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I'm working on cabinet bases for about a 30' run of cabinets for my shop. These cabinets will hold my miter saw, drill press, router table and a corner workstation for my computer/monitor. I've been trying to decide what to do for the countertop. I have a bunch of 14 foot 2x6 black locust barnwood planks left that I was thinking about cutting down into smaller lengths and resawing to 1". There are a lot of nails on one end of all these boards so I'd end up cutting about 2" off to avoid 90% of the nails. All the boards have bows/curves in them so I'd cut the length down to 3 or 4 feet so I wouldn't loose so much material when jointing and planing these boards. It will be a lot of work to turn this old lumber into a countertop but I think it would look nice and it should hold up well.

Instead of using the barn wood I'm considering pouring concrete countertops. The process isn't terribly difficult and I think they would hold up pretty well. That being said I've never seen anyone use them in a shop build. I'm guessing there are some negatives to this that I'm not thinking of for using concrete countertops in shop builds. I'd be curious for any opinions that you all may have.
 

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My Dad's style was to build the work benches out of anything as long as they were big and heavy and stable.
The tops were skinned with sheets of nice 5/8" plywood. Partly cosmetic but easy to clean and easily replaced.
My first bench is all 2x6, 30" x 96", and I made the mistake of not skinning it. I'm carving, not cabinet making, so I get away with it. I regret my error.
 

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Bah humbug
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It's been done for inside homes, don't know about the shop. But permanent...
 

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The concrete would need reinforcement, chicken wire maybe?

It would a harsh surface for setting tools on, even if you are careful.
 

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One thing all of the youtube videos don't show is how absorbent they really are. Matt Resinger has a video on how he regretted putting them in the kitchen. No matter how often you seal them, they end up getting messy looking and darkening where most used. I'm glad I saw it, because his looked terrible and he said they were vigilant about sealing. It requires a reseal every 6 months or so.


Something to consider in a shop if you might happen to work with oily stuff, it's not like you can pressure wash it like a carport.

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Not what you asked but I just use plywood and then put tempered hardboard over that. I can replace the hardboard when ... well, if it gets damaged. have not replaced one yet. Cheap and sturdy.... well wait.... used to be cheap.

Just use what you have as long as it is flat. It is tool that you will use and abuse.
 

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I had a freind that concrete countertops in his shop and they didn't hold up over time. They also had a tendency to become damp. We removed them and replaced with Plywood.
 

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Not what you asked but I just use plywood and then put tempered hardboard over that. I can replace the hardboard when ... well, if it gets damaged. have not replaced one yet. Cheap and sturdy.... well wait.... used to be cheap.

That's a standard procedure with performance stages. We anchor stage sets and more, and after a few years we need a new surface, maybe sooner if we get a dance troupe in. ( They need a clean, smooth surface.) So, using a melamine surface over plywood has a lot of advantages over concrete. It's replaceable. Remember the three tenants of construction - Over time- wood rots, iron rusts, and concrete cracks.
Just my 0.02
 

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I would NOT use concrete. I've made shop tables from solid core slab doors 1 3/4" thick all around my shop and they hold up great! They are flat and super strong and can be covered with a 1/2" hardboard top to preserve them. A slab door is 6 ft 8" long and can be from 28" to 36" wide. They are very heavy as well and will not sag.
They will cost around $100.00 per door and they are ready to set down over your cabinets right from the lumber yard/supplier:
 
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I'm working on cabinet bases for about a 30' run of cabinets for my shop. These cabinets will hold my miter saw, drill press, router table and a corner workstation for my computer/monitor. I've been trying to decide what to do for the countertop. I have a bunch of 14 foot 2x6 black locust barnwood planks left that I was thinking about cutting down into smaller lengths and resawing to 1". There are a lot of nails on one end of all these boards so I'd end up cutting about 2" off to avoid 90% of the nails. All the boards have bows/curves in them so I'd cut the length down to 3 or 4 feet so I wouldn't loose so much material when jointing and planing these boards. It will be a lot of work to turn this old lumber into a countertop but I think it would look nice and it should hold up well.

