Building New Workbench - Hard Maple Orientation

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Forum topic by Letorix posted 07-19-2011 11:56 PM 3559 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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119 posts in 2525 days

07-19-2011 11:56 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question maple

Well like many newbies I wanted to start by building a workbench. I order 8/4×6 Hard Maple and received many pieces uncupped at almost 10-11” wide. My intentions were to work the 2×6 rough pieces down to 1 3/4×5 1/2 then ripping down to 1 3/4×3 1/2 and build the top with 7’ x 3 1/2” x 30” with some 7” aprons.

But now that I have the wood I wonder want grief I would bring upon myself by using some of the wider pieces and not ripping them down but use them across their width vs. on edge.

I would imagine the wood would have tendency to move more, but figured I’ll query the experts for their opinions :-)

10 replies so far

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 2992 days

#1 posted 07-20-2011 12:27 AM

I think the more small pieces you have oriented with the arcs of the growth rings in opposing directions, the better the stability will be. On the other hand, my bench top is built up 3-1/2” thick using 3/4” plywood so I’m not speaking from experience.

If I was building mine again I would do stay with the 3-1/2” thickness. It is a good dimension. Plenty solid, handy for clamps, vise fits well after I routed out a 1/2” mortise for it to sit in.

View superstretch's profile


1531 posts in 2715 days

#2 posted 07-21-2011 04:30 AM

I’d orient them face to face. An 11” board will net you 3 3.5”ers if you play your cards right. Just remember, heart in, heart out

-- Dan, Rochester, NY

View fussy's profile


980 posts in 3072 days

#3 posted 07-21-2011 10:45 PM

The reason for using edge grain for the surface of your bench is that edge grain is tougher and will handle abuse much better than face grain. 3.5” thick is more than adequate, and not to be picking any fights, ring oreintation is not an issue; either in bench construction or table construction. Just glue well and clamp in sections to avoid having so much to handle at one time. Have help, because that sucker will be HEAVY. Glueing is not even necessary. 38 years ago I built my workbench of 2×4 yellow pine and through bolted it with 1/2” threaded rod in three places. I made the holes a little large so that I could flatten it before tightening. It’s still tight, level, and not a gap or problem anywhere.


-- Steve in KY. 44 years so far with my lovely bride. Think I'll keep her.

View Bertha's profile


13529 posts in 2715 days

#4 posted 07-21-2011 10:58 PM

Steve, I often thought about just running allthread through a benchtop, sans glue. I figured that if things shifted, I could flip it upside down against a flat surface, loosen the allthread, jump up and down on the underside, tighten the allthread, then reflatten the top. Sounds like a viable option still!

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View MedicKen's profile


1615 posts in 3484 days

#5 posted 07-21-2011 11:13 PM

You have to remember that wood moves across it grain. If the wood is glued edge to edge, 1 it will not be as strong and 2 will move more in weather changes. I would glue them up as you have originally thought.

-- My job is to give my kids things to discuss with their

View Don W's profile

Don W

18754 posts in 2589 days

#6 posted 07-22-2011 02:05 AM

I’m having a hard time concentrating. I keep picturing Al jumping up and down on his torn apart bench top.

I agree cutting and gluing is stronger and more stable. The question is, how much stronger and stabler do you need? I’ve had several benches made out of 2×12s. They worked out super (still working). This is assuming your wood is good and dry. If your not sure, cut and glue it, you need the stability. If you know its dry, it could work either way.

How many kitchen tables are made out of wood glued edge to edge?

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View BobTheFish's profile


361 posts in 2573 days

#7 posted 07-22-2011 03:59 AM

How many kitchen tables double as a woodshop workbench?

Typically a dining table is just for setting plates and dishes. It’s not for heavy impacts due to boards hitting it or hammering.

More countertops, on the other hand, are made with edge grain, (when they’re not cheap MDF or other recomposite materials strengthened with steel beneath and laminate surface), and tend to hold up a lot better.

Rip the boards to 2” widths and glue face to face. You won’t need insane thicknesses, but the edge grain will be stronger and less likely to move. It’ll also be harder and more resistant to impact than face grain.

View Letorix's profile


119 posts in 2525 days

#8 posted 07-22-2011 04:34 AM

Thanks for all the input, yes with the wider boards I have a lot more material than anticipated. I’ll work with the smaller ones first as I build the base. I’ll post images once I get through working up the wood and start. I’m not sure how wet it is, I haven’t started on it yet. Still working on setting things up to make this adventure as efficient as I can. I’m on the west coast of Florida….so it will be exposed to a lot of humidity.

Again thanks for the info, I figured on end was the best…but the wood was so much more massive than I anticipated. I’ve made work benches out of old solid core commercial doors before but for other types of work…but figured I’d try to go all out on this one.

View Letorix's profile


119 posts in 2525 days

#9 posted 07-24-2011 03:33 AM

Well I tried to start squaring up a piece today, I’m making a cross cut sled and figured it would be good practice, I’ve only used my planer a couple of times, mainly to join a few pieces of mahogany. It’s a rigid 6” jointer I picked up on CL for cheap. I’m having a heck of time getting the piece flat on its wide face. I’m about 3/32 off in the center on a 5’ board it was a lot more. I can see this going to be a huge undertaking to mill this wood.

Has anyone seen any jigs with a tire or massive finger board to hold the board down? To help keep the board flat on the unit..looks like tomorrow I will be working on a very precise outfeed table for it.

I may need a better straight edge…using 48” old level….this measurement showed 3/64 of a bow.

View fussy's profile


980 posts in 3072 days

#10 posted 07-24-2011 05:52 AM


I built this thing in ‘73, finished it with a epoxy product called Behr Build 50 ( I was working mostly on greasey caqr parts then and needed to keep it clean to satisfy my wife). It’s still shiny, flat and level. With the finish on it I doubt it would move with the threaded rod removed. I built it in Ft. WAYNE, In. and moved it to Ky. 9 years later. It’s always been in a un-heated garage. It works.


-- Steve in KY. 44 years so far with my lovely bride. Think I'll keep her.

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