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Having a hard time swallowing the Douglas Fir pill for my workbench.

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Forum topic by TDog77 posted 833 days ago 4018 views 0 times favorited 27 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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TDog77

125 posts in 978 days


833 days ago

I am getting ready to start my workbench and thought since this is my first one I really wanted to study the design, vises etc and read a couple short books and then just yesterday read Christopher Schwarz book (excellent read by the way) and have decided to build his rendition of The French Workbench which I think is very well thought out. My dilemma is the choice of lumber with not being able to get my hands on any Southern Yellow Pine like he has used on soo many of his recent benches and highly recommends. The choices in my area are Hem Fir and a few rarer selections of Douglas Fir and I am having a bit of a hard time accepting Douglas Fir as an option for at least the top of it but wow is it way cheaper then the maple or ash route. Now if some of you fellow jockers say go for it on the Fir since you have used it in this application before and you are happy with it then Ill probably go that route; but since I am going to be spending the time on it and want it to last a looong time then I also don’t mind doing at least the top in Maple if you think it is just that much better. Im not a cheap skate but if the maple really is not needed then I could put that savings towards some more tools.

Second are there any special considerations when joining too very different woods like a fir base and a maple top?


27 replies so far

View knotscott's profile

knotscott

5417 posts in 2001 days


#1 posted 833 days ago

Just so you know, my bench is hard maple, not fir, SYP, or hemlock. Fir and hemlock are a lot softer than maple, ash, oak, hickory, etc. Other’s opinions will likely vary, but I’m thinking if you’re going to the trouble to make a nice bench, I’d at least want the top to be made of a hard wood. You can use cheaper woods for the legs and support structure.

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

View rockindavan's profile

rockindavan

283 posts in 1261 days


#2 posted 833 days ago

I built my bench top out of maple and base out of cherry. I figured if I was going to spend a bunch of time building it I would spring for better quality and better looking materials. I guess it boils down to how much it means to you to have a nice looking bench. If you are not going to build a bench for at least another 10 years, I would suggest going for the maple. A bench is something you will use on every project where some tools are not used as often.

View tyskkvinna's profile

tyskkvinna

1308 posts in 1611 days


#3 posted 833 days ago

I actually love working with Doug Fir but I wouldn’t use it for the top. I’d be nervous about denting it too often, honestly. But I’ve glued it and joined it with maple just like any other woods and so far I’ve not noticed any issues.

-- Lis - Michigan - http://www.missmooseart.com - https://www.etsy.com/people/lisbokt

View derosa's profile

derosa

1533 posts in 1461 days


#4 posted 833 days ago

For 70.00 on craigslist I bought enough white oak to build the top and several other projects and it wasn’t the absolute cheapest I’ve seen. I’ve also found ash, hemlock and hickory for really affordable on craigslist; keep checking the listings and the top might price out similar to pine.

-- --Rev. Russ in NY-- A posse ad esse

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TDog77

125 posts in 978 days


#5 posted 833 days ago

How are you usually looking up lumber on craigslist because I look twice a week at least and have been doing so for about 6 months and only found a couple pieces of cherry? I usually use “lumber” “rough lumber” and “woodworking” for keywords.

View nwbusa's profile

nwbusa

1016 posts in 912 days


#6 posted 833 days ago

My bench is doug fir for the base and hard maple up top. Ideally I’d have used maple throughout but yeah… It’s expensive.

-- John, BC, Canada

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MNgary

235 posts in 1042 days


#7 posted 833 days ago

My bench is the typical cabinet-maker style. I built it using construction grade 2×4’s (hemlock & fir) for the top and the base. After 15+ years it still meets my needs and if I were to build one again I’d use the same material. However, I first let the pieces air dry for a year.

-- I dream of the world where a duck can cross the road and no one asks why.

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MNgary

235 posts in 1042 days


#8 posted 833 days ago

My bench is the typical cabinet-maker style. I built it using construction grade 2×4’s (hemlock & fir) for the top and the base. After 15+ years it still meets my needs and if I were to build one again I’d use the same material. However, I first let the pieces air dry for a year.

-- I dream of the world where a duck can cross the road and no one asks why.

View DKV's profile

DKV

3065 posts in 1129 days


#9 posted 833 days ago

I just received my 21st century bench plans and plan on maple for the top. The substructure will be whatever I can afford after buying the maple.
Don

-- 2014 will be a different year...at least for me it will.

View waho6o9's profile

waho6o9

4824 posts in 1202 days


#10 posted 833 days ago

Specify what you want on Craigslist in the search box on the left and make sure the menu is on sale, then
hit enter.
I usually put hardwood lumber, then hit enter. Or oak, maple, etc.

View derosa's profile

derosa

1533 posts in 1461 days


#11 posted 833 days ago

I go into the material section and then type in various woods, usually cherry, ash, maple, oak, locust and sycamore. Because the results are limited to just one location there usually isn’t enough listings and craigslist will show similar listings in the area. Might require a longer drive but this evening I found hemlock for 58 cents a BF, locust for a 1.50 a bf, red and white oak for 1.50-2.00 bf and cherry for 2.50. Just have to keep looking and it does show up. I’d also look for whatever the common local hardwood is. Cherry is common throughout this area and PA, unfortunately oak seems the most common, end result is some really cheap prices. The time or two I’ve seen redwood listed or spanish cedar the prices were outrageous in comparison.

-- --Rev. Russ in NY-- A posse ad esse

View TDog77's profile

TDog77

125 posts in 978 days


#12 posted 833 days ago

Where do yo find the materials section? If I type in Cherry in the for sale section for example it comes op with a ton of “cherry” including kids toys, vehicles etc. so if I could limit it to materials then the species keyword that would save some time for sure but I cannot find it.

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TDog77

125 posts in 978 days


#13 posted 833 days ago

Nevermind….just found the materials.

View Bertha's profile

Bertha

12951 posts in 1319 days


#14 posted 833 days ago

TDog, I feel you. In the interest of saving time, I bought two 2 1/4 inch maple slabs from Grizzly to glue-up for the top. I started collecting my douglas fir stack, planning to build the undercarriage from it. Now the more that I look at it, I’m considering going all fir and using the slabs for something else. I passed this question around to all my buddies here and no one has given me a reason NOT to use fir. I think I’m going for it. If you do too, I’ll be looking out for yours!

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

View crashn's profile

crashn

518 posts in 1091 days


#15 posted 833 days ago

I search craigslist every 1/2 hour (phone app) and it alerts me when there are any results to several keywords
lumber
wood
woodworking
router
saw
bookcase
desk
sawmill
tree
etc….....
You have to be quick on CL, at least around here. Lots of competition.

-- Crashn - the only thing I make more of than sawdust is mistakes

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