I'm in the process of finishing the base of my first workbench. I have
decided to go with a laminated MDF top, with masonite on top of that.
I am trying to figure out how to attach an apron to the top and can't
come up with any good way. Since this type of top seems to be somewhat
popular, I would like to see how others have done this. How is the
apron physically attached to the MDF? How did you do the corners of
the apron? I was thinking to miter them and glue in 2 dowel pins, but
I'm not sure if that is a good method. One other question is how did
you go about mounting the MDF top to the base of your workbench?
Thanks so much.
I've built several of these over the past few years with the last one being
an "L" shaped hobby-bench, (7' long each way). The top was made from a 3/4"
thick MDF with a 1/4" thick hardboard top. I built a frame using 2x4's
which I milled down to 1-1/4" x 3-1/4" to be sure they were square. I made
a box frame with cross bracing dado'ed into the long frame members at 16"
intervals and the 2x4's were used on edge. The frame was setback about 3"
(not critical) from the edges of the MDF top. I then pre-drilled,
countersunk and screwed (#8's 1-1/2") the MDF to the frame. In essence, the
frame then became a torsion box - real solid. The 1/4" sacrificial
hardboard was placed on top and held down all around the edges with slightly
countersunk screws (#8's 3/4").
Under the lip of the top - all around the edge, I milled up some 1" thick x
3" wide poplar (3/4" thick pine will work fine) and pre-drilled and screwed
and glued this to the MDF top (underneath) making a 3/4" x 3" wide solid
wood edge that can be used to attach the (1-3/4" wide x 3/4") thick apron I
made from poplar. I did miter the ends but used a FF biscuit at each miter
but you could use a dowel or a spline or simply cross-nail the miter. This
"solid" wood piece not only allows for attaching an apron (use screws) but
also serves as a clamping edge so the MDF isn't damaged.
With the torsion box frame there is no bounce to the tabletop and it's
plenty heavy. On this bench, I made two pedestal ends that had 3 large
drawers in each and made the height at about 41" so she (SIL) could stand
and work comfortably or use a stool and not be bending over when she's
working on crafts. The whole bench was designed to be dismantled and moved.
I think that answers all your questions and hopefully the ASCII art below
will help. You may have to open your email window to full view so the art
comes out correctly. If I can find the pics I'll post them to abpw.
___________________________________| < 1/4" Hardboard - Sacrificial top
___________________________________| < 3/4" MDF top
___________________________________| < 3/4" x 3" wide pine board all around
the apron attaches to this with screws
covered with wood plugs to hide them
| < 1-1/4" thick x 3-1/4" wide frame ~ 3"
Thanks for the detailed explanation, Bob. I like your design. I don't know
how you did it but your produced the first successfule ascii drawing I have
seen in this group. Every other one gets mangled so badly in transmission
that they are unreadable. Yours was very readable and a useful adjunct to
What's really interesting is that it only looks right when you view
with a proportional font like Arial. Generally ASCII art looks right
when you view with a monospaced font. Which is probably the critical
piece you are missing in all the other examples.
Do you really mean "apron" as the part under the top that the top is
attached to, or do you mean an edging around the MDF?
I built a table top for an oak kitchen table by gluing 2.5" x 3/4" oak
to the edges of the MDF, lined up with biscuits, but it could have
been splines. They were not mitered at the corners, but simply
butt-joined and double-dowelled at those places. Only the top had MDF
in case anyone's wondering, so "oak" is still appropriate. The hard
finish potected it from spills and light dents.
If I'd calculated right, I'd have been able to attach the table apron
[the part underneath] directly to the oak edging. However, I was
intent on appearances. I got around that by first starting to attach
as if to the MDF, but only to get initial screw marks. The top was
being attached with hardwood blocks screwed into the apron and the
top. Then I took the top off and used a plunge-router to drive 1"
holes partway into the MDF on those marks. These I filled with solid
hardwood dowel, glued into place. When ready, the top was attached by
re-drilling into these dowels and inserting the screws. It hasn't
budged, even lifting the entire table by the top.
Either way, the hardwood trim around the edge can be as wide as
necessary to allow attachment into the wood instead of the MDF.
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.