Workbench top help

bbrown

Bill
User
Hey folks,

I'm looking for any suggestions for affordable tops for 6 workbenches I am planning for my new woodworking school.
Ideally, I'd like 8'x 2'+ widths. Butcher block would be nice and I can build up the thickness with hardwood ply layers and then edge with oak.
I just watched Chris Schwarz' excellent DVD on the "2-day workbench" (closer to 4 days probably :) where he used two 1 1/2" Ikea countertops attached for a nice and inexpensive 3" heavy duty top. Since that video, Ikea no longer makes these and the comparable ones they now make are quite a bit more expensive.

So, I'm very open to ideas and any known sources for solid tops.

An option is good quality hardwood ply for he uppermost layer and two lesser quality for the lower two layers, to give a 4"+ bench top, then edging with oak to hide the seams, etc.

Thanks,

--Bill
 

tijmt

Jared
User
They had the lowes butcher block in the store the last time I stopped by and it looked really nice. Doubling the thickness (like Schwarz suggests with the Ikea countertops) would get a bit expensive, but would make a super nice top!

Home Depot also had a competing product, but I have not looked closely at it.
 

bbrown

Bill
User
Thanks for the ideas.
I'm leaning toward my idea of multiple sheets of ply which would be much cheaper. Could add 3/4" oak boards on top since that's the only part that takes a beating.
 

Martin Roper

Martin
User
Thanks for the ideas.
I'm leaning toward my idea of multiple sheets of ply which would be much cheaper. Could add 3/4" oak boards on top since that's the only part that takes a beating.
I made a top out of oak flooring remnants. Surplus oak or maple flooring on a plywood top should be plenty strong. If you gouge up a section you can easily replace it.
 

bbrown

Bill
User
Thanks Martin, that seems like a good way to do it. I wonder why workbench articles don't consider this method. Would be far more affordable and just as strong.
 

MarkE

Mark
Corporate Member
My workbench top is two layers of 3/4" plywood with oak edging and high pressure laminate (Formica) on top.

Benches (1).JPG
 

zapdafish

Steve
Senior User
my first workbench top was laminated MDF and it sagged over time, hope ply is better. Second top was a torsion box with flooring on top, worked well except I didnt plan for dogholes and when I got into handtools made my thrid top out of solid yellow pine
 

medic

john
User
When I made my new workbench a couple of years ago i used 2x4 syp on edge, glued and screwed togather with threaded rod then topped with some hickory that i had left over.you could also use mdf sandwiched between some plywood
 

photostu

Stuart
Senior User
syp seems to be the most affordable hardwood option. Seems like you would spend more on ply, but maybe not?
 

zapdafish

Steve
Senior User
also not sure how well the dog holes would hold up in laminated ply to holdfasts even if sheathed with a thin layer of wood on top. and I imagine a school setting would see alot more use.
 

mdbuntyn

Matt
Corporate Member
also not sure how well the dog holes would hold up in laminated ply to holdfasts even if sheathed with a thin layer of wood on top. and I imagine a school setting would see alot more use.
Dogs shouldn't be problem. My bench is 4 layers of 3/4" ply, and the holes for my planing stop have held up well. I have used them with 1" holdfasts, but only sparingly
 

bbrown

Bill
User
This is the basic idea that I have Ken. I'd probably prefer a hardwood top, but the built-up ply with edging seems economical and pretty easy to make.
Thanks a lot for sending the photo.

--Bill
 

bbrown

Bill
User
syp seems to be the most affordable hardwood option. Seems like you would spend more on ply, but maybe not?
4 x 8' Hardwood ply at HD or Lowes is $40-50. Each sheet can be cut in two lengthwise and then sandwiched. So one sheet per bench = 1 1/2 inch thickness. A 2 foot wide bench is a bit narrow, but would be OK and would fit in my shop space better too. I'd glue oak on top for a 2 1/4 thick top. I have a pile of oak, so this would be a pretty inexpensive way to make a bunch of workbench tops. 4' x 4' fir for the four legs acc. to Chris Schwarz' plan (which is very simple but also very strong).
 

bbrown

Bill
User
also not sure how well the dog holes would hold up in laminated ply to holdfasts even if sheathed with a thin layer of wood on top. and I imagine a school setting would see alot more use.
Good points worth considering...….
Perhaps the dogs holes could be reinforced with hardwood under the bench at each hole. Or, one hardwood strip under the bench running the length of the holes might work, since I intend on only a single line of dog holes aligned with the end vise.
 

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