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Woodsmith Shop Weekend Workbench build

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Project by ChretienWoodworking posted 06-12-2018 02:26 PM 2231 views 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Dimensions: 33”D x 88”W x 36”H

Finally time to move up from working on the floor, the steps, boxes, etc. I’m sure you all have some idea of what I’m talking about…

I found this pretty sturdy workbench build in one of the Woodsmith Shop magazines and felt like it was meant to be. It’s a bit difficult balancing family life and work with getting something like this done in just one weekend though. In the end it make take about a week of off and on work. Can’t wait to get it done and start some new projects with it!





9 comments so far

View MilFlyer's profile

MilFlyer

939 posts in 1818 days


#1 posted 06-12-2018 07:30 PM

I think a great many of us feel your pain on the time constraints. I read all kinds of “Do this in a weekend…” projects and then they take me two or three weekends because of work, children, etc.. As long as you’re having fun making sawdust though it’s all good! Thanks for sharing!

-- VR, Richard "Fear is nothing more than a feeling. You feel hot. You feel hungry. You feel angry. You feel afraid. Fear can never kill you"--Remo Williams

View therealSteveN's profile

therealSteveN

1410 posts in 721 days


#2 posted 06-13-2018 05:45 AM

Every second spent in the shop is a win. Don’t worry the stuff you can’t control, or you’ll have to take medicine to keep your guy from burning up.

What top are you planning for it? Not sure if it’s in the plan, but a stretcher about 12” off ground level going the length of the bench on both sides will provide:

A LOT of support from sway at a later date.

A handy shelf upon which will allow large item storage, or to put in a cabinet with either shelves, or drawers for tool storage of the variety you plan to use at the bench.

Looks like you are on the right track. Thanks for posting, please update.

These guys looked confused.

-- Think safe, be safe

View ChretienWoodworking's profile

ChretienWoodworking

12 posts in 310 days


#3 posted 06-13-2018 11:54 AM



Every second spent in the shop is a win. Don t worry the stuff you can t control, or you ll have to take medicine to keep your guy from burning up.

What top are you planning for it? Not sure if it s in the plan, but a stretcher about 12” off ground level going the length of the bench on both sides will provide:

A LOT of support from sway at a later date.

A handy shelf upon which will allow large item storage, or to put in a cabinet with either shelves, or drawers for tool storage of the variety you plan to use at the bench.

Looks like you are on the right track. Thanks for posting, please update.

These guys looked confused.

- therealSteveN


The top is going to be 4 layers of 3/4 MDF surrounded by some lumber edging. There are 2 bottom rails with a 3/4 MDF sheet for a shelf I’m working to add now. Should be a sturdy workbench after completion!

View helluvawreck's profile

helluvawreck

32083 posts in 3013 days


#4 posted 06-13-2018 02:58 PM

You are doing a very nice job on this workbench and it’s really looking good.

-- helluvawreck aka Charles, http://woodworkingexpo.wordpress.com

View therealSteveN's profile

therealSteveN

1410 posts in 721 days


#5 posted 06-14-2018 10:42 PM

The top is going to be 4 layers of 3/4 MDF surrounded by some lumber edging. There are 2 bottom rails with a 3/4 MDF sheet for a shelf I’m working to add now. Should be a sturdy workbench after completion!

- ChretienWoodworking

Yes, the bottom shelf is all important, could be spindly legged without it. A consideration, and one I have been glad I used on non solid wood tops. Your MDF plan is good, just go one layer higher, or lower and make the top piece a 1/4 hardboard sheet. You will tear up the top surface, especially with it being paper as opposed to solid wood, or even ply. With the 1/4 hardboard when it does get chewed up, all you need do is strip out the old top piece, and inset a new one. Don’t ask me why, but if you try to just take off the top sheet of MDF, it’s like the planets aren’t in synch, and bad things happen. Mostly it’s because you have glued together the individual pieces, and glue is stronger than…....I’ve had this, and seen it on others. Never have seen a mishap replacing just the hardboard (I don’t glue this, just lay it inside the banding around the sides. I’ve not had no glue there be a problem. I’ve also seen it as the suggested top as many times as any other non hardwood top.

