Work Bench

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For years I have been threatening to build a legitimate work bench. I have been using fold up ones and steel ones but I want a wood top with dog holes and a couple of vices.
Because there is a rather large investment in the "TOP" I have kicked around using several different less expensive materials. In recent years the replaceable MDF top has been popular with many magazines. I forget what I was building several months ago but I ended up having several pieces of 1/2" Baltic Birch plywood stacked up and noticed that they looked quite substantial.
I am wondering if any one has used Baltic Birch ripped in to "lot's" of strips and glued up on the faces to make a bench top. Basically the edges of all the Baltic Birch plywood would be facing up and down to form the top of the top.
Ideas appreciated
Leon
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"Leon" wrote

the street from a waterski factory. They had some monster 17 ply board. He used to haul the scrap away. If I recall correctly, they were about 1 1/8" thick and about 18" wide by about 5' long. He had hundreds of these things. All of them very heavy, thick and straight.
He used them for everything. His shop floor was made from these. He made all kinds of benched for himself and others from this. Big, heavy and thick. He often used harboard as a replaceable top.
I wouldn't cut them on edge. If youhave enough plywood to make a tope, do that. Lay it flat and cover it with hardboard. I have build a number of shop benches and cabinets out of scrap. When there was enough materials, I would build something else. This sounds similar.
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wrote:

Yeah, if they aren't big enough on their own get a sheet of 1/4" then piece together your scraps on top of that. Run them through the drum sander first to make sure the thickness is consistent on each layer. Then flip the sucker over or put another 1/4" layer on top.
Or they'd be good for building drawers to go under it.
-Kevin
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Snip

My concern with a hardboard or MDF top is that the holes for the dogs would eventually deteriorate. AND while I would make the MDF of hardwood top replaceable I think I would want something a bit more permanent.
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On Mon, 22 Dec 2008 13:53:52 -0600, Leon wrote:

Somewhere recently I read about a woodworker that equipped his bench with T-slots instead of dogholes.
I haven't really considered all the pros and cons of it, but the idea is interesting. Anyone here done this? Any opinions?
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IIRC I saw that too. WoodWhisperer maybe.
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I remember seeing some discussion about it here on the wRECk. Maybe that'll give you a starting point for further searches?
Puckdropper
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some writers are incorrigible.
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On Dec 23, 12:28 am, Puckdropper <puckdropper(at)yahoo(dot)com> wrote:
in

The problem I see is you'd need a knob sticking out. If you want to hand plane something you need to set the dog below the surface of the stock. Unless you made your stop really long with the knob at the back end it would be in the way, and that would effectively reduce the length of your bench. Plus in the course of resurfacing the top eventually you'd get to where you had to remove it and make the slot deeper, even if you started with it recessed a bit.
-Kevin
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snipped-for-privacy@YAHOO.COM wrote:

Plus, I don't want anything that is making up bench top to be harder than any tool I'm using on it. Even aluminum can put a good ding in a freshly sharpened chisel.
And no foam, either. :-p <--- [inside joke from another thread]
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-MIKE-

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snipped-for-privacy@YAHOO.COM wrote:

I think the people who install t-tracks in a bench don't do much hand tool work.
That's not a knock, we all have our favorite methods, but an observation.
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On Tue, 23 Dec 2008 20:11:24 -0500, B A R R Y wrote:

I'm not going to get rid of my dogholes, but I very well might add a row or two of T-trak as an adjunct.
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I guess I don't see the point, IF one already has the clamps and everything to go with dog holes.
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-MIKE-

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On Wed, 24 Dec 2008 11:55:09 -0600, -MIKE- wrote:

Dogholes provide clamping every N inches - 6" on my bench. T-traks provide clamping anywhere (linearly).
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On Dec 22, 9:44pm, snipped-for-privacy@YAHOO.COM wrote:

Well, think about it some more. Any size or shape dog of any material (wood, plastic, aluminum) can be mounted to a small shoe that rides in the bottom of the T slot, with a setscrew through the shoe to clamp the dog. There's no need for the T-slot to be accompanied by a stick-up bolt, of the metalwork milling holddown style.
How about a dovetail slot instead of T slot? It doesn't need metal parts, and a wedged dovetail dog would be easy to build.
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I don't know if this is going thru twice or not as my ISP connection went berzerk once I sent the message.
Could htis be the plans you may have seen for a benchtop with T-slots?
http://www.bobsplans.com/FreePlans/DNLD/Workbench.pdf
It seems somewhat intriqing to me but I am also afraid of the top that is made entorely of MDF. I was wondering if a piece or two of MDF sandwiched between pieces of plywood would be better for a top.
I can see where the T-slots could be extremely helpful and you wouldn't get the wear teh dog holes would probably cause in the MDF but I am afraid there may be other problems specific to the T-slots that may even be worse then screwed up dog holes....
ray
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Leon wrote:

Best thing I have found for the top is a used solid interior door. I bought a discarded hospital door for about $5 or $10 a few years ago. Would have cost me at least 10x that much to build a hardwood slab like that.
Bob
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Hummmm, I'll keep that in mind.
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zxcvbob wrote:

I think the first order of business is to determine what the bench will be used for...
For instance, a door or replaceable MDF top might make a good assembly bench or machine table.
If you're going to flatten faces of boards with a hand plane, flatter than the thicknesser leaves it, you're going to need a surface than can be trued up on occasion with hand planes or cleaned with a cabinet scraper.
A surface used for lots of hand work is usually better without a slippery film finish. On the other hand, the right film finish will protect against glue, sharpening oils and water, etc...
I have surfaces ranging from melamine to urethane coated MDF to unfinished pine and ash, depending on the use.
Lots and lots of very nice old benches have pine or fir tops that still survive today. The surface doesn't have to be a hardwood.
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That bit of information probably would have been helpful. ;!) I am wanting a "flat" work bench to shape wood and or use for assembly of furniture. I really want to get something bigger than my TS top. LOL
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Leon wrote:

I built a very flat assembly torsion box, with a melamine top, that sits on my hand tool bench, outfeed table, painter's steps (for tall projects), or even the floor.
When I'm not assembling, I really prefer an unfinished wood top, with end and face vices, a board jack, and surface dog holes. In addition to hand tool work, the "hand tool" vises and dogs easily clamp router dovetail and pocket hole jigs, and even nicely (and QUICKLY) holds boards for biscuiting!
Whatever you build, don't forget pop-up planing stops, as they work as well with belt sanders as they do with hand planes. Mine are just 4/4 white oak boards mounted in strategic locations with hanger bolts and wing nuts through slots. With the proper screw tension, I can pop them up and push them down without touching the screws.
While you're building stuff for yourself, I also like the mini-bench I built a few years back that brings the work to chest level. I followed a FWW article to build it from 8/4 maple and some veneer press screws. It's nice not having to bend over to use paring chisels and the like. If you end up doing a hardwood top, you could probably build the mini-bench for free.
I've been thinking of building a copy of Popular Woodworking's "21st Century Bench", the Bob Lang bench unveiled last fall. Check that one out, too.
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