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Forum topic by mlindegarde posted 1533 days ago 2178 views 1 time favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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49 posts in 1668 days

1533 days ago

I’m going to be starting on a workbench soon and I’m just wondering what type of two-by stock I should use. The bench I’m going to build can be found here.

The plans mention that the lumber can be purchased at any “local home center”. I checked Home Depot and Lowes and all I could find in the 2’‘x8’‘x96’’ range was “whitewood”. From reading the forums it seems that “whitewood” could be just about anything that’s cheap. So the question is, is “whitewood” okay to use for a workbench or should I seek out a better source for the lumber and get a specific type of wood?

10 replies so far

View PurpLev's profile


8476 posts in 2246 days

#1 posted 1533 days ago

I assume this is for the legs. in which case pretty much any lumber would suffice. Another thought is that you could get 2”x12” FIR/SYP from HD which are stronger and rip it down to width (those also have less knots).

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

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5378 posts in 1829 days

#2 posted 1533 days ago

I didn’t look all that closely, but it looks like just 2×4s and 2×6s for the framing…

What your Home Depot carries will vary from region to region. The dimensional lumber they sell down here is Southern Yellow Pine, which is desireable for a workbench, actually it is pretty desireable for a range of projects. However… This stuff as HD sells it is still pretty much dripping wet (not literally, but go with it okay?), as it dries out the odds are pretty good you will get some twist. They USED to sell this stuff kiln dried… If you can find it, get kiln dried stuff. I want to build a new workbench myself as I am not happy with the materials I picked for mine. I am planning on grabbing a stack of SYP 2x stock and stickering it in my shop to try to avoid warpage, and let it air dry…

-- My workshop blog can be found at

View live4ever's profile


982 posts in 1607 days

#3 posted 1533 days ago

I laminated kiln-dried whitewood 2×4s from HD for my bench (for legs, crossbars, and rails). I think they were a buck something each. It was totally ok. Just take the time to pick through the stack for straight ones as there’s a considerable amount of variation.

-- Optimists are usually disappointed. Pessimists are either right or pleasantly surprised. I tend to be a disappointed pessimist.

View Rileysdad's profile


110 posts in 1876 days

#4 posted 1532 days ago

I’ve been doing a little research on workbenches and found Chris Schwarz book really informative. Here’s the link on

He likes Southern Yellow Pine for both the top and the base. He advises using 2×10s and 2×12 all 12’ long. As for the water content, he uses this to his advantage. Make the top and legs from the wettest stock (these are the pieces with the mortises) and the stretchers from the dry boards (these have the tenons.) The mortises shrink around the tenons.

Keep in mind his plan is for a Roubo style bench.

Good luck with you bench. I look forward to seeing it completed.

-- Measure twice, cut once, buy extra stock.

View Sean's profile


156 posts in 2212 days

#5 posted 1532 days ago

I used whitewood for my benchtop. pick out straight boards, joint, rip, and glue em up fast. hasnt warped or twisted to any noticeable degree yet, been 3 years. dings up quite a bit easier tho.

-- "Democracy is by far the worst system of government. Except all the others that have been tried." ~ Winston Churchill

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45 posts in 1555 days

#6 posted 1532 days ago

Keep in mind that when it comes to construction lumber, even the kiln-dried stuff is pretty wet. I recently made a small workbench tabletop from kiln-dried 2×3’s, and within hours of when I cut them to length, cracks formed on the ends. The same thing happened with a 2×12 I used—I could hear the cracking about 3 hours after cutting. After that, I put some paste wax on the ends, and that seemed to reduce the cracking problem a lot (because it slows the rate of moisture loss), but the tabletop still warped noticeably. In his workbench book, Chris Schwarz recommends letting the lumber sit for a few weeks to dry out, and for good reason!

View Brandon Hintz's profile

Brandon Hintz

53 posts in 1606 days

#7 posted 1532 days ago

I think if possible you’d be better served finding a local lumber yard with douglas fir or hem fir, I made the mistake of using the “kiln dried” lumber from the Orange Box. I ripped the rounded over edges off and glued them into one big butcher block, then screwed down the whole unit on the cabinets in my trailer, now the wood has shrunk enough in the last 2 yrs that there are almost 1/4” gaps between some of the boards. So my recommendation would be go to a real lumber yard and then you hve a better chance of the lumber being dried to the proper moisture content

-- Potential is limited only by imagination

View richgreer's profile


4522 posts in 1672 days

#8 posted 1531 days ago

I think you are more interested in the frame than the top. Despite that, I am going to give you what I think is the very best option for the top – - bamboo. That stuff is so tough. It makes a great work bench top.

FYi – I may have the only workbench in the country with a bamboo top. You can see a picture when you loook at my workshop.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View mlindegarde's profile


49 posts in 1668 days

#9 posted 1529 days ago

Thanks everyone for the feedback. I’m not exactly sure what I’m going to do at this point, but at least now I have some ideas.

View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 1581 days

#10 posted 1528 days ago

The ideal for this bench is to be built with what is commonly available to the consumer. Much the same principle of the Shakers. Being the top is made from MDF and hardboard you could use the cheaper white wood sold. Myself I would use the yellow pine as it is a lot harder and heavier. The design of this bench is straight forward joinery and with the MDF panels in the frame to help stabilize the frame. Moisture shouldn’t be to much of a difference after few weeks acclamation time in the shop. I built the frame for my workbench (different design) from yellow pine and have had no problems.

-- I don't make mistakes, I have great learning lessons, Greg

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