Another point, the MDF is a very good substrate for this, but it likes support, crossing underneath, and it is very resistant to changes in humidity, to the point where it can absorb moisture if it is very humid, or the top gets wet, so before you sandwich you might want to poly all sides of each sheet before doing a lamination. I usually do one coat straight up poly, and 2 or 3 coats of poly/MS mixed 50/50. Allow it to absorb into the edges, they act like a sponge, and if you one coat it, you’ll end with not much. Another possible is to glue size it, using some glue mixed with a bit of water, and paste the ends closed before the poly. You don’t want to flood it, or you will get blown up MDF from too much liquid. If you have a piece of scrap play with it first. It’s quite easy, so it should only take a moment to get onto the correct amount.

And last, clamping seems to get some folks riled up about this. Some say you cannot clamp it well enough, and you will have areas where these tops will spread. The cheapest clamp out there is a series of screws every 6” or less. Screw from the bottom side, and start with your top first. After you feel the glue has had enough time to dry, unscrew the screws, and use them below the next level. Nobody except small children ever see the holes, besides they are tiny.

Have fun

-- Think safe, be safe

View ChretienWoodworking's profile

ChretienWoodworking

12 posts in 310 days


#6 posted 06-15-2018 02:31 PM


The top is going to be 4 layers of 3/4 MDF surrounded by some lumber edging. There are 2 bottom rails with a 3/4 MDF sheet for a shelf I’m working to add now. Should be a sturdy workbench after completion!

- ChretienWoodworking

Yes, the bottom shelf is all important, could be spindly legged without it. A consideration, and one I have been glad I used on non solid wood tops. Your MDF plan is good, just go one layer higher, or lower and make the top piece a 1/4 hardboard sheet. You will tear up the top surface, especially with it being paper as opposed to solid wood, or even ply. With the 1/4 hardboard when it does get chewed up, all you need do is strip out the old top piece, and inset a new one. Don t ask me why, but if you try to just take off the top sheet of MDF, it s like the planets aren t in synch, and bad things happen. Mostly it s because you have glued together the individual pieces, and glue is stronger than…....I ve had this, and seen it on others. Never have seen a mishap replacing just the hardboard (I don t glue this, just lay it inside the banding around the sides. I ve not had no glue there be a problem. I ve also seen it as the suggested top as many times as any other non hardwood top.

Another point, the MDF is a very good substrate for this, but it likes support, crossing underneath, and it is very resistant to changes in humidity, to the point where it can absorb moisture if it is very humid, or the top gets wet, so before you sandwich you might want to poly all sides of each sheet before doing a lamination. I usually do one coat straight up poly, and 2 or 3 coats of poly/MS mixed 50/50. Allow it to absorb into the edges, they act like a sponge, and if you one coat it, you ll end with not much. Another possible is to glue size it, using some glue mixed with a bit of water, and paste the ends closed before the poly. You don t want to flood it, or you will get blown up MDF from too much liquid. If you have a piece of scrap play with it first. It s quite easy, so it should only take a moment to get onto the correct amount.

And last, clamping seems to get some folks riled up about this. Some say you cannot clamp it well enough, and you will have areas where these tops will spread. The cheapest clamp out there is a series of screws every 6” or less. Screw from the bottom side, and start with your top first. After you feel the glue has had enough time to dry, unscrew the screws, and use them below the next level. Nobody except small children ever see the holes, besides they are tiny.

Have fun

- therealSteveN


Thanks for all the great advice! I was thinking of adding something on top of the MDF. Haven’t decided for certain yet though.

When you said to use 2 or 3 coats of poly/MS mixed 50/50. What do you mean by MS? I don’t think I’ve heard that term before.

The plans actually call for cleats to be installed onto the rails and then use screws and glue to secure the MDF to the bench and basically build the MDF tabletop from the top down if that makes sense.

View therealSteveN's profile

therealSteveN

1410 posts in 721 days


#7 posted 06-19-2018 06:49 AM

MS, sorry maybe everyone hasn’t seen that shortening of Mineral Spirits.

2 easy cook at home recipes for “wiping poly” though some use Spar.

First is 50/50 with mineral spirits.

Second is thirds. Poly, MS, and BLO (Boiled Linseed Oil)

Actual amounts don’t need to be measured, though some would argue that, closely eyeballing it works.

