wood for a workbench top

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Blog entry by thenorwayteenagewoodworker posted 11-22-2009 09:54 PM 976 reads 1 time favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Which wood should i use for a workbench top, i have to choose between:

6 comments so far

View MedicKen's profile


1610 posts in 2883 days

#1 posted 11-22-2009 10:19 PM

I guess there are a couple of questions that need to be answered first. How much are you willing to spend for the lumber? How long do you want the bench to last? I would shy away from the softer woods, the pine and birch. So, that leaves the oak and ash. I think either of the 2 would make a nice stable hard surface for a top. I would think it would be personal preference and availability of the wood

-- My job is to give my kids things to discuss with their

View Webb's profile


46 posts in 2706 days

#2 posted 11-22-2009 10:23 PM

The common wisdom is hard and heavy – oak or birch. However, mine is cheap ‘ol 2×4 soft stuff and I will say that when you drop something on the bench, and the bench gets the dent instead of the workpiece it is rather handy.

Personally, I would avoid pine because of the propensity to ooze resin over time, esp for thick pieces, but that would depend on the wood you have and the type of bench design you are considering.

If you have not done so, I recommend Schwart’s book on Workbenches (

View HokieMojo's profile


2103 posts in 3149 days

#3 posted 11-22-2009 11:09 PM

actually, Chris highly recommends southern yellow pine

View SwedishIron's profile


142 posts in 3061 days

#4 posted 11-23-2009 12:10 AM

I used ash for my bench… overall it was the best value per bd/ft.. so being cheap and hard stuff it was an easy choice. Some people look at the biggest con of ash is this open grain characteristic but it hasn’t been in issue the past year.

-- Scott, Colorado

View Kent Shepherd's profile

Kent Shepherd

2715 posts in 2707 days

#5 posted 11-23-2009 08:02 PM

My opinion:
Pine—Too soft
Oak—Not bad, but some red oak tends to splinter after banging on it for a while—white oak might be better though.
Birch—Good and hard. I personally hate working it, but will work similar to maple and should make a good top.
Ash—Good choice, as Scott said. The open grain is not the issue that most red oak is. Be carefull what ash you get, some of it is very soft. It definitely matters where it comes from. Check with your supplier. I use a lot of ash that would be suitable for a bench top.


#6 posted 11-25-2009 10:49 PM

remember i live in norway and i live in a plase der its 1 singel hardwood delar, and they ust have this type of wood. i think i go wit ash and the resens way is they have it 2” thikness, and birch is ust in32mm(1”is 25,4mm)

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