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Workbench in Pressure Treated Lumber?

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Forum topic by Don Broussard posted 03-27-2012 03:26 PM 5310 views 0 times favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Don Broussard

1973 posts in 904 days


03-27-2012 03:26 PM

Topic tags/keywords: workbench pressure treated

I am planning on building a woodworking workbench soon, and I’d like to know if using pressure treated lumber is an acceptable wood choice. I have an inventory of 2×4s and 4×6s already from the demolition of a porch after our home was destroyed in 2008 (Hurricane Gustav) and I would like to put that lumber to good use. I realize that pressure treated lumber is more corrosive than other materials, so I’d have to be extra careful in installing metals in contact with the lumber, like fasteners and the vises. Any help is appreciated.

Thanks in advance for sharing your wisdom.

-- People say I hammer like lightning. It's not that I'm fast -- it's that I never hit the same place twice!


17 replies so far

View Brandon's profile

Brandon

4138 posts in 1604 days


#1 posted 03-27-2012 03:28 PM

I really wouldn’t build a workbench out of that stuff. PT wood is good for outdoors, but I don’t think it’s the safest wood for a workbench.

-- "hold fast to that which is good"

View RandyM68's profile

RandyM68

693 posts in 970 days


#2 posted 03-28-2012 03:46 AM

I thnk you could build the frame out of pressure treated lumber. If it’s well seasoned it shouldn’t be a problem, just don’t chew on it.You probably would want to put something else on top, so it doesn’t bleed chemicals, and gives you a smoother work surface.

-- I can explain it to you, but I can't understand it for you. I'm sorry,thanks.

View fussy's profile

fussy

980 posts in 1703 days


#3 posted 03-28-2012 04:08 AM

As Randy said, as long as it’s good and dry it’ll be ok. One other caution, if you use power tools to joint and plane it, be sure to wear a good dust mask and control the dust. You don’t have to eat it to make yourself, or everyone else in the house, sick. The dust is toxic.

Steve

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

View knotscott's profile

knotscott

5453 posts in 2028 days


#4 posted 03-28-2012 09:47 AM

The wood that’s no good for anything else becomes PT….I wouldn’t bother.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View TimmyP's profile

TimmyP

34 posts in 1100 days


#5 posted 03-28-2012 10:01 AM

I think building the frame would be ok; I’d be hesitant to use any of it for the bench top. Plus, I’m not sure what year they switched from using an arsenic compound in PT lumber in favor of something less toxic. Also, I don’t know if those chemicals used nowadays would leach out into the open air.

View canadianchips's profile

canadianchips

1831 posts in 1649 days


#6 posted 03-28-2012 10:53 AM

Read this, then decide for yourself.
http://news.discovery.com/human/baby-formula-arsenic-121602.html

We are exposed to a lot worse than a work bench in our lives.

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View WDHLT15's profile

WDHLT15

1128 posts in 1128 days


#7 posted 03-28-2012 11:41 AM

I believe that there are other, better, low budget choices.

-- Danny Located in Perry, GA. Forester. Wood-Mizer LT15 Sawmill. Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln

View BlankMan's profile

BlankMan

1487 posts in 2005 days


#8 posted 03-28-2012 12:34 PM

PT is typically pine or fur, a soft wood, a hard wood like maple is better for the top at least. I’m gearing up to finally build that workbench I always wanted. Rearranged and cleaned up my shop so I have room for it where I want to put it. I’m going to use hard maple. It will last a lifetime and then some.

-- -Curt, Milwaukee, WI

View RandyM68's profile

RandyM68

693 posts in 970 days


#9 posted 03-28-2012 12:41 PM

Free is as low budget as it gets. PT lumber does contain hazardous chemicals, but so do most of the foods we eat. As Canadian pointed out, you probably ate more arsenic as a baby than you’ll ever get from building a work bench. Some day you will die, I’m sure, but I doubt it will be from treated lumber. Unless you are building a lot of decks and outdoor furniture, you probably won’t get enough exposure to worry about. Many untreated woods already contain natural chemicals that are deemed hazardous, not to mention plywood, OSB, and MDF. Saw dust in general is bad for your health. If you are worried, wear a mask while you cut it. I wouldn’t even try to plane it an glue it together, I’d use galvanized bolts and lag screws to put the base together, and use something else for the top. Mine is three inches of MDF.

