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Benchtop advice, please

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Forum topic by sikrap posted 12-10-2009 05:16 PM 1394 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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sikrap

1121 posts in 2818 days


12-10-2009 05:16 PM

I’m finally building a bench. Its just a basic bench that FWW provided plans for with a couple of minor changes. I am planning on using 2 layers of 3/4 ply for the top. Its gotten pretty cold here lately and my shop is only about 50 degrees. Will I have problems if I only use screws to secure the 2 sheets together? I was thinking of putting screws in about every 6 inches. Also, what would be a good finish for the top? Thanks!!

-- Dave, Colonie, NY


13 replies so far

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Joe Watson

316 posts in 3006 days


#1 posted 12-10-2009 05:41 PM

i f you look at the different titebonds one will bond still in the 50 degree range. I cant glue in my shop right now its probably only about 30 degrees in there. I just checked them titebond original is aprox 50 degrees and titebond II is 55 finally titebond III is 47 degrees before chalking.

-- Got Wood?

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Rick Dennington

5170 posts in 2654 days


#2 posted 12-10-2009 05:52 PM

Greetings sikrap: Plywood is ok for tabletops, but I recommend that you glue and screw them together. If no glue, ply will warp over time. Not good. I would use MDF glued and screwed. MDF is stable, flat, and makes a nice top. If your t.t. is not too big, you could use cauls also. I made my bench out of 4 layers of 3/4” MDF, glued and screwed, and that puppy is flat, level, and won’t warp. But if ply is all you have, go for it.
For the finish: You can use about anything: tung oil, polyeurethane, shellac, varnish, and my favorite: Danish Oil.

-- At my age, an "all--nighter" is not having to get up and pee...!!!

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sikrap

1121 posts in 2818 days


#3 posted 12-10-2009 08:31 PM

Interesting. I have MDF, but I thought plywood would be stronger and less likely to warp. I had also heard that MDF doesn’t hold screws very well.

-- Dave, Colonie, NY

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nailbanger2

1041 posts in 2603 days


#4 posted 12-10-2009 08:59 PM

Believe everything Rick says (at least as far as the MDF goes). Can’t be giving him a blank check! We use it for countertops simply because of the humidity in florida. I generally use 1 and 1/4” drywall screws for two layers. You can probably take them out after the glue is dry, but why would you want to?

-- Wish I were Norm's Nephew

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sh2005

97 posts in 2696 days


#5 posted 12-11-2009 11:09 PM

Hopefully my question is related to the original post. Is it ok to have bench dog holes With MDF or plywood table top? Do the edges of the holes start to break/splinter off in these materials?

I am planning to start on a work bench some time soon.

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sikrap

1121 posts in 2818 days


#6 posted 12-11-2009 11:30 PM

Ooh ooh, I think I can actually answer this!! The plan that I’m using does have bench holes. Basically, it tells you to space them about 5” apart and to make sure they line up with the ones in your vice. I don’t believe there’s anything there about finishing.

-- Dave, Colonie, NY

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Rick Dennington

5170 posts in 2654 days


#7 posted 12-12-2009 12:59 AM

Greetings: Actually, sikrap, you can space the dogs as far apart as you want to. 5” will work. I think mine are about 6” apart. You can also put dogs down the length of the bench and that makes it even better. I have 2 rows of dogs in front of each vice, and a row in front of the bench lengthwise.

sh2005: It is ok to have dogs with either ply or MDF. After you drill the dogholes, if you mount a chamfer bit in your router, you can chamfer the holes. Just plunge the router down in the hole(a little, not a lot, about 1/8”) and go round and round a couple of times…......... smooths them puppies right out. May be tougher on ply, but can be done. It may splinter, though. MDF is sooo much better.

-- At my age, an "all--nighter" is not having to get up and pee...!!!

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Chuck

88 posts in 2659 days


#8 posted 12-12-2009 03:55 AM

I built that same bench a few months back. 2 sheets of MDF glued and screwed and the top is perfect. another suggestion: add the lower shelf and use it for heavy stuff. It provides more storage room and adds to the weight of the bench.

-- Chuck, Washington D.C.

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sikrap

1121 posts in 2818 days


#9 posted 12-12-2009 06:14 AM

Thanks Rick!! I’ve decided to use MDF. With regards to the bench holes, did you install them lengthwise to use with a tail vise? I only have a bench vise. (Damn! I thought I had the answer on the bench holes) :)

Chuck, this is the bench they built for the “Getting Started in Woodworking” video, correct? I am definitely adding the lower shelf. I need all the storage I can find right now and the shelf will help until I can build some drawers for the bench and cabinets for the wall.

-- Dave, Colonie, NY

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NoSlivers

210 posts in 2549 days


#10 posted 12-12-2009 07:02 AM

I made my benchtop from 2×4s, on edge, glued and threaded rods put all the way through the width in 5 different places along the length of the bench. Very solid and inexpensive. Then glued and screwed a 3/4 sheet of MDF as the top layer. It sounds like you’ve reached the same conclusion; that MDF is the way to go.

-- If you don't have time to do it right, do you have time to do it twice?

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Rick Dennington

5170 posts in 2654 days


#11 posted 12-12-2009 07:43 AM

Greetings again sikrap: Sorry—- I told you wrong on the dogholes lengthwise on my bench. I have another bench(I have 5,actually) that I put the dogholes in—- not the one I’m using now. No, I don’t have a tail vice. I don’t like them. I have two 8” bench vises—one on each eand of the bench. My bench is 102” long x43” wide.
I also built a cabinet full of drawers and storage to go under this bench. Hold on—- I’ll sshoot you a pix of it.

http://i635.photobucket.com/albums/uu73/RickDennington/100_0792.jpg

-- At my age, an "all--nighter" is not having to get up and pee...!!!

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Rick Dennington

5170 posts in 2654 days


#12 posted 12-12-2009 07:53 AM

sikrap: Forgot to mention…... you can put about any kind of finish you want on the bench. I put on 2 coats of Danish Oil first, let each coat dry good( about 1 hr. each). That’s just to seal the MDF, and then I put on 5 coats of Fast dry poly, but use what you want to. Tung oil, poly, varnish, etc. That’s your choice. If you use d.o., just rub it in good with a rag, and brush on the other finish. Nothing will keep it from getting some scratches, but hey—- that’s what a work bench is for…...... I just try not to abuse mine….........

-- At my age, an "all--nighter" is not having to get up and pee...!!!

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davcefai

37 posts in 2856 days


#13 posted 12-12-2009 09:22 AM

I made my top from 2 sheets of laminated pine board which I then “varnished” with epoxy resin to strengthen the surface. The idea is to, later on, replace the top with a “proper” 3” thick laminated hardwood one, after I either get a jointer or improve my hand plane skills.

I glued the two sheets together with white PVA glue and “clamped” them with screws which I later removed as I was afraid that they might interfere with drilling dogholes. (I drill them when I need them). After a year I have not had any problems with warping. (Humidity here varies between 40 and 98%)

I’d be worried about MDF crumbling under the strain that benchdogs could impose. Just my 2c contribution.

-- David

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