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Forum topic by kocgolf posted 01-25-2015 07:20 PM 1204 views 1 time favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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kocgolf

127 posts in 1637 days


01-25-2015 07:20 PM

Topic tags/keywords: bench top work bench

I am in the process of kind of a full shop revamp and upgrade, trying to go from light hobby to serious amateur. Of course a critical part of this is a decent workbench. Now, 10 years down the road I would love a solid maple and walnut Roubo or something, but for now, I am going to do the best I can with mostly what I have.

The bones are going to be from left over PT lumber (not a great choice, but again, what I have) and then it will be boxed out with cabinets in a more shaker style. As for the top, what I have is a bunch of 20 year old oak slabs, all 5/4, that I really don’t think I have the time and patience to rip and edge glue, and doubt I have enough material to make it very wide. Thus, I am thinking of a slab/table top like this photo below. I like this bench so much I am basing my design on it (somewhat). Do you think that this is a viable style top when I only have 1 inch thick slabs? Will it be stable/flat enough or how should I re-enforce it? I could put it on a piece of 3/4 MDF for help, but would attaching it permanently to that be a problem for wood movement?

Would I be better off getting douglas fir beams from a big box store and ripping/edge gluing them up? I’m not opposed to that, but I like the look of the slabs on that picture. I have been cruising CL for months waiting for a deal on something I could glue up, but no dice in my area yet.


19 replies so far

View crank49's profile

crank49

3980 posts in 2430 days


#1 posted 01-25-2015 07:29 PM

I make my forst bench out of plywood. Entirely out of plywood. 3 1/2” thich top and 4” x 4” square legs and all.
I like it, it has remained stable and flat and looks great for 5 years.

But if I was doing it again, I’d buy 2×8 or 2×10 lumber, selected for center cuts with the pith in the center.
When you rip the pith out of these you wind up with 3 or 4” wide boards that are quarter sawn. Glued up these would make a great top.

-- Michael: Hillary has a long list of accomplishments, though most DAs would refer to them as felonies.

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jerryminer

528 posts in 901 days


#2 posted 01-25-2015 07:38 PM

1” material is fine for a table, but IMHO it is too thin for a serious workbench. You will want to be able to pound on it with a mortising chisel without having it bounce and vibrate.

Take a little time, and face-glue some 2” ( or thicker) boards together to make a thicker top. You’ll be glad you did.

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bondogaposis

4020 posts in 1810 days


#3 posted 01-25-2015 08:01 PM

One inch thick will make a pretty wimpy bench top. I wouldn’t go with anything less than 2 1/2” thick.

As for the top, what I have is a bunch of 20 year old oak slabs, all 5/4, that I really don’t think I have the time and patience to rip and edge glue

Why not? That is what serious amateurs do, as can be verified by the many outstanding LJ benches, built by serious amateurs.

-- Bondo Gaposis

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kocgolf

127 posts in 1637 days


#4 posted 01-25-2015 08:11 PM

OK, I phrased that wrong. I DO have the patience and drive to build a bench slowly and correctly, but I think that I will not have enough material to make it thick enough. For instance, I believe if I calculated correctly, that if I use my oak at about 1 inch thick I would have a 6 foot bench at about 2 feet deep if I go with 3 inch inches thick. I would be willing to put in that work, but that is a fairly small bench. And that is IF when I mill out the boards they yield enough usable material.

Is there any scenario where a base topped by planks of the oak would be acceptable? Would it be pointless to put MDF or even edge glued standard 2×4 material under it? Would I have to fear wood movement too much to make that worth it just for the look I like?

View crank49's profile

crank49

3980 posts in 2430 days


#5 posted 01-25-2015 08:54 PM

24 inches is a good width for most jobs. But 6 feet long might come up a little short.

Here is a design I plan to modify and build my next bench from.

I’ll have three layer legs, flush to the outside edge of the top with douple through tennons and the stretchers for the lower shelf will be bigger and either half lapped or tenoned into the legs, but the top is otherwise pretty nice as it is.

I plan to put a cabinet with drawers on that lower shelf, but keep about 6” of clearance between the cabinet top and the bench top. This space is needed for clamps and also is a handy place to set tools you need near, but don’t want on top of the bench.

-- Michael: Hillary has a long list of accomplishments, though most DAs would refer to them as felonies.

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kocgolf

127 posts in 1637 days


#6 posted 01-25-2015 10:08 PM

That seems like a very similar plan to what I was thinking. I will probably be able to get to about 80 inches long, but space wise, that might be about my max unless I completely reconfigure my wood storage, and I don’t see how else I can really do it. I was planning to try and mill out the slabs of oak at some point this spring as well. Then I will know more about what I have. I will probably either glue it up for the top or just go for Fir instead.

