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phil p

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Hi,

I'm soon to start my first workbench build, nothing too fancy as I'm only a hobbiest but I would still like to make it fairly decent job and within my capabilities.

Regarding the top, Ive watched quite a few videos on people laminating 4 x 2 timbers to form a 4 inch thick top, however as it won't take a lot of abuse I would like to just glue the ends together to make the top just the 2 inches thick.

Would this be O.K. or are there any negatives doing it this way.

Regards
Phil
 

MikeG.

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Not sure I'd do that. Construction pine in wide boards will cup. I think I'd stick with multiple 4x2s, taking a little care with grain orientation. As an aside, I'm all for a robust bench, but I think this fashion for 4" thick tops is pretty ridiculous.
 

AndyT

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I used 3x2 on mine. It's absolutely fine, stiff enough but cheap and easy to source. Finished thickness is about 2 1/2" (65mm) after planing off the rounded corners and getting it flat.
 

Phil Pascoe

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Yes. People hark back to "traditional" benches as the ultimate to aim for. They forget that they were often designed for use by people (who were often shorter than than is now the norm) in places that required mortices etc. to be chopped by hand in large baulks - they weren't designed for light hobby use. You should as far as is possible be working over or very near a leg, anyway.
Mine's two pieces about 275mm x 70mm, African mahogany of some description supported only at the ends - it doesn't move.
 

phil p

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Hi,
It’s intended for my garage which is insulated and covered with Wyroc boards.
Regards
Phil
 

thetyreman

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depends how serious you are? I'd say over engineer it where possible, I'd make my bench a lot bigger than it is if I had the time to make another one and I'd also have a no53 not 52 1/2 vice for the extra weight and reach, my top is similar thickenss to andy T said and it's never been an issue.
 

AJB Temple

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Key thing with a bench is plenty of weight, very sturdy legs and low centre of gravity. Especially if you are a big fella and intend to chop out mortices etc.
 

That would work

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Any 2 inch (at the MOST) pine. Nail it down screw it down whatever. In 3 months time if it cups etc just plane it off. The thing is don't over think it. Make it strong make it solid job done.
 

Freddyjersey2016

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My 35 year old workbench top is made from 6x 1.5" PAR pine boards - on a 4x2 sawn pine ladder underframe - and 4x4 legs, with a bottom shelf loaded with about 10 toolboxes. The weight of the toolboxes stops it moving whatever I do (and gives me somewhere to store the toolboxes).
I see no reason to go to a 4" worktop, unless you are chopping out mortises all day everyday (in which case you would surely buy a mortiser). I don't know where the craze for laminated bench tops came from, but it from the posts I see a lot of new woodworkers spend months making a bench - I wonder how many ever make anything else?
 

thetyreman

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Freddyjersey2016":3u4tnw8o said:
I wonder how many ever make anything else?
I'd hope 90% of them make at least one project on their new bench otherwise what's the point in making one? :D
 

Sideways

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Buy an 8x4' sheet of 18mm birch ply, rip it in half and screw + glue the two sheets together.
It's heavy, stable, flat and 36mm of quality ply will support your entire family jumping up and down on it....
 

MikeG.

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Sideways":2lbgd276 said:
Buy an 8x4' sheet of 18mm birch ply, rip it in half and screw + glue the two sheets together.
It's heavy, stable, flat and 36mm of quality ply will support your entire family jumping up and down on it....
I'm sure the top of this works fine. It's the edge I worry about. Bench edges get beaten up quite badly over the years, and the edges of ply produces murderous and maddening splinters. I can't see any form of lipping surviving either.
 

colinc

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I recently made my second and probably last bench which is a split top Roubo which does everything I need of it, but it was a lot of work. My first I made in the early 1980’s. It had a double thickness 3/4” birch ply top edged in timber and it is still doing service in a friend’s workshop. I think that the design was pretty good as it could be made with simple tools and readily available timber. The plans actually called for chipboard for the top and I guess MDF could be used as the top is supported from underneath so shouldn’t sag. The plan was in a 1970’s book called ‘The complete home carpenter’. I just pulled it off the shelf and photographed a couple of pages. It bolts together so has been easy to move around. I found that it was plenty rigid enough for most things but I did screw it to the wall in most places I had it. Edit: plenty of copies of that book on eBay starting a £4: https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/The-Golden-H ... SwQXldAjLj
 

