Workbench material choice

I am going to build myself a REAL woodworking bench. I am looking for opinions as to the materail of the top...I have availible to me red oak, white ash and birch (yellow I beleive) What would you pick and why? Thanks!
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MDF cause its cheap and very dense.
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No - that would be something probably called VDF. The M stands for medium - not very.

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MDF gets a bad rap. I've had a block (3/4" x 3 laminated) sitting out in the weather for 4 months now and it looks exactly like it did when I threw it out there. it might be called medium density, but have you tried to pick up a full sheet of 3/4" mdf?
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I would use hard maple, because mine has held up well in daily use for twenty years.
I'd have it quartersawn and glue it up with the grain on the vertical.
I'd not use oak or ash because of their tendency to splinter.
I would not use birch because it is too soft.
Regards, Tom.
Thomas J.Watson - Cabinetmaker (ret.) tjwatson1ATcomcastDOTnet (real email) http://home.comcast.net/~tjwatson1
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snipped-for-privacy@erehwon.com says...

I took a suggestion from a Japanese woodworker. He said he wanted something soft enough so that if he hit it with the work, the bench would dent and not the work.
So I built my top from hardwood plywood (3/4"+3/4") but surrounded it with a 2" edge of redwood. After 12-14 years, there's a lot of dings in the redwood :-).
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Where ARE those Iraqi WMDs?

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WMDs? Not MDFs? (there ya go- MDF WMDs!)
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On 11 Jun 2004 05:30:26 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com (Jimlemon) wrote:

WTF?
Barry
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On Thu, 10 Jun 2004 20:15:58 -0700, Larry Blanchard

That's a good idea for some assembly tasks, but not for all bench operations. When I want a soft bench I can pad it with carpet. If I want a hard bench though, I'd have more trouble trying to "harden" it.
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I completely agree with tom. If you want a serious woodworking bench use Maple. Laminate quarter sawn 1" or so stock. If you are concerned with scratches on your work, buy a cheap woven rug at the dollar store for a buck to lay on the bench especially in sanding woods like cherry.
Good Luck, Lumberjack

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I used red oak for the simple reason that it was the cheapest hardwood available in my area at the time. I haven't regretted the choice but would have built it a little larger if it were being done again. http://johnmcgaw.com/shop1.html
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Oak (or maple, if you have it). Ash and birch are both too soft to wear well as a top surface. Ash makes a good frame though.
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I would base my choice mostly on cost. If cost were not a factor, I'd pick the wood with the fewest knots.
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I used 1" MDF doubled up to get 2". Its cheap, flat and hard enough for my needs. I keep the good wood for my projects. The base is built woth kiln dried spruce. If I ever move it will stay behind and I will build another one exactly the same.
Daniel
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And where different workers will use the bench over time, an excellent approach.
Building a fancy bench has almost become a badge of honor among some woodworkers, and I can see that. However, many of the furniture building pros who visit our woodworkers's club don't spend time on that project, as they would prefer to/need to tend to projects which pay the bills.
A commercial bench, or an expedient bench, the fastest time to precision woodwork is often the consideration.
If time is not an object, then an heirloom is a possibility. But, you may find, it takes SOME kind of bench to build the fancy one. So the type Daniel mentions is seldom wasted. My bench is very similar to his, but with 3 layers of cabinet-grade plywood, instead of MDF.
There is, by the way, an excellent article on building a bench in the latest (Aug 2004) Woodwork magazine. By Michael Cullen, I believe.
Patriarch
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"Dan" wrote in message

At one time or another, I have had workbenches made of most of the materials mentioned here, and finally derived a standard for myself that has served me well for more than twenty years. I utilize poplar for the base, because of its ability to remain stable in an unfinished state through all changes in the weather. And, I use high-density particle board for the top, because of its weight and the the fact that it is a renewable surface. Depending upon the intended usage, I might laminate two or three layers of 3/4 to acheive striking density...a dead blow lack of bounce. I can tack a jig or mount a fixture to the surface, I can score it with a saw or steel edge...then take a handful of sawdust, mix it with glue, press it into any hole, then belt it clean. I generally drill a series of holes for hardwood doweling, that act as dogs where I need them, or I can tack a ledger anywhere that is convenient to the task at hand. The base is easily set up for a variety of usages. I can rack up clamps, or shelves for small electrics, or drawers for handtools. The added weight of stored items adds stability to the bench. You can add doors if you want. I install ledgers on the back legs, when I want to do edge work. It will facilitate a vice with minor modification. And, is easily built to any size, height, width or length, to fit any criteria... The materials are cheap. You can make a variety of benches for different usages, and not worry about damaging something that is toooo pretty.
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How about a solid core door. I built this bench
http://www.plansnow.com/wwrkbnch.html
and got a slightly dented (which became the underside) solid core door from HD for $25 (you have to ask if they have any damaged ones).
Very solid, cheap and replaceable if the worst happens. Been using it for 4 years and haven't got round to building me a 'proper' bench yet.
J.
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