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It's been covered before but no definitive answer yet- Plywood or MDF workbench top ?

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Forum topic by Sirgreggins posted 03-02-2013 01:03 AM 1396 views 0 times favorited 28 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Sirgreggins

292 posts in 984 days


03-02-2013 01:03 AM

I’m looking into making a wall mounted folding workbench and i’m not sure what to use for it. MDF which is nice and flat but doesnt hold a screw well or plywood which can hold a screw, but might not be that flat. Either way i’m buying a 4’x8’ sheet and cutting it into 4 layers which i’ll laminate together for a nice thick top 48”x 24” The bench will have solid wood edging and a masonite skin. what do you think? i would like to use some bench dogs with a vise and i’ll be doing mostly routing work, assembly work, some hand planing, and maybe some dovetails (which is why i’m doing 4 layers).


28 replies so far

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PurpLev

8476 posts in 2397 days


#1 posted 03-02-2013 01:08 AM

If this was a finishing/assembly table – I would say MDF – cheap , flat , and replaceable.

If this is a construction/work table that will see banging (mallet), and need to hold material against hand planing forces (shear forces) and the likes -then I say plywood which can hold screws and be mounted more securely to the wall without it coming off during work.

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

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Manitario

2378 posts in 1631 days


#2 posted 03-02-2013 01:14 AM

no definitive answer because there isn’t one…If you are using 4 layers and covering with masonite, I’d use whatever is cheapest.

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

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RockyTopScott

1151 posts in 2227 days


#3 posted 03-02-2013 01:52 AM

3 layers of ply, one MDF then the masonite top

Use contact cement for the masonite top

-- “When you want to help people, you tell them the truth. When you want to help yourself, you tell them what they want to hear.” ― Thomas Sowell

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Sirgreggins

292 posts in 984 days


#4 posted 03-02-2013 05:35 PM

Rocky, i think maybe i will do what you suggested just using one extra layer of ply. I probably wont glue the masonite down just so can replace it once it gets nasty. for the plywood, should i go with shop grade or homecenter hardwood veneer stuff?

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RockyTopScott

1151 posts in 2227 days


#5 posted 03-02-2013 05:53 PM

I would go to Home Depot and get the good Columbia Forest ply. You are only going to use half a sheet so you would have the other half for something else nice.

Goof idea not to glue the Masonite. When I do something similar I just put on an edge like 3/4 ” poplar to keep the top from sliding around….maybe a few 23 gauge pins.

-- “When you want to help people, you tell them the truth. When you want to help yourself, you tell them what they want to hear.” ― Thomas Sowell

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Sirgreggins

292 posts in 984 days


#6 posted 03-02-2013 06:04 PM

thanks for the feedback Rocky. i really appreciate it!

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Sirgreggins

292 posts in 984 days


#7 posted 03-02-2013 10:22 PM

ive read in a number of places that gluing solid edging to plywood or mdf will cause it to warp and crack b/c it can’e expand others say it’s not a problem. Thoughts?

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RockyTopScott

1151 posts in 2227 days


#8 posted 03-02-2013 10:25 PM

Good, not goof. Sorry

-- “When you want to help people, you tell them the truth. When you want to help yourself, you tell them what they want to hear.” ― Thomas Sowell

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bondogaposis

2749 posts in 1100 days


#9 posted 03-02-2013 10:45 PM

4 layers of MDF is going to be extremely heavy for a folding workbench.

-- Bondo Gaposis

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Kazooman

60 posts in 701 days


#10 posted 03-02-2013 10:52 PM

4 layers of MDF is going to be extremely heavy for a folding workbench.

I had the same thought. If this is to be 3/4 MDF then the bench will weigh about 80 pounds!

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Sirgreggins

292 posts in 984 days


#11 posted 03-02-2013 10:57 PM

in my garage we have storage rack bolted to the concrete floor and studs. I know 4 layers of ply and 1 of mdf is heavy but not too heavy i dont think. if you think about it 4 layers of ply is no heavier really than the 4’x 8; sheet, its just thicker b/c it’s laminated. believe me this would be firmly bolted in place :-) If a wall can hold lumber rack than this bench shouldnt be too much to handle. There will be folding legs to support it. The design is based off this: http://lumberjocks.com/projects/67529

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Smitty_Cabinetshop

10349 posts in 1367 days


#12 posted 03-02-2013 11:26 PM

A wall that can’t handle an 80 lb folding bench isn’t a wall worth having…

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

View Tennessee's profile

Tennessee

1556 posts in 1263 days


#13 posted 03-02-2013 11:36 PM

+1 for Rocky. Like the masonite top.

-- Paul, Tennessee, http://www.tsunamiguitars.com

View Bobmedic's profile

Bobmedic

302 posts in 1550 days


#14 posted 03-03-2013 01:25 AM

Torsion Box?

-- Save lives, ease suffering, reduce morbidity and mortality, stomp out pestilence and disease, postpone the inevitable, and fake compassion. The Paramedics Creed

View Dakkar's profile

Dakkar

297 posts in 676 days


#15 posted 03-03-2013 01:41 AM

I probably wont glue the masonite down just so can replace it once it gets nasty.

That’s exactly the approach Norm Abram took with the first bench plan he built on New Yankee Workshop. He simply screwed a sheet of 1/8 masonite over plywood so he could replace the masonite when it got messed up.

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