Workbench question- Is Poplar a good choice?

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Forum topic by Chelios posted 01-30-2011 05:43 PM 3348 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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568 posts in 3091 days

01-30-2011 05:43 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

Quick question- Is 12/4 poplar a good choice for the trestle base of a workbench? The top is going to be hard maple and probably weigh more than 200 lb.


8 replies so far

View Loren's profile


10476 posts in 3673 days

#1 posted 01-30-2011 09:24 PM

Yes. It’s fine. Spacing of the ends of the trestles is more important
to bench stability than the weight of them. In a very light bench
this might not be true. The wider the stance of the bench, the more
stable it will be under when you work with hand planes. Your top is
plenty heavy enough that the bench should never lift up if the legs are
near the ends.

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

10532 posts in 3453 days

#2 posted 01-30-2011 09:30 PM

Just out of curiosity, what are the dimensions of your top?

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View reggiek's profile


2240 posts in 3295 days

#3 posted 01-30-2011 09:42 PM

Poplar has the density of approximately 23 lb/ft. To compare with others like pine at 22 and Walnut at around 40. That considered…I would say that it would not be the best pick.

Poplar does have a much closer grain then pine though and the wood fibers are more robust along the grain and across it (laterally). The density numbers are much more important if your stresses are lateral rather then vertical. With vertical stresses on what you have indicated….I don’t think you will have a problem with the legs holding and for stability – just be careful to make sure you don’t make your stretchers too long or too thin.

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

View Chelios's profile


568 posts in 3091 days

#4 posted 01-31-2011 03:41 AM

Thanks for pointers and good information. The top will 3’ wide x 7’ long x 3” thick

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 2996 days

#5 posted 01-31-2011 08:34 AM

That sounds like a very wide top. But, I don’t know what you will be using it for; may be needed for some types of assembly work. I built my bench 25” wide for using hand tools, and would not want it any wider at all.

View roninkokomo's profile


14 posts in 2697 days

#6 posted 01-31-2011 08:52 PM

Depends on what kind of work you do…......but for most woodworking the 12/4 poplar should be fine for that application.


-- roninkokomo

View Mike Gager's profile

Mike Gager

665 posts in 3292 days

#7 posted 01-31-2011 09:51 PM

i used doubled up pine 2×4s for my bench legs and they are fine im sure poplar would be fine as well

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3099 days

#8 posted 02-01-2011 02:22 AM

I don’t think it matters very much what you use for a workbench frame. The key is to engineer it so it is sturdy and stable. You don’t want it to flex at all. The more important issue is the top and maple is good. Personally, I prefer at least one layer of MDF. It is so heavy and flat! Then I would put the maple on top of the MDF.

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

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