Aluminium or wood?

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Forum topic by SCOTSMAN posted 12-04-2012 05:22 PM 1380 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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5849 posts in 3584 days

12-04-2012 05:22 PM

I have been on here before re my new wood work bench and have said that if I could get some nice thick wood that I would prefer to make my new workbench in solid hard wood as oposed to all pine . All I could get then was pine but I have since bought at great expense some nice big chuncks of air dried sycamore and ash.I will make the top from 3 inch or more sycamore with two nice big slabs plus probably a rear tool shelf.The problem is, I have a beautiful table bottom made from aluminium new ex hotel I uised to own and would be strong and just perfect for the workbench.
Should I use it or make the base in pine?
It seems a no brainer the aluminium looks great and would not look cheap.
I just wondered about continuing with tradition of wood.I am not bothered about making a base as I have the skill either way what do you think I have a copy emmert brand new and an end vice from a brand new wilton vice Both bought for me last xmas by Bronwen please let me your advice either way my leg is almost healed though I nhave been a naughty boy and sit in the shop some days just organizing honest Doctor if you read this LOL Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

14 replies so far

View Grandpa's profile


3259 posts in 2674 days

#1 posted 12-04-2012 05:28 PM

I don’t think I would be put off by an aluminum leg set on my work bench. Good to hear that you are regaining some health. That is one of the most important things we have. Goo d luck on this.

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4168 posts in 2855 days

#2 posted 12-04-2012 06:16 PM

Alistair, it sounds great and best of all it will suit you.

Glad to hear that you are on the mend.

Workshop is good therapy.


-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View PurpLev's profile


8535 posts in 3647 days

#3 posted 12-04-2012 06:29 PM

Alistair, glad to hear you are getting better.

I would use the already existing aluminum base – since you already have it, and it looks like a good fit, this will save you the time of building a base. Time that can be then used for building something else ON the workbench :)

good luck, and happy holidays

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


15353 posts in 2617 days

#4 posted 12-04-2012 06:30 PM

I’ll buck the trend and suggest a od base, both for mass and for workholding across the front of the bench. Only you know what will best suite the intended purpose of the bench, though. Good luck with your build, and welcome back to the shop!

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2486 days

#5 posted 12-04-2012 06:35 PM

Umm, You might want to check on the type of wood you have.

American Sycamore isn’t much harder than many types of pine.

Using Ash might be better, but you need to be careful of the types of ash you use. Some ash isn’t even as hard as pine.

Good luck.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View Gary's profile


9331 posts in 3432 days

#6 posted 12-04-2012 06:59 PM

Alistair, I would use the metal. Not everything in the shop is wood. Look at your hammer. It has a wooden handle but, the head is metal. I think it would even look better. I think using the metal is making extordinary good use of common sense.
Glad you’re back. Been missing your comments

-- Gary, DeKalb Texas only 4 miles from the mill

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5849 posts in 3584 days

#7 posted 12-04-2012 07:31 PM

Sounds like metal it is I genuinely think it will be a great looking bench and Dallas your right but I can only get what I can since we are not near any decent wood suppliers here on the holy loch.I with Bronwens help had a new shed for wood storage built this year between my three sons and my neighbours it came eventually alive 20 foot by ten foot it is already full.MY woodworking shop means everything to me. I, in poor health just sit there and wonder how I managed to build it all by myself over twenty years ago when I was fit.Just sitting there for hours just reorganizing and tidying a bit makes me so chilled and happy.The metal workshop were my lathe and milling machine is compliments my woodshop and I try to make my own chisels etc these days and jigs and safety devices owing to my parkinsons problems thanks for all your support.Kindest regards Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View Roger Clark aka Rex's profile

Roger Clark aka Rex

6940 posts in 3434 days

#8 posted 12-04-2012 08:07 PM

Alistair, the metal will work great.
I know EXACTLY how you feel and think just sitting in the workshop and reminiscing, Happens to me all the time.

-- Roger-R, Republic of Texas. "Always look on the Bright Side of Life" - An eyeball to eyeball confrontation with a blind person is as complete waste of Time.

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4930 posts in 3959 days

#9 posted 12-04-2012 08:35 PM

I would NOT bust you for using a metal base. Function dictates form in my shop.


View SASmith               's profile


1850 posts in 2986 days

#10 posted 12-04-2012 09:02 PM

JL7 made a nice bench with an aluminum base.

-- Scott Smith, Southern Illinois

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10100 posts in 4051 days

#11 posted 12-04-2012 09:05 PM


Go for it! Use the metal base!
Sounds like it would be a wonderful bench…

Do it… Don’t look back… Just do it… LOL

Looking forward to seeing it!

Thank you.

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:"

View Don Newton's profile

Don Newton

716 posts in 3617 days

#12 posted 12-05-2012 01:30 AM

I would go with a handcrafted wood base, after all it is a woodshop…..not a restaurant kitchen.

-- Don, Pittsburgh

View Nicholas Hall's profile

Nicholas Hall

352 posts in 2105 days

#13 posted 12-05-2012 04:13 AM

Go for the aluminum base. There are more and more woodworkers who seem to fetishize workbenches. If the bench is well suited for the type of woodworking you do, it doesn’t matter if it is made out of peanut husk/magnesium composite. Its a tool pure and simple. People easily forget this (myself included)!

If you want a strong case in point, google Sam Maloof’s workbench. It looks like a spray painted kitchen table, yet he put out some of the best work in North America on it for several decades.

Way to think outside of the box.


-- Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. -Groucho Marx

View patron's profile


13603 posts in 3340 days

#14 posted 12-05-2012 04:28 AM

glad you are feeling better alistair

i guess it comes down to
whether the table is the project

or is used to make the project

myself , i just have some base cabinets with drawers
with a sheet of particle board on them

never owned a vise either
i think fancy workbenches are nice
if you are using hand tools

but mine is just a workbench
a flat place to work on
with screw holes and cut marks and paint on it

but it gets the job done

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

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