Laminated 2x4s better than 4x4s for bench legs? - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum

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post #1 of 22 Old 11-22-2011, 11:32 AM Thread Starter
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Laminated 2x4s better than 4x4s for bench legs?

I'm a n00b. Now that we have that established, let's move on.

I'm in the planning stages for my workbench. Haven't settled on a design yet but I know three things:

1. It's going to be on big, locking wheels
2. It will not shift, wobble, wiggle, shimmy, rack or whatever
3. It will be 6'x3' (now 6'x4' Thanks, Texas Sawduster)

I want the bench strong; don't care about weight one bit. To that end I was planning on using 4x4's for legs and possibly the entire frame. A friend of mine who is a fairly experienced woodworker said to me

Quote:
"You don't want to use 4x4s for legs b/c they will warp. You should laminate 2x4s together. It will be much stronger and won't warp or shift."
His bench is built in that manner and he's had it for years and it's solid as a rock. Please educate me, here. I know there's no "best way" to do everything in woodworking; you can get "there" from a few different "here's". But is there a preferred way to go in this situation?

Last edited by mikeintexas; 11-23-2011 at 10:16 AM.
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post #2 of 22 Old 11-22-2011, 11:50 AM
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I've always built my benches with 4x4 legs.

Never had a problem.
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post #3 of 22 Old 11-22-2011, 12:04 PM
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Predictability wise, two 2x4's would be the way to go but there is a caveat. If two 2x4's are used, the faces would have to be jointed flat to mate with each other, and that would mean they will be a thinner glue up than just using a 4x4. The leg will be thinner even without jointing.

So, with this choice with the ease of just crosscutting, a 4x4 would be a better choice.








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post #4 of 22 Old 11-22-2011, 12:15 PM
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I'd go with laminated 2x4's

Because your apron can be a half lap by staggering down the face 2x4 the width of the apron. The vertical strength difference between a 4 x 4 vs two 2 x 4's is not an issue, but the racking strength of a lap joint would be a real plus. The same method can be used on the shelf support near the bottom for additional resistance to racking. Another plus is that 2 x 4's are cheaper than 4 x 4's, you can cut them in one pass with a circ saw, and you can select them for straightness and knots. Sometimes 4 x 4's are cut from the center of the log and tend to check more readily.
This thread shows some joints: Thought failure: how do I build the base for this bench?

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specfic. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo

Last edited by woodnthings; 11-22-2011 at 03:16 PM.
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post #5 of 22 Old 11-22-2011, 01:01 PM
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Bench

I would go with the 2x4's. Cheaper and you can pick the grain to suit your needs.
I have used 4x4's that are rough cut. The only issue is that they are rough cut and not finished so dimensionally they are not the best option. But hey, the workbench was free. You can see pics of them in my gallary. I think.

Quesiton: Why only 3 feet across and not 4? You will have to cut ply or mdf to get it to fit, then you have some waste to deal with.
Unless you are using lumber for the top?

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post #6 of 22 Old 11-22-2011, 05:08 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the great replies. Good point on the width of the bench, TX Sawduster; I hadnt' thought of that. Making the bench 4' wide would mean less rip cuts and less waste...and a bigger bench. AND would allow me to mount a roll of brown paper, like in mdntrdr's picture. That is something I wanted but sort of forgot about. I'm the world's messiest gluer. See? This is a perfect example of why I'm still in the planning stage.

I'd love to have a thick top, say, made of 2x4's. Though I'm not sure if I'm capable of accurately gluing up so many of them. Most probably the top will be a layer of 3/4" MDF (or two) with a replaceable fiberboard top. Easier and cost-effective. Cost is an option; this isn't one of those $8K dream benches with the 19-way adjustable German-made vise that also makes coffee. LOL! This is an outfeed/storage/assembly table that will also double as a bar when the band comes over to practice. Hey, the garage is small and I gotta make due with what I've got. LOL!

I don't own a jointer and didn't realize that 4x4's come unfinished. Could I get away with gluing/screwing the 2x4's together w/o jointing them?
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post #7 of 22 Old 11-23-2011, 06:28 AM
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Not really a "better or worse" deal here.Sort of depends more on the mood or direction the build is likely to take.

Would say that 2x4 lam process "can" be a bit quicker/stronger.But,theres gonna be some other,possibly additional work.And the net leg would be 3x3 more often than not.....

More than likely,if you try both methods....one will fit the profile of your shop/time better than other.You can also consider "L" shaped,built up legs.Best,BW

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post #8 of 22 Old 11-23-2011, 11:04 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BWSmith View Post
Not really a "better or worse" deal here.Sort of depends more on the mood or direction the build is likely to take.

Would say that 2x4 lam process "can" be a bit quicker/stronger.But,theres gonna be some other,possibly additional work.And the net leg would be 3x3 more often than not.....

More than likely,if you try both methods....one will fit the profile of your shop/time better than other.You can also consider "L" shaped,built up legs.Best,BW
At this point I'm kind of wishing I'd bought a jointer instead of a belt/spindle sander (though I've used the sander on two projects already). I may go to Lowes to look over what lumber they have, how much joinery work would be involved with each type, etc. While I could just "wing it" and start nailing stuff together and come up with a table, I'm not doing that. I want to build something solid and useful that will last. I want to do this right the first time and not have to go back and fix/modify anything.
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post #9 of 22 Old 11-23-2011, 01:16 PM
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4 x 4's

Usually 4x4's come finished from the factory. All you have to do is furnish your own gas/diesel.
Just kidding.
The 4x's in my benches were from old lumber. The top was a full sheet of 3/4 ply cut in half lengthways and double stacked on top.
I cut the 4' deep x 8' long bench in half and made two benches.
I then added a 3/4 sheet of MDF to the top of each.
One is now my router table and the other is just general workbench.

