Wood for a Workbench.

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I am mulling over how to make my first woodworking bench, and after looking at many sites, and considering cost, I am going to build with standard lumber. My questions are as follows:
Is there any reason to stick with laminating 2x4's for the legs versus using 4x4 or even better(?) 4x6 stock. I want to build a leg vise and I am tempted to use the 4x6 dougfir they have at the local Builder's Supply. Are there any ramifications that I should be aware of? I asked them and got blank stares and they made me feel like an idiot.
And while I'm asking can you use this 4x6 or 4x4 stuff as the laminated top, or should I stick with glueing up 2x4s? I have debated using plywood or mdf, but I just don't want to do that, although I am sure you all have opinions on that decision.
I would really appreciate any suggestions, since the only person around here I can ask is my Dad, and he is the KING of Shortcuts. (Great for many projects, but not this one)
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The problem with tubas and forbas is moisture content. It's just not stable like kiln dried lumber.
My experience has been that 2-bys that have been laying around my inventory for shop for 6 months or a year behave pretty well. Fresh stuff just moves all over the place. So wait if you can and be prepared to set aside a few potato chips for an application where you only need a short board.
My gut says that 4-bys will take forever to really dry out and stay put. 2-bys will still want to twist somewhat, but the lamination will dictate that only half the component will be pulling one way or the other.
My suggestion would be realy fussy about choosing your stock and buy 2x10's. and rip them in two. The bigger boards tend to be clearer.
-Steve

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Correct, wider 2x is much better then 2x4's. Just what I did, rip 2x10's, cept I ripped 3 out of each. Ran them thru planer to get all the same height. Worked great. Put clamps top and bottom when glue-up time comes.
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For my first bench I built this...
http://www.eaa1000.av.org/technicl/worktabl/worktabl.htm
Actually, I built two. Solid, stable (with lag bolts for leveling feet), cheap and EASY. It'll provide you a good surface upon which you can build your next bench when you're ready.
JP
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Well, I guess my first piece of advice is that while it's nice to try and do a good job and make a bench that you'll be proud of, this isn't the type of project to put that much worry into. You'll put a lot of dents into this, get paint/stain on it, etc. So don't worry. If you can find non-pressure treated 4 X4 or 4X6, I don't see why you couldn't use it. Altough, unless you need a leg that thick for your vise, I see no reason not to make the legs out of 2 X 4s. They are plenty strong for your legs.
The downside of using framing lumber is that it will warp. This may or may not be a big deal to you. My bench has a 2 X 4 frame (basically a cube, so the legs on are attached together on bottom and top). then I just used a piece of 3/4 ply for the top and a shelf at the bottom. It's plenty sturdy. If you need extra thickness for bench dogs or whatever, you could put a double layer of plywood on the top.
tim wrote:

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tim wrote:

IMHO, YES.
Form a right angle triangle with two (2), 2x4's for each leg.
Very strong and will resist warping.

Why?
Make a frame from half lapped 2x4's, then cover with 3/4" MDF followed by a 1/4", loose fitting hardboard.
Usually cut a triangular piece of 1/2", 4 ply CDX and fit them as gussets between leg and table top frame.
Makes a very stable arrangement that will support a couple of tons with no sweat.
Why not take a look at some of the NYW plans for garage work benches. They have some pretty good ideas.
Think of this bench as your work truck, not your Saturday night Lexus.
HTH
Good luck.
Lew

