Work Bench

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I'll look into all of that , Thanks.

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Leon wrote:

Ping me if you'd like pics or article references of anything.
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Yeah, thanks, I'd like any thing you could send that would not be a bother to you. I am also thinking about adding a fold up/down extension on the back side of the bench to increase work area. I now have a 30" x 60" steel table top that I would like to use.
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I haven't seen it mentioned yet but I'd suspect that plywood won't wear very well. I think you'll find the intermixed grain in the plies will wear differently and leave you with lines and dips. The only way to resurface will be taking the whole thing to a drum sander.
I've seen a lot of benches made from 2x4 studs and they've worn pretty well. Mine was made with recycled wood. The wood came from a subdivision that was being fitted with utilities. When steel pipe is hauled in for sewers, it's racked with 4x4's of different species. A few minutes with a power planer to clean off tar, rocks and dirt is all it takes to get some usable wood. Then it's a matter of sizing, squaring and glue up.
I'd also recommend putting a square of old car/truck tire under each leg of your bench. It keeps the bench from vibrating back when you pound on it. It's so much nicer to use a bench that absorbs impact and responds like dead weight. Wood legs on a wood or concrete floor will vibrate.
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B A R R Y wrote:

When I got my first bench not too long ago I realized it had been designed for users half a foot shorter than me. So the first thing I did was make a riser for the base to bring it up to a more comfortable level, and I was pleased that the finish on my addition was good enough to make it indistinguishable from the original. Of course that's because nobody can see the snapped-off screws etc. on the underside of the riser, but hidden (and nonfunctional) incompetence is more or less tolerable at this stage.
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DGDevin wrote:

I know what you mean. I'm 6' tall, and mobile bases usually add just enough to machines to be right for me. Even if I'm not wanting a machine to move, I like the extra height.
To make matters worse for taller folks, lots of traditional style benches are low to better facilitate face planing.
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B A R R Y wrote:

Yup, eliminating that little bit of stooping saves a back-ache later in the day. I also picked up room for another shelf under the bench just by raising it a few inches, and there's no such thing as too much storage space.
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DGDevin wrote:

Not to mention how stored items help keep a bench in place!
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B A R R Y wrote:

Exactly, loading up those shelves really stabilized a fairly small bench. I even used that to rationalize buying some heavy tools to put on the shelves. ;~)
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Leon wrote:

Personally, The only clear surface in my shop that I can use for furniture assembly is my table saw and small parts of the floor. If you really need a flat surface, really flat and really stable, then you need to build a torsion box with plywood on both sides and an optional easily replaceable hard board top.
My work benches all have 2x6 tops made out of cheap, construction grade 2x's. They look good (like wood) and are strong enough for anything I've ever done. My main workbench is 30 years old, and has been used to build fine furniture, junk furniture, repair electric motors, rebuild gas engines, sharpen chain saws and about every other task one can come up with over a life time. I look at all the fancy "cabinet makers" work benches with the 3" hard wood tops, tool trays and what not and I shake my head... If I made one of these things I'd be afraid to use it, and besides, they generally have no storage in them and I would never build a bench, work bench, tool stand etc. without storage. I don't really care how big your shop is, you need more storage.
Is my main bench top beat up? Damn right it is, but it looks better to me than the day I built it. I planned on having to refinish or replace it periodically, but no way, no how. This is cheap, soft construction grade pine. Whats nice about that is I was never afraid to use it, I could always replace it easily and cheaply if I wanted too, just never found the need.
I might add I haven't seen much of the top in a few years, it is habitually covered in "stuff" If my memory is working, you are the guy that posted a picture of your bench in a once in a blue moon semi-uncluttered condition?
--
Jack
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Thanks Jack, I keep you comments in mind. The torsion box idea might be a good alternative. On the other hand I am not afraid of using a bench. ;~) Few of my tools or equipment look pristine. If I posted a picture of my bench it was a steel automotive work bench. Other than that I have a B&D work table about 3' square that I have had for almost 30 years. I would really like to remove the steel top from my current bench and hang it on the back side of a mobile "wooden" work bench so that I could fold it up and make my work surface area larger if needed.
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I picked up a 3'6" exterior solid core plain door at a contractor's garage sale for a few bucks. Works great. Has a tempered masonite type finish.
Chuck P.
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The top for my new bench came from Ikea - see Pronomen or Numerar.
I chose the Beech option. 6ftx 2ft
--
Stuart Winsor

For Barn dances and folk evenings in the Coventry and Warwickshire area
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Stuart wrote:

I almost went the same route until I found a bench kit that had everything I wanted including vises at a reasonable price. It would be tough to beat Ikea's prices on laminated hardwood tops even if they intend them for kitchen cabinets rather than work benches.
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zxcvbob wrote:

