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Thread: Shop Countertops

  1. #1

    Shop Countertops

    I am building a new shop and have about 60 feet of counters and cabinets that I want to build. I have seen articles suggesting the contertops to be made of plywood, MDF, masonite and laminate. My shop is for my own amusement. I am retired and will be mostly working alone. I plan to build everything from cabinets, furniture and decks to toys. I want the surface to be durable. I am considering buying flooring (oak or maple) to avoid any seams across the full width. Even looked at light gage stainless steel laid over plywood. What do you use? Any problems with the materials that you have chosen? Thanks

  2. #2
    Hi Tommy. When I built my shop cabinets I used as a basis the NYW Workshop Hutch plan. I built just the bottom cabinet section, no hutch on top. I have used that plan 3 more times for cabinets in our main garage. Once you have built one carcass, you can build them by the dozen. My frames are 95" x 34 1/2" x 24". The 34 1/2" height is to that the final top hight is 36".

    The top surfaces are 3 ply. One layer of 3/4 CDX on top of the basic frame, then one layer of 3/4 BC plywood on top of that. Finally, a top surface of WilsonArt laminate or 1/4" Masonite.

    The back is 1/4" plywood. All other components are 3/4" shop grade plywood. Once the cabinet is assembled, it takes 2 men and a boy to move it around.

    Have fun.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    No, not all of SoCal is Los Angeles!
    I've used hardboard (Masonite) and even plain MDF (treated with BLO) and had no problems. I do use my surfaces semi-specifically; I don't drag heavy metal objects across plain MDF and I don't leave wet towels sitting on my hardboard.

    If you're looking for real general purpose, a lot of folks like laminate. I would just be so unhappy if I gouged my laminate top where as I can just flip my hardboard over or replace (service tempered hardboard, smooth both sides).

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Rio Rancho, NM
    Check out your local countertop manufacturer and see if they have some "rejects" that they are willing to part with for a small price or even nothing. Laminate countertops made for kitchens work just fine in the workshop--we have some that were installed 13 years ago and have worked great!

    Nancy Laird
    FWW Registered Voter and Voting Member
    Woodworker, turner, laser engraver; RETIRED!!

    A veteran is someone who, at one point in his life, wrote a blank check made payable to his country for an amount of 'up to and including my life.' If you love your country, thank a vet.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Smithville, TX
    All that you mention work pretty well. Over the years I've tried each in one work surface config or other. I've pretty much settled on birch ply tops, constructed like a typical counter top, 3/4 ply with 3/4 edge (1.5" wide) and battens where appropriate. Rounded edges and radiused exposed corners, of course. Extra layers like laminate or hardboard, just a little too much work for what they'll be used for, especially once the dust settles over everything -- they all look the same when that happens. The only exception would be finishing/adhesive mixing area, where a laminate or better would come in handy. This might be a good place for the stainless you were talking about. Not sure if you remember or noticed, but my tops in this area are gel coated fiberglass, built over 30 years ago by my father in law. It don't matter what you spill on them!
    Mini Max Tool Acquisition Mediator.
    "An old man to most kids and a young man to those who are dead."

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