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Bench top question - flat vs level

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Forum topic by Sandra posted 06-17-2013 02:43 AM 1057 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Sandra

4451 posts in 732 days


06-17-2013 02:43 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question maple router

I’m getting ready to flatten my bench top. I plan on using a router and sled on rails.

I haven’t permanently attached the bench top to the base yet, because I prefer to do the messy power tool jobs outside.

So my question is this, is there any reason why the bench top should only be flattened after being attached? I’m thinking that flat and level are two separate issues and that it shouldn’t be a problem, but then again I may be missing something basic in my reasoning.

Attaching the top and bringing the whole thing outside is not an option….

Feel free to set me straight.

Thanks

-- No, I don't want to buy the pink hammer.


15 replies so far

View DocSavage45's profile

DocSavage45

5018 posts in 1499 days


#1 posted 06-17-2013 02:49 AM

I know that the flattening of bench tops is often done to clean them up after a lot of usage. Leveling can be done with levelers for the legs. But it may just be a matter of preference? Right now it’s nice outside and I am sanding and shellacking outside.

Don’t see that there is a problem doing your way. Just have to move the heavy monster. LOL@!

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

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Sandra

4451 posts in 732 days


#2 posted 06-17-2013 02:55 AM

Yes Doc, moving that heavy sucker has been a nuisance. I’ve been enjoying the build, but this portion has been my least favourite because of having to wrestle and work with the hard maple. The birch for the base was much easier to work with.

-- No, I don't want to buy the pink hammer.

View DIYaholic's profile

DIYaholic

13572 posts in 1332 days


#3 posted 06-17-2013 03:05 AM

Having not built a bench, I speak theoretically.
When attaching the top to the base, there is a chance the top will twist to conform to the “unflat” mating surface of the bench base. Should you flatten the top first (unattached) and then attach the top, the “unflatness” of the base (and unflat bottom surface of the top) could be transfered through the top as it twists to match the mating surface of the base. In other words, if the bottom surface of the top and the mating surface of the base are not flat and coplaner, the twist of the top could be transfered to the top surface as the base and top are drawn tight together.

I hope that made sense! It did in my head….
But it’s just a theory!!!

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procratination a bad thing?

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JayT

2277 posts in 868 days


#4 posted 06-17-2013 03:12 AM

Flat is important, level not so much.

My concern for flattening off the base is that what if the base &/or floor where your bench will sit imparts a bit of twist to the top? The safest route would be to flatten it totally assembled and in place. You can certainly flatten the top by itself, then assemble, just make sure to recheck. The worst that could happen is you have to flatten again, but if so, it shouldn’t be very much.

Edit: DIY beat me to it. Darn slow typing on a tablet.

-- "The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money." Alexis de Tocqueville, 1835

View DocSavage45's profile

DocSavage45

5018 posts in 1499 days


#5 posted 06-17-2013 03:21 AM

An Idea? For us woosies? you can get wheels that jack up the object so it is wheelable. When you get the heavy %^((&^^ in to position you can let the wheels down. Grizzly is doing that on some of its tools. Like my dollies but they tuck out of the way. Heave ho!

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View Bernie's profile

Bernie

414 posts in 1494 days


#6 posted 06-17-2013 04:15 AM

I think you will be OK. Whether you put the top on the base before you flatten or after makes no difference because the top will sit and fasten the way you do it regardless of the surface being flat or not! The bottom of the bench top will sit on the base the same way you set it down on the foundation – pre-flattened or not. If you’re concerned about future sagging, apply shims into the underside gaps, as many shims as you want too, the more the merrier.

I never did concern myself about my bench being level or not and I’m not sure it is. I don’t think I’ll even bother checking if it is. I do know the top is flat and that’s all that matters to me. A good bench has two basic ingredients; flat and stable. Flat is essential for assembly and stable is essential for working the wood. Stability is achieved either by mass (so heavy it will not move while working on it) or securing it to the floor or a wall.

Keep it simple. Do whatever works best for you!

-- Bernie: It never gets hot or cold in New Hampshire, just seasonal!

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Sandra

4451 posts in 732 days


#7 posted 06-17-2013 09:15 AM

Thanks gents. Makes sense. I think I’ll risk it and try outside then recheck once it’s attached.

-- No, I don't want to buy the pink hammer.

View bondogaposis's profile

bondogaposis

2528 posts in 1008 days


#8 posted 06-17-2013 01:03 PM

When I did mine, I did a rough flattening on both sides of the top then a final flattening of the top with the base attatched. The underside is still just rough.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Earlextech's profile

Earlextech

979 posts in 1347 days


#9 posted 06-17-2013 01:14 PM

Flat is what’s important in a bench – level is so your pencil doesn’t roll off.

-- Sam Hamory - The project is never finished until its "finished"!

View HorizontalMike's profile

HorizontalMike

6938 posts in 1571 days


#10 posted 06-17-2013 01:35 PM

DIY makes an important point, however much of that point depends on just how massive/stiff your “top” is. Mine is 3in thick laminated Ash. That won’t flex as much as say a 1-1/2in double plywood or say one made of MDF. And a “torsion box” would be much stiffer against warping than all previous examples.

Just food for thought here. At this point, only you know how much your top is flexing, or not.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

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MrRon

2834 posts in 1900 days


#11 posted 06-17-2013 03:18 PM

First, make it FLAT. Level the whole bench and top inside with shims in it’s final location.

View patron's profile

patron

13034 posts in 1998 days


#12 posted 06-17-2013 04:33 PM

as stated flat is more important than level

but some wheels on end of the bench
just shy of the floor
(like a bb-que grill)
lift the other end of the bench
and the wheels come into play
and you can move the whole bench
wherever you might need it
(even outside)
it might need to move for different projects anyway
might as well make it portable

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

View DocSavage45's profile

DocSavage45

5018 posts in 1499 days


#13 posted 06-17-2013 04:50 PM

yep! Although big and heavy isn’t toooo portable :)

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View Sandra's profile

Sandra

4451 posts in 732 days


#14 posted 06-17-2013 06:47 PM

Good points as usual.
Mike
The top is laminated maple, 2 1/2” thick. It was well dried, I’m hoping there’s minimal twist.

The apron isn’t attached in this picture.

Patron, I”ve looked at the Rockler workbench casters, but am hesitant at this point. The bench is going to be so heavy that while I may be able to move it with wheels, it may not be a good idea. And if it hits the slope of the driveway I’m done for ;)

-- No, I don't want to buy the pink hammer.

View patron's profile

patron

13034 posts in 1998 days


#15 posted 06-17-2013 06:55 PM

not all the wheels
just two on one end
and big enough to take the weight

-- 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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