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  • Bench Top Material?

    I would like to put a better top on my workbench. This bench presently has a top made from 2X lumber with cracks between the pieces so small things get lost in and below them. It is about 7'+ by about 30". I will probably keep the lumber forming the present top and just put a sheet of something on top of it. But it is not overly smooth so I will probably use something that is at least 1/2" thick and probably thicker. One thing I am considering is just a sheet of plywood but adding a top layer of the same stuff that those self healing, cutting mats are made from. I am not sure that stuff comes in large enough sheets to cover the top in one piece so a joint may be necessary but with careful cutting and the plywood below it nothing will get lost in or drop through that joint. And that material could be replaced when it becomes damaged. Cost is always a consideration, but not at the top of the list.

    I am open to other suggestions so please suggest.
    Paul A.
    SE Texas

    Make it fit.
    You can't win and there IS a penalty for trying!

  • #2
    Wiping plywood with a bunch of coats of linseed oil can help durability a bunch and lets you wipe oil, water, and other chemicals right off. Add in a little oak edge banding and you've got a nice bench. If you've got room, a second steel bench is good for heavy work.

    Click image for larger version  Name:	woodshop_bench.jpg Views:	0 Size:	189.8 KB ID:	1882311
    21" Royersford Excelsior CamelBack Drillpress Restoration
    1943 Sidney 16x54 Lathe Restoration

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    • #3
      For light assembly work and anytime I am working with hot glass I like a wood butcher block style counter top. For everything else 1/4 steel plate. I'd have 1/2 inch steel plate on the welding table, but I'm cheap.
      *** I always wanted a welding stinger that looked like the north end of a south bound chicken. Often my welds look like somebody pointed the wrong end of a chicken at the joint and squeezed until something came out. Might as well look the part.

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      • #4
        I’m fond of solid core door slabs. Sturdy, quite flat, and can be cut to size and finished nicely.

        Old bowling alley lanes come up from time to time on Craigslist (saw some last week in the Philly PA one, but advertised nationally). IIRC Bally Block Co sells seconds through a distributor network.
        Last edited by AWS; 06-22-2020, 06:21 PM.

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        • #5
          I got one bench that's built in between two walls, it's base layer is 3/4" ply, which I covered with some marked down laminate flooring. Other table I have is two layers of 3/4" MFD wrapped in 26 gauge galvanized sheet metal.
          I just need one more tool,just one!

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          • #6
            I saw a nice bench awhile back, it was 2x4's top but, they were stood upright, so the top was 3 1/2" thick and laminated butcher block style.
            alternate for a tough bench top could be 2 laminates of 3/4 ply to yield 1 1/2" total ply.
            or, 4 laminates of 1/2 ply for a 2" top
            or, 6 laminates of 3/8 ply
            The 4ply 1/2" at local box store is pure junk.
            The import plywood from Russia or Vietnam is by far higher quality than home despot.
            Imagine this, 5-ply 3/8" x 6 layers = 30 plys total for a 2 1/4" thick top.
            30 layers !! think about that.

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            • #7
              Back when I bought my place the 8' workbench was just 3/4" plywood and I found some pieces of 2' x 4' Formica counter top material and really really cheap , too, so I grabbed a couple of white ones and glued them down. They've stood up very well over the decades. Later I got a smoking deal (as in you suck!) on a couple of very well built counters, 2' x 8' each also with Formica on top of 3/4" plywood, from an industrial store and they have held up equally well. I'm careful though, I don't drop anything heavy on them but I have done work on fairly heavy things on them.
              Location: Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

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              • #8
                My Bench has 3-1/2" thick laminated lumber then a 1/8" thick formed steel top with 8" backsplash Click image for larger version

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ID:	1882330

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                • #9
                  Mine are both steel, but back in the day my dad built one with a plywood top covered with commercial grade floor tiles on that held up very well.

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                  • #10
                    I’ve had good luck with Masonite hard board rubbed with a couple coats of linseed oil. I worked 8.5 years at the same bench in a very busy die shop and only had to replace the top once at about 6 years. I did oil it a few times to spruce it up.
                    Illigitimi non Carborundum 😎
                    9X49 Birmingham Mill, Reid Model 2C Grinder, 13x40 ENCO GH Lathe, 6X18 Craftsman lathe, Sherline CNC mill, Eastwood TIG200 AC/DC and lots of stuff from 30+ years in the trade and 15.5 in refinery unit operations. Now retired. El Paso, TX

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                    • #11
                      I think of my bench TOP as a consumable: it gets beat up, gouged, stained, etc and replaced. The replacement is cheap 1/4" Masonite (tempered hardboard). When the front gets too sad, I turn it 180*.

                      Edit: Tim beat me to it while I was typing.

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                      • #12
                        AWS sort of nailed it if you don't want to spend a fortune and you want something durable. If you have a Restore near you a used solid core door can be had for under 30 bucks usually. A lot of good suggestions though. Jim

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                        • #13
                          Bench Top Material?

                          Always in my case it is what I have on hand. Use what you have is kinda cool. \

                          Like the old vinyl flooring people pull up and chit can. I have used that as a bench top for the crappy wood under it.

                          Worked for 15 years. Oh Well. JR
                          My old yahoo group. Bridgeport Mill Group

                          https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/...port_mill/info

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                          • #14
                            Phenolic film coated plywood available in your neck of woods?

                            baltic birch plywood with film coat, often smoot on one side and anti-slip pattern on another side.

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                            • #15
                              When we bought a house and moved to Oregon, I was impressed with the work bench in the garage. After we got moved in and I was setting up my little shop in the garage I noticed the work bench was an old shuffle board table. I assume it's made of Maple and about 3 inches thick. After 19 years of working on it, it still looks pretty darn good. Later on I found a maple butcher block kitchen table for just a few $ and made my shop desk out of it. I have since seen butcher block tables at estate and garage sales, and wished I room for them.
                              _____________________________________________

                              I would rather have tools that I never use, than not have a tool I need.
                              Oregon Coast

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