View bondogaposis's profile

bondogaposis

4020 posts in 1810 days


#7 posted 01-26-2015 12:50 AM

Have you looked into a Nicholson bench? They have thinner tops. Google it, you’ll come w/ lots to look at.

-- Bondo Gaposis

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kocgolf

127 posts in 1637 days


#8 posted 01-26-2015 02:02 AM

I have now! I am not sure that it’s the style I want, or fits the materials I have on hand, but it’s a good read. Went through a couple blog builds and found them really informative. I saw stiffeners used under the top quite often and I wonder if something like that would be enough to help out with my top dilemma if I use the oak as slabs. I also wonder if I could laminate the oak to either more oak or even MDF. I will just have to mill it all out and see how many board feet I have before I make final decisions.

View daddywoofdawg's profile

daddywoofdawg

1010 posts in 1034 days


#9 posted 01-28-2015 08:05 PM

The bench above is a work bench you use it to cut,plane,chisel. then you can use your other bench for Assembly.So a two foot wide bench would be just fine.
Other choice: use the oak as legs and stretcher adds weight and then a fir or hardwood top face glued.edge gluing won’t give you as strong of a surface due to less glue surface.

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kocgolf

127 posts in 1637 days


#10 posted 01-29-2015 10:20 AM

Thanks for the advice everyone. I am going to make it as long as I can, probably about 6 1/2 feet.

View Marshall's profile

Marshall

151 posts in 1514 days


#11 posted 01-29-2015 04:38 PM

What about using construction lumber? Chris Schwarz recommends southern yellow pine for its strength. That’s what I used on my bench, and I’m very happy with it. If you use structural grade SYP, it is very clear, straight grained wood.

I built two roubo style benches, including the top and the legs out of eight 16’ 2×12s. I think I spent $300 total on the SYP lumber for both benches. The top is 4” x 24” x 84”

I made a detailed sketchup model I can send you if youre interested.

-- Marshall - http://mcomisar.tumblr.com

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Marshall

151 posts in 1514 days


#12 posted 01-29-2015 04:49 PM

And PS, I’m very amateur. My old bench was made from 2×4s and OSB and had no vises. I didnt know it at the time, but it was worthless as a bench other than just to use as a table to set stuff on. I wish I hadn’t waited as long as I did to make a proper bench.

It doesnt move at all no matter how hard I pound on it. I cant believe how useful holdfasts and bench dogs are. Make it once and make it right :)

-- Marshall - http://mcomisar.tumblr.com

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crank49

3980 posts in 2430 days


#13 posted 01-29-2015 05:02 PM


And PS, I m very amateur. My old bench was made from 2×4s and OSB and had no vises. I didnt know it at the time, but it was worthless as a bench other than just to use as a table to set stuff on. I wish I hadn t waited as long as I did to make a proper bench.

It doesnt move at all no matter how hard I pound on it. I cant believe how useful holdfasts and bench dogs are. Make it once and make it right :)

- Marshall

Thats a very nice looking bench. What stain did you use on the vises. Something like “provincial”?

Are the legs attached to the top with the Roubo style double mortice and tenons, just not through?

-- Michael: Hillary has a long list of accomplishments, though most DAs would refer to them as felonies.

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Marshall

151 posts in 1514 days


#14 posted 01-29-2015 05:06 PM


Thats a very nice looking bench. What stain did you use on the vises. Something like “provincial”?

Are the legs attached to the top with the Roubo style double mortice and tenons, just not through?

- crank49

Thanks crank… The vises and deadman are walnut. I used clear watco danish oil on the whole thing. The legs are attached with a single tenon (2.5×2.5 if i remember correctly) rather than the double and they dont go through…

-- Marshall - http://mcomisar.tumblr.com

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crank49

3980 posts in 2430 days


#15 posted 01-29-2015 05:30 PM


Thats a very nice looking bench. What stain did you use on the vises. Something like “provincial”?

Are the legs attached to the top with the Roubo style double mortice and tenons, just not through?

- crank49

Thanks crank… The vises and deadman are walnut. I used clear watco danish oil on the whole thing. The legs are attached with a single tenon (2.5×2.5 if i remember correctly) rather than the double and they dont go through…

- Marshall

Okay, that explains why they looked like walnut.

-- Michael: Hillary has a long list of accomplishments, though most DAs would refer to them as felonies.

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