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the choices are pine or beech. going with beech hardwood has its obvious reasons but I was wondering if a hard benchtop , harder then my working piece will dent or mar the surface of my work? for example if I lay my piece on my bench and sand it, and there are always small chips or particles on the working bench, those will be embossed to my working piece...
What do you think?
 

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I would go with the beech for the work surface. I built mine a couple years ago of SYP for all but the work surface. I used local red oak on top a friend milled for me in 2x4s, I let it dry for 18 mos then it was planing & gluing. I just cleaned it up and planed maybe 3/32 off removing dings etc. Here it is clean.
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Get used to the idea of a layer of cupboard drawer foam rubber mesh on the bench. Shake often.
I have trashed some carvings from the dimples that chips make. Most disappointing. Big shop bench brush.
Put it all on the floor.
 

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I really all depends on what you're ww'ing methods are. If you do a lot of hand work, then I believe a hard top absorbs less shock, and the dog holes wear better (that said, you can always insert a hardwood strip with dog holes).

The most important thing is to take your time to study different styles, think about your work methods and build your workbench according to that. I think the Scott Landis book is a very good source.

Roubo benches are all the rage, personally, I think a leg vise if an inferior vise to a shoulder vise or a twin screw.

One bench Paul Sellers built looks like spruce (white wood) which is very soft. The most recent one was made of plywood. While I don't like the English or Nelson style benches with protruding vises and very wide aprons, he does do a good job of presenting the build.

The plywood benches are very interesting to me, if I were building my first bench, and had limited tools and expertise, I would probably go that route.

This guy has some pretty interesting ideas for plywood workbench especially if you have a track saw.
 

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Termite
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the choices are pine or beech. going with beech hardwood has its obvious reasons but I was wondering if a hard benchtop , harder then my working piece will dent or mar the surface of my work? for example if I lay my piece on my bench and sand it, and there are always small chips or particles on the working bench, those will be embossed to my working piece...
What do you think?
What kind of tools do you use? Hand tool, power tools?
 

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mike44
retired carpenter and farmer
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the choices are pine or beech. going with beech hardwood has its obvious reasons but I was wondering if a hard benchtop , harder then my working piece will dent or mar the surface of my work? for example if I lay my piece on my bench and sand it, and there are always small chips or particles on the working bench, those will be embossed to my working piece...
What do you think?
I have made 7 benches for wood workers and I used beech. I also have made about 200 softwood benches for manufacturing companies . These were lab type benches for assemblies. Most of the softwood benches were construction 2x4's that milled to 1-5/16" thick on average and 3-5/16" wide. I would buy 2 pallets of lumber and sticker them in my loft for 4/6 months . When the MC reached 11% I would mill the lumber. The lumber was laminated .
The wood worker benches were 27" wide. The length varied for each client. Dog holes were square or round and the placement was according to owners wishes.
I would not be concerned about the saw dust or chips marring the wood. I have not seen chips embossed in the surface except with a planer that had poor or no dust collection.
My own bench is maple, milled from a tree in a neighbors yard that went down in a Derecho ( strong straight line winds) . The beech also harvested from this storm along with white oak and some red oak. If I had more property I would have taken many more saw logs as the whole township had trees down everywhere.
mike
 

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I have always made my work bench tops out of two layers of plywood glued and screwed together. I'm just not a traditionalist about some things.
 

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where's my table saw?
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the choices are pine or beech. going with beech hardwood has its obvious reasons but I was wondering if a hard benchtop , harder then my working piece will dent or mar the surface of my work? for example if I lay my piece on my bench and sand it, and there are always small chips or particles on the working bench, those will be embossed to my working piece...
What do you think?
Simple housekeeping with a bench brush will prevent this, if necessary at all?
I really don't think it will matter that much, except in appearance. See my comment below regarding a laminated Maple bench.
Bench tops, typically get abused with paint spatter, sanding disc gouges, and chisel gouges saw cuts, hammer misses, screws that were protruding through the bottom of workpieces, other scratches, SO if that's what you expect to happen then don't make such a beautiful bench that you'll be sad when it starts to look bad.

My assembly/outfeed table, measures 30" X 120" and is where I do all my sanding and chisel work, even some light hammering, is two layers of particle board, top finished with several coats of shellac. It's easy to clean, moderately slippery, but relatively impervious to hammer strikes. The most damage is from cutting through cardboard or paper with a Stanley knife.
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My "special" hand laminated Maple workbench with two side vises, is so nice looking that I refuse to damage the top and it's pretty much 95% covered with thin cardboard or stuff stacked on it! I'm embarrassed to say but, even in my large shop, horizontal surfaces get stuff stacked on them way too often. :(

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I have always made my work bench tops out of two layers of plywood glued and screwed together. I'm just not a traditionalist about some things.
Same here, my TS off feed bench top is 2 sheets of 3/4 - 4x8 maple plywood, edged with 3/4 hard maple, also used as my main bench. It's served me well for close to 20 years. My other benches/tops are repurposed 1-3/4 3/0 x 8/0 solid core cherry doors. My "mechanics" bench is 30" x 144" (where I beat on stuff) is SYP. 2x6's ripped in half and glued up sitting on top of repurposed base cabinets.
 

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I think it is a personal choice myself and depends on how you will use it.

I used 2x12 pine, ripped them down to 3 strips roughly 3 1/2" wide each and laminated up my bench top. Several years old now and no complaints with the pine. If I had access to beech and price wasn't much different I might use it. I think either will make you a good bench top.
 

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I've had a particle board top, a plywood top,melamine top and now I personally have a hickory top. All work fine...
 

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Use the beech and challenge yourself to make something both useful and beautiful. Something you can be proud of.

Best place to hone your skills is making things for your workshop.

Read several books on traditional style workbenches and learn why benches were made for different uses such as cabinet making, joiners or carving benches. Get ideas for how you want to use your bench. Learn what kinds of accessories are available for benches and if you need to include them in your planning.

If you are going to use lots of traditional techniques it’s important to get your table the right height.

Spend time learning about benches before copying some guy on a YouTube video.
 
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