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Solid workbench worktop - wet wood

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PaulArthur

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Hi everyone

I’m moving towards making a workbench, and want a french style bench, rather than an English one with massive aprons. I have no idea what wood to make it out of, and what it’ll cost me, but I really would love a big old slab on top, rather than laminated smaller pieces.

I’ve seen somewhere that’s got a Beech slab, 4” thick and plenty big enough, but it’s only been cut in the last few months. Christopher Schwarz says that this is all fine as long as the frame is solid and made of dry wood, and although I’ll need to flatten it a few times a year for a few years, it’ll sort me right out. But Richard Maguire says it’s an absolute no no.

Anyone got any experience of this sort of thing? And also, what happens if the top splits a little? Surely as long as I flatten it, it’ll still be ok, won’t it?

I’m still fannying around and not starting - any help greatly appreciated.
 

Steliz

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As a beginner myself -

PaulArthur":1i5sytyg said:
although I’ll need to flatten it a few times a year for a few years
would put me right off.
 

PaulArthur

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Yes, I see that, but the cost of a whopping great bit of dry timber frightens me too! And the whole point of this exercise seems to be to learn how to plane a bit of wood, right?

I might just have to suck it up and get my glue on.
 

thetyreman

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there's nothing wrong with laminated tops, I wouldn't use green wood for a workbench, beech is going to move like crazy! and the wider the board the more it'll move in general.
 

custard

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Richard Maguire is a woodworker. Chris Schwarz is a journalist.

So it's no surprise that it's Richard advice that is correct.

You wouldn't just be planing your top flat as it dried; you'd be wondering how to deal with all the shakes plus the gross distortion that has twisted the under frame and misaligned your vice.
 

Orraloon

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Like the rest say don't do it. You want a bench thats good to work on as soon as it's built not something that you have to be always messing about with. Even dry a single slab is more likely to warp than a laminated top. Aim for as close to quarter sawn as you can get. As to cost pine will make a reasonable bench top if you select the more knot free boards.
Regards
John
 

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