Workbench Finish Questions

  • Advertise with us

« back to Power Tools, Hardware and Accessories forum

Forum topic by jwm8898 posted 09-20-2009 05:04 AM 1572 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View jwm8898's profile


13 posts in 3206 days

09-20-2009 05:04 AM

Just finished my first of two workbenches. Kind of a multi-use bench, has a Mdf top. My question is what to finish the Mdf with? I would like something that would resist dirt, oil, grease and general grime. My workshop is in my garage so I have another hobby of John Deere garden tractors, lots of dirty greasy parts. Just curious if you guys know the best finish for this application. Thanks for your help.

11 replies so far

View PurpLev's profile


8536 posts in 3671 days

#1 posted 09-20-2009 05:16 AM

polyurethane will resist oil, water, and dirt. it’s creates a thin coat on top of the workbench, the only drawback (since it’s a workbench) is that that coat is smooth and might be an issue when trying to hold your work pieces to the workbench is you use it for that purpose. personally for my workbench I just used Boiled Linseed Oil – which is a penetrating oil, it conditions the wood and prevents moisture penetration but doesnt really do much for dirt/oils.

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

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 3196 days

#2 posted 09-20-2009 07:22 AM

I nailed some 1/8” masonite on the top of my bench. It’s durable, but … it’s also disposable and cheap. When IT gets too banged up, I cut another piece off of a 4×8’ sheet, and nail it on.

Just one option….

Picture of my workbench

-- -- Neil

View Rick  Dennington's profile (online now)

Rick Dennington

5908 posts in 3217 days

#3 posted 09-20-2009 08:03 AM

I made my workbench top out of 4 layers of 3/4” MDF, which made it 3” thick.
I rubbed in 3 coats of Danish Oil, letting each coat dry for an hour, and when it was good and dry, I put 4 coats of a quick-dry poly over the oil, and let each coat dry between coats. Nothing gets through that top, and it holds down the scratches and scuff marks pretty good, and it gave the top a good-looking kind of brown petina. Hope this helps a little.

-- " At my age, happy hour is a crap and a nap".....

View jwm8898's profile


13 posts in 3206 days

#4 posted 09-20-2009 05:30 PM

Hey thanks for the info I got a better idea of what direction to go in. Thanks a bunch

View woodworm's profile


14468 posts in 3613 days

#5 posted 09-20-2009 05:35 PM

Agreed with PurpLev, oil finish does collect dust, but that is only very small issue.

-- masrol, kuala lumpur, MY.

View CyBorge's profile


79 posts in 3197 days

#6 posted 09-21-2009 07:03 AM

Thanks for posting this. I am in a similar situation. I don’t expect to be working with oily or greasy parts very often, but it has been known to happen once or twice. I’m more worried about stray bits of moisture that tend to show up from time to time. It sounds like a lot of people simply use a thin layer of sacrificial hardboard over the top; quick, simple, effective.

What did you decide to go with? I’m thinking about giving BLO a try. Do you guys use it straight, or mix it with something like mineral spirits?

-- "How can I be lost if I've got nowhere to go?"

View jwm8898's profile


13 posts in 3206 days

#7 posted 09-21-2009 10:27 PM

I’m gonna go the danish oil, and poly combo. multiple coats of each.

View VariHz's profile


3 posts in 3194 days

#8 posted 09-21-2009 11:01 PM

I used to work for a conveyor belt service company. In my mind nothing beats PVC conveyor belt for a bench cover. It comes (commonly) in White, Green or Black. It is shipped to the service companys in 6 ft wide rolls and they slit it to the required widths. Bottom line often 30 and 36” widths end up on the remnant rack.You can often get the length you need for a decent price. I made my own face moulding for my bench leaving a 3/16” raised lip that the conveyor belt flushes up to. The belt will uncoil in about 3 days at room temp, or you can stick it down with contact cement or mayeb even carpet tape. It cuts with a sharp utility knife.
PVC conveyor belt has an antifriction / antistatic back and a smooth PVC top. It is used for food, grain, general products, packages so someone in your backyard is probably selling the stuff.

-- A bad day in the shop is better than a normal evening in front of the TV.

View jwm8898's profile


13 posts in 3206 days

#9 posted 09-21-2009 11:13 PM

Thats a good Idea, I never would of thought of that one.

View Kent Shepherd's profile

Kent Shepherd

2718 posts in 3309 days

#10 posted 09-21-2009 11:26 PM

I keep different size pieces of cardboard handy. When I work on something greasy or do glue-ups, etc, I simply cover the bench. Keeps my bench in much better shape.


View SCOTSMAN's profile


5849 posts in 3608 days

#11 posted 09-21-2009 11:28 PM

Why not glue down formica sheeting,it’s quick and easy to get done and look nice and is very tough and can be cleaned up for years to come.Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics