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Cutting a Door to make a workbench top- advice

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Forum topic by Jim100percent posted 236 days ago 1495 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Jim100percent

4 posts in 237 days


236 days ago

Topic tags/keywords: question

Hello, everyone. First time poster, long time lurker. And thank god I did lurk; I’ve found tons of great tips here, tips that saved me a bunch of time and mistakes. So, thanks for that! (I’ve also caught your handplanes bug. A year and a half ago I owned one cheapo block plane. Now I own three, plus an old Stanley and a new Stanley Jackplane, plus an antique shoulder plane. Now whenever we go antique-hunting / flea marketing I am obsessed with old tools. Just rescued a bunch of old hand tools from my Dad’s basement (Grandpa and Great Grandpa were woodworkers as a hobby). Bits and braces… push drills… and Grandpas old block plane (a cheap model, but sentimental) Maybe there is a vaccine / treatment for this obsession?

OK, so my next project will be a workbench. As I said, there has been tons of great information I’ve gotten from here. I had planned on using 2 thicknesses of 3/4” plywood laminated together, but someone mentioned going to Habitat for Humanity and finding a used solid-core door (I had considered that already, but new they were too expensive). Great suggestion, found a monster 3’0” x 6’7” 1 23/32” thick industrial door. It’s already drilled and had a lockset- already removed. Now I need to cut it down to fit the space I have.

I have two questions, first am I better off cutting it to size with my old (It was my dads, so like 25 years old at least) Black and Decker circular saw (with a new blade) (with a piece of blue foam board underneath) or with my Ridgid 4512 Tablesaw with a freud combo blade? I don’t have an outfeed table (the new bench will be sized appropriately so that I can use it for that), but I do have a roller support (and a wife for extra hands). I am concerned that I may need to make two passes to cut through the monster (FYI its core is USB-like chips pressed and glued)- should I plan on two passes, or just try one?

Second, is there any easy way to avoid chip-out? Will just putting masking tape along the cutline work? Should I score the cut line with a razor or with a 1/8” pass of the saw? I am hoping to make this bench look as nice as I can.

For more info: I am a novice: I’ve built lots of Adirondacks, an oak Morris Chair (that turned out amazing), a couple of porch-swings, and some frames. My TS is new (and I love it- especially for the price). I go slow in order to avoid any mistakes. As my grandma used to say: “The hurrier I go, the behinder I get.”

I already have the vise hardware purchased, and can’t wait to get it all together. Thanks for any advice y’all can give!


12 replies so far

View grizzlymunchin's profile

grizzlymunchin

47 posts in 245 days


#1 posted 236 days ago

I bought a solid core door from Lowes for like 58.00 it makes a nice top very solid and used 2×6 for the legs rip them on the tablesaw and get the rounded corners off use mdf for shelves and you will have a great flat bench

-- woodshop by the cornfeild

View firefighterontheside's profile (online now)

firefighterontheside

1539 posts in 358 days


#2 posted 236 days ago

If you need to cut the table narrower, you can do that on the TS if you use the roller and assistance. You shouldn’t have any problem with tear out on that cut and can do it with one pass. For cutting it to length you will need to use the circular saw. Tear out will happen on the top side as you cut so put the side that you will use as the top of your bench down. Set the depth of your saw to be only about an eighth deeper than the doors thickness. On the top side you can use a knife to score the line first to help prevent tear out. Use a level or some other straight edge clamped to door so that as you run the saw base along it the blade cuts the line you want.

-- Bill M. I love my job as a firefighter, but nothing gives me the satisfaction of running my hand over a project that I have built and just finished sanding.

View grizzlymunchin's profile

grizzlymunchin

47 posts in 245 days


#3 posted 236 days ago

ok

-- woodshop by the cornfeild

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2160 posts in 1352 days


#4 posted 236 days ago

Alert: philosophical intervention ahead.

Grizzlymunchin: Your bench will be a tool, and a dandy one, but trying to keep it furniture-like will only make the construction more frustrating and needlessly complex.

Furthermore, if it comes out perfect, you won’t want to pound on it or scratch it. It will become a useless fixture.

My counsel: Determine the things it must be: flat, the right height, etc. Then build it, knowing that errors, as they come, will be great teachers and will enhance the quality of the projects you make which, unlike the bench, will leave the shop.

