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Workbench top: FACE TO FACE VS EDGE TO EDGE

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Forum topic by WoodwolfAtl posted 03-20-2018 12:43 AM 1449 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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WoodwolfAtl

39 posts in 1658 days


03-20-2018 12:43 AM

Topic tags/keywords: workbench workbench top

I am making a workbench. The top will be 1.75 inches thick. It seems to me most ready to buy workbenches, such as Sjorbergs, are made with strips of stock that are glued (joined) face to face rather than edge to edge. Lets say the top is 30 inches wide. If the boards of 8/4 stock are 5 inches wide and you join them edge to edge, the you need to glue up 6 boards. If you join the stock face to face, at 1.75 inches thick each, you need to glue up 17 boards. Seems a lot easier to glue 6 boards that are 5 inches wide than 17 boards!

So what are the advantages of gluing the boards for the top face to face? Does it mattter?

I welcome your thoughts


4 replies so far

View AUswimKC's profile

AUswimKC

37 posts in 2001 days


#1 posted 03-20-2018 01:26 AM

Wood expands across its width more than twice the amount it expands across its thickness. Thus, face to face the bench gets a bit taller but the bench won’t tear itself apart if constrained by the legs.

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Breeze73

86 posts in 734 days


#2 posted 03-20-2018 01:46 AM

It can be very challenging to get 1.75 inch thickness out of an 8/4 board. Sure, it is milled at 8/4, but after shrinkage from drying, and then jointing/planing to flatten the board, you are going to push closer to 1.5 inches. You may get more, but it is hard to ensure all of your board will be more than 1.5 inches.

Secondly, and more importantly, you have to think about expansion and contraction, and how you are going to join the top to the base. By and large wood expand/contracts parallel to the growth rings. If you use flatsawn, or even riftsawn wood and glue them flat side by side, you could face some serious cracking problems, if you are not careful in how the top is attached to the base. Using quartersawn lumber will help alleviate this problem, but it will not eliminate it.

The biggest reason people laminate their workbench tops face to face is to be able to get thicker tops than can typicaly be achieved by edge gluing lumber. 12/4 and 16/4 lumber can get very costly, as it takes much longer to dry than 4/4 or 8/4. However, if you use 8/4 lumber and face laminate it, you can easily make a 4” thick top with it. The reason this is important is because of mass and rigidity. The more solid and rigid your workbench is, the more force that can be exerted onto the workbench without deformation (vibration, deflection, etc.) Think of hammering a large red hot piece of steel on a 40lbs anvil… now think of hammering the same piece of steel on a 400lbs anvil. Which anvil do you think will be more sturdy? The 400lbs one right? The same is true for the workbench. Can you get by with a 40lbs workbench? Yes. But my 430lbs workbench is an absolute dream to work on be cause it is as solid as a rock. It doesn’t move, deflect, or vibrate at all. That is the point of laminating boards face to face.

-- Breeze

View msinc's profile

msinc

448 posts in 556 days


#3 posted 03-20-2018 02:07 AM

After having just this past weekend completed a 540 pound {top only} oak workbench that is face to face laminated and 3” thick, I have to say that Mr. Breeze73 has absolutely struck the nail right on the head with the above post. It was hard to move and I had to rout a lot out to get my pattern makers vise mounted, but it is a dream to work on. Add the 6”X 6” solid legs and full 2”X 10” oak base and the thing is well over 600 pounds…..but it don’t move.
I do have to admit, I aint smart enough to realize the different expansion rates of face vs. edge, I just did it for the ability to get the table top thickness I wanted. Now, I am twice as glad I did it this way!!!

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hhhopks

651 posts in 2430 days


#4 posted 03-20-2018 03:10 AM

Agree with above posts.
Thicker and more mass is better.

-- I'll be a woodworker when I grow up. HHHOPKS

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