What type of wood should be used for a workbench surface?

I'm building my first workbench, it's a simple jobbie, but the plans just
say, "tempered hardwood" for the bench surface. What type of wood is best
for this purpose? Cost is a moderate factor.
Reply to
Ben Siders
Easily replaceable 1/4" masonite (hardboard). Cheap and can be replaced if it becomes damaged. 2 layers of 3/4 MDF makes a nice substrate for the masonite. hardwood edges 1/4" higher than MDF captures the masonite and provides a level surface. overhang the workbench top from the supporting structure by at least 3 inches so you can place clamps over the edges.
Reply to
Bay Area Dave
On Tue, 12 Aug 2003 15:00:18 GMT, "Ben Siders" wrote:
I bet they say "tempered hardboard", not hardwood.
Hardboard is Masonite - except when it isn't. Lots of grades, lots of difference. You need _oil_tempered_hardboard_, best you can find.
Then make your bench from a double layer of 3/4" plywood, covered in either oil tempered hardboard or 4mm MDF. For neatness, consider screwing some hardwood edge banding around the edge.
A simple frame underneath (it should have rails at top and bottom for rigidity, but glue & screw jointed planed 2x4's are perfectly adequate.
Finish the top with a coat of wax. Especially if it's MDF.
In a few years time, the top will be a little ripped up. Keep the plywood and replace the top skin.
There's a lot of argument for the best benchtop. Plywood with hardboard over is quite cheap, but best of all it doesn't need much machinery to make it.
For solid hardwood benches, beech, maple and oak are all popular, depending on what's available locally. You should make them from either huge slabs, 4" or 6" thick, or else narrow strips, ripped down and then re-jointed together. Mine is 2" thick oak, made from 3" and 4" wide strips.
A hard benchtop lasts longer. A soft benchtop won't damage work on it. Personally I use a hard top and either a separate assembly table, or some blanket on top.
Reply to
Andy Dingley
Many will suggest using a very hard wood, like hard maple.
For a first-time bench, I recommend considering alternatives. I, personally, prefer a bench surface that is cheap, easily replaceable, and _softer_ than what I will be working on. If something dents, I would rather it be a replaceable workbench top than the piece I am working on. My primary workbech is a set of old kitchen cabinets:
formatting link
has 2 pieces of 3/4" particleboard bolted to the top. I never worry about cutting, drilling or staining the top - because I don't care. After a few years, I'll pull it off and replace it. It has already lasted longer than I expected :)
just my penny...
Reply to
Chris Merrill
On Tue, 12 Aug 2003 15:00:18 GMT, "Ben Siders" pixelated:
Don't listen to Jums. Use "conservative" maple.
P.S: They prolly said "tempered hardboard" which is Masonite.
- Better Living Through Denial ------------
formatting link
Dynamic Websites, PHP Apps, MySQL databases
Reply to
Larry Jaques
------------ I built my first workbench a little while ago. I looked at loads of websites and got lots of good ideas. I also lurk around this ng and pick up oodles of useful tips. In the end I decided to opt for MDF as I was concerned about getting the bench top flat. I had read so much that I concluded that I should put off the dream bench for a later time when my skill has improved. Anyway, the MDF is fine but I agree with the posters that have pointed out the virtues of allowing for a hardboard top. I didn't but can when or if I naff the MDF top.
From 2 sheets of 8'x4'x18mm MDF I got a top that is 72mm thick, as heavy as hell and well near bomb proof. There was enough left over for a tool shelf underneath and still more left over for whatever.
As cost is a consideration I think you will find this a useful route. For interest I had the sheets cut as follows: Both sheets cut to 72" length. Rest placed aside. Sheet 1 cut into 2 off 72"x16". Rest placed aside. Sheet 2 cut into 1 off 72"x16" and 1 off 72"x24". Rest placed aside.
To make the top I laminated the MDF using the 72x24 as the bottom followed by three layers of 72x16 flush up on one edge. I rounded over the MDF stack next to the lower 'shelf' and then wrapped the whole thing with 2x4. Which gave me a nice toolwell at the back and a solid, as in very solid, worktop. The toolwell was simply fitted with suitably angled timber at either end to give me a means of sweeping out all the crap that ends up in there.
But it weighs a lot and needs a fairly sturdy base unit. I went, according to some, a little OTT. The legs are 4x4, the long rails are 6x2 and the cross rails and top rails are 4x2. But when the whole lot came together it was all in propor tion, so I feel vindicated. As a bench it is ideal, it will not move or shake or vibrate or anything. It just sits there like immovable object, which it pretty near is. Also, it is just the right height for me (too high for most - I'm 6'4")
Reply to
"Larry Jaques" once again crawled off the crapper and wrote in message:
Oh hell "C-less" why not just call it Limbaugh maple? LOL!
Reply to
Jim Mc Namara
I suppose in Missouri I ought to be able to find some Gephardt yellow pine, but I'm concerned that it won't stay true once I square it. And that Limbaugh maple is bit too unyielding and difficult to work with.
Reply to
Ben Siders
The sad thing is how many times I had to read that quote before I finally got it. Duh.
Probably because I'm trying really hard to stay out of politics lately.
Reply to
Silvan responds:
Good luck. I'm trying real hard to stay out of CALIFORNIA politics lately, but it's proving impossible.
I'm beginning to believe the old saw, though, about someone tilting the country so all the whackos could roll down to CA.
Charlie Self
"The future will be better tomorrow." Dan Quayle

Reply to
Charlie Self
: Silvan responds:
:>Probably because I'm trying really hard to stay out of politics lately. :>
: Good luck. I'm trying real hard to stay out of CALIFORNIA politics lately, but : it's proving impossible.
: I'm beginning to believe the old saw, though, about someone tilting the country : so all the whackos could roll down to CA.
: Charlie Self
Well you at least had an obligatory RWW reference: "old saw" ;^)
--- Gregg
My woodworking projects:
Replicas of 15th-19th century nautical navigational instruments:
formatting link
of my 82 year old Herreshoff S-Boat sailboat:
formatting link
FAQ with photos:
formatting link
"Improvise, adapt, overcome." snipped-for-privacy@head-cfa.harvard.edu Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics Phone: (617) 496-1558
Reply to
Gregg Germain

Site Timeline Threads

  • I need to replace a set of steps that have a rise of 25" and a width of 53". The...
  • last posted in


HomeOwnersHub website 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.