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Artiglio

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My late fathers last workbench is a 6x2 and 4x2 frame with a 19mm chipboard top, (what he had to hand when he moved into the workshop )he earnt a living off of it for 33 years and its still used 10 years after he passed. No bells or whistles, one vice ( that he’d had since first setting up on his own in the late 60’s and it was old then, it eventually wore out and was replaced)overhangs each end for clamping ( and somewhere to hang a few tools) shelf underneath that did little,more than collect stuff that other wise got in the way.
My bench copies it but has 2 layers of 19mm osb as a top. But i’m an enthusiast ( wishing i’d paid more attention to what i watched and helped him do)doing an old house up not a time served tradesman.
 

AJB Temple

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Just to chuck a pebble in the pond....

I have two traditional benches. One in my workshop (a Sjoberg that I have had since I started woodworking) and other larger one in what will become my utility room when I get round to fitting it out.

However, in doing my kitchen build, I have used, just about entirely, two heavy duty trestles with a 8ft by 4ft sheet of thick ply, a sheet of thickish MDF on top (as I want to use the ply eventually) and a sacrificial sheet of 10mm MDF on top of that which I bought for £2 from B&Q as it was a bit damaged.

This has become my go to workbench. I use it for everything, including prepping chunky bits of oak, track sawing big sheets, and so on. I can position my temporary table saw to use the table as an extra large outfield if necessary. Often as not I will use an old B&D workmate pro as a vice.

This set up has made me rethink my workshop entirely. My actual workshop is too narrow to have a big table like that in it, so I am now thinking about converting another building. Once you start working on a big table, it's hard to go back. Next time around I will do one of those tops full of holes for accurately positioning and cutting.

If you have the space, think laterally and maybe abandon the traditional bench except for vice work.
 

phil p

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Thanks for all the tips guys.

All very useful ideas as normal when I ask for help on here.

Regards
Phil
 

Blackdiamond2

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A planked top like the one used one Richard Maguire's (The English Woodworker) or Rex Krueger's English-style benches seem like an ideal option for a beginner. There are big disadvantages to man-made boards like plywood, chipboard or MDF for a workbench top, such as not being able to flatten it, and being unable to use holdfasts in it. Honestly, holdfasts are a bit of a gamechanger so that's a big one for me - if I had to chose between a vise or holdfasts on my bench, I'd chose holdfasts. Viseless woodworking is seeing a bit of an increase in popularity recently. Your workbench top will almost certainly not be completely flat when you're finished, so being unable to flatten it isn't great - it's not a dealbreaker itself, but combined with the holdfasts thing and the ease & similar cost of a planked top, I see no reason not to go for the planked top. Working on top of real wood instead of a engineered product just feels way nicer, too!

In my opinion, go make something like Rex Krueger's (on Youtube) English workbench build. It's a great first workbench, easy to make and rich with features - his free video series on it is easy to build along to and he has free (rough) plans available. The wide boards that make up the benchtop do cup a bit initially, in the first year or so, but one they're finished they stay stable forevermore - unless you let it get rained on regularly or move it to a desert or something. The English Woodworker has a similar bench build, which looks a bit more complex and costs £20 on sale. I haven't got it myself, but it looks good, so go check it out for yourself and decide if it's worth it - I've always found money spent on getting new knowlege is almost more satisfying than a new tool. I'm tempted even buy that series just for his great Bolton accent and mannerisms!

Also, this is all assuming you're doing mostly hand-tool woodworking - if you already have a planer, jointer, table saw, dust collector, router table, bandsaw, mitre saw and hollow chisel morticer then a simple plywood or engineered top will do you just fine. :wink:
 
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