Kicking around the idea of a new workbench top.

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Forum topic by newbiewoodworker posted 01-04-2011 01:00 AM 4721 views 0 times favorited 23 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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668 posts in 2852 days

01-04-2011 01:00 AM

I am tired of working on canvas! My workbench has all welding burns on it, so I covered it with a canvas sheet… it works okay.. but it gets dusty quick… and not to mention its never 100% flat.

So I am kicking around the idea of redoing the table top. Now the question is: Is particleboard or (OSB) acceptable? I might do a couple layers of cheap stuff..because its that.. then a layer of say Hardboard.

I do need to reconfigure the bench. I will have to put more supports in, since it was originally “decked” with 2×6… but that was a PITA… not to mention its not completely flat across…

So I know I want to go with a sheet good… but I will probably reuse the goodside of that lumber for a mitre saw bench…

I might also shorten up the bench… its maybe too atleast for my 13×24 shop, an 8×4 bench takes up alot of room…

-- "Ah, So your not really a newbie, but a I betterbie."

23 replies so far

View Tomoose's profile


422 posts in 3399 days

#1 posted 01-04-2011 01:39 AM

My workbench top is made from 3/4 inch MDF laminated onto 3/4 inch birch ply, trimmed with maple edges – it was fairly cheap and is really solid. I put a ton of Danish oil on the MDF and it has a nice smooth surface and repels glue real well. Probably wouldn’t weld on it, though. If you want to see mine, look here:

good luck with the new top.

-- “I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.” Pablo Picasso

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3100 days

#2 posted 01-04-2011 02:57 AM

Of the various manufactured woods, MDF will give you the best smoothness and flatness. It’s also very heavy (which is a good thing).

In my case, I used 2 layers of MDF and topped it with bamboo. Bamboo is not usually considered for workbenches but it is super strong and it holds up very well. I also ran 8/4 oak around the perimeter. You can see it in my projects folder here

Note – it is not that clean anymore.

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

View newbiewoodworker's profile


668 posts in 2852 days

#3 posted 01-04-2011 03:36 AM

But MDF is also a bit expensive to be putting together 3 or so sheets of…lol

-- "Ah, So your not really a newbie, but a I betterbie."

View agallant's profile


551 posts in 2912 days

#4 posted 01-04-2011 04:59 PM

I made mine out of about 12 2X4 glued and screwed togheather. I can abuse the thing like no ones business.

View Pdub's profile


924 posts in 3205 days

#5 posted 01-04-2011 05:15 PM

I am planning on building this workbench in the near future. Here is the link

It looks like it will be sturdy.

-- Paul, North Dakota, USAF Ret.

View dbray45's profile


3320 posts in 2802 days

#6 posted 01-04-2011 05:19 PM

My workbenck top is 2 layers of 3/4” plywood with a 1/8” hardboard top. The top is screwed down on the corners so when it gets messed up, it is inexpensive to replace. I triple up a canvas drop cloth to keep on the table saw.

-- David in Damascus, MD

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3184 days

#7 posted 01-04-2011 05:35 PM

My father built workbenches with single sheet tops of 3/4” plywood. 30+ years later, they still perform the function for which they were designed.

While its fashionable to have laminated hardwood tops or torsion-box tops to retain flatness over time, you have to ask yourself if a perfect, referencing flat-top is truly needed…especially if you have a separate assembly table or table saw top that serves that function anyway.

Even so, a layer or two of mdf or 3/4” plywood would certainly do what you want, and you could still equip it with the necessary vises and heft for handplaning or whatever else you need. I would avoid OSB or particleboard, however.

I do love the idea of a thin hardboard top, David. As I design my own workbench, I just might have to incorporate that idea.

-- jay,

View newbiewoodworker's profile


668 posts in 2852 days

#8 posted 01-04-2011 09:42 PM

May I ask why to avoid OSB/Particleboard?

-- "Ah, So your not really a newbie, but a I betterbie."

View Eric_S's profile


1565 posts in 3221 days

#9 posted 01-04-2011 09:56 PM

Mine is two layers of 3/4” ply with a top of 1/4” hardboard. You can see at my workshop pics

-- - Eric Noblesville, IN

View Chris Wright's profile

Chris Wright

540 posts in 3506 days

#10 posted 01-04-2011 10:15 PM

I wouldn’t use OSB as the top because it’s not very smooth. If you were going to cover it with something like MDF or Masonite (hardboard), then it’s a decent base. I’d avoid particle board all together because it’s not very strong (think IKEA). I helped a guy make a bench and he use two layers of 3/4 inch MDF, it was nice and solid with a smooth surface. Now, if you’re not thinking of completely replacing your existing top, you could just cover it with a piece of MDF or Masonite as an alternative.

-- "At its best, life is completely unpredictable." - Christopher Walken

View newbiewoodworker's profile


668 posts in 2852 days

#11 posted 01-04-2011 11:07 PM

I am going to top it with a piece of masonite/hardboard… OSB is stinks… but so does spending more money than needed…

Besides, I just took off most of the top, and yuck.. everything you can imagine in the grooves..from machine oil to metal dust to BLO that never dried…

-- "Ah, So your not really a newbie, but a I betterbie."

View jim C's profile

jim C

1472 posts in 3124 days

#12 posted 01-04-2011 11:20 PM

I made one with a solid core door top (about$30.00) I love it.

View cabmaker's profile


1735 posts in 2834 days

#13 posted 01-04-2011 11:52 PM

Newbie, sounds to me like you already knew what you wer going to do. You have received some good advice to no avail. For a top that requires little money and minimum space invasion but yet very tough I vote for the solid core door. Next would be two layers of mdf. OSB would not even be in the running for obvious reasons. Why not just go ahead and spend 150-200 on syp and get it over with?

View newbiewoodworker's profile


668 posts in 2852 days

#14 posted 01-05-2011 01:05 AM

Cabmaker… that idea WILL NOT work.. Unless you can personally find me a 6×4 door.. or a 4×8 door.. then please do not comment on that idea.

Im not going to spend 200 on a top…

And OSB isnt in the running, for WHAT reasons? I don’t believe the tone of your reply is needed. S

-- "Ah, So your not really a newbie, but a I betterbie."

View jim C's profile

jim C

1472 posts in 3124 days

#15 posted 01-05-2011 01:29 AM

You need to join the poopiekat blocking club. This thread gave you good ideas on a top and you came up with B.S. alternatives.
Make whatever you want but don’t get in anyone’s face for telling you you’re alternatives are bogus.

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