Have to agree ,Thats what I used ,two laminated together would make a very substantial bench top.
--
Kevin (Bluey)
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I take it none of the plywood pieces are large enough to glue up flat to make the top. Given that, I think you could laminate what is essentially a 2"-3" slice of a very, very thick piece of plywood. It should make a reasonable top, at minimal cost, mainly the cost of the glue, of which you will probably use a lot. I can only think of two drawbacks which are probably easily worked around.
1) Since plywood is generally made of veneers glued up perpendicular to each other, half of the grain of your bench top will be end grain, oriented vertically, and the other half will be side grain, oriented horizontally. This means that your bench top may be a bit less stiff than a solid word version. If you are concerned about the stiffness, especially if you don't make the top thick, you should be sure to incorporate some support in the leg structure under the top to stiffen it up.
2) The grain of the top will be half end grain, and half side grain. You may be unsatisfied with the texture of the top with its varying grain. You could work around this by applying some kind of uniform thin top layer, such as a sheet of masonite, to be replaced when it wears unacceptably.
Other than those two caveats, I say, "Go for it!" Recycling is the way of the future, and we should try to appropriately use all of our scraps instead of merely tossing or burning them. I just built a very heavy bench out of some glulam beams from our neighborhood gas station that were headed for the landfill (someone who can't read ran his too- tall truck into the canopy). Now I have a really beefy bench and the landfill has 600 pounds less wood in it, and it only cost me a bit of glue and labor. My last bench was made of recycled 4x4's and oak flooring. I used bolts I have gleaned from garage sales, keeping them out of the landfill, and even made some barrel nuts for the stretchers out of some scrap aluminum. I painted it with the tag ends of paint that I am not allowed to put in the landfill, and that our county no longer recycles. About the only way I can think of to have made the bench "greener" might have been to use some kind of glue not made of petroleum products, such as hide glue.
Good luck!
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I take it none of the plywood pieces are large enough to glue up flat to make the top. Given that, I think you could laminate what is essentially a 2"-3" slice of a very, very thick piece of plywood. It should make a reasonable top, at minimal cost, mainly the cost of the glue, of which you will probably use a lot. I can only think of two drawbacks which are probably easily worked around.
I'm thinking buying a sheet or two for the sole purpose to rip in to 3 or so inch wide strips. those turned on edge and the faces glued together. It would be like a 360-400 on edge ply top when considering that 1/2" BB comes in 9 ply to start with. Thicker pieces would actually save me some glue up time and would use less glue.
1) Since plywood is generally made of veneers glued up perpendicular to each other, half of the grain of your bench top will be end grain, oriented vertically, and the other half will be side grain, oriented horizontally. This means that your bench top may be a bit less stiff than a solid word version. If you are concerned about the stiffness, especially if you don't make the top thick, you should be sure to incorporate some support in the leg structure under the top to stiffen it up.
Right, but I am considering at least 3" thick so I don't think that the possibility of sag would ever be a problem. And unlike regular plywood Baltic Birch is all hardwood with no voids if you can get the real stuff.
2) The grain of the top will be half end grain, and half side grain. You may be unsatisfied with the texture of the top with its varying grain. You could work around this by applying some kind of uniform thin top layer, such as a sheet of masonite, to be replaced when it wears unacceptably.
Other than those two caveats, I say, "Go for it!" Recycling is the way of the future, and we should try to appropriately use all of our scraps instead of merely tossing or burning them. I just built a very heavy bench out of some glulam beams from our neighborhood gas station that were headed for the landfill (someone who can't read ran his too- tall truck into the canopy). Now I have a really beefy bench and the landfill has 600 pounds less wood in it, and it only cost me a bit of glue and labor. My last bench was made of recycled 4x4's and oak flooring. I used bolts I have gleaned from garage sales, keeping them out of the landfill, and even made some barrel nuts for the stretchers out of some scrap aluminum. I painted it with the tag ends of paint that I am not allowed to put in the landfill, and that our county no longer recycles. About the only way I can think of to have made the bench "greener" might have been to use some kind of glue not made of petroleum products, such as hide glue.
Good luck!
Thanks
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The high price for BB gives you quite a few options. For example, 4/4 hard maple for < $2/bft: http://www.woodworkersshop.com/index.asp?PageAction=Custom&ID . (250 bft minimum for that price, though.)
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Yeah that would depend on where you live. LOL.. I'm betting there would be a pretty good shipping charge on tat liquidation price. I just referbed a kitchen with Maple and it was a tad more than $3 per linear foot in S4S 1x6. I paid premium but I did not want to go through milling the stock on a paying job aside from the veneer that I made for the cabinets. IIRC s2s was around $4.50 per BF. I can get 5'x5' 1/2" BB for just under $30 per sheet. If my top is going to be 3" thick 24" wide and 60 " long I would need a bit more than 30 BF considering waste. Basically $135.00 for s2s. Baltic Birch would be about $45.00 cheaper.
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"Leon" wrote:

Since you are in the "Biz", you can appreciate that material is maybe 30%-35% of the final project cost.
Given the "top" represents maybe 80% of the material cost, the "top" is maybe 25% of the project cost.
If you save 50% of the "top" cost by using inferior material, you only save maybe 15% of the total project cost.
For a "one shot", personal, last a lifetime project, is saving 15% worth it?
Inquiring minds want to know.
Lew
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