim Douglass
http://www.DouglassClan.com
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Tim Douglass wrote:

Well, I have a Milwaukee router in a large table with the Incra LS positioning system fence. My 2.5" straight bit has a 1/2" shaft. Assuming that I get the fence set up correctly, and I use featherboards, why should this not lead to good results?
-Peter
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Just send the wood to me, I'll pay shipping, I'll put the wood through an oliver surfacer, then the Oliver jointer for the other side, I have both machines at my disposal. Then I can cut them to exacting length for you on the Oliver table saw... ay? [wink]
Alex ;-]
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You could make that work if you had another dozen or two of those bits:0
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On Wed, 22 Sep 2004 19:40:31 -0500, Peter De Smidt

Probably work OK. The thing that the planer does is index off the back of the board, so it comes out at a consistent thickness. You *may* get that result with the router table assuming the boards start essentially the same thickness, but some variation wouldn't surprise me. Run a couple of pieces through (both sides, for flattening and to remove the varnish) and then take your dial calipers and see if they are consistent. Remember that you need to set the infeed side of your fence back the depth of your cut and the outfeed side exactly even with the bit. What you will have created is a small diameter jointer, which, if used carefully, could give you good enough results.
Like I say, run a couple of boards and see. If they don't come out good you are no worse off than when you started.
Tim Douglass
http://www.DouglassClan.com
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On Wed, 22 Sep 2004 18:31:07 -0500, Peter De Smidt

Peter. you got some good advice. really. but you won't heed the voice of wisdom, so here goes.
the finish will interfere with glue.
the used floorboards will destroy your plane blades.
neither the tablesaw or the router table are good methods for flattening the undersides. a reasonable method would involve a bandsaw and a thickness planer, neither of which you probably have.
do I gather that you are wanting to make the bench top with your former floorboards all on edge and glued together the width of the top, rather than all flat and glued 2 thick? if you had a thickness planer, lots of time and plenty of spare blades it would probably work. it wouldn't be easy, and the blades alone would probably cost you more than a commercially made bench top: http://www.grizzly.com/products/item.cfm?itemnumber=G9912 $79.95.
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snipped-for-privacy@thanks.com wrote:

Yes.
-Peter
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snipped-for-privacy@thanks.com wrote:
it wouldn't be easy, and the blades alone would probably cost

That's for a top only 36"x24", whereas I was thinking about 36"x72". With shipping, that'd be $270.
I already have the wood. It was removed from my entry way, and I'd like to find a use for it. It'd been sanded a number of times, and so it wouldn't make much sense to re-install it elsewhere. In any case all of our floors are already covered with hard maple, except where I've replaced the wood with tile.
-Peter
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On Wed, 22 Sep 2004 21:17:59 -0500, Peter De Smidt

well, you now have most of the information you asked for. what you want to do is possible. whether or not it's a fool's errand is a matter of opinion... I do think I'd be most likely to use that material as tongue and groove over a suitably thick substrate, maybe 2 layers of 3\4" plywood.
whatever method you use to remove the finish, expect it to be a chore. getting the bulk of it off with a scraper first will save you some money in either cutters (if you plane it) or sandpaper (if you run it through a thickness planer). you will need to surface both sides before glue up.
consider also the amount of wood to be removed and what yield you'll get. if the flooring was 3/4", the relief grooves on the bottom are what, 1/8"? and it's been sanded a number of times, say another 1/8" gone. this leaves about 1/2", and you'll use probably another 1/16 getting it all surfaced and neat. so figure a finished thickness of 7/16". so you'll need 83 layers to get your 36" width. assuming the flooring is 2-1/2" wide now, you will need 103 square feet of it to get your table top. how big is your entry?
you must put some value on your time. I think you're badly underestimating the effort required to use this material in this way.
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snipped-for-privacy@thanks.com wrote:

Since I haven't made any comments about how much works it's going to be, I find it strange that you to claim that I'm underestimating the effort required.
Yes, it would take a lot of work, but I'm not in this for efficiency or cost savings. I have a material, approximately 120 square feet, that's been in my house for 100 years. I'd like to use it for something useful, and I need a workbench. It doesn't matter to me if it takes a couple of months to make.
A few years ago, I made a laminated maple top for above our dishwasher. I simply bought 2" wide maple boards from Menards, glued them up in sections wide face to wide face, and surfaced it all with a belt sander. No, this was not a "fine woodworking" technique, and I didn't use a planer or a jointer, but it looks great. While it was quite a bit of work, it was fun. Yes, I probably could have bought a ready made one for less money (and certainly less effort). So what?
I appreciate all the suggestions that posters have made, and especially all the explanations as to the advantages of certain techniques.
-Peter De Smidt
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How about using it for something where the 'flatness' aspect is not as critical and the whole family could enjoy what you've built?
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On Wed, 22 Sep 2004 21:17:59 -0500, Peter De Smidt

If the flooring has been sanded I can almost guarantee that you will *have* to run it through a planer. It is almost certain to have thickness variations that will be virtually impossible to remove any other way.
I have cogitated doing this same project several times in the past when I have had the chance to get a lot of used maple flooring cheap or free. Every time I've decided it was simply way too much work for me to find it worthwhile. If you really don't mind the effort (and it sounds like you don't) I would buy a portable planer and about 4 sets of blades and have at it. Total cost, not counting the planer (which you should be able to re-use or re-sell) would be about $200. I realize that this is partly a sentimental effort, so the cost isn't the driving factor, but it should be borne in mind. Oh, don't forget the cost of glue. Personally, I'd do it all with Gorilla Glue, but Tightbond II is probably good enough. Either way it will take quite a bit.
I *really* want a planer, so if it was me, I'd use the project to justify a new tool. YMMV
Tim Douglass
http://www.DouglassClan.com
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Tim Douglass wrote: <snip>

Yes, that's a very good point. The problem is that I don't have a good dust collection system yet, and I really need one. I'd especially need one if I get a planer. I'm not sure that the budget is available for both.
And in another post Tim wrote:

That's a great suggestion. I just ran a board through the router table without feather boards...just to see how it would work. (Gotta make some feather boards.) It worked quite well, and it took the varnish off with no problems. I'll make some feather boards, try a few more boards, and get out the calipers.
-Peter De Smidt
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On Thu, 23 Sep 2004 13:17:23 -0500, Peter De Smidt

Get the new DeWalt with the chip ejector, then all you have to do is sweep up bushels of chips... :-0

Go for it!
Tim Douglass
http://www.DouglassClan.com
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