I am mulling over how to make my first woodworking bench, and after
looking at many sites, and considering cost, I am going to build
with standard lumber. My questions are as follows:
Is there any reason to stick with laminating 2x4's for the
legs versus using 4x4 or even better(?) 4x6 stock. I want
to build a leg vise and I am tempted to use the 4x6 dougfir
they have at the local Builder's Supply. Are there any
ramifications that I should be aware of? I asked them and
got blank stares and they made me feel like an idiot.
And while I'm asking can you use this 4x6 or 4x4 stuff as the
laminated top, or should I stick with glueing up 2x4s?
I have debated using plywood or mdf, but I just don't want
to do that, although I am sure you all have opinions on that
I would really appreciate any suggestions, since the only
person around here I can ask is my Dad, and he is the KING
of Shortcuts. (Great for many projects, but not this one)
The problem with tubas and forbas is moisture content. It's just not stable
like kiln dried lumber.
My experience has been that 2-bys that have been laying around my inventory
for shop for 6 months or a year behave pretty well. Fresh stuff just moves
all over the place. So wait if you can and be prepared to set aside a few
potato chips for an application where you only need a short board.
My gut says that 4-bys will take forever to really dry out and stay put.
2-bys will still want to twist somewhat, but the lamination will dictate
that only half the component will be pulling one way or the other.
My suggestion would be realy fussy about choosing your stock and buy 2x10's.
and rip them in two. The bigger boards tend to be clearer.
Correct, wider 2x is much better then 2x4's. Just what I did, rip 2x10's,
cept I ripped 3 out of each. Ran them thru planer to get all the same
height. Worked great. Put clamps top and bottom when glue-up time comes.
For my first bench I built this...
Actually, I built two. Solid, stable (with lag bolts for leveling
feet), cheap and EASY. It'll provide you a good surface upon which you
can build your next bench when you're ready.
Well, I guess my first piece of advice is that while it's nice to try
and do a good job and make a bench that you'll be proud of, this isn't
the type of project to put that much worry into. You'll put a lot of
dents into this, get paint/stain on it, etc. So don't worry.
If you can find non-pressure treated 4 X4 or 4X6, I don't see why you
couldn't use it. Altough, unless you need a leg that thick for your
vise, I see no reason not to make the legs out of 2 X 4s. They are
plenty strong for your legs.
The downside of using framing lumber is that it will warp. This may or
may not be a big deal to you. My bench has a 2 X 4 frame (basically a
cube, so the legs on are attached together on bottom and top). then I
just used a piece of 3/4 ply for the top and a shelf at the bottom.
It's plenty sturdy. If you need extra thickness for bench dogs or
whatever, you could put a double layer of plywood on the top.
Form a right angle triangle with two (2), 2x4's for each leg.
Very strong and will resist warping.
Make a frame from half lapped 2x4's, then cover with 3/4" MDF followed
by a 1/4", loose fitting hardboard.
Usually cut a triangular piece of 1/2", 4 ply CDX and fit them as
gussets between leg and table top frame.
Makes a very stable arrangement that will support a couple of tons with
Why not take a look at some of the NYW plans for garage work benches.
They have some pretty good ideas.
Think of this bench as your work truck, not your Saturday night Lexus.
Not knowing what you have available for cutting & joining sticks, some
For one, splitting and checking is generally more of a problem with
larger-section-dimension lumber. Really big stuff gets heavy, which
may be a +. Making clean cuts will be a challenge, unless you have one
of the real monster circ-saws, and can guide it.
OTOH, dimension lumber from most mills has rounded corners, making for
surface gaps when gluing. Getting such sticks aligned precisely, and
clamped evenly for gluing must be a real hoot. Laminations are
inherently difficult/impossible to split through.
Probably depends most on quality of what's available locally. Does
your supplier carry lumber better than stud to utility grade? Can you
choose pieces (like, no knots)?
And ... 4x6 for the top? To support big-block engines?
I've found that doubled 3/4" CDX plywood is extremely strong, making
excellent web for small beams.
Last weekend I used some old 2x4 I had sitting around to build an
I just ripped about 1/4" off one side so it was flat. Not a big problem.
As for aligning, well, the biscuits do just fine at getting it all to line
You could leave the rounded corners and it wouldn't make a difference in
Now for my OTOH, the wood I used was geen when purchased and has been
sitting around for a year or two. Several of the boards were too twisted to
use except in short sections.
I'll echo what bf and Stephen M said...construction pine just moves all
the hell over the damn place. See my recent post, "Okay...I
give...when WILL my pine table top quit moving" for some similar
Learn from my mistake...I did everything "right" and still my lumber
moved. I've vowed never to use construction lumber again for anything
Go a search on "weekend workbench" plans. I built this bench out of
kiln dried 2x4's from Home Depot. The legs are laminated 2x4 done in a
way that looks like half lap joints. The railes are attached to the
ends via nuts/bolts in pocket holes so you can diassemble if so choose.
The plans call for a solid core door which is what I used. I added oak
trim to the perimeter and drilled 3/4" dog holes around the perimeter.
Plans also call for drawers but I needed the extra shelf space and did
not do the drawers. You could put any top you wanted included a
laminated maple I suppose.
I coated with a couple coats of poly. It actually looks and performs
Do a search on "Weekend Workbench Plans".
You obviously don't live in California.
All the lumber in California, especially SoCal, is shipped in wet, not
just green, but then again it is Doug Fir, not Spruce which must be kiln
dried which is why it gets shipped to the East coast.
Shipping water gets expensive<G>.
Sorry, I "obviously" live in San Diego California and yes, I bought
kiln dried premium 2x4 at my local Home Depot. Who said anything about
Spruce. It is the standard doug fir.
Take the attitude elsewhere.
Even though they do, construction lumber is not completely
kiln dried to the same moisture content as cabinet grade.
Even the kiln-dried stuff will move on you, though Doug Fir
has a reputation for moving the least which is why it is
sometimes sold green.
Regarding laminated 2x4 vs 4x4 legs one advantage to the
laminated legs is that a defect like a large knot will
only pass halfway through the leg, unless you align
defects when you laminate them. If you use half-lap joinery,
you can do that by using short pieces appropriately spaced
for one side of the laminations instead of cutting open mortises.
By virtue of being thinner, the 2x lumber should have dried
more on the shelf (or in your shop) than the 4x. You can
also glue the legs into an "L" shape for beter stablity than
you get with a solid rectangle.
All that aside, working with thicker timbers is fun. For
the individual, that may be the deciding factor.
On 13 Aug 2005 06:02:10 -0700, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
Who said it was?
I've used KD construction lumber for plenty of benches, shop shelves,
clamp racks, etc... It works just fine, as long as a furniture-like
appearance isn't desired.
I wouldn't use KD doug fir or spruce for a fine woodworking heirloom
bench, but it's fine for keeping the planer, miter saw, or clamps off
On 13 Aug 2005 06:02:10 -0700, email@example.com wrote:
The big advantage for me is cutting the mortise. With two laminated
boards, you can cut half the mortise out of each side with a router
before glue-up rather than using a forsner bit and chisel, and you've
got very little tuning up to do when it's laminated. Never tried the
L-shaped legs, but that makes sense, too.
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