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That would work

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Hi all,
Need to make a new bench. If I could justify it I would buy some nice thick beech and glue up strips of it. However that's not happening.
In the past I have made a top by glueing layers of MDF up to about 100mm and finishing with a top layer of birch ply with hardwood edging. Unfortunately that bench is lost now.
I am considering either doing that again or perhaps glueing up a load of 4x2's side on with a top layer (sacrificial) of ply.
What have other members done I am wondering to get a good solid, thick top without spending a fortune?
 

novocaine

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2x3 laminated across the width. don't give a ....... about it being hardwood, I'd rather have the bench get dinged than the work get dinged.
 

Trevanion

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Someone here (I’ve forgotten who sorry, please chime in :D) suggested the other day buying a 40mm x 960mm x 3m laminated beech worktop such as the ones worktop express sell for about £250, cut it in half and glue the two halves to make up a 40mm thick bench that’s super solid. Ingenious and cost effective idea!
 

MikeG.

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I bet I'm not the only one thinking that "£250" and "cost effective" don't belong in the same sentence when it comes to bench tops. I'd expect to build an entire bench, including the top, for less than half that.
 

That would work

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Back in my joinery shop days it was the old style benches with an 'apron' along the front that adds a bit of stiffness to the top. Although annoying not being able to put a cramp over the front edge. We used parana pine boards on top as they were (are?) available in wider widths. Nothing fancy at all really.
I'm erring towards laying up 4 or 3x2''s side on. Even cls with a decent ply top
 

Rich C

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Mine is 2x3s laid edge on and laminated.
Definitely not worth paying a lot for something you'll probably ding up in short order, and being solid timber they are easy to plane flat.

I have a fairly deep apron at the front - I just use sash cramps to clamp things down on the front edge.
 

Benchwayze

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I know of one forum member who had a bench made of MDF layers. I haven't seen a post by him for an age; the last I recall he fitted a Benchcrafted tail or wagon vice to it. He swore by his MDF creation.

John
 

Benchwayze

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Trevanion":3eruj676 said:
Someone here (I’ve forgotten who sorry, please chime in :D) suggested the other day buying a 40mm x 960mm x 3m laminated beech worktop such as the ones worktop express sell for about £250, cut it in half and glue the two halves to make up a 40mm thick bench that’s super solid. Ingenious and cost effective idea!
That was me Trev, and I realise it's not exactly cheap. Except on labour; which at 80, makes sense to me! I could soldier on with what I have; laminated Luan (Phillpine Mahogany) top 2" thick, on top of 36mm of MDF, but it's in such a mess after 40 odd years. The sheets of Luan were dirt cheap on offer at my local sawmills, and the MDF was probably 1/4 what it costs today. The Luan is quite soft but it looked fine when new. :mrgreen: The 'folded' beech top would be 80mm thick BTW as the worktops are 40mm thick. The under works would be from 7" square Douglas Fir I got on eBay for £25.00. Where would you buy a workbench with a beech top over three inches thick for less than £300.00? Does that make more sense now Mike?
 

Ttrees

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Y'all must have thicknessers, or don't do much laminating :p
Crack open your bottles and all that, a solid composite fire door from a skip would be my choice.
Sitting on a sturdy frame and shimmed to perfection.
Tested with two surfaced parallel in height planks which are fully referenced off of the bench, and paired together to double the error.

Chiseling gets done on bearers as it gives much better lighting and is higher for comfort.
Bearers could be orientated on their sides as well, custom thickness to give support for timber if you have a machine close by.

Tom
 
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MikeG.":3recwak8 said:
I bet I'm not the only one thinking that "£250" and "cost effective" don't belong in the same sentence when it comes to bench tops. I'd expect to build an entire bench, including the top, for less than half that.
From beech?

As for MDF layers, it sounds like a good idea, but long term, is it really cost effective? I assume it would sag, and then you're stuffed as you can't flatten it and would it hold up to hold fasts?
 

MikeG.

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Benchwayze":3cp29cf5 said:
.....That was me Trev, and I realise it's not exactly cheap. Except on labour; which at 80, makes sense to me! I could soldier on with what I have; laminated Luan (Phillpine Mahogany) top 2" thick, on top of 36mm of MDF, but it's in such a mess after 40 odd years. The sheets of Luan were dirt cheap on offer at my local sawmills, and the MDF was probably 1/4 what it costs today. The Luan is quite soft but it looked fine when new. :mrgreen: The 'folded' beech top would be 80mm thick BTW as the worktops are 40mm thick. The under works would be from 7" square Douglas Fir I got on eBay for £25.00. Where would you buy a workbench with a beech top over three inches thick for less than £300.00? Does that make more sense now Mike?
It makes sense, John, but is just not an approach I would consider. I'd achieve a strong benchtop in other ways, and, as I said, and entire bench for less than half your worktop cost.
 

