View Poll Results: What wood should I choose for my new bench?

Voters
45. You may not vote on this poll
  • Hard maple, despite the price

    10 22.22%
  • Beech

    9 20.00%
  • Pine, after all it will work exactly the same

    21 46.67%
  • Any other wood

    5 11.11%
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Thread: Bench wood choice

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Catalunya
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    4,632

    Bench wood choice

    I want to build a new workbench and I never start because I'm always dubious about the kind of wood to use.

    The choice would be between.
    Hard maple
    Pine
    Beech

    Being hard maple the most epensive and pine the least, beec is in between but tends to warp and move a lot with seasons.

    Any suggestion will be appreciated
    Best regards,
    Toni

    __________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ _________________
    web site:http://www.toniciuraneta.com
    I also dream of a shop with north light where my hands can be busy, my soul rest and my mind wander...

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    somewhere east of Queen Creek, AZ - South East of Phoenix
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    8,529
    How about Ash. It's a good hard wood but less expensive then Maple.
    "There’s a lot of work being done today that doesn’t have any soul in it. The technique may be the utmost perfection, yet it is lifeless. It doesn’t have a soul. I hope my furniture has a soul to it." - Sam Maloof
    The Pessimist complains about the wind; The Optimist expects it to change;The Realist adjusts the sails.~ William Arthur Ward

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Kodak, TN
    Posts
    6
    Here are some pics of the one I did this spring out of ash.

    I looked at hard maple first and elected to go the ash route after much research. Very happy with it.

    Jim
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails IMG_0659 (Medium).JPG   IMG_0660 (Medium).JPG   IMG_0672 (Medium).JPG  

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    somewhere east of Queen Creek, AZ - South East of Phoenix
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    8,529
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Eller View Post
    Here are some pics of the one I did this spring out of ash.

    I looked at hard maple first and elected to go the ash route after much research. Very happy with it.

    Jim
    So jim would you reccomend Ash ?....
    "There’s a lot of work being done today that doesn’t have any soul in it. The technique may be the utmost perfection, yet it is lifeless. It doesn’t have a soul. I hope my furniture has a soul to it." - Sam Maloof
    The Pessimist complains about the wind; The Optimist expects it to change;The Realist adjusts the sails.~ William Arthur Ward

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    ozarks
    Posts
    4,993
    toni,
    i like a soft bench top....at least softer than most of the wood i work....
    pine is stable and cheap, easy to flatten.......and much as i hate to say it this probably won`t be your last bench.
    [SIZE="1"] associated with several importers and manufacturers.[/SIZE]

  6. #6
    Tony...

    I'm in the planning stages for a new bench myself, and so have been doing a lot of research on this. I've read some books, searched the internet and am now studying (that's more than reading) Christopher Schwartz's book "Workbenches". I highly recommend this book if you've actually begun the process of designing your bench. Lots of thought-provoking stuff. It's much more than what wood to use for the top, but he has an excellent discussion on that as well. Not trying to steal his thunder, but he talks about the following important properties of wood for the top:

    stiffness, so it can span distance without requiring a complex undercarriage;
    weight...should be heavy;
    resistance to denting, for the obvious reasons.

    There are charts in his book for various woods that specify how they stack up in the above areas. Basically there is not one wood that stands above all others. One of his favorite benches he made from southern yellow pine (he does not recommend white pine...too soft...although Tod would no doubt disagree). I'm using maple because I was given three logs a couple of years ago that I milled, and they are now ready to be a bench top. If that hadn't happened I'd be using ash, because I have a good supply of that, but maple is finer-grained. I have one large beech tree in my little woods but do not have the heart to take it down or I'd be considering that. Whatever you have, or can get the most economically, that meets the above requirements should do the job.

    If you face-glue the boards (requires more stock but is the best way to get it 3" thick or more) then the movement of beech won't be a disqualifying factor.

    Will be interested in hearing what you select and why.

    Cheers.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    falcon heights, minnesota
    Posts
    5,609
    i used pine for my workbenches toni because i knew that they were going to probably see a lot of use and abuse over the years. i made the benches so that the top boards could be easily removed and replaced.
    benedictione omnes bene

    www.burroviejowoodworking.com

    check out my etsy store, buroviejowoodworking

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    ABQ NM
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    30,008
    Quote Originally Posted by Don Baer View Post
    How about Ash. It's a good hard wood but less expensive then Maple.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Eller View Post
    I looked at hard maple first and elected to go the ash route after much research. Very happy with it.
    Perhaps ash isn't readily available in Spain? Might be why it's not on the list.

    Toni, I've not built a bench, but of the ones I've used, most have been pine, and they worked well. I'm like Tod in that I'd prefer a bench that's softer than most of the woods I'd be working. I would expect it to get a bit beat up, but that's what it's there for. I'd make it replaceable, but chances are, I'd never see the need to replace it.

    I'm planning to make a couple of benchtops in the near future to go on top of rolling cabinets, and I'm going to use some salvaged pine that I have laying around.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

    workingwoods.com

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Inside the Beltway
    Posts
    2,666
    Toni,

    Your conditions are different from those in the USA. Availability and price are *much* different. Luckily, you've got the net, so there's no lack of research ability for design, etc.

    I'm voting with Tod on this one. It's very unlikely this will be your last bench. And there's an old joke that says "you need a bench to make a good bench."

    Me, I made a lot of mistakes on my first bench. Thank goodness I made it out of pine (actually, it was labeled hem/fir, but it looks like pine to me!). My second was better, but I was still learning. It's made of the same stuff. My next one will be much better, based on what I've learned.

    But I'll likely stick to the same wood. I've seen a lot of people spend a lot of money and time making a bench that's fit for a museum. I'll never have a bench like that, and when I found myself succumbing to that temptation (add this design feature, add that design element) I deliberately scaled back. It's easy to fall into that trap: Fred has this feature, Bob has that one, Julius made his out of purpleheart. But really, what you need is a flat surface that holds the work. You can get that with pine...

    Thanks,

    Bill

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    falcon heights, minnesota
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    5,609
    just remember one rule of thumb about building benches toni, if you have made it too pretty to work on, you've made a table, not a workbench...
    benedictione omnes bene

    www.burroviejowoodworking.com

    check out my etsy store, buroviejowoodworking

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