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best wood for surfacing a workbench?

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Forum topic by mzimmers posted 08-27-2010 12:24 AM 4132 views 1 time favorited 20 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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mzimmers

121 posts in 2570 days


08-27-2010 12:24 AM

Hi, all –

My workbench is a solid core door (32” x 80” if memory serves). A few years back, I put some ugly vinyl flooring squares over the top to protect it. It’s time to refresh those. While I was poking around Lowe’s home page, looking at vinyl, it occurred to me that I could use some kind of hardwood flooring instead.

I know little about the relative properties of different woods, though. Can someone suggest something hard and durable that might work for this?

Thanks.

-- M. Zimmers


20 replies so far

View Gregn's profile

Gregn

1642 posts in 1638 days


#1 posted 08-27-2010 12:31 AM

Hardboard works well.

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

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mzimmers

121 posts in 2570 days


#2 posted 08-27-2010 12:49 AM

I thought about MDF, but if I’m going to sacrifice the durability and convenience of vinyl, I think I’d at least like it to look nice. Any ideas in solid wood?

-- M. Zimmers

View jusfine's profile

jusfine

2280 posts in 1580 days


#3 posted 08-27-2010 01:26 AM

I agree with Greg. You could make a hardboard top with a solid wood edge look nice.

Hardboard (masonite) is not MDF, technically, although it is all sawdust, I guess…

-- Randy "You are judged as much by the questions you ask as the answers you give..."

View Paul2274's profile

Paul2274

327 posts in 1767 days


#4 posted 08-27-2010 02:00 AM

I built a workbench and used old 2×4 for a top foundation and then used 3/4 MDF screwed on top of that.. then a sheet of hardboard screwed down on top of that with the screws counter sunk of course and used a router to ease the edge all the way around. This way if the top ever gets damaged to the point where it has to be replaced I only have to spend the money for the hardboard…
kinda like changing a shirt! :)

Paul

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richgreer

4524 posts in 1729 days


#5 posted 08-27-2010 02:12 AM

I know I am bias, but I don’t think anything beats bamboo. In my case, I use bamboo flooring. Bamboo is so tough and it can withstand anything,

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

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mzimmers

121 posts in 2570 days


#6 posted 08-27-2010 02:48 AM

Yeah, bamboo sounds good. Do the flooring planks butt flush, or is there a little V groove between them at the top?

Now I have to find some that are at least 80” long; the ones listed at Lowe’s seem to be 75”.

Thanks for the idea.

-- M. Zimmers

View Howie's profile

Howie

2656 posts in 1577 days


#7 posted 08-27-2010 03:40 AM

Engineered flooring works good. Easy to install,easy to repair or replace.

-- Life is good.

View Sawkerf's profile

Sawkerf

1730 posts in 1723 days


#8 posted 08-27-2010 04:44 AM

I’ve had 3/4” ACX on my workbench/outfeed table for the past five years and – although it will never win any beauty pagents – it’s holding up just fine. I drag a paint scraper over it every year, or so, and slop on a fresh coat of whatever leftover poly I have sitting around.

My benches take too much of a beating to try for the furniture look. – lol

-- Adversity doesn't build character...................it reveals it.

View bandman's profile

bandman

79 posts in 2044 days


#9 posted 08-27-2010 05:22 AM

In solid wood, an american beech, hard maple or an ash top surface could be utilized as a top
and potentiall sides depending on what you would like to have. Pin or Bur oak could also work.

-- Phil

View Moron's profile

Moron

4666 posts in 2548 days


#10 posted 08-27-2010 05:26 AM

I like cork flooring

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View richgreer's profile

richgreer

4524 posts in 1729 days


#11 posted 08-27-2010 04:35 PM

Re bamboo – My bamboo flooring has tongue and groove sides and no special treatment at the end.

I put down 2 layers of MDF, then the bamboo on top of that. I also ran 8/4 oak around the perimeter. It’s VERY heavy, which is what you want . You can see it in my workshop pictures.

It’s not as clean as in the picture any more. It’s been used a lot. It’s is VERY rugged.

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

View mnguy's profile

mnguy

161 posts in 2052 days


#12 posted 08-27-2010 05:08 PM

Pretty much all prefinished flooring has a vgroove on the edge, which would drive me nuts on a bench top.

I second the hardboard with a hardwood edging. Easy on cutting tools, cheap and easy to replace. A coat of linseed oil will help prevent glue sticking, water absorption, etc. I tacked mine down with brass screws, set flush, over a solid core door.

View mzimmers's profile

mzimmers

121 posts in 2570 days


#13 posted 08-27-2010 05:36 PM

So, where would I get a hardboard panel to screw to my existing workbench? Everything I see on Home Despot and Lowe’s is in completed doors.

Home Despot does have this:

MDF with vinyl

Though I wonder about the durability, the price is right, and installation would be pretty easy. Thoughts?

-- M. Zimmers

View brtech's profile

brtech

673 posts in 1577 days


#14 posted 08-30-2010 05:33 PM

HD has hardboard. It’s in the plywood/MDF/particle board aisle. Look for pegboard (same stuff, but with holes); it will be right next to it.

View rance's profile

rance

4132 posts in 1815 days


#15 posted 08-30-2010 05:49 PM

Whatever is 1) Local, 2) Inexpensive, 3) Hard. Google for Chris Schwarz Workbench. He wrote the book on traditional workbenches. For newer ones, the design is different, but the material qualifications are the same.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

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