B& D Workmate upgrade top

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KeenToLearn

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Have a solid workmate sadly let down by crappy mdf top which has swelled; time to replace.

Would like your opinions of making new top using stuff I have laying about:
  1. 3/4" oak board, perfectly flat.
  2. 3/4" exterior ply- warped- thinking I could make it double thickness ie 1 1/2" thick and glue the warped plywood back to back to help flatten. Is that too thick to be useful tho?
While I am at it, should I make the new tops larger as the current table is never big enough! (if so how big without being too cumbersome?)

Thank you in advance for your opinions
 

Ttrees

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Hello
Difficult to get an idea of what you're looking for, something for site work or for a workshop?
If for a workshop and going the traditional route, and you're planning to use a hand plane, then you need something to brace against the wall if it's going to be lightweight.
Needs to be longer than the work.
Have a look at sticking a hefty sleeper on top, or a whole top if you like

This might be the solution to the workmate situation, making a sawhorse or two
might be the best portable solution like below to get something which you could work on
Screenshot-2020-10-29 All Replies on Work bench smack down LumberJocks com ~ woodworking commu...png


Or Kris Harbour's trestles possibly?


Save the workmate for something else where it shines IMO.

Tom
 

Jameshow

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Have a solid workmate sadly let down by crappy mdf top which has swelled; time to replace.

Would like your opinions of making new top using stuff I have laying about:
  1. 3/4" oak board, perfectly flat.
  2. 3/4" exterior ply- warped- thinking I could make it double thickness ie 1 1/2" thick and glue the warped plywood back to back to help flatten. Is that too thick to be useful tho?
While I am at it, should I make the new tops larger as the current table is never big enough! (if so how big without being too cumbersome?)

Thank you in advance for your opinions
I would go for plywood I fact the original workmates used ply. Some were 36mm deep in some areas!
 

clogs

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use ply......although one of mine has a top made from a pallet......
ifu need a bigger portable bench get another workmat and use 1/2 a sheet of ply...
if u really want it stiff screw the top on.....
 

KeenToLearn

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Ttrees- that would be the gold standard!

I just need something portable for general work that will fit in back of estate car. Thank you all for your input though. Plywood it is then. Ill glue the warped plywood back to back to straighten it, but that will make it 1 1/2" thick- is that too thick or the stronger the better? Any worthwhile mods should I make to standard design while I'm at it? Like, should I make the 2 jaws bigger, or shall I make as standard and just clamp bigger top on when required like I do now?
 
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I had exactly the same fail so I 've 'upgraded', mine using cleaned up heat-treated pallet wood.

I didn't occur to me to make them bigger, so I just use the mdf was a template, dog holes and all.

I have a temp bench (for the last year mind you) and I've just screwed a discarded counter top to the Workmates. I have no problem with racking because the end is braced by some cabinets. A pile of lumber underneath keeps it solid.
 

TRITON

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I'd opt for ply too, or above some sort of faced ply. Oak is prone to seasonal movement, and while flat now, it might not be flat in winter(Or summer) Plus ply is easier to get, for when the top becomes worn or damaged, and theres nothing to prepare, as in you dont need to plane the surface.
Plus you can make nicer things in oak than you can in ply. So keep it for that.
 

Ttrees

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Ttrees- that would be the gold standard!

I just need something portable for general work that will fit in back of estate car. Thank you all for your input though. Plywood it is then. Ill glue the warped plywood back to back to straighten it, but that will make it 1 1/2" thick- is that too thick or the stronger the better? Any worthwhile mods should I make to standard design while I'm at it? Like, should I make the 2 jaws bigger, or shall I make as standard and just clamp bigger top on when required like I do now?
Makes sense now that this is one instance is where it might shine.
Here's another solution for fun, if you do need to plane long stuff sometime.
Screenshot from 2020-10-10 07-40-38.png

Screenshot from 2020-10-10 07-41-01.png
 

gcusick

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The original Workmate (I have one dating from ~1974 - one owner from new, never raced or rallied) had a top made from 18mm birch ply, with a doubler along the leading edge. The dog holes in the top had pressed-in metal bushes.
 

Sideways

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The original Workmate (I have one dating from ~1974 - one owner from new, never raced or rallied) had a top made from 18mm birch ply, with a doubler along the leading edge. The dog holes in the top had pressed-in metal bushes.
I'm a fan of these and though it took a lot of searching I now own two original cast aluminium workmates. One I renovated with solid maple tops and is v nice to use, the second is original as above and being somewhat battered it gets all the rough jobs like angle grinding, etc. Thick birch ply is durable for abusive work if that's your need. I'd seal it well against rain and spills is all.
 

chris.s

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my workmate plus from the mid 80's has been badly abused and only one rubber foot survives but the ply top has never required replacement.

I like the reason why the workmate was built

he had used an expensive Swedish chair as a sawhorse and inadvertently cut its leg off
 

Jacko264

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Hi all
the tops on my work mate give up the ghost so I made two new ones out of decking board that I had laying about in the garage I did it about three years ago and they are as good today after been used many times
Graham
 

OCtoolguy

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I have one of the old original Workmates and mine is in great condition after all these years. The original top is 3/4" plywood but where the two jaws come together, it is doubled to be 1 1/2" thickness so I'd say that gluing up the two pieces of plywood will do just fine. Just extra weight.
 
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