The Workbench Quest #2: Heavy Lifting

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Blog entry by GhostOfSidHartman posted 07-28-2009 04:29 AM 1042 reads 0 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: The saga begins... Part 2 of The Workbench Quest series no next part

OK, so in order to break down the MDF sheets, I need a long straight edge. First order of business therefore is to make one of those shop-built straightedges using the factory edge of the MDF as a reference to get a straight edge on some 3/4” BB ply, glue and screw that to a base of 1/4” tempered hardboard, and then trim that to finish size with the spiral up-cutting bit in the router. Hmmmm, might as well make a second one about 4 1/2 feet long to use for cross-cutting, right??

(How many times did I say straightedge in that paragraph?)

Okay, lift huge sheet of MDF, drop on rigid foam insulation lying in driveway to break down to rough size. Mark, clamp on straightedge, cut. Repeat for next piece. And so on….

Boy these things are heavy. And the dust!!! That’s why you cut MDF outdoors if possible. And you still need a dust mask.

Ran out of daylight/motivation. Need beer. Put everything back in garage, quit for night. Ah, beer!!!

Next day, finish work early. Everything back out of garage. Finish breaking down all MDF to rough size. Set up sheet of 3/4 ” plywood on sawhorses to use for trimming MDF to final size with spiral up-cuting bit. More dust!!! Really hot today, working on sunburn. Finish line in site—- YES!! All MDF parts cut to size, and only two significant mistakes, neither one of which is critical (I can hide them ;))

Put everything back in garage, after blowing MDF dust off of everything. Time for a well deserved beer! (Shower first – can’t track that dust all over the house!) Next step: starting to glue up the top – should finally have something in the picture department (nothing worth seeing so far.)

Two observations at this point—
1. This thing is going to be REALLY heavy!! Should be able to hand plane on it without it going anywhere.
2. Although I knew the top was 32×88, until I actually had the MDF cut to size I didn’t realize just how BIG this thing is. Anyone have any thoughts on that? Is it possible to have a bench top that’s too big? I think I remember reading somewhere that you really only want a bench wide enough for you to reach across, but I can’t remember why….

-- The beatings will continue until morale improves.

2 comments so far

View bayspt's profile


292 posts in 3732 days

#1 posted 07-28-2009 04:49 AM

My MDF top bench is 32×67 and I feel the width is good. I can reach any tool on the oppisite side. Look forward to seeing some pics

-- Jimmy, Oklahoma "It's a dog-eat-dog world, and I'm wearing milkbone underwear!"

View PurpLev's profile


8536 posts in 3676 days

#2 posted 07-28-2009 04:57 AM

all I can see here is “blah blah blah … BEER… blah blah blah BEER….” what’s with all the extra wording ? couldnt we just have “Beer Beer!” ;)

sounds like youve been busy! MDF dust is the worst. I always have DC plugged in and sucking as much of it as possible – AND working outside with it, you don’t want to breath any of that stuff, nor would you want this to cover your garage/shop with it’s dust.

as for the workbench being too big -YES ! a workbench CAN be TOO BIG. meaning it’s too wide, which can make it difficult for you to reach it’s far side when working on a project. recommended workbench size is 24” in width. I have mine at 30” because I want to be able to use the back side of it to hold tools, while I work on the front, but I have long arms, and can still reach the back of it, but I wouldn’t want it any wider.

if you have the chance now – try it out, and if you cannot reach the back side, trim it down and make it a bit narrower now while you still can.

are you placing the workbench against a wall? or in the middle of your work space? if you put it against the wall, it’s more critical that you have good reach across it, if you put it in the middle of the space – you can always walk around it for a deeper reach.

just some food for thought.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

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