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Forum topic by richardwootton posted 10-23-2013 09:35 PM 840 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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richardwootton

1345 posts in 645 days


10-23-2013 09:35 PM

I have finally started in on my work bench build, and decided to go the cheap route and use construction grade “whitewood” aka SPF (Spruce, Pine, Fir) for the build. I have ripped the rounded edges off, laminated the first portion for the top, which comes out to about sixteen inches wide, and doesn’t include some extra width plus the dog hole strip and area for a wagon vise. That should bring my top to about 22” wide, and after flattening, just under 3” thick.

Here’s where the problem comes into play. This stuff is RIDICULOUSLY soft, it feels like friggin’ Balsa wood. Then I stumbled across a guy selling TONS of true 4×4 8’6” Oak posts (and some Hickory that I’ll pass on) for about 12 bucks a piece! That’s about $1.05 per board foot.

My question is, should I go buy the oak and start a new bench build, since I’m not very far into the current build? Or, go buy the oak, stack it up and use it for something else and keep on with my current bench build? Perhaps somewhere in between, build two benches and use the one with construction materials for and assembly, or joinery bench?

What would the wise LJer do?

-- Richard, Hot Springs, Ar -- Galoot In Training


16 replies so far

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mantwi

312 posts in 586 days


#1 posted 10-23-2013 09:41 PM

I would buy the oak. It will make a bench top that will stand the test of time and you can always use the pine for building clamp racks or any of the many storage solutions needed in a wood shop. By the way $1.05 a bd ft is a great price, go for it. Just consider the pine a practice run.

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oldretiredjim

181 posts in 1075 days


#2 posted 10-23-2013 09:49 PM

I started out even cheaper with a solid core exterior door from habitat. I used it for about a year testing size and uses. mine is more of an assembly table than lj “workbench”. i found a laminted oak (I think) slab 1 3/4” thick that probably was some kind of floor for a trailer (tractor) and replaced the original. I have since cut up some of the original to use as mobile platforms for different stuff so not wasted. I think building shop furniture is something most of us do in stages. Gives us a frame of reference for the next step. It’s all a journey anyway. Whatever you build for today will need to be replaced later – after you drill it by mistake, glue and/or finish it by mistake, drive a screw into it by mistake, move into a different shop configuration, etc.

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paratrooper34

760 posts in 1642 days


#3 posted 10-23-2013 10:11 PM

Richard, I don’t think you have a conundrum, I think you have an opportunity to make a major improvement in your original design. If I were you, I would get the oak and build the top from that. I imagine you would be peeved down the road at having such a soft top that got tore up pretty easily and wishing you had picked up the oak you found for a helluva good price. Go for it and be sure to post pictures of your new bench.

-- Mike

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Don W

15245 posts in 1257 days


#4 posted 10-23-2013 10:36 PM

I agree, get the oak.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. - http://timetestedtools.com

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bondogaposis

2601 posts in 1041 days


#5 posted 10-23-2013 11:19 PM

If you are not liking the softwood top now you are going to hate it down the road and kick yourself for not going oak, make yourself happy get the oak.

-- Bondo Gaposis

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jap

1232 posts in 744 days


#6 posted 10-23-2013 11:19 PM

oak,oak, and more oak,

-- Joel

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theoldfart

4488 posts in 1141 days


#7 posted 10-23-2013 11:32 PM

Use the oak! The soft whitewood will allow stuff to get embedded in it and mark up your work. dog holes will stretch on the top. Dogs and cats living together oops. I’m building mine from red oak for durability and most benches I’ve seen have been hardwood. You’ll be much happier in the long run.

-- "Aged flatus, I heard that some one has already blown out your mortise." THE Surgeon ……………………………………. Kevin

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redSLED

687 posts in 582 days


#8 posted 10-24-2013 12:49 AM

One more vote for oak. Looking forward to your workbench photos on LJ.

-- Perfection is the difference between too much and not enough.

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12strings

421 posts in 1074 days


#9 posted 10-24-2013 02:03 AM

I’ll agree, as I actually tried to make a version of the milkmans workbench out of soft pine. The dog holes just don’t work in soft wood…they get bigger every time you use them. I scrapped it.

-- I'm strictly hand-tool only...unless the power tool is faster and easier!

View woodenwarrior's profile

woodenwarrior

131 posts in 884 days


#10 posted 10-24-2013 02:07 AM

Oak. I think in the end you’ll be happier with the performance of it. I will almost promise you will have “buyers remorse” with the pine.

-- Do or do not...there is no try - Master Yoda

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Tedstor

1369 posts in 1323 days


#11 posted 10-24-2013 02:07 AM

Maybe its been mentioned- but you could buy enough Oak for the top, and use the SPF for the base??

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rockindavan

284 posts in 1326 days


#12 posted 10-24-2013 03:04 AM

I would make sure that the posts weren’t cut from the pith, otherwise they will check like crazy and warp pretty bad. You can always use the pine top as a general workbench.

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BTimmons

2142 posts in 1175 days


#13 posted 10-24-2013 03:16 PM

Sounds like you’re asking us to validate the decision you’ve already made. :)

Get the oak, you’ll be happier in the long run. And in the more immediate future too, I imagine.

-- Brian Timmons - http://www.BigTWoodworks.com

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richardwootton

1345 posts in 645 days


#14 posted 10-24-2013 06:07 PM

Thanks for all the responses folks. I’ll be picking up 10 or 12 of them on Sunday. I’ll post a picture once I get them home.
Rockindavan, I’ll definitely be avoiding the pith, and looking for as much quarter sawn as I can find.

One good thing about having the soft pine top is that I now have a large, dead flat surface to work on. I’m going to add some stretchers between the two beefy saw horses it’s currently sitting on and have that be my bench building bench.

-- Richard, Hot Springs, Ar -- Galoot In Training

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dbray45

2536 posts in 1466 days


#15 posted 10-24-2013 06:27 PM

Get the oak, build the pine one first. Figure out all the mistakes you made with the pine one – then build the oak one. keep the pine one for assemble and paint work.

-- David in Damascus, MD

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