Woodbench top - Southern yellow pine

I am a bridge research engineer at a university. We are currently testing a glue-laminated timber bridge constructed with 5" thick, southern yellow pine deck panels.
When testing is complete, I'm considering using one of the panels to construct the mother of all workbench tops. I'm thinking about a 3'x6' top which will weigh in about 375 lbs.
Questions -
What's the best way to flatten a panel? I don't have a jointer plane, but might consider buying one for this project. I'm always looking for an excuse to buy a new tool.
How flat is "flat enough"?
Best way to protect the top from dings?
Any body else interested in some of this material?
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If you do it yourself, jointer plane or router sled (shop built).
Every "MAN" ought to have a No. 8 jointer plane. :-)
Bob
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On 22 Oct 2004 07:34:40 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@hntb.com (Mike LaViolette) wrote:

I have a couple of bench tops sitting in my shed made from ponderosa 2x6" laminated together narrow edge up. They're not real big, but they're going to be carving benches. (The wood came out of an old high school they were tearing down. At this point they've been seasoning for about a century.)

That's what I used. I've got a Primus jointer and it did a good job with not too much effort. These timbers were rough-sawn on the edges, although flat on the sides (go figure). Plane on the diagonal and adjust the cut appropriately.

Flat enough so you don't get splinters. The flatter the better of course, but I wouldn't be anal about it. (Of course you don't do build-ups on a carving bench, so you're not using the top as a reference.)

You mean while you're working on it or while you're using the finished bench? Again, because they're going to be carving benches, I don't worry about it.
--RC

If I weren't interested in gardening and Ireland, I'd automatically killfile any messages mentioning 'bush' or 'Kerry'
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FWW has a article on flattening large panels. Easy way.

I would make as flat as I could. Since you are an engineer +-.050" over 3'

Don't use it.

Where are you?
Dave
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On 22 Oct 2004 07:34:40 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@hntb.com (Mike LaViolette) wrote:

I would think that the large density difference between the grain and softwood would prevent you from ever having a permanently 'flat' surface with Southern Pine. Great stuff for lots of applications but I can't see it as a workbench top. Anybody else used SP for a top surface?
TWS http://tomstudwell.com/allprojects.htm
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TWS said:

I built a bench comprised of laminated SYP strips 2 1/4 tall x 2" wide. It was glued up into a 72" x 32" top. It is finished with multiple applications of BLO and Tung oil. It is about 2 years old, and is quite stable.
See it here: Construction details:
http://www.thevideodoc.com/images/Bench1.jpg
Completed unit:
http://www.thevideodoc.com/images/Bench2.jpg
Finish applied:
http://www.thevideodoc.com/images/Bench3.jpg
It is slightly soft, but not nearly as bad as SPF and a lot stronger. That's fine with me, however. It doesn't ding up chisels, planes and the pieces I'm working on.
FWIW,
Greg G.
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I think I'd be "untraditional" and law a sacrificial piece of plywood over it..
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Its used quite a bit. One of the best sites on building an economical bench, plus some philosophy is Bob Key's at http://www.terraclavis.com/bws/beginners.htm .
Bob
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The very best approach in my estimation is to find a local cabinet shop with a wide belt sander. Offer them $20 and a six pack on Friday afternoon and it will take 10 minutes. Unfortunately most smaller shops will likely only have a 24" wide sander but you might locate and open sided version, although those are ususlly only 15 or 16" wide so you could only go 30-32".
If the Pine is sappy they may not do it but othet than that it will be a bunch of work by hand.
Regarding how flat, I wouldn't consider a solid top to ever need to be real flat. If you want real flat you need to build a torsion box (see other threads maybe).
Regarding dings, this is Pine. Ding away and enjoy the aged look.
BW
snipped-for-privacy@hntb.com (Mike LaViolette) wrote in message

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snipped-for-privacy@hntb.com (Mike LaViolette) wrote in

I used winding sticks and a jointer plane, I used a Stanley #8, bought at a flea market, FWW's most recent issue shows how to do the same thing with a handheld power plane....you may also want to consider a #5 with a slightly crowned iron to take the high spots out faster....finish with the jointer...

As flat as you can get it...you would be surprised how flat you can make it, with just a plane and a few straight edges....

SYP is fairly soft and will show wear and tear...when I made my bench I just figured I would have to re-surface every so often...but that was a few years ago and the top is holding up fine....
Hope this helps...
DCH
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<snip> I just finished my workbench. The top is an old bowling lane made of southern yellow pine. It turned out great! It is the first time I have used SYP. Very hard and heavy compared to the pine I am used to here in the north.
Best way to protect the top from dings? I was wondering the same thing about a month ago. So I searched the wreck. The answer is, you don't try and protect it from dings...it's a workbench, it's going to get dinged. You protect it from glue squeeze out etc that may drip onto it by coating it with a 1/1 mix of boiled linseed oil and turpentine for a few coats (I did about 6) Then a mix of boiled linseed oil, turpentine and bees wax mixed 1/1/1 for the top coat. (I did 3 of this). I melted the beeswax first, added the BLO then the turpentine. Just wipe it on with a rag. I got the beeswax at an apiary (and some honey) 2.5 lb block for about $6. I have a lot left over, but that's the only size block they had. I didn't put the honey on the bench, but it's great on toast ;) This turned out awesome. Nice wax top that has a little grip to it so your work doesn't slide around. Plus, the wax top is easy to plane down, if in a few years it needs to be resurfaced. A hard surface, like polyurathane, would be hell on planer blades. This is my first workbench, and I must say I am very pleased. I have the wreck to thank.
"Keep your stick on the ice" Tony
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