What makes a wood suitable for a workbench top?

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Forum topic by DebraB posted 03-28-2010 06:00 AM 1847 views 0 times favorited 2 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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7 posts in 3228 days

03-28-2010 06:00 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question workbench

I have been researching workbenches – plans materials etc. – and while I can’t really afford what I want right now, I have become confused about something.

Is Ash a suitable wood for a workbench top? Maple seems to be the standard, but it is only a little harder than ash. (Ash is just below white oak, in most hardness ratings I can find.)


But the big difference is price. A local supplier has 4/4 ash for $2.80 per board foot, while hard maple is $6.25 per board foot. Larger pieces are closer in price, so maybe it isn’t as much of a problem as I think it might be.

But then why choose maple? It isn’t near the top of the hardness scale? Brazilian Cherry is almost twice as hard as hard maple. (Don’t know the cost…) And ipe is harder still (though it is difficult to machine).

So why use one and not another? When should you avoid a certain wood?

2 replies so far

View John Ormsby's profile

John Ormsby

1288 posts in 3970 days

#1 posted 03-28-2010 06:23 AM

You might try to find red beech in your area. It is a very standard bench material and is easy to work and holds up really well. It is usually much less than maple.

-- Oldworld, Fair Oaks, Ca

View PurpLev's profile


8548 posts in 3882 days

#2 posted 03-28-2010 07:13 AM

as you mentioned (pricing) – it really boils down to the lumber that is available and affordable in your area more than anything else. not sure why people are so hung on Maple when they live in an area where Maple is not local and prices are much higher.

yes, Ash would be just fine, same as Oak, Beech, SYP, FIR, and anything else that can take a beating, and will not break the bank.

FYI. my bench is made of maple, and although maple is local where I live – I used recycled lumber (check out my projects page) – which is another way to reduce costs. just an idea.

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

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