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Thread: Work Bench-Top Questions

  1. #1
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    Work Bench-Top Questions

    I have been considering putting a MDF top on my bench, and I have alot of questions.

    I tried seaching the forum for info on this, but I must have done something wrong, as I know I have read that some people have done this.

    As I recall, the MDF was doubled up (2 - 3/4in pieces). Were they gluded together, screwed, or both? If they were glued, what type of glue was used? Did you edge the MDF with wood?

    What was the MDF sealed with? was it BLO? Did that keep the top from letting glue stick to it?

    Did you put in dog holes? If so are they working ok?

    Overall, how has the bench top held up?

    I will be mounting a bench top Delta 12in Drill press to one corner of the top. Will this be a problem with the MDF?

    Thanks!
    We create with our hands in wood what our mind sees in thought.
    Disclosure: Formerly was a part-time sales person & instructor at WoodCraft in Buffalo, NY.
    www.tinyurl.com/thewoodshoppe

  2. #2
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    Mine's here.

    As I recall, the MDF was doubled up (2 - 3/4in pieces). Were they gluded together, screwed, or both?

    4 sheets of 3/4" MDF glued and screwed. NOTE - keep an accurate layout drawing of your screw locations for dog hole and other additions later. I keep a hardcopy in an envelope tacked to a support member under the bench so my PC can't "lose" it ;-)

    If they were glued, what type of glue was used?

    Titebond II as it was on hand.

    Did you edge the MDF with wood?

    Yes and don't make my mistake here; I "saved" some money by buying KD fir at the BORG. Despite letting it acclimate, properly stored, in my shop for over 2 months there was so much waste I could have bought good quality fir at the lumber yard and been money ahead. To add insult to injury, the BORG fir has continued to shrink to the point where it will eventually need to be replaced; probably when I change to my new vises.

    On the upside, I simply glued the edging on and it has been faultless.

    What was the MDF sealed with? was it BLO? Did that keep the top from letting glue stick to it?

    I used a 1:1 BLO and mineral spirits mix. Several coats, ALL surfaces. After a week to be sure it was all gassed off, I waxed the top. I have waxed it once more in the last year. Glue never sticks ;-)

    Did you put in dog holes? If so are they working OK?

    3/4" round. Working great.

    Overall, how has the bench top held up?

    This is after a year and a half: Click image for larger version. 

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    I will be mounting a bench top Delta 12in Drill press to one corner of the top. Will this be a problem with the MDF?

    No, but I would probably bolt through with fender washers. Again I emphasize support from underneath in the form of cross-members. JMHO.

    Along that line, I used lag screws to hold my vises on after numerous folks assured me this was adequate . . . they were right.
    Last edited by glenn bradley; 12-07-2008 at 05:08 PM.
    Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
    - Arthur C. Clarke

  3. #3
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    I bought a 72" X 30" X 2 1/4" Maple butcher block top from Global Industrial.
    There are also other places that sell them.

    http://www.globalindustrial.com/gcs/...picGroupKey=52




  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by glenn bradley View Post
    I used a 1:1 BLO and mineral spirits mix. Several coats, ALL surfaces. After a week to be sure it was all gassed off, I waxed the top. I have waxed it once more in the last year. Glue never sticks ;-)
    Glenn,

    Thanks for all of the info! I've never used BLO before. Does it stink up the shop? My shop is in the basement, and has a forced air furnace in one end. (not the best set up for a shop, but my garage is out of the question for a shop--so its the basement or no shop at all) I would prefer not to have my wife complaining about my shop stinking up the house for a week or so. Plus, I wouldn't want an explosion/fire while it is off gassing.
    We create with our hands in wood what our mind sees in thought.
    Disclosure: Formerly was a part-time sales person & instructor at WoodCraft in Buffalo, NY.
    www.tinyurl.com/thewoodshoppe

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Townend View Post
    I bought a 72" X 30" X 2 1/4" Maple butcher block top from Global Industrial.
    There are also other places that sell them.

