I noticed some workbenches are made with solid maple tops and others using
something like 4 sheets of baltic birch plywood laminated together. Would
there really be a big difference between these types of tops besides price?
Or would the solid maple be really superior? Regards. -Guy
I bought a top made of maple for $300. It has a vise and works great.
A friend used a solid core door and bought a better vise. I think that is
the better way to go. His top is larger than mine, cheaper, and has a
yes and no. Maple will win for dent resistance, and some aesthetic appeal.
Plywood is easier to contruct for flatness. (that is I'm not sure that a
properly constructed top is much less stable, but it us tiem consuming to
I went the solid route, but I constructed it "from scratch". Solid maple can
be done relatively "on the cheap". My costs for the whole bench (top,
tressle and F&P shelf on the tressle stretchers) was under $200 for the wood
and just over 100 for vise hardware (Lee Valley): about $300 overall. I made
my own wooden dogs.
All of it was milled from 5/4 "brown maple" at $1.60 a BF. Chosen simply
because it was cost-effective.
My top is 80"x24, 3" thick, with a 4" apron, and a 7"x5.25 thick section in
the front for dog hole assembly. The tressle is all laminated 3x3 (not
nominal) with 2x6 stretchers. There is no lack of wood there.
My point is that is you build from scratch, a very substantial maple top can
be had for less than a $100 price increase is you are willing take the time
to assemble and flatten it yourself.
Interesting questions......IMHO the important things in a workbench are that
it be really strong and heavy so that it does not move when you are planing
or whacking. Of course it needs to be flat and designed to reliably hold
wood to be worked. Some super expensive workbenches with incredible vises
do a really poor job of holding the work.....it pops up when the vise is
: I noticed some workbenches are made with solid maple tops and others using
: something like 4 sheets of baltic birch plywood laminated together. Would
: there really be a big difference between these types of tops besides price?
: Or would the solid maple be really superior? Regards. -Guy
IIRC, the "Workbench Book" said that ancient benches were made of
birch. Don't have the book handy to check that.
I've had a 6 foot long, 1 foot deep, 3" thick birch slab for my bench
and it's been great.
My woodworking projects:
Replicas of 15th-19th century nautical navigational instruments:
Restoration of my 82 year old Herreshoff S-Boat sailboat:
Steambending FAQ with photos:
"Improvise, adapt, overcome."
Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
Phone: (617) 496-1558
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