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Workbench top help please

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rafezetter

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I'm in the middle of re-doing my workbench come assembly table (frame is complete), now that I know more about what I want, but I'm still stuck as to what to do with the main top (it's a split level bench to accomodate my small tablesaw) with flip up router table at the other end.

Options are:

- Thin top, MFT style across whole thing.
- Thick top with dogholes to take proper holdfasts - both options include a tail vice.
- or half and half (either above options) with the other half of the bench top plain and opening up like an old school desk for additional storage underneath. The rails are 100mm deep and I was considering using that storage for all the tablesaw paraphenalia.

My reasoning for reducing the MFT/doghole area is I have a small mini bench/moxon vice and to date I've only ever used the dog hole section two or three times for planing, and so far I've not needed a larger area where campling into the middle of the workbench area was required, the old bench had no mft/dogholes in it at all.

I should say this section is also just over a meter square with the table 2m x 1m - the plan is when I need the whole area as a worksurface surface I will put boards across the whole thing.

The main open section under the top between the legs... undecided, possibly move my aircompressor under there so I can baffle the sound a little.

One of my main questions is those people who have thin MFT style tops, have you ever thought it was insufficient, and if so, what were you doing at the time?

I do have 2 proper holdfasts, generously given by another member (GS Haydon if memory serves), but I also have clamps where the heads come off that I can slip into the holes for clamping that way.

I'm not envisioning that I'll need to chop out mortices anytime (pillar drill) or need a bench top strong enough for me to whale on.

I know I could just fit an MFT and try it - but I'd appreciate any input or experience anyone may have.
 

Mrs C

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I think the lack of responses possibly indicates that it just depends........

My workbench is half traditional with a vice and half mft. The multitude of clamping options with the mft gets used for all sorts of things and comes into its own as my bench is against a wall so I can’t clamp from the back.

Try it and see - if you really get frustrated with the number of screws that fall through the holes you could probably sell it on in the for sale bit of this site.
 

MikeG.

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Is it your only bench? If so, then a thick top. You just have to have somewhere reliably robust and stable. Bomb-proof, if you like. If it is a second bench, then yer-pays-yer-money-and-takes-yer-choice.
 

rafezetter

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MikeG.":2snysxjs said:
Is it your only bench? If so, then a thick top. You just have to have somewhere reliably robust and stable. Bomb-proof, if you like. If it is a second bench, then yer-pays-yer-money-and-takes-yer-choice.
Thanks for the replies, I was beginning to wonder....

Yes it'll be my only bench, no space for another. It is pretty stable (uneven floor not withstanding), the legs are almost 80mm square, and the rails are all made from the stiles of reclaimed 4 panel doors, so pretty thick.

iirc the recommended minimum thickness for metal holdfasts is about 3 inches?

It's interesting you have a half and half Mrs C, it's not absolutely necessary for the storage option I was considering, just one of many 'druthers.
 

Mrs C

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Yes, you do need somewhere solid. I also couldn’t be without my vice, but having this on the mft section would just get in the way.

It’s down to personal preference and working out what works for you in the space you have available.
 

MikeG.

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rafezetter":2ykpgl1c said:
........iirc the recommended minimum thickness for metal holdfasts is about 3 inches?.........
I doubt it. My wooden ones work perfectly well in a worktop about 45mm thick. Personally, I'd suggest ex 2" timber, and if you then need to deepen up some holes for dogs or holdfasts, you could glue some scraps on underneath and drill through them.
 

Steve Maskery

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MikeG.":2fguyi2z said:
rafezetter":2fguyi2z said:
........iirc the recommended minimum thickness for metal holdfasts is about 3 inches?.........
I doubt it..
So do I. I've been looking at holdfasts myself and some of them specifically say that they work best on thinner (50-60mm) tops, rather than thicker ones.
 

marcros

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I think that the holdfasts will struggle to work on 75mm tops. Iirc, they will need counterboring
 

memzey

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My holdfasts work extremely well on a top that’s nearly 3 1/2”. Got them from WSH.
 

memzey

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They are the ones I use on my bench. As an aside; the auger they come with is brilliant.
 
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