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Thread: Making a work bench questions?

  1. #1
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    Making a work bench questions?

    Hello everyone! I am thinking about making a work bench and have been looking at alot of pics trying to decide what sytle i want to make. I have seen alot of them with and without cabinets below the work bench top. My question is wouldn't it be an advantage to have the storage beneith the bench. Also i see alot of people use maple to construct the bench but my question is i get alot of 2x4's from job sites that i work on. I was thinking about jointing them and planing them and contrusting it with the 2x4's. What do you think? Thanks and look forward to your comments.

  2. #2
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    Lots and lots of benches have been built with 2x4s. They will save you a great deal of $$$ over maple for instance (esp if you get them free!). The downsides are:

    1. much softer, so it will dent, etc
    2. they usually are still very wet so you need to deal with movement and warpage
    3. you'll have to contend with knots at the surface that will make getting a nice flat top a bit challenging.

    If you carefully select the 2x4s you use, you can overcome most of these shortcomings. Good luck!
    Bill Simmeth
    Delaplane VA

  3. #3
    If you're worried about a soft top, just apply a sacrificial, replaceable cap over them, such as cheap BORG plywood, or MDF.... And you STILL have a cheap workbench.
    Go Big, or Go Home... He who has the gold, makes the rules

  4. #4
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    My current bench is 2x construction, it's been just fine for the last 20 years. I just picked up lumber for my one time bench, #2 oak and soft maple for the base, maple top, it's just time for a nicer unit with better vises, but I'll keep the 2x bench too. I find the 2x bench is entirely carefree, I don't care if I drill it, cut it , hammer it, etc, etc...

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Josh Goldsmith
    Hello everyone! I am thinking about making a work bench and have been looking at alot of pics trying to decide what sytle i want to make. I have seen alot of them with and without cabinets below the work bench top. My question is wouldn't it be an advantage to have the storage beneith the bench. Also i see alot of people use maple to construct the bench but my question is i get alot of 2x4's from job sites that i work on. I was thinking about jointing them and planing them and contrusting it with the 2x4's. What do you think? Thanks and look forward to your comments.
    Josh, NO NO NO! Do not use 2X4's for the construction of your workbench. Well, let me qualify that. DO NOT use 2X4's for the work surface of your work bench. When I first built my benches in my shop, I used 2X6's and over a small period of time, they warped like the dickens. You can certainly use 2X4's in the construction of the structure of the bench, but by all means, do not use them for the surface. You will have much better luck with MDF. It is stable and cheap. You can edge it with some hardwood of your choice. I just recently finished upgrading my last bench with MDF after suffering for years with warped 2X material. Go with MDF!
    There's one in every crowd......and it's usually me!

  6. #6
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    Josh---The usual advice is to build a fairly simple yet stable bench to start off with, then use it for a while to see what features you miss or wish you had, or what you would do differently, then go ahead and make another nicer one after you have that all figured out.

    Dan
    Eternity is an awfully long time, especially toward the end.

    -Woody Allen-

    Critiques on works posted are always welcome

  7. #7
    I too am one of those people who always look longingly at those workbenches in FWW and wish I had one. However, I have been pretty happy with the one I have. I used 2x6 fir for the baqse, as someone mentioned earlier. I then built up the top form four layers of mdf, capped with a sheet of easily replacable hardboard. Not to much to worry about as warpage goes, and really heavy too.
    An advantage to this type of bench is that you don't have to be too concerned with spills, dents, etc. I have even brad nailed fixtures to it.
    One of these days I will make one of those beautiful benches, nut like as was mentioned above,till keep my current one for the dirty work.

  8. #8
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    My bench is built of 1" thick plywood for the bottom layer then a piece of 3/4" high density under-layment & the top is 1/4" tempered masonite wrapped in poplar & the base is poplar mortise & tenon. This has worked very well for me & I can take the masonite off & replace it when it gets worn. I plan to build a tool box with drawers under it in the future. We used a table-saw top to lay the top on & glue & screws through from the bottom of the plywood to clamp the under-layment & Plywood together while the glue set up. It came out fairly flat. We trimmed the edges of the 2layered lamination after the glue dried.
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    I usually find it much easier to be wrong once in while than to try to be perfect.

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  9. #9
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    My choice for a very serviceable, yet affordable, workbench top would be several layers of MDF capped with a sacrificial 1/4" hardboard (like Masonite brand) work surface that is contained by a slightly raised apron. Heavy (lots of mass) and very inexpensive to build. The base structure can still be built stoutly with M&T and that can continue to be used should you build a hardwood bench top in the future.
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  10. #10
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    here's a workbench i'm in the process of building.it's based on plans from the Kreg pocket hole plans.the body is 3/4" birch ply,the top is 2 layers of 3/4" mdf and a maple butcher block slab i got from IKEA.it's very heavy and study.sorry about the pcture quality.i think i have about $200 invested.
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  11. #11
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    Jim is right on in his construction method. However one of the tricks is to do a slight countersink of the screw holes between the MDF sheets so the the holes don't bulge slightly from the screws pushing or pulling material up or down out of the screw holes & not let your sheets stay together nice & flat in your glue up .
    I usually find it much easier to be wrong once in while than to try to be perfect.

    My web page has a pop up. It is a free site, just close the pop up on the right side of the screen

  12. #12
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    Josh,
    I built my workbench using 2x4's and a solid core door. I asked for a slightly damaged door (still can't find the damage) at a building's supply place. I was also thinking of "capping" it with 1/4" hardboard the way Jim Becker suggested, but held off since I would like to drill some holes for bench dogs.

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