best material for workbench top - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 24 Old 03-08-2019, 09:13 PM Thread Starter
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best material for workbench top

I need to replace the splintery top of my workbench; 81" x 30". What is the best material to use?

Is there any reason not to use plywood with formica laminate?

Thanks

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post #2 of 24 Old 03-08-2019, 10:50 PM
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Yes, that's too slippery ......

You want a smooth surface that's not too slippery because everything you use pressure against will move away from you too easily. I use 3/4" countertop particle board with 2 or 3 coats of shellac. It's stlll easy to pop off the glue drops, but not so slick I'm chasing my projects around on it. I also needed it 30" x 120" long, so it was a perfect fit. It's also been flipped over one time to refresh the surface, although it wasn't really all that buggered up....

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)
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post #3 of 24 Old 03-08-2019, 11:53 PM
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I put 3/16" tempered Masonite (hardboard) on my workbench top. That way when it gets too buggered to use, I just remove the screwed-down top layer and replace only that.


My $0.02 worth
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post #4 of 24 Old 03-09-2019, 01:09 AM
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I built my workbench using construction lumber 2x6s. It is very heavy, but also very soft, and dings easily. I covered mine with hardboard (masonite). that helps alot.

... turning perfectly good wood into firewood every day ... :smile3:
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post #5 of 24 Old 03-09-2019, 01:26 AM
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I use leftover laminate flooring, it just lays on top of the bench.

“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.”
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post #6 of 24 Old 03-09-2019, 08:47 AM
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I normally use 3/4" birch plywood for a bench top with the exception of a carving bench where I hammer on it often which has a 2" thick ash top. It needs to be more solid.
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post #7 of 24 Old 03-09-2019, 09:20 AM
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I built a new bench top w/const grade 2x4. Jointed w/3/8" dowels.
It is really heavy and stands up to most any kind of pounding.
Put a piece of T track in the middle and made some hold downs.
Works very well.
If the top get too gnarled I'll just put a piece of Masonite on it.

best material for workbench top-img_6038.jpg
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post #8 of 24 Old 03-09-2019, 11:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GuitarPhotographer View Post
I put 3/16" tempered Masonite (hardboard) on my workbench top. That way when it gets too buggered to use, I just remove the screwed-down top layer and replace only that.


My $0.02 worth

I do the same.



George
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post #9 of 24 Old 03-09-2019, 11:48 AM
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I have always used 3/4" plywood on my workbench, with no finish, no nothing. I dont ever use a finishing product on it and I certainly don't want any oil on it. In addition to the normal power tools for woodworking, there are thse times that I need to use my workbench for whatever. when I need to hold things in place I dont think twice about using a brad nailer to nail stuff down. "

I also always had assembly tables and they were always covered with laminate. With laminate, I could make a quick sketch or notes with a marker or a dry erase marker. Glue, epoxy, stain, and just about everything else will quickly come off of plastic laminate with the help of a little lacquer thinner on a rag.

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post #10 of 24 Old 03-09-2019, 02:16 PM
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The ideas of using a replaceable material seem valid. Particle board, MDF are cheap and readily available. I personally wouldn't use plywood, voids, splinters. A lot depends on how you use your bench. I have a German made cabinet makers bench that has a lot of advantages for work holding. The top is laminated beech. I got it used and it was pretty beat up. I did some repairs and it works well. It has the traditional waist and end vices plus bench dogs.
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post #11 of 24 Old 03-09-2019, 03:25 PM
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I drew a grid of black felt marker lines on the lid of my white deep freezer. That's my assembly bench.
My 96" "work" bench is just construction 2x6, unfinished. Lots of dings and cuts and bolt holes.
I made a ladder frame of 2x4 and screwed the 2x6 to that. Expedient? Exactly.
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post #12 of 24 Old 03-09-2019, 04:33 PM
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I have a very heavy steel roll around that I glued some southern pine 2x4 together to fit on top.
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post #13 of 24 Old 03-09-2019, 05:01 PM
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Mine is 1/4" particle board on top of 3/4" plywood. Works great and has handled all the abuse I've thrown at it.

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post #14 of 24 Old 03-09-2019, 11:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brucet999 View Post
I need to replace the splintery top of my workbench; 81" x 30". What is the best material to use?

Is there any reason not to use plywood with formica laminate?

Thanks
Hi Bruce,

I do not see why you couldn't use a plywood material. I don't (for the most part) think there is a "wrong material" for a bench top. Choose what works for what you want it to do. Formica is really smooth, but it can work well for some types of work, yet may not hold up as well to scratching and digging as other materials, so may only be applicable to certain types of liter (less abusive?) projects...

I like traditional bench types the most...and as such...I just "resruface" tops when they actually need it.

Does your bench have enough thickness to yield a new top surface if you take away 3mm to 6mm from it?

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post #15 of 24 Old 03-10-2019, 01:31 AM Thread Starter
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Hi Bruce,

Does your bench have enough thickness to yield a new top surface if you take away 3mm to 6mm from it?
I'd say so. It is made in about 1940, of 2x10 doug fir nailed with 10d commons. Might be a little difficult to plane smooth with those big nail heads, but certainly substantial enough to support something like hardboard or MDF to make a smooth, non-splintery surface.
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post #16 of 24 Old 03-10-2019, 03:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brucet999 View Post
I'd say so. It is made in about 1940, of 2x10 doug fir nailed with 10d commons. Might be a little difficult to plane smooth with those big nail heads, but certainly substantial enough to support something like hardboard or MDF to make a smooth, non-splintery surface.
Go for it Bruce...that sounds like a bench with "great bones" and will last several generations if a new top is added when necessary. You will know soon enough if you choice was a wise one (for you) and there is not reason the additions of a new top can't be reversible in the future, should you chose to do so.

Pictures of the "before and after" would be fun to see...

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post #17 of 24 Old 03-10-2019, 10:41 PM
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bench top

I got an industrial door from a hospital. 1 3/4 thick, very heavy duty formica surface that so far no chemical hurts it. easy to clean,had it for 30 years.
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post #18 of 24 Old 03-11-2019, 09:49 PM
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Probably not much help,,, However my work bench is 2 1/2’ thick of what kind of wood, I don’t know....maybe walnut, maybe beech,,, It is a workbench removed from a WWII factory.....so over 60 yrs olde, I give it a rough sand every few years, holds up great for me.
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post #19 of 24 Old 03-12-2019, 02:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Curl View Post
I built my workbench using construction lumber 2x6s. It is very heavy, but also very soft, and dings easily. I covered mine with hardboard (masonite). that helps alot.
i did this too*, my workbench is 2x6 t&g, though i don't cover mine with hardboard.
i screw, nail and drill into my all the time without thinking about it.
need a stop? screw one down

*actually my father made this workbench 40 yrs ago, same top in use
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post #20 of 24 Old 03-14-2019, 07:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brucet999 View Post
I need to replace the splintery top of my workbench; 81" x 30". What is the best material to use?

Is there any reason not to use plywood with formica laminate?

Thanks
I’ll take the other perspective. In my small basement shop I re-used a large island countertop (laminate) as an outfeed table and workbench. I find that it is adequately slippery enough as an outfeed, while being durable enough for a work surface. When glue or other “stuff” gets on it, it’s easy to scrape, it stands up to most solvents to clean paints, and other coatings off. I like it!
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