Workbench Top choices

  • Advertise with us

« back to Designing Woodworking Projects forum

Forum topic by TheRedlines posted 11-28-2016 11:23 PM 825 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View TheRedlines's profile


3 posts in 721 days

11-28-2016 11:23 PM

I am looking to build a woodworking bench from local Doug Fir. I have seen plenty of examples of Glue-ups and am wondering if there is a good reason not to simply use an 8×12 beam . Is there a good reason not to go that route?

10 replies so far

View bobasaurus's profile


3539 posts in 3360 days

#1 posted 11-29-2016 12:10 AM

A wide beam like that is likely to warp, crack, and otherwise be pretty unstable on its own. By gluing up a laminated top with alternating grain directions, you’ll end up with a much more stable top.

-- Allen, Colorado (Instagram @bobasaurus_woodworking)

View fuigb's profile


515 posts in 3133 days

#2 posted 11-29-2016 12:32 AM

If you have no tools at all then use the planks as you’ve described, i.e. do the best that you can with what you have. But if you have access to a table saw as well as a means to joint and plane then go with the laminated technique for reasons cited by Bob. No shame in going primitive if that’s the only alternative, but if you do in time you’ll come to understand why our ancestors decided that primitive needed upgrades.

-- - Crud. Go tell your mother that I need a Band-aid.

View John's profile


245 posts in 1757 days

#3 posted 11-29-2016 12:54 AM

It’s more work to laminate the top, but worth it in my opinion. An added benefit iso you can by wood right of the rack and, with some planning, almost completely avoiding knots. This makes for a nicer looking top as well as making it easier to flatten.
Better off with a laminated top imo

-- I measured once, cut twice, and its still too short...

View bondogaposis's profile


5055 posts in 2527 days

#4 posted 11-29-2016 03:28 AM

Eight inches would be awful damn thick for a work bench, 3-4 inches thick is pretty standard. Anything thicker makes working with dogs and holdfasts not practical unless you get special ones. Other than the thickness factor there is no reason a big slab couldn’t be used as a workbench. Just be aware that checks and cracks will likely develop and you might have to flatten the top more than once over time as the wood settles into equilibrium with your shop.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View TheRedlines's profile


3 posts in 721 days

#5 posted 11-29-2016 08:59 AM

Thanks to all of you for the enlightenment. Up till now all of my benches have been simple 2×4 frames with plywood tops and a large iron bench vise. I now find myself in a unique situation, starting over from scratch and want to create a bench with the sole purpose of working wood. I certainly don’t mind laminating the top as I’m doing this for the peace of working with my hands. John, that is a beautiful, near exact example of what’s in my head. I’m only looking to add an end vise and dogs. I suppose I will start planning accordingly. Thanks everyone!

View John's profile


245 posts in 1757 days

#6 posted 11-29-2016 10:48 PM

Thanks. That picture was taken right after I oiled it up. I don’t have a end vise, but it does have dog/hold fast holes and a lower shelf now. Also a drawer with a sliding till

Hope this inspires.

-- I measured once, cut twice, and its still too short...

View galooticus's profile


50 posts in 1077 days

#7 posted 11-30-2016 12:19 AM

Redlines, check out the workbench smackdown thread if you haven’t found it already:

Huge thread, but tons of information and similar experiences there.

-- Andy in CA

View rwe2156's profile


3134 posts in 1656 days

#8 posted 11-30-2016 02:30 PM

Yes, you can build a benchtop using thick slabs…...but there’s a “but”.

Mine is made from 3×8” hard maple beams splined and glued together and capped with aprons and splines. The main section behind the dog hole apron is about 18” wide.

I don’t think warping and cupping will be a problem so long as the wood is dry and acclimated. Be aware that it can take 3-4 years for a 4” thick slab to acclimate fully. No big deal, once every 6 months or so you just do a little reflattening session with a hand plane.

My advice is have that beam resawn 4” and bookmatch them. It will look very nice.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3824 days

#9 posted 11-30-2016 03:57 PM

+1 on the splines.

I had an antique bench from Holland and
it had substantial skirts but the main work
area was two flatsawn boards held flat by
splines in the end caps. It was still pretty
flat after near 100 years.

View TheRedlines's profile


3 posts in 721 days

#10 posted 11-30-2016 06:05 PM

You guys are killing me! John, that sure is inspirational! It’s taking all I can muster to not dig into the Christmas funds and get started. galooticus, I’ve been busy perusing the smackdown thread as well as I work it all out in my head. RWE, that is a gorgeous bench and man ol’ man do I wish that I had the space for a shoulder vise! Terrific!

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics