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419 posts in 1930 days
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294 posts in 2183 days
#1 posted 01-26-2010 04:55 PM
If you need additional, unseen layers to beef up the top, 3/4” MDF is flat, heavy, stable, and cheap.
2103 posts in 2596 days
#2 posted 01-26-2010 07:52 PM
why not construction grade SYP or Fir? Chris Schwarz book seems to indicate both can make for excellent benchtops at excellent prices. You really may want to look into buying his workbench book. For about $15, it has a ridiculous amount of information.
297 posts in 2216 days
#3 posted 01-26-2010 08:30 PM
I would recommend you brainstorm (research) the vast amount of information on building a workbench that can be found online. There are many material choices that will result in a great bench (oak with its open grain wouldn’t be near the top of my list for a benchtop). Obviously, I don’t know your local market but if costs are driving the material choice then so be it. Remember the bench, above all else, is a tool, so focus on what truly matters (substance over style). If hardwood is too expensive, don’t compromise the quality of the bench for a desire to ‘keep it all solid wood’.
-- criticism: the art of analyzing and evaluating the quality of an artistic work...
#4 posted 01-26-2010 09:07 PM
Guys, I don’t really need a workbench book, as there are plenty of websites and ideas on the web or in magazines, and guess what, brainstorming and research is what I’m doing right here on this site :) Also asking for others’ point of view on a specific question. Currently, the materials choice is limited to what I mentioned, because of availability, or lack of it.
The specific question is: is it a good idea to want to glue 2 layers of pine and one layer of oak in terms of possible wood expansion and warping (I intend to use breadboard ends). Concerned about one type of wood moving more than the other. That would be the case with MDF as well, one moving and not the other.
I have already mentioned MDF. Southern Yellow Pine, I don’t think, although there is some pin available that has some red veining and might be equivalent. What is commonly available is northern “sapin”, I guess it could translate to fir, rather than pine, although it’s not Douglas. It’s a fairly white wood coming from Scandinavia and used for construction, the equivalent to the US construction/dimensional lumber, but a bit nicer I’d say. MDF is not a good choice. Enough MDF for this would actually cost more than the fir, and be more difficult to buy, transport and deal with. Actually, if we stick to local stores and the wood that they sell, pine is the cheapest, oak boards would come next when available (beams are well priced), then you have MDF, and plywood (not very good) is even pricier. Man-made materials cost more (if you could find it, building jigs and workshop furniture out of baltic birch ply would be the ultimate in luxury).
Nicer woods are very difficult to find and buy here for individuals (you must have a capacity for driving across the country and make large purchases). This is not a woodworker’s country. For example, I would not have the option to buy maple.
I intend to use the mentioned fir for the base, but not for the top. I can probably make dents in it with my fingernails without too much effort, which is not the case with oak. It seems that the other type of pine (=southern?) is harder, although very knotty.
Anyway, will continue to think this through, but wouldn’t mind hearing some info about the wood movement issue.
#5 posted 01-26-2010 09:30 PM
LeChuck now remember everyone is operating in good faith (whether they are on point or not, lol) around here…
As you must know wood moves in relation to the relative moisture of its surroundings. Therefore, the answer to your question is, it depends. However, you can by doing a little research (nudge) and run the numbers (really its an estimate) to see given your particular conditions would the wood movement of the pine and oak be acceptable to you. The link below offers one way of calculating wood movement.
#6 posted 01-26-2010 10:03 PM
well, i can’t give much advice other than to say the workbench book i mentioned lists various wood species along with how much each will move due to moisture and how hard each are (as well as tips for finding pieces without too many knots). If you are interested in trying to use man made materials, you could check out this link. I’m not sure how available this would be in Europe.http://blog.woodworking-magazine.com/blog/A+New+Workbench+Material+And+Experiment.aspx
14090 posts in 2202 days
#7 posted 01-27-2010 01:28 PM
Fir is pretty soft, but it is very stable if you can get it straight grained, free of knots and quarter sawn. If you beat it with a hammer it will dent and if you hit it with a chisel it will cut, but so will oak or any other material. Also Fir is easier to resurface down the line than most hardwoods.
-- Mike, an American living in Norway.
#8 posted 01-27-2010 01:32 PM
“Fir is pretty soft, but it is very stable if you can get it straight grained, free of knots and quarter sawn.”
I cannot unfortunately. Some of it is straighter than some, and with fewer knots, but it’s still construction grade.
Thanks all for your advice.
1502 posts in 2432 days
#9 posted 01-27-2010 02:06 PM
In the US, southern yellow pine is used for housing construction (roofing trusses) and this is what I made my bench out of. What are the trusses in France made of? Maybe that material (if different than Fir) could be used.
-- Good judgement comes from experience and experience comes from poor judgement.
#10 posted 01-27-2010 02:20 PM
In France, wood construction is marginal (you rarely even have the luxury of having a wood structure inside your plaster walls to hang things from). The wood available in construction stores around (your Home Depot equivalent) is mostly the wood I described, Scandinavian fir, which is very soft. It’s nicer looking but softer than the regular 2×4s in the US. There is pine coming from regions more to the south that is harder but can be quite knotty. So it’s mostly pine either a bit softer, or equivalent to the US 2-by stuff. The southern pine (Pin des Landes) is a bit more used for furniture with a rustic look (and really, little difference with oak in terms of cost). All that said, I’m not a construction specialist, but that is what’s available.
196 posts in 2001 days
#11 posted 01-29-2010 07:41 AM
I looked at the article that jlsmith5963 mentioned, and compared yellow pine with white oak. The numbers are pretty close. How about using your used oak flooring (just scrape as much tar, etcetera, off as you can) as the bottom layer, lengthwise, with the old finished side toward the interior of the workbench top. Then use pine on top of that, crosswise. Finally, use the new oak flooring for the top layer, lengthwise. You have just made a rustic piece of plywood that should be as stable as you can get.
I would hate to see you run the tar coated pieces through either a planer or jointer, unless you intend to replace the cutters immediately afterward. It would be more work, but you could heat the material and scrape it off, followed by a coarse sanding. Doing this may allow you to use the used flooring as the top surface.
Just remember to stagger all the joints (ends, and edges of the lower layer).
-- Doug, Bakersfield, CA - I measured twice, cut it twice, and it is still too short!
#12 posted 01-29-2010 05:24 PM
A rustic sandwich :) The problem with ly old oak flooring is that it’s really tons of boards to take care of even for just one layer. We’re talking about 50 boards that not only need to be surfaced but also completely dimensioned. Fine for just a few at a time for small projects, but for this, I won’t have the courage!
The tar, I probably have the wrong word for it, it’s just some very old stuff sticking to one side of the boards and it’s completely dry and often falls off if you smack it with a hammer. Not sure what it will do to the blades but it’s not gummy.
Anyway, thanks for the idea. I might either do that or just use all new oak flooring, or another way if a better idea comes up :)
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