    http://www.globalindustrial.com/gcs/...picGroupKey=52
    Frank, Thanks for the suggetion. The Woodcraft I work at has 2 differnet size hardwood bench tops, much like the butcher block top you mention. As I recall it is rather pricey.
    We create with our hands in wood what our mind sees in thought.
    Disclosure: Formerly was a part-time sales person & instructor at WoodCraft in Buffalo, NY.
    www.tinyurl.com/thewoodshoppe

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sean Wright View Post
    Glenn,

    Thanks for all of the info! I've never used BLO before. Does it stink up the shop? My shop is in the basement, and has a forced air furnace in one end. (not the best set up for a shop, but my garage is out of the question for a shop--so its the basement or no shop at all) I would prefer not to have my wife complaining about my shop stinking up the house for a week or so. Plus, I wouldn't want an explosion/fire while it is off gassing.
    It is a bit aromatic . The smell dies down as it dries but in a closed area you will notice when you walk in even after a few days. There is even one school of thought that BLO is "dry" when you can't smell it anymore when you stick your nose right up to the piece. In my experince, that would be a couple weeks or more!!!

    If you go a little heavier on the mineral spirits, the mixture will "dry" quicker but you will need more coats so there may not be much improvement there as far as smell and duration.

    There is danger of fire in the improper disposal method of rags that BLO and other like materials have. I have a metal bucket with a lid; I put a few inches of water in it and toss my rags / paper towels / whatever in there as I work and then take the whole deal outside to spread them to dry. Once dry, you can just toss them in the trash.

    As for the heater . . . let me check the label . . . hmmmm, it says right on the can to not use or store near open flame or in "heater areas" whatever that means specifically. My gas water heater is in my shop and the shop is still here but, I am in a ground level drafty garage.
    Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
    - Arthur C. Clarke

  7. #7
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    I salvaged a door when the office was beig re-modeled. It must be ~2.5" thick and very heavy. It is 3 feet wide and at least 7 feet long. Since the door is covered with arborite, I'm planning on putting either 1/4" hardboard or a thicker MDF piece on top.

    Would a 1/4" hardboard be sufficient for a top?


    I don't know if the core is solid lumber or chip board, but it is very heavy.

    For the base I'm planning on building a box out of plywood with 2 compatments. The compartments can be used to mount drawers or shelves. With the plywood on 5 sides, I'm hoping that the base will not sag with legs only on the ends.

  8. #8
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    Sean

    I used 1" salvaged plywood for the base of th top 3/4" high density chip board for the next layer up & 1/4" tempered Masonite for the top Wrapped in salvaged Poplar with the bench legs & stretchers out of salvaged Poplar. The original plane was out of Woodsmith where the legs were grooved on the inside & 3/4' plywood was glued & fastened between the front & back leg then I shimmed out & put a piece of peg board over the plywood. After 6 years or more its time to replace the Masonite top which is the great thing about this way of constructing the top. I'll just unscrew the Poplar end to get at the edge of the Masonite & pull it loose & replace it with a new piece. The top is approximately 3' x 6' finished with wipe on Watco finish which is nice I can just rub down with steel wool & wipe on another coat whenever it looks like it needs it including the top. I like simple & quickly replacable.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails tn_Out in the shop 041.jpg   my bench 1.jpg   Leg & stretcher.jpg   Bench with Unisaw.jpg  
    Last edited by Bart Leetch; 12-10-2008 at 06:26 AM.
    "Forget the flat stuff slap something on the spinny thing and lets go, we're burning daylight" Bart Leetch
    "If it ain't round you may be a knuckle dragger""Turners drag their nuckles too, they just do it at a higher RPM"Bart

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Brubacher View Post
    Would a 1/4" hardboard be sufficient for a top?
    I have a rolling worktable that I put a 3/16" tempered hardboard replaceable top on (couldn't get 1/4" at the time). I've beat on it for 3 years and have yet to replace it . . . but I can do so easily.
    Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
    - Arthur C. Clarke

  10. #10
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    Mine has two 3/4" sheets that are glued together and sealed with paste wax. Hard maple for the edges. If you where closer I could get youe full sheets with one good side for $3 each.

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