End grain workbench.

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Forum topic by Matt posted 03-03-2010 01:21 AM 4954 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Matt 's profile


212 posts in 3744 days

03-03-2010 01:21 AM

Well I got to thinking since everyone makes end grain cutting boards. Why not make an end grain work bench? Just the top half rather.

I would like to give it a try out of some fir. Are there any cons with this however? My biggest concerns are, one, the ends could split with a chisel slip, but wrapping it with 4/4 oak should solve that (I hope) and two will they be strong enough to take a beating with an mallet without separating. I was thinking of putting 3/4 ply and or a frame under the bench top.

What are your opinions?

-- Hold on! Let me get the board stretcher!

13 replies so far

View bigike's profile


4052 posts in 3283 days

#1 posted 03-03-2010 01:45 AM

it would be harder to flatten unless u sand sand sand and then sand some more!

-- Ike, Big Daddies Woodshop,

View patron's profile


13603 posts in 3335 days

#2 posted 03-03-2010 01:48 AM

they would have to be pretty long ( high ) ,
i should think to have their own structural integrity .
the ply would maybe flex under them ,
and cause them to crack .

just my opinion .

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View RedShirt013's profile


219 posts in 3656 days

#3 posted 03-03-2010 02:05 AM

A lot of fir (douglas fir) I see nowadays have rather large growth rings, unless you got old growth Dfir. The ring of wood growth (winter wood?) is quite hard, but the ring of “spring wood” is very soft, and I can dig into them easily at the endgrain with a boxcutter. Perhaps you can try a small piece first and see if fir is a suitably tough material for a workbench top.

-- Ed

View Ole's profile


67 posts in 3071 days

#4 posted 03-03-2010 02:17 AM

I’ve though about doing something like that too. I discarded the idea because I didn’t think it would be stiff enough since the fibers are perpendicular to most any stress you would exert on the top. I think you could do it if you added stretchers under the top to give it more support. That just seems to be defeating the purpose of having a thick top in the fist place, though. Also like bigike said, it’ll be a pain to flatten.
I’m sure you could do it, it’d just be a little complicated.

View SNSpencer's profile


133 posts in 3107 days

#5 posted 03-03-2010 02:42 AM

I think that wood movement would be an issue as well if you have the bottom”covered” with plywood. This could stop the even (top and bottom) absorption and evaporation of moisture causing it to bow.

-- Jef Spencer - Refined Pallet -

View Matt 's profile


212 posts in 3744 days

#6 posted 03-03-2010 02:43 AM

Thanks for the quick responses. I was worried about flatting it also. I can use my joiner plane to rough it up and finish it off with a belt sander but its a very very long process. RedShirt013 I just finished a test piece 12×12. I used plain ol 2×12s from the Home Depot, the rings on them are pretty tight and its pretty hard but its still new growth stock.
Ole- That was another concern I had but I could just add an skirt to the top or make false drawers.

I’m trying to build a new workbench pretty much, (my old one out of 2×4s is just plain beat to hell) for the lowest cost possible but still hold a real strong surface.

-- Hold on! Let me get the board stretcher!

View JasonWagner's profile


527 posts in 3174 days

#7 posted 03-03-2010 02:52 AM

Why not just put a little more money and a lot less effort and get some harder wood for a traditional top? I think the end grain is a really cool idea, but obviously there are some things that make it not very practical. Or how about a multi-layerd MDF top with a replaceable hardboard insert? It’s a really popular style and can be freshened up with new hardboard later. Make sure to get at least 1/4” thick.

-- some day I hope to have enough clamps to need a clamp cart!

View jlsmith5963's profile


297 posts in 3342 days

#8 posted 03-03-2010 06:56 PM


Sounds like you are pretty determined to make an end grain top for your bench. I hope it works out for you the way you want.

But, as several of the posts have already pointed out there is a clear deficiency in using end grain instead of long grain for a bench top (a bench top is not a cutting board). When comparing end grain to long grain as a bench top I can’t think of a single issue where end grain would give superior performance.

When comparing end grain and long grain bench tops:

End grain will be more difficult and time consuming to make.
End grain will take more effort and be more challenging to flatten (and re-flatten).
End grain will be weaker in resisting deflection.

-- criticism: the art of analyzing and evaluating the quality of an artistic work...

View PurpLev's profile


8535 posts in 3643 days

#9 posted 03-03-2010 07:21 PM

not regarding the prolonged process and harder work it’ll be to actually build it as opposed to long grain. just considering the the fact (that was already mentioned) that the bench is not a cutting board, and is not designed to accommodate a clean cut through of a piece you’re working on. it is design to stand up to pounding abuse from joinery and milling work. in which case the long grain will be a better fit for a workbench.

there’s gotta be a reason why all the workbenches you see around don’t use endgrain for the tops…

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

View Matt 's profile


212 posts in 3744 days

#10 posted 03-03-2010 07:29 PM

Alright alright, you guys changed my mind. :p

-- Hold on! Let me get the board stretcher!

View Eli's profile


141 posts in 3001 days

#11 posted 03-03-2010 07:31 PM

As if there weren’t enough reasons, you can’t put a frame around an end grain top. Well, you can, but it doesn’t like it. The top acts like a really thick and wide board, so its seasonal movement is pretty big.


View davidpettinger's profile


661 posts in 3195 days

#12 posted 03-04-2010 01:01 AM

If you are willing to take some time, go to one of your local recycling yards that specialize in recycling building materials. See if they have any old bowling alley lanes. From time to time here in my area, one comes into the yard. Made out of rock maple, have them cut a 6’ piece and all you have to do is sand it and attach it to your trestle. They generally run about half the cost of what new material would be alone. Some are bolted and glued while others are just bolted. (About every 24”). They use threaded rods, nuts and washers. I left mine at my old house when we moved cause I did not have room for it where I am now.
Once you sand it down, no one will ever know where it came from unless you tell them.

-- Methods are many,Principles are few.Methods change often,Principles never do.

View Matt 's profile


212 posts in 3744 days

#13 posted 03-04-2010 05:18 AM

I never thought of that UnionLabel, I’ll have to check that out!

-- Hold on! Let me get the board stretcher!

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