Total Newbie - need help with Workbench top design

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Forum topic by Jason King posted 02-21-2014 04:50 AM 1184 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Jason King

8 posts in 1552 days

02-21-2014 04:50 AM

CAVEAT: I do not have much woodworking experience. I would be so grateful for any responses, but anything overly-technical is likely beyond my understanding.

I am in the process of starting a woodworking workshop and have been collecting lumber for a bench. Since my talent & money are both in short supply (I’d rather spend money on tools than wood at this point), I am planning a simple but thick bench with sturdy lag-bolted legs made of D-Fir from the BORG. I am planning to install a nice Jorgensen vice I purchased on Craigslist and a way-too-nice wagon vise I got for free.

So here’s the question: Is it possible to laminate a few inches of maple within the Douglas fir Benchtop? Here’s my thinking: I would like a 2-4 inch wide strip of maple running the length of the top sandwiched between the major portion of the top and the front apron. The purpose would be as a place for dog holes and provide a strong, stable, & wear-resistant housing for the wagon vise runners. My fear is that a fir-only top would not offer the longevity of maple where the majority of pounding will take place. What are the concerns, if any for different woods combined in a top as it concerns seasonal changes, wood movement, splitting, etc…?

For those kind enough to reply, my thanks. JASON

6 replies so far

View bigblockyeti's profile


5112 posts in 1717 days

#1 posted 02-21-2014 05:01 AM

You should be able to laminate the maple within the D fir. if you’re planning on using 2” x fir on edge, you’ll have either 3 1/2” or 5 1/2” depending on what you got, the bench can be planed down every so often to flatten the tougher maple to the level of the worn fir. Unless you’re really beating the snot out of the bench, you shouldn’t have to do this very often, and when you do, you won’t be removing a lot of material. It should last quite a long time.

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

29224 posts in 2334 days

#2 posted 02-21-2014 10:35 AM

Always an opinionated question. Functionally, it will work. But only you know what type of work you will be doing on it. If you are doing big heavy things or if you’re only doing small hobby projects, you should build accordingly. I generally build big items and have to worry about durability.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View Tedstor's profile


1643 posts in 2629 days

#3 posted 02-21-2014 11:20 AM

My uncle is a hobbyist and built a euro-style workbench, with dogs, from pine/fir (he can’t remember which) 40+ years ago. The bench certainly looks well used, but is still 100% as functional as the day it was built.
If you can’t incorporate that maple strip into the design…...don’t sweat it.
A well-built softwood bench can last a lifetime. A well-built, hardwood bench can last for centuries. But lets face it, those extra couple hunded years aren’t gonna do YOU much good :)
But laminating maple into a fir bench can/has been done. I actually added a maple apron to one of my benches without issue.

View bondogaposis's profile


4725 posts in 2347 days

#4 posted 02-21-2014 01:59 PM

A DF bench will be just fine, you don’t really need the maple strip unless you really want to.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View BinghamtonEd's profile


2298 posts in 2366 days

#5 posted 02-21-2014 02:23 PM

I would skip the maple. A DF top would work great and wear well. I currently have a top made from laminated MDF and hardboard on top. I have toyed with making a DF top but don’t have the time/money right now. When the time/money does come, I’m just going to use all DF. I would suggest carefully selecting oversize (2×8 or 2×10) and hope to get 2 2×3’s from it, after ripping out the pith and the outer edges. This process will usually yield more stable boards than a standard 2×4 will, since the 2×4’s usually are the lower quality of the boards.

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

View Jason King's profile

Jason King

8 posts in 1552 days

#6 posted 02-21-2014 10:27 PM

Thanks a ton for all the advice. I have been collecting a board or two at a time of mainly 2×6 or 2×10 & plan to rip it to right about 4 inches once it’s all dry and I have enough for a 20 inch by 8 foot benchtop.

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