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Where did I put that tape measure???
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post #10 of 22 Old 11-23-2011, 01:55 PM
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MY HD bench

I made from 2" x 6"s in the corners at 90 degrees, 2" x 6" apron and a 2" x 4" shelf across at the bottom. The top is a solid core 1 5/8" door, odd ball thickness but I just measured it. Yah, I know it's just been cleaned...
My other bench is a 2 1/4" maple laminated/epoxy. The out feed table is a two sided 3/4 particle board torsion box made with 1 X stringers and glue bock inside. It's very rigid and theres a 3/4" replaceable piece on the top of that. The top is supported by 3 legal files underneath. So bench can be a lot of different things depending.... bill
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post #11 of 22 Old 11-23-2011, 06:58 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks a lot for the info, guys. Every bit helps.

Woodnthings: How did you join the 2x6's? Butt joints and glue/screws? I didn't think of using 2x6's; that's another option, so thanks. You never know what the big box stores will have on sale the day you go, you know? I thought briefly about a premade laminated top from Woodcraft, but cost is an issue and I'd be mad at myself if the top got damaged. Which of course, is inevitable. I'm not real gentle when it comes to throwing stuff on a table or dragging it from one side to the other, which is why I really want to overbuild it from the get go.

The first pic (the bench w/the red vise) is pretty much what I want to build, except with big locking wheels. Right now I've got room for one table, so it's got to be multipurpose. Later will come the dedicated Miter Saw table with the left/right feed tables level with the saw deck, etc.
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post #12 of 22 Old 11-23-2011, 07:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikeintexas View Post

The first pic (the bench w/the red vise) is pretty much what I want to build, except with big locking wheels.

For serious hand planning, chiseling, I might want the bench to rest on solid legs, and not casters, even if locked. Maybe, retractable casters.
What say, ww'ers, who have been there?
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post #13 of 22 Old 11-23-2011, 08:06 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you, Pirate. Your concerns are valid. But, I'm not a handplaning guy. I'm more the DA Orbital sander type. :D Will I chisel and bang on stuff? Absolutely. But my shop is my small garage and the table must be readily mobile. My wife cannot help me move a table that weighs 300+ pounds once I store stuff on the shelf. The table will be an assembly/glue up/outfeed table. Will also be used for repairing appliances, bikes or whatever else I need to get to waist-level to work on. I'm planning on some serious, heavy-duty locking wheels. 6" diameter, 1" wide at least. The bottom shelf will have braces (stringers?) made of 2x4's every 18" or so. I want to be able to put a transmission on the table or shelf if I have to.

But, your idea of retractable casters is appealing. I was thinking about some kind of screw-down feet, like those universal equipment bases have. Not sure how'd I'd make that though or where to buy it.

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post #14 of 22 Old 11-23-2011, 08:07 PM
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Retractable casters are a good idea. For whatever you use for aprons, i.e., 2x's, a solid leg, like 4x4's offer the mass and thickness to seat long screws.








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post #15 of 22 Old 11-23-2011, 08:08 PM
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Big red

That bench is so heavy with tool boxes and stuff I can only move it with 2 floor jacks. I don't think locking casters would be so good, but I don't know how much you need to move it. There are several options: Go ahead and mount the casters and see how it works, but mount them up inside the legs so the legs are within 1/4" or so of the floor. Then If all else fails you can drive some wedges under the legs.
Option 2 use casters but have threaded leveling pads you can screw down after the bench is in it's desired location. Some are commercially available. I've made my own:
Roller stand for 12" Tablesaw

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post #16 of 22 Old 11-23-2011, 08:38 PM Thread Starter
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Those are some beefy leveling pads. Where'd you buy the materials? It worked out very well in your case due to the caster mounting pads being outside the frame and thick metal that could support the weight. Drillling through them must've been fun!

Due to the layout of my garage and the stuff that's always being moved in and out, the table would be moved fairly regularly. Like once a week, at least. The only big workbench I've ever seen on wheels is my friends (the guy who told me to use 2x4s) and his table is a massive 8'x4' with a full-width shelf underneath. It must weigh 300 pounds empty. He has 8" casters (locking) on it and there's no issue with movement or wiggle. For what my intended uses are, I really feel wheels won't be a problem. Or, what little problems they cause will be more than offset by the portability.

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post #17 of 22 Old 11-23-2011, 09:02 PM
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Look at Scaffold Casters

http://www.northerntool.com/shop/too...atchallpartial

http://www.northerntool.com/shop/too...7553_200337553

Northern Tool has 8" and maybe 6". One set-up I had was 10" cart wheels on an axle and the other end was on the ground...no steering, but if i lifted up that end I could roll it around. A flat plate is best for mounting the casters. http://www.castercity.com/
has a bunch. bill

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post #18 of 22 Old 11-23-2011, 09:22 PM Thread Starter
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Many thanks, Bill! Really appreciate the linkage.
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post #19 of 22 Old 11-23-2011, 09:25 PM Thread Starter
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Oh yeah, baby. These are the ones I want. 8" with brake. http://www.northerntool.com/shop/too...7094_200337094 Hold 400lb each. 1600-300 max for the table still leaves more than half a ton for stuff on the table.

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post #20 of 22 Old 11-26-2011, 12:38 AM
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You might want to look into casters that lock both the wheel and the swivel. I put a set of casters on my router table cabinet and it's been problematic. The wheels lock solid on the axles but the pivots still allow the cabinet to move around a bit, usually when I really don't want it to.

Or do retractable leveling pads like Woodnthings has on his Powermatic.

Bill
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