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Not knowing what you have available for cutting & joining sticks, some generalities:
For one, splitting and checking is generally more of a problem with larger-section-dimension lumber. Really big stuff gets heavy, which may be a +. Making clean cuts will be a challenge, unless you have one of the real monster circ-saws, and can guide it.
OTOH, dimension lumber from most mills has rounded corners, making for surface gaps when gluing. Getting such sticks aligned precisely, and clamped evenly for gluing must be a real hoot. Laminations are inherently difficult/impossible to split through.
Probably depends most on quality of what's available locally. Does your supplier carry lumber better than stud to utility grade? Can you choose pieces (like, no knots)?
And ... 4x6 for the top? To support big-block engines?
I've found that doubled 3/4" CDX plywood is extremely strong, making excellent web for small beams.
HTH, J
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Last weekend I used some old 2x4 I had sitting around to build an outfeed/router table. I just ripped about 1/4" off one side so it was flat. Not a big problem. As for aligning, well, the biscuits do just fine at getting it all to line up. You could leave the rounded corners and it wouldn't make a difference in alignment.
Now for my OTOH, the wood I used was geen when purchased and has been sitting around for a year or two. Several of the boards were too twisted to use except in short sections.
j
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I'll echo what bf and Stephen M said...construction pine just moves all the hell over the damn place. See my recent post, "Okay...I give...when WILL my pine table top quit moving" for some similar replies.
Learn from my mistake...I did everything "right" and still my lumber moved. I've vowed never to use construction lumber again for anything other than....well.....construction.
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Go a search on "weekend workbench" plans. I built this bench out of kiln dried 2x4's from Home Depot. The legs are laminated 2x4 done in a way that looks like half lap joints. The railes are attached to the ends via nuts/bolts in pocket holes so you can diassemble if so choose.
The plans call for a solid core door which is what I used. I added oak trim to the perimeter and drilled 3/4" dog holes around the perimeter. Plans also call for drawers but I needed the extra shelf space and did not do the drawers. You could put any top you wanted included a laminated maple I suppose.
I coated with a couple coats of poly. It actually looks and performs quite well.
Do a search on "Weekend Workbench Plans".
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wrote:

Search twice - I saw prices from $5 and up - didn't find free - yet.
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Try this:
http://www.freeww.com/workbenches.html
Jay

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Popular Woodworking had a special issue on benches and toolboxes this spring, with their plans in it. Maybe $5. Good plans, well presented, as usual.
Patriarch
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Oh and be sure to buy the best "kiln dried" 2x4's you can. If you buy green, you'll get the warps mentioned by prior posts.
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Jerry wrote:

You obviously don't live in California.
All the lumber in California, especially SoCal, is shipped in wet, not just green, but then again it is Doug Fir, not Spruce which must be kiln dried which is why it gets shipped to the East coast.
Shipping water gets expensive<G>.
Lew
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Sorry, I "obviously" live in San Diego California and yes, I bought kiln dried premium 2x4 at my local Home Depot. Who said anything about Spruce. It is the standard doug fir.
Take the attitude elsewhere.
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On Fri, 12 Aug 2005 23:30:22 GMT, Lew Hodgett

You get NO kiln dried construction lumber in California?
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Ba r r y wrote:

Even though they do, construction lumber is not completely kiln dried to the same moisture content as cabinet grade.
Even the kiln-dried stuff will move on you, though Doug Fir has a reputation for moving the least which is why it is sometimes sold green.
Regarding laminated 2x4 vs 4x4 legs one advantage to the laminated legs is that a defect like a large knot will only pass halfway through the leg, unless you align defects when you laminate them. If you use half-lap joinery, you can do that by using short pieces appropriately spaced for one side of the laminations instead of cutting open mortises. By virtue of being thinner, the 2x lumber should have dried more on the shelf (or in your shop) than the 4x. You can also glue the legs into an "L" shape for beter stablity than you get with a solid rectangle.
All that aside, working with thicker timbers is fun. For the individual, that may be the deciding factor.
--

FF


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On 13 Aug 2005 06:02:10 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@spamcop.net wrote:

Who said it was?
I've used KD construction lumber for plenty of benches, shop shelves, clamp racks, etc... It works just fine, as long as a furniture-like appearance isn't desired.
I wouldn't use KD doug fir or spruce for a fine woodworking heirloom bench, but it's fine for keeping the planer, miter saw, or clamps off the floor.
Barry
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On 13 Aug 2005 06:02:10 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@spamcop.net wrote:

The big advantage for me is cutting the mortise. With two laminated boards, you can cut half the mortise out of each side with a router before glue-up rather than using a forsner bit and chisel, and you've got very little tuning up to do when it's laminated. Never tried the L-shaped legs, but that makes sense, too.

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