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Best Finish for Bench

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Forum topic by John Ruggles posted 2466 days ago 1753 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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John Ruggles

35 posts in 2474 days


2466 days ago

Topic tags/keywords: all purpose bench finish

Hey Everyone, I’ve gotten my workbench finished and would like to know what you think the best finish would be for all purposes. Because of the lack of space, this will not be a woodworking dedicated bench. It is made from dimensional 2”x6” pine lumber, edge glued and made stronger by using 1/2’ dowels. While it is still clean, I would like to get a finish on it; what do ya’ll think. Thanks for all your input.

-- JCRug, Prairieville, Louisiana


15 replies so far

View Dekker's profile

Dekker

147 posts in 2486 days


#1 posted 2466 days ago

From the folks at Rockler, here is their Q&A about finishes on workbenches

Just remember that over the years, it WILL get beat up, chipped, dinged, knocked by dropped hammers, and used for many unforseen purposes. Putting a spit-gloss finish seems like a waste, since it would only serve to deter you from actually using your workbench out of fear of damaging the finish!

-- Dekker - http://www.WoodworkDetails.com/

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4435 posts in 2568 days


#2 posted 2466 days ago

I used 1/3 BLO, 1/3 turpentine, 1/3 spar varnish(not urethane). On the second coat use less turpentine. This takes a while to dry. I never got past the second coat, I had to get back to work.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View John Ruggles's profile

John Ruggles

35 posts in 2474 days


#3 posted 2466 days ago

Thanks guys, but I have to ask, what is BLO?, Thos. Angle.

-- JCRug, Prairieville, Louisiana

View Mark Mazzo's profile

Mark Mazzo

352 posts in 2518 days


#4 posted 2466 days ago

BLO = Boiled Linseed Oil.

Thomas’ finish sounds like a good one. I would suggest anything that is easilly renewable and does not form a possibly brittle film on the bench (like Poly) because that will tend to fracture and chip and then not be easily renewable. I went with a few coats of thinned BLO for my bench. Come to think of it, it probably deserves to be rewnewed!

-- Mark, Webster New York, Visit my website at http://thecraftsmanspath.com

View jpw1995's profile

jpw1995

373 posts in 2904 days


#5 posted 2466 days ago

One of the magazines just had a write-up about workbench finishes. I’ll try to track it down for you.

-- JP, Shelbyville, KY

View John Ruggles's profile

John Ruggles

35 posts in 2474 days


#6 posted 2466 days ago

Great! Let me ask what ya’ll think about tung oil. I see this finish used a lot on the TV show Woodworks. Thanks for the input.

-- JCRug, Prairieville, Louisiana

View Mark Mazzo's profile

Mark Mazzo

352 posts in 2518 days


#7 posted 2465 days ago

John,

Tung Oil is just fine rather than BLO. It is just a bit less amber in color and the smell is a little bit less strong. However, it will work fine…some might say that it will actually build a bit better than BLO.

One thing though, the finish that David Marks uses on Woodworks is not actually Tung Oil. He uses General Finishes Seal-A-Cell as a sealer and Arm-R-Seal as a top coat. There is some info on this on his web site. I’m not sure why they always label the finish on the show as “Tung Oil”.

-- Mark, Webster New York, Visit my website at http://thecraftsmanspath.com

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John Ruggles

35 posts in 2474 days


#8 posted 2465 days ago

Hey Mark, Thanks for the info. I watch the show a lot and have always just heard him say “tung oil”, so I appreciate the update.

-- JCRug, Prairieville, Louisiana

View CharlesNeil's profile

CharlesNeil

1117 posts in 2476 days


#9 posted 2465 days ago

seal a cell and arm r seal,Ive been working extensively with the general finish stuff for a while now ,and the combo above is hard to beat,it just is ,benches or furniture it works, and while not going to give a chemistry lesson here,its because they have resins and driers (not lead) that make them dry well and seal well,Just my 2 cents

View John Ruggles's profile

John Ruggles

35 posts in 2474 days


#10 posted 2464 days ago

Thanks CharlesNeil! I appreciate the info.

-- JCRug, Prairieville, Louisiana

View Tim Burk's profile

Tim Burk

2 posts in 2460 days


#11 posted 2460 days ago

I’m building a new workbench with (2) sheets of 3/4” MDF (glued together) for the top. Having not used MDF very much, what type of surface finish should I put on the MDF

-- tburk5

View SPalm's profile

SPalm

4761 posts in 2487 days


#12 posted 2460 days ago

Tim Burk,

MDF will not wear well no matter what you finish it with. I would suggest that you seal it and then lay down a sheet of 1/8 inch hardboard on top of it. Then replace that when needed. Maybe edge band with pine as the MDF will chip and rub on your clothes.

Make sure that you support that sandwich of MDF with extra bracing. It will sag even at 1 1/2 inches thick; it is so heavy that it has trouble supporting its own weight. It will make a fine bench top although.

Steve

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View Tim Burk's profile

Tim Burk

2 posts in 2460 days


#13 posted 2460 days ago

Thanks, Steve

-- tburk5

View Dadoo's profile

Dadoo

1763 posts in 2596 days


#14 posted 2460 days ago

Tim, Save your money and go with something other than MDF. Like Steve said, MDF will sag, flake off, not support any vises for long and will swell when you spill your coffee on it. It seems to be OK for kitchen countertops (go figure) but just won’t take any abuse at all. I dunno, maybe if you only use your wifes toolkit you’ll be OK. LOL!

I built mine out of two sheets of plywood back to back to make a 1 1/2” thick top. Most of the guys here seem to favor hardwoods, some like John Ruggles went with pine 2×6’s or face glue a stack of 2×4’s.

John, I finished mine with several coats of Polyurethane. I honestly beat the hell outta mine at times and the only thing that has affected the finish was a saw blade that was set too deep for the cut! That’s OK…Battle scars give it character! Anyhow, when it really gets picked I can just unscrew it and flip it over to a new side! Here’s a hint though…Allow enough overhang so that you can clamp something down.

-- Bob Vila would be so proud of you!

View TomFran's profile

TomFran

2940 posts in 2600 days


#15 posted 2459 days ago

When I built my bench, I was advised to use Watco Teak Oil. It seems to work well and is easily renewable. As it gets scratched and dented occasionally, I just apply a light coat of the teak oil and wipe it off.

Also, once the finish hardens, I have found it good to treat it with a coat of wax. This makes it so that glue will not stick to it. Hope that helps.

-- Tom, Surfside Beach, SC - Romans 8:28

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