I’ll add the BLO if the wood has a lot of figure/snazzy grain patterns, it “pops” the grain nicely.

A lot of people will apply 2 coats about an hour apart, then sand it down after it dries overnight, and them apply more, letting each additional coat dry. In the first video below he uses slightly different timing, that is trial and error stuff. At home use some scrap and play around. I also finsih with a paper bag, think grocery store paper bag. Crumple it up, and rub it sown as a final shot. I’ve found it adds a luster that I’ve never seen without the bag. Won’t take you but a few seconds to see if you think it helps on your scrap samples.

Probably the biggest finishing helper is after the first coat of anything wet, it WILL raise the woods grain. You need to knock that down, or you will have that “hairy” project, looks fuzzy. For a bench top this probably isn’t as important, but you don’t want it to look like a pet.

Before finishing I sand a LOT, also between coats I sand a LOT again. Light sanding will give a poorer finish. I do graduate up in grit as I go. Routine stuff most will top out at 220. I have a tendency to go to 320, usually higher. The look of the project will tell me when to stop. All wood grain isn’t the same, some demand a higher grit to look good, your average Oak, often 220 will be fine, experimenting, and at first go a step beyond what everyone else does, see if you think it’s worth it.

Here are several links talking about this

I only use the BLO with active grain patterns. Of the 3 ingredients it’s the one that has more drying considerations, so if there would be a problem it would be getting the BLO to dry. In the Summer months I have never seen a problem, an unheated or lightly heated shop in the Winter and it may appear to never want to dry. So likely 60 degrees would be Ok, 70 better yet.

-- Think safe, be safe

View ChretienWoodworking's profile

ChretienWoodworking

12 posts in 310 days


#8 posted 06-19-2018 04:46 PM



MS, sorry maybe everyone hasn t seen that shortening of Mineral Spirits.

2 easy cook at home recipes for “wiping poly” though some use Spar.

First is 50/50 with mineral spirits.

Second is thirds. Poly, MS, and BLO (Boiled Linseed Oil)

Actual amounts don t need to be measured, though some would argue that, closely eyeballing it works.

I ll add the BLO if the wood has a lot of figure/snazzy grain patterns, it “pops” the grain nicely.

A lot of people will apply 2 coats about an hour apart, then sand it down after it dries overnight, and them apply more, letting each additional coat dry. In the first video below he uses slightly different timing, that is trial and error stuff. At home use some scrap and play around. I also finsih with a paper bag, think grocery store paper bag. Crumple it up, and rub it sown as a final shot. I ve found it adds a luster that I ve never seen without the bag. Won t take you but a few seconds to see if you think it helps on your scrap samples.

Probably the biggest finishing helper is after the first coat of anything wet, it WILL raise the woods grain. You need to knock that down, or you will have that “hairy” project, looks fuzzy. For a bench top this probably isn t as important, but you don t want it to look like a pet.

Before finishing I sand a LOT, also between coats I sand a LOT again. Light sanding will give a poorer finish. I do graduate up in grit as I go. Routine stuff most will top out at 220. I have a tendency to go to 320, usually higher. The look of the project will tell me when to stop. All wood grain isn t the same, some demand a higher grit to look good, your average Oak, often 220 will be fine, experimenting, and at first go a step beyond what everyone else does, see if you think it s worth it.

Here are several links talking about this

I only use the BLO with active grain patterns. Of the 3 ingredients it s the one that has more drying considerations, so if there would be a problem it would be getting the BLO to dry. In the Summer months I have never seen a problem, an unheated or lightly heated shop in the Winter and it may appear to never want to dry. So likely 60 degrees would be Ok, 70 better yet.

- therealSteveN


Thanks for the explanation! I’m sure I’m probably the only one to question what MS stands for. I’m still fairly new to woodworking so everyday is a lesson learned. It seems like no matter how experienced you are though there’s always something else to be learnt.

View Kenshu's profile

Kenshu

27 posts in 3515 days


#9 posted 10-16-2018 02:39 PM

I built this same workbench many years ago and it was a beast. I would suggest putting some hardwood on the edges of top so that the MDF doesn’t get damaged. I used it for about 6 years until my wife and I moved and sold it to a neighbor for more than I paid for it. I’m sure you will get many years of use out of it.

-- The second mouse gets the cheese.

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