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Forum topic by mlindegarde posted 05-13-2010 08:02 PM 5361 views 1 time favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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49 posts in 3066 days

05-13-2010 08:02 PM

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

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8535 posts in 3643 days

#1 posted 05-13-2010 08:07 PM

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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5708 posts in 3227 days

#2 posted 05-13-2010 08:31 PM

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…

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983 posts in 3005 days

#3 posted 05-13-2010 08:48 PM

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.

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110 posts in 3273 days

#4 posted 05-13-2010 11:35 PM

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.

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156 posts in 3610 days

#5 posted 05-13-2010 11:57 PM

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 2953 days

#6 posted 05-14-2010 12:57 AM

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!

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Brandon Hintz

53 posts in 3003 days

#7 posted 05-14-2010 02:40 AM

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

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4541 posts in 3069 days

#8 posted 05-15-2010 04:00 AM

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.

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49 posts in 3066 days

#9 posted 05-17-2010 03:17 PM

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.

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1642 posts in 2978 days

#10 posted 05-18-2010 06:53 PM

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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