I just completed my new workbench and I thingk that it turned out
pretty good. You can see it here:
I made it large at 8 ft long by 3 ft wide with a solid maple top and
SYP base. I figure that it weighs in at about 300 lbs.
I left the base open at the front to leave room for a box of drawers.
I used a variation of the router method to flatten the top. Instead of
clamping a cross member to slide the router on, I made the cross
member extra long so that I slid the entire assembly across the table.
I used two factory edges of plywood clamped to the sides of the
workbench, using winding sticks.
I applied melamine to all touching surfaces to reduce friction. It
worked perfect. Not a single high or low spot.
You can see the cross member leaning against the wall in the
background of the picture.
I figured that I would use this method since I would end up with the
fixtures afterward. I could use them to flatten extra wide boards with
the same setup.
I am open to suggestions on what finish to apply.
No Finish At All - Some folks may wonder why you'd want to put anything
on there at all, what with it being a work surface and likely to be
dinged, dented and scratched. I say you really, really want some sort
of finish that will repel stains, retard the rate of moisture transfer
and, most importantly, make it easy to pop off glue drips. Plus, the
aesthetics of the bench will be improved by adding a finish.
Polyurethane - Good for all the above reasons, but some folks say that
since benches get scratched all the time that poly isn't your best
choice. Poly doesn't handle the daily wear and tear as well as some of
the other finishes available and is more diificult to bring back to a
smooth coat when you go to recoat it. I've read that everyone needs a
bench, if only to provide a level surface upon which to set your coffee
while scratching your head. Given this, poly will best repel the
inevitable mug rings!
Shellac - This one gets mentioned from time to time. Not as good with
the rings, but it's "easier" to repair than poly because each
subsequent refinishing melts in with the previous coat.
Lacquer - Same as above? Where the hell'd I put my Flexner....
Oil - tung oil, Danish oil, linseed oil, etc... Lots of choices here,
and this (alone and in combination with wax) is probably the most
recommended finish out there. You sacrifice a bit of moisture
protection, but the big plus is that it's not so much a top coat as one
that "penetrates" into the surface a bit. When the top gets scratched
too much for you it's a simple matter to put another on top. Just
scrape it lightly and buff in another coat.
Wax - I just saw beeswax melted into mineral oil recommended. I'm
losing steam here.
Varnish - mixed with your favorite oil, highly and freqently
recommended. Boiled Linseed oil, varnish and mineral spirits mixed
together in a Secret Formula is probably the single most recommended
bench finish I've seen. Put a couple of coats on it and then buff on a
coat of furniture (paste) wax. Done.
Jay has done a good job of laying out the alternatives, so I'll just
intersperse comments in his post.
If this bench will be an assembly bench as well as a bench for
preparing stock and cutting joinery, the ability to remove excess glue
is an issue. If you have a separate assembly bench, forget that
All good points. I rejected it because of the inability to easily
repair/refresh the finish.
My all-time favorite finish, but not for a bench. My assembly bench (a
solid-core door on a dimension lumber base) is finished with shellac
and a coat of wax. It is great for popping off glue drips, and is
easily refreshed. But as a worktop (as I was using it before building
my bench) it has a major flaw--this is as close as you will get in the
shop to a frictionless surface. I found that unpleasant to work on.
I ended up using pure tung oil, primarily because the smell (or lack
thereof) would cause less noise upstairs than would BLO. Slower
drying, though. used the old formula of once a day for a week, once a
week for a month, once a month for a year, and once a year thereafter.
Alex -- Replace "nospam" with "mail" to reply by email. Checked infrequently.
just completed my new workbench and I thingk that it turned out
pretty good. You can see it here:
I have a very similar bench (traditional maple monter) I used a 3:2:2 mix of
OB Poly, BLO and thiner ... 3 coats then paste wax. I have been pleased.
Simple, cheap, stuff was on-hand. I was looking for a compromise of
protection but without much build. I suppose a wip-on poly would get me to
about the same place.
The wax is top repel glue or finish drips. some folks prefer a not so slippy
top. Personally I think benefits outweigh the downside. YMMV.
FWIW, I releveled the top after 3 years a few months back. I applied the
It looks like the workbench from Fine Woodworking a few years back. I built
one of these also. In fact, I have the same POS green vice (made in China).
If you find a way to stiften it up, let me know.
On Sat, 26 Aug 2006 05:38:26 GMT, email@example.com wrote:
... Looks nice. Shop looks pretty good too.
If you're gonna be dumb, you better be tough
I used two rather heavy coats of Watco natural and then sanded it to a
sort-of rough finish. Still feels like bare wood and the workpiece
doesn't slide around (easier to pare dovetails etc). I would not let
glue dry on it though. If I get a glue drop on there I clean it up
with a wet rag immediately. I have another bench for glue-ups made
from an old solid-core door.
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