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Greetings,

I have been using a door for a bench top, and it is failing - it can't support my vice. I need to replace it.

My skill level is advanced beginner. I'd love a solid bench top made from laminated beams but that is in my future. I am looking for something I can get done in a short weekend.

I've read a bunch of threads and articles and I intend to put a sheet of 3/4" MDF over a sheet of 3/4" plywood. I thought of going with 2 sheets of plywood but I understand the MDF will give me a flatter surface, especially given the quality problems associated with the plywood. I'll glue them and use a few screws to hold them together. As the plywood will be on the bottom I'll get a less expensive grade.

I've read all about the pros and cons of this but haven't read about how well this top will work for clamping. Some questions:
- will this suffice for using hold downs?
- Will the bench dogs stay strong?
- I want to use the bench dogs and hold downs, so would I be better off with a 3rd layer, and if so, should I go with 2 layers of plywood and one MDF, or 2 layers of MDF and one plywood?
- I've read that I should use 1/4" hardboard on top of the MDF to protect it, but how does that get attached - glue?

I'll use the bench top for planing, sawing, etc. I am learning to use mainly hand tools. I have a Jorgensen vice to attach to the top and might get one for the edge at some point so those would need to be supported.

Any and all feedback is most appreciated!

Eric
 

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Why is a solid top in your future instead of now. 2x4 stock on edge or flat makes a great top. The top on my bench is 2x6 flat. Covered by 1/4" hardboard. Cheap, very solid, easy to make and easy to keep clean. Just replace the hardboard when you want a new top.

You can just put it on legs or build cabinets under it. Cabinets was the approach I used.

George
 

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I like the 2 sheets of plywood idea. I have just one sheet of plywood but I did a nice frame under it so it's solid as a rock. I was going to do a frame around the plywood and drop a 1/4 inch hard wood on top but never did. I think a little two sided tape and the frame would hold the hardwood sheet just fine.
bench 2 by [email protected], on Flickr
Here's a picture of one of mine I built. Maybe not the best but it works for me and was a cheap build.
 

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My work bench was made by my dad, he made the bench with two 5/8 ply glued and screwed on to 2x4 framing, the front is face framed with OSB with door openings (lol..never did put them doors on) then wrapped the outer edge of the top with 1x2 leaving a quarter inch above the top glued and screwed. which allows for the quarter inch piece of hardboard as the final top screwed on only (sits flush with edge band) top is counter sunk screwed only, he put a screw about every foot or so and a row down the middle. I guess he planned on making it easy for replacement, which he never did and I have never done..lol...bench is pretty good, gotta be over forty years old now and is still going strong and solid, hard board top has a few stains but is still flat as a pancake.
 

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Greetings,

I've read a bunch of threads and articles and I intend to put a sheet of 3/4" MDF over a sheet of 3/4" plywood. I thought of going with 2 sheets of plywood but I understand the MDF will give me a flatter surface, especially given the quality problems associated with the plywood. I'll glue them and use a few screws to hold them together. As the plywood will be on the bottom I'll get a less expensive grade.

I've read all about the pros and cons of this but haven't read about how well this top will work for clamping. Some questions:
- will this suffice for using hold downs?
- Will the bench dogs stay strong?
- I want to use the bench dogs and hold downs, so would I be better off with a 3rd layer, and if so, should I go with 2 layers of plywood and one MDF, or 2 layers of MDF and one plywood?
- I've read that I should use 1/4" hardboard on top of the MDF to protect it, but how does that get attached - glue?

I'll use the bench top for planing, sawing, etc. I am learning to use mainly hand tools. I have a Jorgensen vice to attach to the top and might get one for the edge at some point so those would need to be supported.
I have a front vise similar to yours mounted to my bench which is two layers of MDF trimed with 2x3 doug fir. At the location of the vise I glued a piece of plywood under the MDF to give me something which will hold screws better than MDF. The plywood is two pieces of 1/2in thick birch ply to give me overall 1in thick plywood.

The vise mount has been stable for the past year since the installation.

I think a similar arrangement with plywood support under the MDF will work for you.

The holes for the bench dogs will potentially elongate over time, depending on how much force you apply with the vise and or hold downs.

The MDF replacement for your door is very inexpensive and should work fine until you get to replace with laminated solid wood.

The 1/4in hardboard suggestion is to provide a layer which will be dinged up, cut , scratched over time and easily replaced.

If you go with the hardboard cover, I would use screws to hold in place. Much easier to remove later than if you glue down with e.g., contact cement.

I used to have a radial arm saw and used a screwed on 1/4in hardwood cover. Easy to replace when this was cut too much with normal use.
 

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My old bench was a door and I covered it with bamboo flooring from Home Depot - best choice I ever made. Bought a box of the flooring s couple of years ago for $55 and used half of the box. Reasons why I like bamboo flooring

1. It's a green wood made from a weed...

2. The finish on it is paint, stain, and glue resistant. The only things I know that will stick to it are the PL glues like LocTite and LiquidNails.

3. It's a hard surface and looks good.
 
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