Instead of using the barn wood I'm considering pouring concrete countertops. The process isn't terribly difficult and I think they would hold up pretty well. That being said I've never seen anyone use them in a shop build. I'm guessing there are some negatives to this that I'm not thinking of for using concrete countertops in shop builds. I'd be curious for any opinions that you all may have.
Depends on what you are going to use them for. I want a worktop that will dent before my work piece does. I would also never lay one of my planes, chisels on a concrete counter, let alone accidentally run my chisel into it. You could cover it with a sheet good, but that would defeat the purpose I guess. If you are not going to use it as a work bench, just a station for power tools, I guess it would work, but I know for me it would be a matter of time before I use it for something else.
 

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Seems like a lot of bother for a shop, and I'm not sure the practicality of it. If you ever decide to change anything your sunk. You can't fasten a benchtop machine or screw down a jig, etc.

I agree with B Coll, that type of surface is not kind to edge tools, if that applies to you.

Most of my tops are made of MDF soaked in BLO/Turpentine. Leave enough overhang on everything to easily fix a clamp.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks for all the feedback. It seems like concrete countertops are not suited well for a shop. I'll go with either the black locust top or some type of plywood base layer with a replaceable hardboard on top of that.
 

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Bah humbug
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Why black locust top?

Seems like a waste...
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Why black locust top?

Seems like a waste...
Right now I have a lot of wood on-hand and I don't have good places to store it. At my house my indoor racks are filled up completely and I have a few thousand board feet of cherry and black locust on-hand that I'm storing outside. I'll be using the cherry wood for the cabinet face frames & doors and general trimming of the plywood I'm putting on the walls and ceiling. The black-locust is the hardest wood I have on-hand so I thought I'd use it for the cabinet countertops. This wood has been air drying for almost 15 years and I have to use up and make room for another large load of white oak, spalted maple and black walnut that has been air drying up at my cabin for the last 9 years.

I'm making "nice" cabinets for my shop mainly as practice. Apart from a few rough cabinets I built years ago for my cabin I've never really built cabinets. I'll be using this 30' run of cabinets in my shop as practice before I start building new kitchen cabinets next year.
 

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I agree that concrete is not likely the best choice for your use. For me, mounting tools requires something that will happily accept lag screws and concrete isn't known for that.

My reason for this post is to let you know that yes, I have seen a concrete bench top. It was in my uncle's shop. He had a small commercial business and in the 1950s and 60s his major customer was an agricultural operation. The used lots of greenhouse furniture, trays, and pallets which he made for them.

Pneumatic staplers were not common then and so everything was hand nailed. To increase nailing efficiency he built a concrete bench. From what I can remember, it was about 4' x 4' x 6" thick and had 3" steel angle for edging. It was mounted on a concrete block pedestal about 2' square.
 

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If you're a wuss in the shop and never hammer or plane or route or use any tools...
I say go for it
 

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Bernie - if I had that much room, I would make a 5 or 6 foot section of concrete top just for the heck of it.
use that for awhile for general projects that needed a concrete base for "aggressive" fabrication or disassembly and see how it goes. much easier to remove and replace with other materials (such as wood and HPL) than a 30 ft section.
looking forward to following your project - sounds very interesting.
 

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I would NOT use concrete. I've made shop tables from solid core slab doors 1 3/4" thick all around my shop and they hold up great! They are flat and super strong and can be covered with a 1/2" hardboard top to preserve them. A slab door is 6 ft 8" long and can be from 28" to 36" wide. They are very heavy as well and will not sag.
They will cost around $100.00 per door and they are ready to set down over your cabinets right from the lumber yard/supplier:
Same here, my shop tops are mostly old commercial 8' SC cherry doors that would otherwise be in a landfill. Cruise an office park and look in the construction dumpsters or contact the local commercial door and hardware shop. Office buildings get doors changed quite often.
 
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