-- I can explain it to you, but I can't understand it for you. I'm sorry,thanks.

View BlankMan's profile

BlankMan

1487 posts in 2005 days


#10 posted 03-28-2012 12:47 PM

Stainless steel hardware might even be a better choice. I used 12×3” stainless steel screws on my PT outdoor fences when I built them and that section is around 10 or more years old. When I had to pull out some screws last summer to mortise some holes in the post to continue the fence the screws were still as shiny as new.

-- -Curt, Milwaukee, WI

View Don Broussard's profile

Don Broussard

1973 posts in 904 days


#11 posted 03-28-2012 01:28 PM

I am thinking that I’ll proceed with the build of the PT workbench, with some changes. Given the concerns about toxicity, I will use a mask when I cut the lumber. I plan to hand plane the edges before glue-up, and I’ll hand-cut the mortises and tenons as well. Finally, I will likely repurpose the completed PT bench to use as a potting bench (or a crawfish eating table). I expect that this will serve as a prototype to learn and/or improve my skills for when I build my “real” bench. I want to practice draw boring the mortise and tenon joints and figure out how I will do the glue up of the top. I am thinking I will do partial glue ups and then assemble the top in parts. By the way, I did a test with two pieces of PT 2×4s with raw edges and, using Titebond II, the glue joint was unbreakable.

FYI, I am planning to make the bench top 30” wide and 72” long, at a height of 31”—I used the flat palm method to establish the height (I am 5’9” tall). It may be a little short for a potting table, but any table height is good for eating crawfish!

Thanks for all the comments.

-- People say I hammer like lightning. It's not that I'm fast -- it's that I never hit the same place twice!

View Don Broussard's profile

Don Broussard

1973 posts in 904 days


#12 posted 03-28-2012 01:36 PM

Also, the use of chromated copper arsenate as a wood preservative was discontinued in the US on December 31, 2003.

-- People say I hammer like lightning. It's not that I'm fast -- it's that I never hit the same place twice!

View dbhost's profile

dbhost

5383 posts in 1884 days


#13 posted 03-28-2012 01:57 PM

While I don’t think that you ought to try to eat your workbench at any stage of the process, and you would be best served by utilizing the best dust collection, removal, and protection you have available while making dust machining it, I don’t see any problems building your frame out of PT, especially as it sounds like this is well seasoned lumber. Mind you, i would give you the same advice for any wood though. Yes the stuff in PT is nasty, so are a lot of the fungi in other woods, not to mention oils what whatever reactive compounds are in other woods… Just treat it like you would another reaction prone wood like Walnut, and you should be fine…

Due to some of the corrosive tendencies of PT, I wouldn’t use it for the top, you’d end up ruining a perfectly good vise… It would take a long while, but it would get nasty… By the same token, on the frame itself, you would end up needing to use decent stainless fasteners, which can get spendy real fast….

-- My workshop blog can be found at http://daves-workshop.blogspot.com

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

1676 posts in 1574 days


#14 posted 03-28-2012 06:21 PM

Most of the PT wood I see is yellow pine wich is very hard. I think it would work fine.

-- In God We Trust

View Don Broussard's profile

Don Broussard

1973 posts in 904 days


#15 posted 04-08-2012 02:38 AM

Update on my P-T bench:

I built the whole workbench out of P-T lumber—I call it my recycled porch workbench. I included a shelf using P-T tongue and groove boards from the old porch floor, and mounted it on the stretchers to store my hand planes. The bench is put together without nails or screws, but is pinned with poplar dowel shorts—it does not rack or wobble at all. A few lessons I learned: 1) Make the tenons the dimension of a wood boring bit or forstener bit you already have to save hand chiseling effort. I made the tenons 1-1/4” wide instead of 1” wide; 2) I left the bottom of the 2×4s rounded, and that made cutting the mortises from the underside of the table difficult. I would recommend squaring off the bottom of the table; 3) Use a backer board when chiseling the mortises for the through tenons. I had some really bad tear out on two of the mortises; and 4) Using the jointer plane to level the top was very enjoyable. I recommend using a sharp plane for the primitive feel and sound of the plane going through the wood. I’ll try posting a few pictures of the project so y’all can critique it.

Thanks to all who commented on the use of P-T lumber for the project. I appreciate the comments and the encouragement.

-- People say I hammer like lightning. It's not that I'm fast -- it's that I never hit the same place twice!

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