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Thread: How to build a flat benchtop

  1. #1
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    How to build a flat benchtop

    Well, I know how but I am open to new ideas. I want to 'UPgrade the bench top on my big bench. I want a flat surface for assembling things. I am very tempted to build another traditional wood top complete with dog holes and vices. But I have a small bench like that the thoughts of building and then spending hours hand planning it flat make me realize that it's just overkill for what I need. I just need a flat surface to work on, not another cabinet makers bench top.

    So, tell me how you have built one. I am sort of thinking MDF might make a good flat surface? Maybe a couple layers of MDF? I guess what I am really looking for is ideas on how to build a good frame to support the top and keep it flat.

    What ever I build will be covered with tempered hardboard and then waxed so glue doesn't stick to it. When it get damaged it's easy and cheap to replace.

    Jeff
    God grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked anyway,
    the good fortune to run into the ones I do,
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  2. #2
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    Jeff a torsion box would be good for a flat surface. Then you could cover it with laminate. Makes for a smooth surface and glue doesn't stick.

    Doug

  3. #3
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    jeff, doug hit it......torsion box.....i like using 3/4 baltic for the frame cause it`s strong-n-stable....i`d also use a single layer of waxed mdf for the work surface....screw it in place so you can flip it when you ding it up.....tod
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  4. #4
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    I am planning on doing the same thing Jeff. The best answer that I can find is to do it just like Doug and Tod are saying. A strong frame with fold up legs for storage and adjustable heigth. Hadn't figured this out for sure yet. A tall order I guess.

    One quandry is the size. I am thinking 3' by 6' due to weight. Maybe that is to small for all around use. What size are you going for Jeff?
    Last edited by Allen Bookout; 02-24-2007 at 04:14 PM.

  5. #5
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    I was thinking torsion box too. Just waiting to see what everyone said.

    Allen, I don't care about the weight cause it is going to replace one I have now on a stationary bench. But I am thinking 8 foot long by 30-36" wide? What ever I have now. I want something as wide as is practical. I think 48" would be nice for assembly but the bench is a tad tall and now way I can reach across that.
    God grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked anyway,
    the good fortune to run into the ones I do,
    and the eyesight to tell the difference.


    Kudzu Craft Lightweight Skin on frame Kayaks.
    Custom built boats and Kits

  6. #6
    Alan DuBoff is offline Former Member (by the member's request)
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    Jeff,

    ShopNotes had a bench, some time back, which incorporated a twin-screw vise and a quick release on the front. It used 3 layers of MDF under the top, and the top was a layer of 3/4" hard maple, or similar. But the design used 3 layers of MDF under the top.

    Torsion boxes are great for assembly, but I've heard they're not that good if you're going to be pounding on the surface, maybe Doug or Tod can comment on that. I don't see many workbenches with torsion boxes, if at all, and I would suspect that is the reason, but I don't know for certain.

  7. #7
    Jeff

    I built the bench that Alan was commenting on. It is rock solid.

    Jay

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alan DuBoff View Post
    Jeff,

    ShopNotes had a bench, some time back, which incorporated a twin-screw vise and a quick release on the front. It used 3 layers of MDF under the top, and the top was a layer of 3/4" hard maple, or similar. But the design used 3 layers of MDF under the top.

    Torsion boxes are great for assembly, but I've heard they're not that good if you're going to be pounding on the surface, maybe Doug or Tod can comment on that. I don't see many workbenches with torsion boxes, if at all, and I would suspect that is the reason, but I don't know for certain.
    Alan your right I don't use my torsion box bench to beat on. I built it mostly for assembling cabinets. I don't have any close up pics but do have a few shots. I put wheels on it and 4 drawers underneath for screws, hot glue gun and screw guns.

    Attachment 5163

    Attachment 5164


    Jeff I'll try and take some close up shots of the torsion box just so you can get an idea.

    Doug

  9. #9
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    Jeff,
    sounds like a perfect time for a torsion box ala David Marks or Norm's work table.
    -Ned

  10. #10
    Alan DuBoff is offline Former Member (by the member's request)
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    I wonder if this would produce a strong, cheap surface.

    Build 2 torsion boxes, and use them as a press to laminate hardboard. I bet 4 pieces of hardboard would make a solid surface, and they cost about $6 at the BORG. Would use a lot of glue though...(i.e., messy).

    Jay, any pics of your bench? I don't have the issue in front of me, but there was some interesting things I liked about that bench, and plan to do similar with this bench I have in my garage. I think it would be better if I flipped the top over, and stacked mdf and a layer of hardwood.

    It doesn't take a very good pounding, although I've pounded on it quite hard with some sheet steel and a sledge... I'd like to redo it with mdf like that bench you built.

    I like the idea of the mdf, although I HATE to cut it...no biggie, I have a dust filter mask.

    Last week I was cutting ceramic tile, that stuff is nasty...even with the mask...I tried cutting some silicon carbide with a masonary and/or metal abraisive blade...the silicon carbide just laughed at it...

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