MikeG.

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transatlantic":2to91m39 said:
MikeG.":2to91m39 said:
I bet I'm not the only one thinking that "£250" and "cost effective" don't belong in the same sentence when it comes to bench tops. I'd expect to build an entire bench, including the top, for less than half that.
From beech?
No, but the top could be.
 

MikeG.

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Ttrees":2y4jtgoq said:
......Crack open your bottles and all that, a solid composite fire door from a skip would be my choice........
I have to correct you Tom, because you say this all the time. A fire door is indistinguishable from any other solid core door, other than by its seals, hardware, and signage. There is nothing about a fire door which makes it any stronger, flatter or more robust than any other solid core door. All solid core doors are made from exactly the same stuff as kitchen worktops, and although the one you found is flat, there is no reason to think that any others would be, not that that is any sort of necessity for a bench.
 

That would work

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Something that you can plane flat makes sense, although i'm not after a surface plate! 4x2 (38x94) cls side on (if its the cheapest option) with one edge planed off to loose the radius for the top side may be winning so far. Might do cramped ends as well just because they are nice.
 

Ttrees

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I don't think the ones I see often in skips from the industrial estates is kitchen worktop material inside.
These are extremely heavy, easily twice the weight and some, compared of any exterior solid hardwood door I have ever lifted.
 

MikeG.

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I'm not making this up, Tom. I'm an architect. I have specified these things literally by the thousand. There is nothing about a solid core door which makes it a fire door other than the seals, signage and hardware (other than a workmanship criteria which is irrelevant when the thing is in a skip). I'm suggesting you drop the "fire" bit from the "fire door" you mention constantly. And if you don't think your bench has a chipboard inner, then you could always take a saw to it.

To be fair, some manufacturers use LVL rather than chipboard, but they're in the tiny minority in my experience.
 

thetyreman

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if I made a bench again, I would use a hardwood either beech or ash,

beech isn't particuarly expensive, it's one of the cheapest hardwoods, any decent timber yard should be able to cut it for you if you have a cutting list.

I used redwood pine for mine and it was cheap to make, by far the most expensive bit was the vice, I have also modified mine with drawers a platform and extra tool well, all of this adds some weight which helps.
 

Benchwayze

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MikeG.":20nu68mn said:
Benchwayze":20nu68mn said:
.....That was me Trev, and I realise it's not exactly cheap. Except on labour; which at 80, makes sense to me! I could soldier on with what I have; laminated Luan (Phillpine Mahogany) top 2" thick, on top of 36mm of MDF, but it's in such a mess after 40 odd years. The sheets of Luan were dirt cheap on offer at my local sawmills, and the MDF was probably 1/4 what it costs today. The Luan is quite soft but it looked fine when new. :mrgreen: The 'folded' beech top would be 80mm thick BTW as the worktops are 40mm thick. The under works would be from 7" square Douglas Fir I got on eBay for £25.00. Where would you buy a workbench with a beech top over three inches thick for less than £300.00? Does that make more sense now Mike?
It makes sense, John, but is just not an approach I would consider. I'd achieve a strong benchtop in other ways, and, as I said, and entire bench for less than half your worktop cost.
Ah but then Mike you're not 80 years old and recently out of hospital after two months fighting infection and learning to walk again. (Not seeking sympathy by the way!!!) I just want an easy to make bench that isn't a 'lash-up' and looks good. Also I started on a beech top in 1950, so I thought why not spend a bit and have a beech top. Only after use will I know if it's a wise move. If it really needs flattening anytime soon it will be removed, split down the middle and initially go through my Sedgwick P/T machine. And I am sure it's going to look fine.

John (hammer)
 

Benchwayze

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That would work":3pkf9pji said:
Back in my joinery shop days it was the old style benches with an 'apron' along the front that adds a bit of stiffness to the top. Although annoying not being able to put a cramp over the front edge. We used parana pine boards on top as they were (are?) available in wider widths. Nothing fancy at all really.
I'm erring towards laying up 4 or 3x2''s side on. Even cls with a decent ply top
I believe Parana pine is a protected species now. Apparently its seed is distributed by the wind, and it tends to grow in small stands that are few and far between, especially since it was in widespread use for cill boards and parts of staircases. I like it for easy working and some of the gorgeous grain patterns it can display.

John (hammer)
 
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