If you really enjoy building this bench you will likely build a second one, perhaps years from now, and you’ll fondly incorporate improvements and perhaps innovations we will all want to adopt.

Let this project be a freeflowing expression of your joy in woodworking, resulting in a tool that serves you loyally.

Kindly,

Lee

-- "...in his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View MT_Stringer's profile

MT_Stringer

1553 posts in 1732 days


#5 posted 236 days ago

I was given a door like that. So heavy I couldn’t pick it up by myself. No way I would attempt to cut it on a table saw.

I cut mine to size with a circ saw with a guide so the cut would be straight. The blade used is the Freud Diablo 60 tooth available from HD for about $20. Makes a smooth cut.

I laminated the top with white Formica and used oak edge banding.

Hope this helps.
Mike

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

View MT_Stringer's profile

MT_Stringer

1553 posts in 1732 days


#6 posted 236 days ago

Check out my workbench project. The table is rock solid. The top is so heavy, it just sits on top. :-)

Note: I made my own leg levelers. Still work great over a year later.

Edit: @Jim. After re-reading your post, I though I would add a comment. I used my circular saw to cut all four sides. The important thing is to check your circular saw saw to make sure the bed is 90 deg to the blade. My old saw had been dropped and misused (by me) for many years so I bought a new Makita and it worked great for cutting the table top.

Since that door is probably like mine (check the pics), it should be a smooth cut on your table saw if you so desire. I would cut it to the approx length first so you don’t have additional weight to deal with. I still feel uneasy about you trying to cut it on your table saw without a lot of support otherwise it could become unwieldy and possibly get someone hurt if the blade binds and kicks back at you…or your wife.

If you do decide to use the table saw, make your first rip a little wider than desired, flip it around and then rip to the final width so you will have two smooth sides. You will still probably have to use your circular saw to cross cut the ends because it would be hard to do on your TS.

Good luck.
Mike

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

View Jim100percent's profile

Jim100percent

4 posts in 237 days


#7 posted 235 days ago

Thanks for the info everyone, it is helpful. I need mine to be mobile, so casters are in order, but I also like the idea for leveling feet.

So many choices…

View cabmaker's profile

cabmaker

1249 posts in 1310 days


#8 posted 235 days ago

Why not use your table saw? As stated may become un weildy and contribute to kickback? Kickback will be of little or no concern, come on now, 1.5 hp with a 110lb door in its clutch?

Cut full depth. You do not have an out feed table so just run it halfway until its balanced then walk around to the out feed side and pull it the rest of the way.

JB

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2160 posts in 1352 days


#9 posted 235 days ago

Wax the saw table first. Really well.

Kindly,

Lee

-- "...in his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View tedmuss's profile

tedmuss

3 posts in 353 days


#10 posted 234 days ago

Put a straight edge across the width of the door. Often the particleboard core will swell a little more than the stiles and rails – it may not be flat (I work for a door manufacturer – we fight this every day). That being said – I have a solid core door as my workbench and it’s great. If you can find a strand composite lumber core (if you cut it open, it looks like really good osb plywood) or stave lumber core (kind of looks like butcher block) those work even better. They are more stable than particle board and aren’t as punky.
As far as cutting it, I would definitely use a circular saw and a straight edge. Score first, sharp blade, pink foam board underneath, two passes. Depending how much your cutting off, maybe give it a trial run before you get to your real line – we all learn from trying. good luck

View Jim100percent's profile

Jim100percent

4 posts in 237 days


#11 posted 234 days ago

Tedmuss,

It’s strandboard, not sawdust, so I’m good there. I am also thinking that a test cut is in order, and a circular saw with my straightedge / clamp will enable the safest and easiest cut. I’m in no hurry, so a couple of extra cuts and a couple of extra passes won’t hurt!

Jim

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Jim100percent

4 posts in 237 days


#12 posted 227 days ago

So, update: I did use my circular saw on styrofoam. Used a new 60 T fine finish 7 1/4 blade- came out perfect.

Turns out it is sawdust on the inside, only about an inch of strandboard on the ends. I’m not terribly worried, I’m gonna wrap the edges with 1 X 6 maple anyway, now I just need to figure out how to attach it… lots of glue and LONG screws- with deep coarse threads is what I’m thinking. Maybe pocket screws from the backside? It’ll need bracing, I’m sure.

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