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I have always loved a lot of the old woodworker's benches I have seen over the years. They are massively built and weigh a ton. Recently, I recently purchased the Kindle version of "The Workbench Design Book" by Christopher Schwarz of Popular Woodworking. The first bench that had me enamored and the top was built with 2 12"x3"x8' slabs. I found a guy willing to sell me the same thing for a "mere" $400. When I said "no thanks" he's been calling me trying to work a deal, but there's no way I'm going to spend that.

So I went down to KLI, the local hardware store/lumber yard here in Key Largo and they let me look around. I was pretty impressed when I came across the PT 4"x6"x8' PT lumber. I'm thinking of using 5 for the top, 2 for the legs (I want it 30" high, I think) and a another two for the stringers. I'll assemble everything with tenons and maybe even swedge them as well. In all, it will be about $180 in lumber. I am thinking that after I get all the wood flat, I'll have a 3"x25"x120" table top. If PT lumber really weighs 0.024lb/cubic in then it will be a 200 pound top! Now that's massive.

I'm thinking I'll might have to finally break in and buy either a jointer or a planer for this project. I haven't used either and am a bit hesitant about knowing which one to get but I am leaning towards the planer. What am I missing here? What do I need to know about putting a table like this together?
 

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I don't know My bench I made is big an I always wanted to make my own
 

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Of Course its nice to get up an have coffee an looking at this to
 

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If you take Schwarz's advise, he also advises against using PT lumber. I know it's less toxic than in the past, but do you really want to be leaning on PT and planing and setting tools on it, etc for the forseeable future? PT is also WET, so look at a fair drying time for it. Regular old pine will work good for you. If you build it thick with a good base structure you'll not need an 800 pound bench. Heavy is good, but at some point the design of the structure will be what prevents wracking and skittering.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I don't know My bench I made is big an I always wanted to make my own
Do you work on this bench?
If you take Schwarz's advise, he also advises against using PT lumber.
I don't recall that bit of advice in my reading. Yeah, I think PT feels kinda wet too, but the pieces I looked at today looked super and were very light in color. What I liked about it was the fact that I would have a lot less gluing and that the look would be very consistent. Beefy mortise and tenon joints to boot.
 

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In "Workbenches: from Design & Theory to Construction & Use" Schwarz does caution against using pressure treated (CCA) lumber for a workbench (page 14 near the bottom of the sidebar).

However, CCA is no longer used on lumber for residential or general consumer use because of concern of the arsenic used in that treatment. http://www.strongtie.com/productuse/ptwoodfaqs.html#
I have no idea if there are concerns with the currently used chemicals in pressure treated lumber.

A concern mentioned earlier is the moisture content of that lumber. You might consider investing in a moisture meter to help you determine when the wood has reached equilibrium with your shop environment. Schwarz discusses a strategy for using wood of differing moisture contents on page 17 in the above mentioned book.
 

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Just a thought here if you really want to make a bench that will last a life time do you really want it out of pressure treated lumber:thumbdown:. When I was ready to build my bench I thought I would build it out of 2x4's all glue together to make it heavy enough. I was talked out of it because why would I want to build the same bench twice. Wait a little while and sooner or later the right wood will turn up and you'll be happier in the long run.:thumbsup:
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Wait a little while and sooner or later the right wood will turn up and you'll be happier in the long run.:thumbsup:
So, what wood did you end up using? How did you find it? We don't have much of a forest here in Key Largo. :D I'm going to drive to the mainland today and see what I can find.
 

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I would absolutely not use pressure treated lumber. It's wet, which means it will warp as it dries, and it never seems to cut right. If you're using hand tools, it really mangles the edges if they hit it, which they will, sooner or later.

If I were building a new bench top (which I will be, eventually), I would use regular SPF 2x4, jointed and laminated to be about 3" thick. If you're not careful with it you'll need to re-surface it every few years, but it should be solid enough to last decades, at least. And if you haven't figured out something you want to change in the next 20 years, you're better at design than just about anyone I know.
 

