Bench Design: Laminate Top or Slab

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Forum topic by Seth posted 07-27-2010 06:53 PM 2494 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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5 posts in 3100 days

07-27-2010 06:53 PM

Topic tags/keywords: workbench bench-top question ash hickory

I recently had an Ash fall on my property, about 30 inches in diameter and exceeding 100 feet tall, as well as a 70 foot hickory that’s 19 inches in diameter. There’s no way I can use/give away that much firewood, so I just purchased a Lumber Maker and plan on trying to saw out some usable boards and drying them out.

I’m planning on building a workbench in the near future and I’ve heard both hickory and ash are good bench materials due to their strength. So my question is, should I build my bench top out of a solid slab or laminated strips? What are the advantages/disadvantages of each?

6 replies so far

View Mark Shymanski's profile

Mark Shymanski

5623 posts in 3952 days

#1 posted 12-13-2010 06:47 AM

As this is a almost 5 month old post, you not only have probably solved your dilemma but your ash is probably stickered and well on its way to being dry enough to use LOL! I would think that a laminated top would be better for a bench top but it is more of a gut reaction as opposed to a reasoned thought… I suppose if the slab was thick enough it would not split or warp …I don’t know I think a lamination would be better. What did you eventually wind up deciding to do?

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

View Seth's profile


5 posts in 3100 days

#2 posted 12-13-2010 03:49 PM

Actually I’ve been working on clearing the collateral damage around the tree for the past 5 months. I’ve already cut up about 6 cords of wood (including the hickory) and am just now getting to the branches of the ash. It’s been a full year since it fell now, and oddly enough it’s still growing. It produced seeds in the spring and had leaves till mid October.

Like you suggested, I’m thinking that laminating might be the way to go. Smaller strips would also be a lot easier to handle than one gigantic slab.

Thanks for responding to my ghost thread!

View Anthony Finelli's profile

Anthony Finelli

52 posts in 3020 days

#3 posted 12-16-2010 09:01 PM

Hey seth, sounds like you having a whole lot of fun with those trees, I wish they came down in my yard! I deal with slabs quite a bit and a slab might be the way to go. It is going to be much easier to dry and assemble than laminating boards together. You are going to want to make sure you use some sort of sealent for the ends of the slab, anchor seal works well, it will prevent cracks and splits in the ends. warping shouldnt be a big problem as long as you cut the slab at least 3” thick but the slab is going to way a ton (a downside). If you laminate the wood, you are going to have a ton of prep to ensure the boards are square and planned correctly, a slab just needs to be attached to a frame. finally, you are going to want to make sure the slab is dry or you will run into spliting issues later. Best of luck, let us know how it comes out!

-- Salem, New York "Find something you love to do and you will never have to work another day of your life"

View therookie's profile


887 posts in 3067 days

#4 posted 12-17-2010 03:26 PM

Laminated top is the way that I would go because you wont have as much movement.


View HorizontalMike's profile


7770 posts in 3154 days

#5 posted 12-17-2010 03:49 PM

Having just laminated up my 3”x12”x8’ ASH workbench halves (21st Century WB) I will admit that it was indeed some work, but like others have said laminates are more stable than a slab. Anyway, it will be a few years before you will have to deal with this as it will take that long for the 8/4 or 12/4 boards to cure properly. By that time, I am sure you will have decided how you will want to tackle the project. If you are “in need” of a workbench, you will probably build one long before this wood will be ready, IMO.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 3211 days

#6 posted 12-18-2010 07:48 AM

Did you cut up all that hickory into firewood?
I think I would rather have a bench made from hickory than ash.
They are both very good woods and tend to stay straight pretty well.
My problem with ash is every time I work with it I get splinters in my hands.
It, or at least all ash I have ever worked with, just seems to grow little fine splinters.
A slab is going to take a long time to air dry. I made a bench out of 3” thick by 15” wide, green poplar boards when I didn’t know any better. That sucker shrunk for at least 3 or 4 years.

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