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
On Tue, 12 Aug 2003 15:00:18 GMT, "Ben Siders"
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
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.
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:
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...
On Tue, 12 Aug 2003 15:00:18 GMT, "Ben Siders"
Don't listen to Jums. Use "conservative" maple.
P.S: They prolly said "tempered hardboard" which is Masonite.
Better Living Through Denial
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")
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.
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.
"The future will be better tomorrow."
: 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" ;^)
My woodworking projects:
Replicas of 15th-19th century nautical navigational instruments:
of my 82 year old Herreshoff S-Boat sailboat:
FAQ with photos:
"Improvise, adapt, overcome."
Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
Phone: (617) 496-1558