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Forum topic by curliejones posted 04-04-2015 12:16 PM 1168 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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178 posts in 2295 days

04-04-2015 12:16 PM

Topic tags/keywords: workbench construction-grade lumber rip wide boards syp top

So I wanna build a workbench… we’ve heard that before. I’ve seen recommendations for building a solid wood top even if you must use SYP construction lumber. Conventional wisdom is buy wide boards and rip them down since the wide 2xs look better. I definitely agree that the wider boards usually have fewer knots but in my recent workshop build, I ran into something a little surprising.

I bought wide 2Xs, some 2×8 some 2×10 stock and hand picked all the boards. 2×4s are sooooo bad these days. Even the wider widths had to be carefully chosen to have full widths and depths since the mills want to send out 80% of a piece of lumber with some edge or another missing valuable nailing surface. Maybe they are into the “artsy” appeal of live edge lumber but I’d rather have the full piece.

I carefully checked each board for straightness and picked what I could find that seemed to be excellent construction specimens. I stored the lumber flat, under roof, and in a dry environment for just a few days until I needed it. I used the 2xs to rip furring strips to provide an air space and a place to nail or screw exterior siding. The entire shop has a foil faced radiant barrier on the outside of the sheathing that requires an air space to be effective.

Much to my surprise, ripping a perfectly straight 2×10, for example, Yielded 3 pieces of 2x furring that curved like a big league pitch. I was able to nail or screw it into position with a little effort but my concern now is over whether this is a good way to begin a workbench that I want to end up “dead flat”. Exterior framing is one thing, but is it wise to force all these different tension together and glue (with calmps of course) the heck out of them .

I have read a good deal about the vary materials and methods used in a workbench top, but I’ve not seen anything about the curves produced when wide lumber is ripped down. I suppose the forces within that hold a 2×10 flat and straight could be in opposition and cancel each other until that lumber becomes a 3” wide board all with it’s own inner forces.

Thoughts? Comments? Go ahead and make the effort to force it during glue up or simply use layers of flat sheet goods? Is a solid top really worth it? P.S. I live in the land of Southern Yellow Pine.

-- Like Guy Clark sez - "Sometimes I use my head, Sometimes I get a bigger hammer"

5 replies so far

View benchbuilder's profile


284 posts in 2479 days

#1 posted 04-04-2015 01:12 PM

Good morning, I know what you mean about the curling of lumber, i to had this problem untill i read about letting the lumber set in the shop not outside and it must set there for a week or more depending on the mostior within it. This makes a big difference and you get lumber that doesnt curl up. One has to be able to take their time in building with 2xs and shop several different lumber suppliers. The lumber each supplier gets each shippment will be as different as day and night. So this week one supplier may be the best but not next week. We built a flag pole 26 foot tall, 7” square at the bottom and 4” square at the top. The flag pole is hollow its full length. We covered it with epoxy and spear varnish. After 5 yrs this July 4, it has been standing and is as pretty as the day it was set. It will get a light sanding and recoated this summer. So the untreated 2xs are good, you just need to know how to use them. Read more and learn to read between the lines sometimes. Good luck

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7996 posts in 2826 days

#2 posted 04-04-2015 02:19 PM

Just as an example here’s what you can do with sheet stock.

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fibreglass trees.

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1417 posts in 1205 days

#3 posted 04-04-2015 04:18 PM

I purchase more wood than necessary for a project, stack it in the shop, and let it accumulate. Sometimes the wood I pull off of the shelf to use has been there for several years. I have had no problems with 2x materials that have set in the shop for a period of time.

-- "I love it when a plan comes together" John "Hannibal" Smith

View Mykos's profile


103 posts in 1823 days

#4 posted 04-04-2015 10:05 PM

What was the grain orientation of the boards that warped on you ? I know that BORG lumber you can’t really help too much, but having a dead straight grain is ideal for stability. Having flat grain on the boards if you’re ripping them to use vertically roubo style, or having edge grain (adjacent to the pith) if you’re ripping them to use flat nicholson style.

View WDHLT15's profile


1748 posts in 2505 days

#5 posted 04-05-2015 12:52 AM

Construction lumber sold at the big box stores and lumber yards, like 2×4, 2×6, 2×8, 2×10, etc. are only dried to 19% moisture content. Look at the stamp on the lumber. Many times you will see “KD19” which means kiln dried to 19%. This lumber is not dry enough to make furniture or inside projects like a work bench out of. You have to dry it below 10% for it to be stable.

-- Danny Located in Perry, GA. Forester. Wood-Mizer LT40HD35 Sawmill. Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln.

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