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So, what wood did you end up using? How did you find it? We don't have much of a forest here in Key Largo. :D I'm going to drive to the mainland today and see what I can find.
I ended up using locust for mine bench and I was very pleased with the results. You might have to drive a little to find something suitable or may even order it online but you'll be happy in the end.

Why don't you go over to Harriet's have some biscuits and eggs and think about it for a while:yes::yes:.

Oh how I do love the key's!
 

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I have always loved a lot of the old woodworker's benches I have seen over the years. They are massively built and weigh a ton. Recently, I recently purchased the Kindle version of "The Workbench Design Book" by Christopher Schwarz of Popular Woodworking. The first bench that had me enamored and the top was built with 2 12"x3"x8' slabs. I found a guy willing to sell me the same thing for a "mere" $400. When I said "no thanks" he's been calling me trying to work a deal, but there's no way I'm going to spend that.

So I went down to KLI, the local hardware store/lumber yard here in Key Largo and they let me look around. I was pretty impressed when I came across the PT 4"x6"x8' PT lumber. I'm thinking of using 5 for the top, 2 for the legs (I want it 30" high, I think) and a another two for the stringers. I'll assemble everything with tenons and maybe even swedge them as well. In all, it will be about $180 in lumber. I am thinking that after I get all the wood flat, I'll have a 3"x25"x120" table top. If PT lumber really weighs 0.024lb/cubic in then it will be a 200 pound top! Now that's massive.

I'm thinking I'll might have to finally break in and buy either a jointer or a planer for this project. I haven't used either and am a bit hesitant about knowing which one to get but I am leaning towards the planer. What am I missing here? What do I need to know about putting a table like this together?
I am reading this book right now too. I am leaning towards using southern yellow pine as I cannot find any other hard wood cheap enough. Schwartz mentions in the book that the SYP will harden over the years.
 

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Like CP stated, a bench doesn't have to be heavy. My bench weighs about 70lbs but is secured into the floor. A bench needs to be flat top and steady for it to function. Chris does have a nice bench and do consider t-tracks for your bench. In my humble opinion,they are the best invention a woodworker can add to a shop. Most router tables sold have them in their tops.

As for pt wood, I would be concerned for the above reasons and also for what pt could do to the tools. I built a structure an outdoor structure and had to use rust resistant hardware, not because it's an outdoor structure, but because of the pt wood.
 

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I don't see the point of using PT wood. It's really heavy when it's fresh but will loose alot of weight as it dries. And it might want to shift around as it dries. I would be more concerned with fastening it together very well and making it strong. With that, it will be heavy as it is. If the legs are strong and don't wobble at all, it won't have to be nearly as heavy as you think.
 

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PT will rust your tools ... BTDT

I left a piece of PT on my table saw top overnite and there was a rust spot underneath in the morning.... :thumbdown:
The other issue I read is that you will be using 8' 4 X6's and your finished dimension is 120" ...HUH? you mean 96"?
PT has rounded over edges in some cases, so they will have to be cut off, no fun with that. :no:
I have a laminated Maple top about 2 1/2" thick and it's all I can do to lift and or move it. It's plenty heavy enough. I had it run through a wide belt sander at a cabinet shop to level it out after glue up. Yellow Pine is a favorite for bench tops here also.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
OK, I'm convinced. PT is not the way to go. What should I use and more importantly, how do I source it? I would love to use something with a Floridian touch, like cedar. But how do I find a vendor that will sell 4x6x96 cedar? Will I have to draw a mortgage to afford it?
 

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OK, I'm convinced. PT is not the way to go. What should I use and more importantly, how do I source it? I would love to use something with a Floridian touch, like cedar. But how do I find a vendor that will sell 4x6x96 cedar? Will I have to draw a mortgage to afford it?
I think cedar is a bit soft for a workbench. It sure would smell nice. To give you some perspective on local pricing, this place is in Tampa . Honestly, if this is your first workbench and you are still learning I would get some southern yellow pine from home depot, let it dry for several weeks and then build yourself a nice bench :thumbsup:
 
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