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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I lucked out and found an awesome large storage cabinet to use as the foundation for a dead flat woodworking table. I wish I knew what it was originally used for because it probably weighs 400 lbs and has an aluminum frame on all edges. The worktop surface measures about 33x73". It consists of two 5/8ths thick particle board layers with a formica top. The existing top is about 1.5" thick, but I'm worried it's not strong enough for bench dogs "as-is".

I feel like the top is flat enough, but I need to figure out how to hold work down for router work and square glue-ups. Should I go with an inset T-track setup, or beef up the particle board with thick plywood and go the bench dog route?

(forgive any bad terminology! I'm new at this.)
 

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What kind of woodworking are you going to do? Hand tools? Power tools? A mix?

It makes a difference. Working with hand tools almost exclusively, I love my Gramercy holdfasts. I like having a really quick way to reposition things, and the ability to drop a bench dog in the holes I drilled for them means supporting basically anything is easy.

If I were still doing almost exclusively power tool work, it's a lot more likely that I'd have inset T-track: there are a lot of good accessories for them, and I'd be a lot less concerned about catching an edged tool on them. Right now if I knock over a plane or drive a chisel too far, it's guaranteed to hit wood. With metal in the bench, I'd be a lot more concerned.

Short version, I don't think it matters. If you do T-track, though, I'd advocate for still beefing up the top: 1/4" masonite or plywood will be really easy to replace when the time comes that you've scarred it to unusability.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
amckenzie4,
I don't think I'm ready for the holdfasts. I'm not going to be doing so much woodworking that quickly repositioning parts will be a great need. It looks like they require a tight fit in the table and I'm already worried about drilling the bench dog holes. I don't know how I would do a good square job of that yet. I haven't researched the jigs or tools needed. With the channels, I'm confident I could rip good channels through the formica and particle board with a track saw or circular saw. I could see building up the table or replacing the formica when it gets beat up over time.
 

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Don't let the holdfasts intimidate you: if you don't think they'll be useful, that's one thing. But don't worry about the holes. I got one from Gramercy, as I said, and here's how I drilled the holes: I put a 3/4" spade bit in an electric drill, stood it up as straight as I could manage, and squeezed the trigger. They're probably a few degrees off vertical, but it really doesn't matter.

Thinking about it, though, I'm not sure how well particle board would hold up under use with them. They really work best in a really solid bench (mine is four layers of 3/4" plywood), since they put a lot of lateral force on the walls of the hole. Given that, I'd say either replace the top (probably not worth it right now) or go with the T-tracks.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
amckenzie4,
I'll probably go with a modest grid of T-tracks. I can glue them down and anchor them through the two layers of particle board. If I can get my hands on some countersunk nuts that fit the track, they'll be very secure and all the stress will be on the tracks themselves and not the particle board. Sound good? Do you know of a good source for stainless steel countersunk nuts? I don't know if Rockler or Woodcraft carries stuff like that.
 

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I'd do two strips running left to right, and I'd either use regular screws and hope, or drill all the way through the top and just use standard machine screws, nuts, and washers to hold them in place.

How about a picture of the bench? That might make it easier for us to visualize what you're looking at...
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
I'll try to take a few pictures. The top has been removed. It might be a few days before I can upload pictures. It would be useful to see, for sure.
 
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