Need advice on finish(es) for Garage workbench

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Forum topic by JohnMcD348 posted 08-10-2014 12:48 PM 1348 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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50 posts in 1799 days

08-10-2014 12:48 PM

I’ve got my workbench designed and will start building it in a few days. I’ll be using plain Yellow Pine and it will be in my garage on a concrete floor. It can get into the 110’s during the hot Florida Summers and humidity is also a concern to some degree. I am not adverse to using 2 different types of finishes if needed. One for the top and one for the base.

For the top, I’d like something that would help protect it from chemicals and general abuse. Something that won’t start deteriorating even if I wipe it up immediately or won’t get “sticky” from high heat since it’s sitting in a hot garage, not from direct heat. I don’t expect it to remain stain free and perfect forever, but, I don’t want it to be ruined the first time I get a small bit of oil on it or if I’m working on a radio and a little spray electronic cleaner hits it and I wipe it up. I expect it to get dinged, maybe even chipped. It’s a workbench. I just don’t want it to be naked wood I think finishing it will make it more comfortable to work at also than bare wood.

For that base, I want something that will help make it easy to keep clean and protect it from humidity. Also, will applying this finish to the end grain that will make contact with the concrete help prevent any moisture absorption? Should I be considering something else to help that?

I’d like something fairly clear or maybe with a slight tint to it but wouldn’t really cover up the wood. It’ll be in a part of the garage that doesn’t get much natural lighting so I don’t want the surface to be too dark. Also, I’d plan on putting multiple coats of the finish on when I do this.

I appreciate any input you have on this. I’m pretty new to woodworking so I’m still learning so please feel free to elaborate on what I should use and why.


6 replies so far

View Pezking7p's profile


3217 posts in 1853 days

#1 posted 08-10-2014 12:54 PM

Danish oil or waterlox, something that soaks in but will build a thin film after a few coats. If your garage floor is not sealed or if the floor gets wet when it rains, do the bottom 1-2” of the legs in an epoxy finish.

-- -Dan

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50 posts in 1799 days

#2 posted 08-10-2014 08:00 PM

Thanks. My floor is sealed and finished but, I still figured there was some moisture that would accumulate due to the humidity levels. Here in Florida, it’s never dry.

View TryAgain's profile


9 posts in 3349 days

#3 posted 08-11-2014 06:13 PM

RE: “For the top, I’d like something that would help protect it from chemicals and general abuse.”

I opted to cut up a 1/8 inch thick piece of ‘shower stall” masonite hardboard that has a water-proof sealed surface on one side. The cutup matches my workbench top … use it for messy glue-ups, painting, finish coatings, and general small appliance repairs. I also cut a smaller piece of masonite to use for quick and small messy projects. Here are photos showing 1) wood surface of workbench, 2) workbench with small piece of masonite laying on top, and 3) workbench with full-sized masonite laying on top. I store the masonite on edge in my utility closet when not being used. It’s easy and fast to get out and place on top of the clean wooden workbench top for messy jobs. The temporary masonite cover has worked well for me for some years now in keeping my hard maple workbench top free of dings and mess. I use the wood surface whenever doing non-messy woodworking … planing, sawing, chisel work, carving, etc.


-- Tom

View CharlesA's profile


3351 posts in 2000 days

#4 posted 08-11-2014 06:18 PM

i used danish oil. I don’t care if it gets stained from something, but the magic of SYP, is if something does happen to it, plane it down and do it again.

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

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50 posts in 1799 days

#5 posted 08-12-2014 01:35 AM

Thanks. I’m actually sort of considering using Masonite to cover the top since it will essentially be a built in bench in the nook area of the garage. I used it many years ago for the reloading bench I built since it was smooth and allowed for easy cleanup of spills and such. My thought also is that it would be easily replaced when it eventually gets beaten up and I’d probably be more apt to abuse my bench since it’s an easier fix. It just doesn’t look as nice. I am wavering on keeping the wood top or going Masonite. I may do one side with the Masonite cover and the other side with Danish Oil. Use the Masonite to work on small motors and dirty stuff and keep the Danish Oil side plain wood for working on my electronics and other hobbies.

Ironically, I just got my latest issue of Shopnotes today and the basic idea of the bench I’m going to build is there. Just a little longer/deeper and a center open section I can slide a stool under.

View Woodknack's profile


12431 posts in 2582 days

#6 posted 08-12-2014 03:32 AM

I never seal mine with anything but you could cover it with laminate/Formica, resists heat and chemicals.

-- Rick M,

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