Workbench Top

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Prometheus responds:

On occasion, I'll go to a local cabinet shop. Most of them use mobile assembly benches that vary in height (18" to 24"), with space under for the odd tool. I've never seen a torsion box used there, nor a piece of granite. Tops are often plywood on the larger, MDF on the smaller and are reasonably flat. Some are even covered with carpet, a trick I like to use when assembling expensive woods or finished pieces. The flatter an assembly bench top is, the easier it is to keep everything square, but a lack of even .01 flatness is not going to cause a massive out-of-square condition for a careful woodworker. And a careless woodworker isn't going to get a square assembly no matter what he or she uses.
Charlie Self "Health nuts are going to feel stupid someday, lying in hospitals dying of nothing." Redd Foxx
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My latest bench, completed a couple of months ago, has 1" MDF topped with 1" European birch laminated panel. It's edged with 2 x 3/4" white ash. Cost approx $100. It looks nice (to me, anyway!) and weighs a ton, which is exactly what I wanted. Actually, I haven't even fastened the top to the base properly, but it's OK to plane on, if the plane is razor sharp. As a result, I think I'll just pop some large rounded-over dowels into the base and drill holes in the MDF, so that the top remains forever easily removable...
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Check office remodels and Habitat for commercial 2" solid doors. They are good for everything except heavy hammering and a ply top takes care of that. For a small shop, split one to 18" and get two benches. Wilson

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Depends on your needs, price, and patience. For many things, a 1" sheet of MDF(a pair of them gives you a 2" top if you desire), 3/8" maple surface if you are ambitious, 4" maple edges then vises, etc and you are done. It is even possible to skip the edging and have a decent benchtop for the price of the MDF
Malcolm Webb wrote:

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wrote:

my main bench serves duty as outfeed for the table saw and as assembly/ general purpose bench. the top is a full sheet of 3/4" MDF with a full sheet of 3/4" melamine on top of it. the frame is fairly heavy timber locally milled pine- 4x6, 4x8 and 1+"x8 rough sawn, a few years dry when I got it.
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I used a solid core door with maple flooring laminated on it, hickory around the edge. Toobye and fourbye for the frame.
Pics of the process at <http://www.balderstone.ca/workbench/
djb
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Dave Balderstone wrote:

Hey Dave,
Nice workbench! Thanks for great pictures.
-Peter De Smidt
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Ta.
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Here is one last vote for the "Solid Core" door bench.
I picked up a couple of blemished gypsum core "solid" core doors 12 years ago. I built my "temporary" bench from the 48" wide door and it has served me well for all this time. The frame around the door is 2 x 4 under the edges and around the perimeter. The base is 4 x 4 southern pine, untreated done in a trestle configuration bolted together within the dadoes. It is heavy, it is flat and it is strong..... and yes it is pretty dinged up at this point in time. But, I will retain the base and replace the top perhaps with hardwood this time.
The other door I picked up, has been used across saw horses as a great take-down assembly table / workbench. While it is heavy to move on and off the horses, it stores against the wall until another day.
Dennis Slabaugh Hobbyist Woodworker www.WoodworkingHobby.com
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A nice thing about gyp board core doors (actually a fire rated door) is they are lighter than particle core doors.
Ua100
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I built the bench with the 3 layers of 3/4" MDF that woodsmith published a couple of years ago. I'm sure it isn't as nice as a maple bench, but it is dead flat and takes all the abuse I've thrown at it. I do refinish the top every year with a new coat of tung oil and some shellac. I even have put in holes for bench dogs and they have held up nicely.
I mostly build furniture and needed a large bench. A smaller bench wouln't be nearly as expensive to make out of maple, which would have a much larger "OOOO AHHHH" factor.
Jim snipped-for-privacy@cix.co.uk (Malcolm Webb) wrote in

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